Today’s readings are Jeremiah 42-45
Alright I’m warning you not to get too excited at the beginning of 42.
Although the hearts of these people seem to be set on following YHWH, we will see that they have very bad leadership and when the leadership decides to reject and turn away from YHWH, everyone of the people follow suit.
They were SO CLOSE to being in YHWH’s will and they turned from it! While leaders are held to a higher standard in YHWH’s eyes, individuals are still held accountable for their choices when it comes to choosing to follow these leaders when they go off the rails.
One thing I want to point out in case you haven’t picked up on it. YHWH may condemn an entire people but individuals among that group can still turn to Him and be saved. Let us suppose the Father condemns an entire country today, does that mean He won’t grant any personal redemptions to those who turn to and beseech Him? Of course not.
The Father, in His wisdom, according to His own purpose and in His time can choose to show grace to whomever He chooses.
And often, in Biblical text, we will see just what I’ve mentioned here:
An entire civilization doomed but the Father allows a remnant escape.
Interesting note and something to think over is that YHWH often refers to Nebuchadnezzar as His servant. That’s a fascinating rabbit trail if you’d like to take it.
Chapter 43 is a reminder to choose our leadership wisely and more importantly, choose who we follow wisely because these “insolent men” just took all of YHWH’s people off a cliff!
In Jeremiah 43:13 we read that YHWH is about to shut this show down. He is going to :
“break the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt, and the temples of the gods of Egypt he shall burn with fire.’” Jeremiah 43:13
What is an obelisk, