Tonight let’s turn to Jeremiah chapter 41 as we continue our study through the Bible.
Now, these are prophecies that Jeremiah made to the people after Nebuchadnezzar had come and carried away king Zedekiah as a captive to Babylon and left the poor of the people in the land, and he gave unto Gedaliah the office of governor over the people that remained there in the land. Jeremiah was given his choice of going to Babylon where he was promised special treatment, or of staying in the land with the people. And Jeremiah opted for staying in the land with the people. And so Jeremiah continued then to prophesy to the people that remained there in the land. Now he dates this particular prophecy,
in the seventh month, that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, who was of the seed royal, and the princes of the king, even ten men that were with him, came to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam to Mizpah; and there they did eat bread together in Mizpah (41:1).
Now this would have been about three months after Zedekiah had been taken away captive. Now Johanan had warned the governor Gedaliah that this fellow Ishmael was no good. He said, “The king of the Ammonites has really sent him to murder you.” He said, “Let me go out secretly and I’ll take care of him. He’s really no good. He’s intending to assassinate you.” But Gedaliah says, “Oh, you’ve been reading too many mystery novels. That’s not so at all.” So Gedaliah did not heed the warning of Johanan.
Now about thirty days after Johanan had given him this warning, of course Johanan had left Mizpah, that in the seventh month… Now this was the month in which, of course, they gathered for worship. It was the month of the latter part of September, the early part of October in the Jewish calendar, and it was that important month for their various feasts - the Feast of Tabernacles, the Feast of Trumpets, the Yom Kippur - all of that took place at this particular time. And so, no doubt, this Ishmael came…and he was of the royal seed. He wasn’t a descendant of Zedekiah, because all of Zedekiah’s sons were wiped out. But he was probably a nephew to Zedekiah. At least he felt that he had a right to the throne and was no doubt upset that Nebuchadnezzar had set Gedaliah who was not from the royal seed at all as the governor over the land. And so he came, no doubt, under the guise as a friend to worship, and Gedaliah received him and they ate bread together there in Mizpah, which he had set up as the capital because Jerusalem had been devastated.
Then Ishmael arose, and the ten men that were with him, and they smote Gedaliah with the sword, and they killed him, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the land. Ishmael also slew all the Jews that were with him, there at Mizpah, and the Chaldeans that were there, that is the men of war (41:2-3).
Now “all” is to be thought of in a, not in a literal sense, but all of those that might rise up against him--all of the military men that were there, all of the men that had surrounded him, his officers and those that were his military men who could retaliate against Ishmael.
So it came to pass the second day after he had slain Gedaliah, [that they had been able to keep it a secret] no one knew it, That there was coming certain men from Shechem, from Shiloh, and Samaria, eighty men, who had their beards shaved, and their clothes were rent, and they had cut themselves, with offerings and incense in their hand, to bring them to the house of the LORD (41:4-5).
Now, under the law if you wanted to make a special vow to God you would shave yourself and you would tear your clothes. You wear rags. But it was forbidden to cut yourselves. God didn’t want them making any markings on their bodies. And quite often in the pagan worship people would cut themselves.
You remember when the prophets of Baal were in contest with Elijah on mount Carmel and they had built their altars, and the conditions were that the god who answered by fire would be the God. And it said that these prophets of Baal prayed until about lunchtime and Elijah began to sort of kid around with them and say, “I bet your god is on a vacation. Or maybe he’s gone to the bathroom. Why don’t you cry a little louder?” Elijah was a coarse fellow, and the Bible says he was. So he was just, you know, that kind of a guy. And so these guys, it says, began to cut themselves. That was typical in the pagan worship, of defiling your body. They would cut themselves with their nails, scratch themselves until they bleed. Or they would take knives and slash themselves before their gods.
So that these eighty men who were coming with their offering unto the Lord and with their incense were a sort of a strange admixture, but you remember they’re coming out of Samaria and Shechem and Shilo. Now when Israel had been taken away captive by the Assyrian king, he sent other people into the land so that there was probably the admixture of these religious systems, and because it was the seventh month it would appear that these men were probably going to Jerusalem. Because Ishmael when he meets them he invites them. He says, “Well, come and see Gedaliah. Turn in and see Gedaliah.” Of course, they didn’t know and maybe he was testing to see if they knew about Gedaliah being slain.
Now the reason why he turned on these men is to keep them from spreading the word. He was trying to keep the word from going out that Gedaliah had been killed because he feared that the other people might come and get him if they found out. So he wanted to really establish himself firmly in the position of the ruler of the land until the new…and keep the news from going out until he could really secure himself in that position. And then it would have been too late for anybody to react or respond. So he went out to these eighty men and he invited them.
he said, Come to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam. And it was so, when they came into the midst of the city, that Ishmael slew them, and cast them in the middle of the pit, he, and the men that were with him. But ten men among them said unto Ishmael, Don’t kill us: for we have hid treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey (41:6-8).
Now this didn’t mean that they had crops on the field, because at the seventh month all of the barley and wheat crops were already in. But they had to hide them, the barley and all. They would dig pits and put them in them to keep the enemy from discovering them and finding them and ripping them off. And so they said, “Hey, we’ve got these treasures. We’ve hid them in our field. We’ve got some honey and barley and wheat and all,” and it was really a ransom that they were offering for themselves.
So he did not slay them from among their brethren. Now this pit that he threw them was the pit that Asa the king had dug (41:8-9).
Probably to get a fresh water supply within the city when Baasha, the king of Israel, was ready to attack them.
And so he filled this pit with these dead bodies (41:9).
Then Ishmael carried away captive all the residue of the people that were there at Mizpah (41:10),
He took all of the rest of the people as captives and he was heading back towards Ammon.
even the king's daughters (41:10),
Probably the daughters of Zedekiah, they left them. They killed his sons, but they had no reason to kill the girls. They couldn’t do much anyhow.
and all the people that remained in Mizpah, whom Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had committed to Gedaliah: Ishmael carried them away, and departed to go over to the Ammonites. But when Johanan (41:10-11)
Now, he was the one that had warned Gedaliah that this guy’s out to kill you and he was wanting Gedaliah’s permission to go and kill him first.
the son of Kareah, and all the captains of the forces that were with him, heard of all the evil that Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had done, that they took all the men, and went to fight with Ishmael, and they found him by the great waters that are in Gibeon (41:11-12).
Now to go from Mizpah to Gibeon is not a direct route to Ammon, but he was probably going to pick up the loot that these guys said that they had hid. In Gibeon there were these beautiful pools of water. We remember that the men of Ishbosheth and David met by the pools of Gibeon sitting on either side. And then the generals had the guys fighting and killing each other for their own sport there at the pools of Gibeon. So there at Gibeon, Johanan caught up with the people. And when all of the people saw Johanan, they left Ishmael and Ishmael, of course, escaped and returned to Ammon.
Then Johanan, and all of his captains of the forces that were with him, all the remnant of the people that he had recovered from Ishmael, they were brought again from Gibeon: And they departed, and dwelt in Chimham, which is by Bethlehem (41:16-17),
In other words, they started south toward Egypt. They were fearful now of the retaliation of Nebuchadnezzar because Gedaliah had been slain. And so they were heading south now and were as far as Chimham, which was near Bethlehem. And so it indicates that they already have purposed in their hearts to go to Egypt. It’s something they had already determined to do.
Because of the Chaldeans: for they were afraid of them, because Ishmael the son of Nethaniah had killed Gedaliah, and he was the appointed governor from the Babylonian, Nebuchadnezzar (41:18).
So in chapter 42:
Then all the captains of the forces, and Johanan the son of Kareah, they came unto Jeremiah, and said unto him, We beg you, that you will accept our supplication, and pray for us unto the LORD [or unto Jehovah] thy God, even for all this remnant; (for we are just a few of the many, as your eyes behold us:) (42:1-2)
In other words, “There’s just a few of us left. Now pray to the Lord your God for us.”
That the LORD [or Jehovah] thy God may show us the way wherein we may walk, and the thing that we may do (42:3).
So they’re asking now that Jeremiah will seek the Lord for guidance. Now notice that they are saying, “The Lord thy God,” or, “Jehovah thy God.” And when Jeremiah answers them, he said,
I will pray unto the LORD your God (42:4)
They are saying to Jeremiah, “Pray to Jehovah thy God,” not really acknowledging Jehovah as their own God in the request. But Jeremiah turns it around and says, “I will pray unto Jehovah thy God.” And then later on he mentions Jehovah our God. So he said, “I will pray unto Jehovah your God.”
according to your words; and it shall come to pass, that whatever Jehovah shall answer you, I will declare it unto you; I will not keep anything back from you. Then they said to Jeremiah, Jehovah be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not even according to all things for the which the LORD thy God shall send thee to us. Whether it is good, or whether it is evil, we will obey the voice of Jehovah our God (42:4-6),
So they acknowledged Jehovah. And of course, this is when you…this is what it’s all about, when obedience, when He is Jehovah your God then that it just has the intimation of obedience. That’s what worshipping or serving God is all about. That is submission to God as Lord of our lives. And God being a title is the title of that master of your life. What is it that masters your life? That’s your God. People say, “Well, I don’t believe in God.” That’s not true. Everybody is mastered by some principle, some idea. And whatever it is that masters your life, that is your God. So when you acknowledge God, you’re acknowledging whatever force or guiding or directing principle there is in your life. And you’re always obedient to that guiding force or principle of your life.
So inquire. Now here they are. “Look, we promise we will obey. Whatever the Lord tells us. If it’s good or if it’s bad, we’ll obey it. The Lord judge between us. We’re going to obey it.”
And it came to pass after ten days (42:7),
Now this is interesting to me because Jeremiah, no doubt, had a pretty good connection. You know, we read all the way through how the word of the Lord was coming to Jeremiah in so many different situations. And here he is coming to the Lord now for a specific purpose--to receive instruction and guidance from God for these people who are asking him to seek the Lord for them. And it’s interesting to me that he did not hear for ten days.
How often when we come to God are we looking and expecting for an immediate response. And if God doesn’t speak in the first five minutes that I give Him the opportunity, well then I’ll try something else, you know. After all, I’ve waited here for five minutes to give God a chance to talk to me. And yet here is Jeremiah waiting for ten days to hear the word of the Lord. God’s timing does not always coincide with mine. I so often look at a situation and I say, “Well, Lord, as I see it You have just about five hours to take care of this situation. And if in the next five hours You don’t do something, it’s down the tubes. It’s too late. So You got five hours to do Your work, Lord.” And then I come back, say, “Well, Lord, sixty minutes. It’s about all You got. Lord, You’ve got about five minutes. Oh Lord, You’re too late. You had Your chance. Too bad. Now I’m going to have to step in and do something, Lord, because You didn’t make it.” And there are so many cases where I was so certain that God missed His chance. And yet I found out later that I was just ahead of God’s schedule. I was going by my watch and He was going by His eternal clock. And God worked and God did it and I thought it’s too late. He can’t do it now. There have been times when I was sure, “It’s just too late, Lord. Oh God, You could have done it. Why didn’t You do it, Lord? Now it’s too late.”
You know, oftentimes God delays the answers to prayer in order that He might give more. You remember when Hannah had gone with her husband Elkanah in order to offer their sacrifices unto the Lord. And Elkanah looked at her and he says, “How come you’re so depressed?” She said, “Oh, your other wife and I have been having a real time.” She said, “You give me a son.” He said, “Am I God that I can give you a son?” The other wife was having lots of kids. She couldn’t have any. That was a disgrace in that culture. And it was obvious that Elkanah loved her more than he did his other wife. I can see that polygamy would have all kinds of problems. Who can handle one? And these wives were at each other. And this other one was really getting to Hannah because she didn’t have any children. And so she said, “Give me a son or I perish.” He said, “Am I God that I can give you a child?” He said, “But look, you’ve got me. Aren’t I worth many sons to you?” It didn’t work. She didn’t answer him, but her silence said a lot.
So when they came to the house of the Lord, she was in such bitterness over this whole issue. But she was there on the temple steps or on the steps, the temple wasn’t built then, but there on the step of the court of the place of worship, tabernacle, and she was pouring out her soul to God in deep bitterness, and so much so, that she wasn’t even uttering the words. Just her mouth was moving but she wasn’t uttering the words. And Eli the priest came by and looked at her there in that, you know, just tense and strained condition and he said, “Woman, you better leave the bottle alone. It will take you to the bottom.” She said, “I’m not drunk, sir. I’m not a woman of wine.” She said, “My soul is bitterly grieved before God.” And he said, “Go your way, God grant your request.”
Well, what she was praying was, “God, if You’ll just give me a son, I’ll give him back to You all the days of his life.” Well, you see, the condition of Israel was so low that God couldn’t find any man to lead the people. God needed a man. God couldn’t find a man so he had to find a woman in order to get a man. And he got her attention by closing up her womb and making her childless. And no doubt she had prayed many, many times that God would give her a child, take away the disgrace of her barrenness. But God waited, God delayed the answer. God was intending all the time to answer her prayer. But God needed a man. And so He delayed the answer until her prayer came into harmony with the will of God. “Lord, if You’ll just give me a man child, I’ll give him back to You.” All right! Now you’re in harmony with the purpose of God. And she bore a son and she called his name Samuel. And he became one of the greatest leaders of Israel, leading them out of sure tragedy in that particular period of history and became a marvelous prophet and priest of God. God delayed the prayer, answering the prayer in order that He might give more. God oftentimes does that for us.
Jeremiah waited for ten days.
and the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah. And so he called Johanan, and all of those captains that were with him, and all of the people together (42:7-8),
Down near Bethlehem, there on the road towards Egypt.
And he said unto them, Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, unto whom ye sent me to present your supplication before him; If you will still abide in this land, then will I build you, and not pull you down; and I will plant you, and not pluck you up: for I repent me of the evil that I have done unto you (42:9-10).
And, again, here the idea of repent is a term that we use of God because we describe the actions of God in human terms, but we read that, “God is not a man,” Deuteronomy, “that He should repent” (I Samuel 15:29). Hath He not spoken? Shall He not perform? But yet God is saying, “I have changed from the evil, or I have completed the evil that I’ve purposed upon you and I’m not going to bring any further evil,” basically, is what God is saying.
Don’t be afraid of the king of Babylon, of whom you are afraid; for I am with you to save you, and to deliver you from his hand. And I will show mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land (42:11-12).
Now don’t be afraid of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. You don’t need to fear him. You are afraid of him, but you don’t need to be afraid of him. For I will have mercy upon you and I will give you mercy in his eyes that he’ll return you to the land.
But if you say, We will not dwell in this land, neither obey the voice of the LORD your God, saying, No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, nor hear the sound of the trumpet, nor have hunger of bread; and there will we dwell (42:13-14):
So this is what was in the back of their minds in going to Egypt. “We’ll be able to escape war. We won’t hear the sound of trumpet.” That is, the trumpets that are calling the troops to battle. “We’ll not have hunger, and there will we dwell.” So their going to Egypt was a case of convenience. It was a peace-at-any-price kind of a thing. “We’ll escape from war, the sounds of the trumpets of war. And there we’ll have peace. We’ll eat bread and have plenty.”
And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If you wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which you feared, will overtake you; and the famine, which you are afraid, will follow close after you there in Egypt; and there you will die. So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them. For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As mine anger and fury hath been poured forth upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; so shall my fury be poured forth upon you, when you enter into Egypt: and you shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach; and ye shall see this place no more. The LORD hath said concerning you, O remnant of Judah; Go not into Egypt: know certainly that I have admonished you this day. For you have dissembled in your hearts, when you sent me unto the LORD your God, saying, Pray for us unto the LORD our God; and whatever our God says, or declares to us, that we will do (42:15-20).
You were deceitful. You were not telling the truth when you vowed to obey the voice of the Lord.
And now I have this day declared it to you; but ye have not obeyed the voice of the LORD your God, nor any thing for the which he hath sent me unto you. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye desire to go and to sojourn (42:21-22).
Now here is a classic example of proper counseling by a minister or by a pastor. As pastors, we really are not here to give you legal advice. Nor are we here to give you medical advice. Nor are we here to give you psychological counseling. We are here to give spiritual counseling to people and to talk to them concerning their spiritual problems, and that’s all that we’re qualified to do. And if a person comes for counsel and their problem is legal, then all we can do is send you to an attorney. If it’s medical, we can send you to a doctor. If it’s a deep psychological problem, then we can send you to a psychologist. We’re here to counsel people on the spiritual things and to give to you the Word of the Lord on spiritual issues. Now, we cannot force your action. All we can do is give you the alternatives. “Here’s what the Lord says about this. If you stay here, then this is what God is going to do for you and this is what God has promised to do. If you go down there, then this is what is going to happen. And this is what the Lord says will happen if you go down there.” That’s all we can do is lay out the alternatives from a spiritual standpoint and what the Word of God says about the alternatives. But you have to always make your own choice and own decision of what you are going to do. And really we can’t tell you what to do. All we can do is give you the Word of the Lord and lay your alternatives, lay the alternatives before you and then you make your decision on what you want to do. The choice is always yours. All we can do is lay out the choices and the results of the choices. And then you must decide which path you’re going to take.
So look how effectively Jeremiah did that. “Now look, if you stay in the land, you don’t need to be afraid of Nebuchadnezzar because God will plant you here. And God will be with you and He’ll give you mercies and you’ll find mercies before Nebuchadnezzar and all. And you’re going to prosper; you’ll be blessed. If you go down to Egypt, because you think that you can escape war down there, you think that you can have plenty of bread and you think it’s going to be well down there, the very things that you’re trying to escape are going to follow you down there. The sword will follow you there. The famine will follow you there. War and the famine that you’re worried about here, they’ll follow you there and you’ll die in Egypt. You’ll never come back to the land again. You’re going to perish in Egypt. It’s all over if you go down there. That’s it, it’s over for you.” And so he told them what the Lord had said. And the Lord just gave to them the various choices and the consequence of each choice.
So it came to pass, when Jeremiah was through speaking to all of the people the words of Jehovah their God, then spake Azariah, and Johanan, and all of the proud men, saying to Jeremiah, You’re speaking falsely: Jehovah our God has not sent you to say, Don’t go to Egypt to dwell there (43:1-2):
Now here they came and said, “Please pray to God, we beg you, pray to God for us, you know. Whatever God tells us we’ll do whether it’s good or evil. Please make supplication to God.” Now Jeremiah lays it out to them, they say, “Oh, you’re lying. God didn’t tell you to say that to us.”
But Baruch (43:3)
That conspirator, he’s the one that advised you to tell us this stuff in order that he might deliver us over as captives to the Babylonians.
that they might put us to death, and carry us away to Babylon. So Johanan, and the captains of the forces, and all the people, obeyed not the voice of the LORD, to dwell in the land of Judah. But [all of these people] that had returned from these nations, that were with them; Even men, and women, and children, and the king's daughters, and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had left with Gedaliah, along with Jeremiah, and Baruch (43:3-6).
And it would seem according to Josephus that they forced Jeremiah to come and Baruch. They sort of kidnapped them. Took them by force.
So they came into the land of Egypt: for they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: thus came they even to Tahpanhes (43:7).
This, of course, to me is one of those sad and tragic Scriptures. It ranks really as one of the most tragic of all the passages in the Word of God. For it is always tragic when a man returns to that from which God has once delivered him. He goes back to Egypt. Egypt is a type of our life in sin, a life after the flesh and the bondage to our flesh. And whenever a man or a nation returns to that place from which God had once delivered them, that is always a sad and a tragic day. Nine hundred years earlier God had delivered their fathers out of the horrible, cruel oppression of their Egyptian slavery and bondage. And now the sad day that they return. The reason for their return—fear, a lack of faith and trusting in God to sustain them in the land. And the fear of the retaliation of the Babylonians against them drove them back to Egypt. The lack of faith, which resulted in their disobedience. “And so they obeyed not the voice of the Lord and thus they came to Tahpanhes.”
Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in your hand, and hide them in the clay in the brickkiln, which is at the entry of Pharaoh's house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of all of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them. And when he comes, he will smite the land of Egypt, and deliver such as are for death to death; and such as are for captivity to captivity; and such as are for the sword to the sword. And I will kindle a fire in the houses of the gods of Egypt; and he shall burn them, and carry them away captives: and he shall array himself in the land of Egypt, as a shepherd puts on his garments; and he shall go forth from thence in peace. He shall break also the images of Bethshemesh, that is in the land of Egypt; and the houses of the gods of the Egyptians shall he burn with fire (43:8-13).
So God said, “Take these great stones and put them in this clay pit where they had taken out the clay to make the bricks in the sight of all of the people, and say unto them, ‘Over the top of these stones Nebuchadnezzar is going to build a pavilion of his court and he’s going to set right here ruling over Egypt, destroying Egypt and their gods.’ You come down here to escape Nebuchadnezzar, you’re not going to escape him. You try to run from your problems, you can’t run from your problems.” God always wants us to face our problems with His strength and with His help. Never to run. A person never successfully runs away from a problem. We need to deal with the issues squarely with the help of the Lord. God will give us the strength. God will give us the help.
Flinders Petrie, famous archaeologist, several years ago now, I think it was in the 1920’s, was excavating in Egypt Tell Defenneh. And as he was excavating there in Tell Defenneh, he came across this big pavement, pavilion, paved pavilion which was next to the ruins of the palace. And he dug under the bricks of this pavilion and found these very stones that Jeremiah had buried. These stones are now in a museum, the last I heard, in Cairo. The very stones that Jeremiah buried were found by Petrie as a witness to the truth of God’s Word. Because Nebuchadnezzar did come down; he did conquer Egypt. He set his throne right there above the stones that Jeremiah buried. God’s Word came to pass. God’s Word will always come to pass. You can trust that God will keep His Word always.
The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which dwell in the land of Egypt (44:1),
And this is Jeremiah’s final message to the people. God’s last word to the nation that have turned their backs on Him and have gone to Egypt. Back to the place from which God had delivered them, and God gives to them His final word. “The word which came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews which were in the land of Egypt.”
which dwell at Migdol, and at Tahpanhes, and at Noph, and in the country of Pathros, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; You have seen all the evil that I have brought upon Jerusalem, and upon all the cities of Judah; and, behold, this day they are desolate, and no man is dwelling there; Because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke me to anger, in that they went to burn incense, and to serve other gods, whom they knew not, neither they, ye, nor your fathers (44:1-3).
You see what’s happened. You see the desolation of the land and it all took place because the people forsook Me, God said, and they began to worship these other gods.
Howbeit I sent warnings to you through my servants the prophets, who rose early, and they said, Don’t do this abominable thing that God hates. But they did not hearken, they did not incline their ear to turn from their wickedness, and they continued to burn their incense to these other gods. Wherefore my fury and mine anger was poured forth, and was kindled in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem; and they are wasted and desolate, as they are this very day. Therefore now thus saith the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel; Why do you commit this great evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, child and nursing child, out of Judah, to leave you none to remain; In that you are continuing to provoke me unto wrath with the works of your hands, [because you are still] burning incense to other gods in the land of Egypt, where you have gone to dwell, that you might cut yourselves off, and that you might be a curse and a reproach among all the nations of the earth? (44:4-8)
“Why are you doing this?” God said, ”It was because of the burning of the incense and the worshipping of these other gods that you were driven from the land, that your land is desolate today. But you’ve continued these very practices now that you’ve come into Egypt. The very thing that brought the judgment of God upon you, you’ve not ceased doing. Even though you are here in Egypt, suffering the judgment of God, as your land is desolate. Yet you continue in these abominations.”
Have you forgotten the wickedness of your fathers, and the wickedness of the kings of Judah, and the wickedness of their wives, and your own wickedness, and the wickedness of your wives, which they have committed in the land of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem? (44:9)
Now it is interesting at this point where Jeremiah joins the wives in his indictment, for they were guilty of these same abominations. And in fact, as we read on the account, it would seem that the women were perhaps rather forward and leading in these abominations.
Corrupted womanhood is usually the final straw that breaks the back of a nation. Women have a capacity, because of that fine, delicate temperament, of greater heights of spiritual experience and of deeper depths of moral depravity than men. When a woman goes bad, it’s usually horrible. Like the little girl with a curl, when she is bad she’s horrible. Men are coarser in their nature. And man’s spectrum is rather narrow in a coarse median. Whereas a woman capable by her fine, beautiful temperament of higher highs, she’s also capable of lower lows. The spectrum of the woman moves in a much broader spectrum than does man. So that when the woman falls, she so often goes to the bottom. And when that takes place, it’s all over. It is interesting that women so often in the churches take leading roles of spirituality, in the prayer groups, in service groups and all. And that’s because of this beautiful, fine temperament that when tuned to the Spirit is so beautiful and so glorious, so inspiring, so beautiful to behold. A woman walking with the Lord in that beautiful, fine, keen temperament that is so sensitive and attune to the things of God and the things of the Spirit.
So often because I am in this coarser, denser nature, I’ll be in a situation and just sort of plodding through and we’ll get home and my wife said, “Did you notice what was happening there tonight?” “What? I didn’t notice anything.” “Oh, well, when this happened, you know,” and she can pick up on the fine spiritual tuning. Great spiritual insights. “Oh, this took place.” And as I look back I say, “Well, yeah, I can remember.” It didn’t mean anything. It didn’t say anything to me. But with this keen spiritual sensitivity, she has a capacity of picking up on spiritual attunement much better than I do. Because I’m just this rugged, push-through and plod along. But women attune to the Spirit. What high capacities they have. What keen spiritual insights. And how beautiful it is to see a woman walking in the Spirit because of the highs that she is capable of and that spiritual sensitivity. It’s fantastic. But on the other end of the spectrum, it’s tragic.
Now Jeremiah is speaking how that the wives had joined in and he joins them in this indictment. The wickedness of their wives and of your wives.
They are not humbled (44:10)
He’s talking about their wives. Verse ten:
even unto this day, neither have they feared, nor walked in my law, nor in my statutes, that I set before you and before your fathers. Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will set my face against you for evil, and I’m going to cut off all of Judah. And I will take the remnant of Judah, that have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt to dwell there, and they shall all be consumed, and fall in the land of Egypt; they shall even be consumed by the sword and by the famine: they shall die, from the least even unto the greatest, by the sword and by the famine: and they shall be an execration, and an astonishment, and a curse, and a reproach. For I will punish them that dwell in the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: so that none of the remnant of Judah, which are gone into the land of Egypt to dwell there, shall escape or remain, that they should return into the land of Judah, to the which they have a desire to return to dwell there: for none shall return but such as shall escape (44:10-14).
Only a very small group that escapes.
Then all the men which knew that their wives were burning incense to the other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that were dwelling in the land of Egypt, they answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word which you have spoken to us in the name of Jehovah, we are not going to listen to you. But we will certainly do whatever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven [to Semiramis who is known queen of heaven, mother of God], and to pour out drink offerings unto her (44:15-17),
This is that Babylonian religious system that Israel was caught up in. The worship of Tammuz and Semiramis, these Babylonian deities, the mother-child concept. Worshipping Semiramis as the mother of heaven or queen of heaven, the mother of God. And this is, incidentally, where the worship of Mary stems from. Nowhere in the Scripture are we told to worship Mary. But it stems from this worship of Semiramis, the queen of heaven. And you can trace it back. I don’t have to do your homework for you. You can get the book, The Two Babylons by Hislop, and he traces so thoroughly the pagan Babylonian practices that have been brought into the church. The very things that God indicted Israel for are now going on in many churches in the name of the Lord. And we’ll wait till we get to Revelation to deal with that more fully.
Now listen to what they’re saying. “We will certainly do what we please, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and to pour out drink offerings to her.”
as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then we had plenty of food, and were well, and we did not see evil. But when we quit burning incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and we have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men? (44:17-19)
In other words, “Didn’t our husbands know what we were doing? Didn’t we have the consent of our husbands as we were doing it? They knew what we were doing.” The women are answering Jeremiah now. And it is interesting how that they so totally twisted the facts. They were attributing the demise and the destruction to their ceasing to burn incense to the queen of heaven. How man can so totally twist the truth and blame God for the tragedies that come upon his life and accuse God for the things that have gone wrong. And say, “Man, things went well. I was doing great until I started serving God. Then He wiped me out.” And here they were blaming their destruction upon the fact that they had quit burning the incense to the queen of heaven. “As long as we were faithful to her, she was blessing us. We had plenty of food. Things were great until we ceased burning incense to her and now all of this calamity has come upon us. And after all, our husbands knew what we were doing.”
Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, that had given him this answer, The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, you, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, did it not come into his mind? So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which you have committed; therefore is your land a desolation (44:20-22),
Jeremiah sets the record straight. “Look, it’s because you were burning this that God has brought His judgment upon you. Therefore is your land a desolation.”
and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day (44:22-23).
Keep the record straight. It’s your forsaking God and your turning after these other gods that cause this judgment of God to fall.
Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all of Judah and all that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; You and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hand, saying, We will surely perform our vows that we have vowed, to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her: and you will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows (44:24-25).
You’ve made your vows to the queen of heaven and you’ll be sure to keep them.
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name (44:26),
Look out when God swears by His name, because He can swear by no higher.
saith Jehovah, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Jehovah God lives. Behold, I’m going to watch over them for evil, and not for good: and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by the famine, until there is an end of them. And yet a small number that escape the sword shall return out of the land of Egypt (44:26-28)
God always has His faithful remnant, you notice that? In the midst of a world of apostasy and sin, there are always the faithful remnant of God. Remember Elijah said, “Lord.” God says, “Elijah, what are you doing down here in this cave Sinai desert?” “Oh, I’ve been jealous for You. And they’ve killed all of Your prophets. And I, only I am left of all of Israel.” God says, “That’s not true, Elijah. I have seven thousand who have not bowed their knee to Baal.” God knew them. There was the faithful remnant. A lot of times we think we’re the only ones, but God has His faithful remnant always.
God pronounces this desolation that is coming, and yet a small number, His faithful remnant that will escape and will return out of the land of Egypt.
into the land of Judah; and all the remnant of Judah, that are gone into the land of Egypt to sojourn there, shall know whose words will stand, mine, or theirs (44:28).
You’ll find out who’s telling the truth.
Now, of course, time is always that great factor. False prophets so often profit for a while. You know, for a time they get along great and they can gather a following. But time is always against them. In time it will show up. Jimmy Jones did great for a while. Gathered quite a following. Popular move. A lot of people joining in. Off the wall. He could get by with it for a while, but ultimately it catches up with you. And there are flashes that come on the scene. They draw a lot of attention to themselves. They come with some off-the-wall kind of a doctrine. Everybody is going. They’ve got the ear of the crowd. They’re popular. They have their day, but time is against them. In time it shows up. So that’s what the Lord said, “Okay, time will be a witness. The time will come when you’ll find out who’s telling the truth. Me or you.”
And this will be the sign, I will punish you in this place, that you may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith Jehovah; Behold, I will give Pharaohhophra king of Egypt into the hand of his enemies, and into the hand of them that seek his life; as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, his enemy, and that sought his life (44:29-30).
Now we have the advantage of history and hindsight and we can see that it was God’s Word that stood. Nebuchadnezzar came down and conquered Egypt. God’s Word stood. It always will. Never set yourself against God’s Word. You’ll lose every time.
Now as we move into chapter 45, we are moving into the final part of Jeremiah’s prophecies. This is known as the sixth part of the prophecies in which we have miscellaneous prophecies that are of…come from the different periods of Jeremiah’s life, but they are directed for the most part against the nations that are round about Israel. And God brings these nations around Israel - Egypt, the Gentile powers, Philistia, Tyre, Babylon and so forth - He brings them into a prophetic view as God declares the judgments that will come upon these various nations.
But chapter 45 is a message to Baruch who was Jeremiah’s friend and scribe. Jeremiah dictated it to Baruch who was a scribe and who wrote the words of Jeremiah in a book.
So this is,
The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the mouth of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, saying (45:1),
Now you remember Jehoiakim took the scroll and he cut it with his penknife and tossed it in the fire. Now at the time that Jeremiah gave to him these words and Baruch wrote them, God also gave a special word to Baruch.
Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch (45:2);
Wouldn’t that be something to have God give you a personal message? Heavy duty, you know. And yet, I have had God give to me personal messages right out of His Word. When right out of the Word of God the Word just seems to speak to you. And you knew it was God speaking to you right out of the book and just a personal application. It just fits so perfectly and was so appropriate for the moment. “Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, unto thee, O Baruch.”
You did say, Woe is me now! for the LORD hath added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest (45:3).
Actually Jehoiakim, when he cut up the scroll, was seeking Baruch. He was going to really give it to him for reading that scroll. And Baruch was in hiding. And he heard that Jehoiakim was after him and all and he says, “Woe is me! For the Lord has added grief to my sorrow; I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” That’s what Baruch was saying.
But thus shalt thou say unto him, The LORD saith thus; Behold, that which I have built will I break down, and that which I have planted I will pluck up, even this whole land (45:4).
I built this nation; I’m going to break it down. I’ve planted; I’m going to pluck it up.
And seekest thou great things for thyself? Don’t seek them (45:5):
The whole thing’s going to go down, Baruch. I’m going to pluck the place up. I’m going to break it down. So it is foolish at this point to seek great things for yourself. Seek them not.
for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the LORD: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places wherever you go (45:5).
In other words, “I’ll spare your life wherever you go. But I’m going to bring destruction.” Therefore, the message of the Lord to Baruch basically was “Don’t seek great things for yourself. The whole system’s going down the tube so why seek great things for yourself?” Jesus said, “What shall it profit a man, if he would gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) What if you could gain the whole world? What joy do you think you would have being the richest man in hell? What should it profit a man if he would gain the whole world and lose his own soul? “Don’t seek great things for yourself. It’s all coming down, Baruch. Don’t worry about it. Don’t seek a great name. Don’t seek greatness for yourself. Seek God. God will protect you wherever you go. He’ll be with you. He’ll give you your life. But don’t seek after great things for yourself.”
Jeremiah had one of the most difficult ministries that any servant of God has ever been called to perform. For from the beginning his ministry was destined for failure. God told Jeremiah in the beginning, “I’m going to send you to these people, but they’re not going to listen to you.” And so it happened. Jeremiah came and spoke the word of the Lord faithfully to them, but they didn’t listen. “And because they will not listen, thus I am going to bring upon them all of the evil that I have declared.” And Jeremiah had to stand by helplessly knowing what was happening. Seeing the decay. Seeing the downhill plunge. Seeing the people headed towards destruction. Calling out, crying out, warning them, but unable to do anything to turn them or to stop them from their own disastrous path to oblivion. He had to watch and oversee the death of the nation that God might be faithful and righteous in His judgment so that no one could say, “Well, God didn’t warn us,” or, “God didn’t tell us,” or, “Oh, if God had only told us, things would be different.” God is always faithful. He always has His servants there to warn and to speak the truth.
I feel that there are tremendous parallels that can be drawn between the nation of Israel at this time of their decline and fall and the United States, in that Israel was known as a people of God. In their beginning they were founded upon God. They experienced the blessings of God and God made them a strong and powerful nation. And you can see the parallel. In the beginning our founding fathers were looking to God for guidance in the establishing of these United States. And they established the Constitution guaranteeing the freedoms of worshipping God. One nation under God. Acknowledged the fact that we were a nation under God and we were known as a nation under God. And God blessed and prospered our nation. But Israel, when they became prosperous, got their eyes off of God and began to worship and serve other gods, the gods of their own hands, the gods of materialism. Even as we in the United States today are burning our incense to the gods of materialism. And having forsaken the true and the living God, they became forsaken by God and they were weakened and they ultimately failed. Jeremiah had to watch the fall. Seeing what was going on, warning them, but with no avail. He had to see the tragic consequence of a nation who had turned their backs on God.
I am deeply concerned of the horrible moral conditions that exist in the United States today. I am deeply concerned about the prevalence of pornography, the exploitation of sex, of the openness of homosexuals and lesbians. And of the latest advocating of incest, encouraging parents to have sexual experiences with their own small children. We are about as low as we can go. When these people can even get a voice in a national publication like Time Magazine this week where they expouse their views. It can’t go on.
Now God has His faithful remnant and God will be faithful to His remnant. They shall escape. But the judgment of God is going to fall heavy and hard. You can be sure of that. God’s Word gives vivid details of His judgment that is coming very soon. Jesus spoke in great detail of that judgment. And turning to His followers He said, “Pray always, that you’ll be accounted worthy to escape all of these things that are going to come to pass upon the earth, and to be standing before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). Pray that you’ll be that faithful remnant. More than pray--commit your life to God. Serve the Lord. Put Him first. “Beware,” Jesus said, speaking of these last days, “lest at any time your own heart be overcharged with surfeiting, the dining pleasures, drinking, drunkenness, or the cares of this life, that that day come upon you by surprise” (Luke 21:34). For it will come as a surprise upon all who are dwelling upon the earth. Be careful it doesn’t take you by surprise. Live after the Spirit. Walk after the Spirit. Be led by the Spirit. Turn from a life of the flesh and the seeking of the satisfying or gratifying of your flesh to live a life after the Spirit. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near” (Isaiah 55:6). And, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Even as in Israel womanhood became degraded, I notice how they are attempting to degrade womanhood today starting with pretty little teenage girls and making them sex symbols. How tragic. We hold them up as examples to the women. God help us. For when women become degraded that’s always the final straw.
You that are the Lord’s, serve Him. Make a new commitment of your life to God. “God, I’m going to live after the Spirit. I’m going to follow after You. I’ll forsake Egypt. I’ll forsake the flesh. And I’ll live fully after Thee, O God.” The time has come for you to make that kind of commitment and to lead your family in it that they might escape these things that are shortly coming to pass, as God’s judgment is certain to fall upon this godless generation. Time will show whose word is going to stand: that of the agnostic, or that of God; that of the liberal press, that of the mocker, or that of the true and the living God. But the thing is, when God’s Word was proved true, it was then too late. God warned through Noah, “There’s going to be a flood.” “Ahh, flood, whoever heard of a flood?” “Water is going to fall from heaven.” “Ahh, whoever heard of rain?” Noah went in. God shut the door. It began to rain. “We believe you now. Wow!” Too late. There are many believers too late. God’s Word is going to stand. It’s important that we stand on God’s Word.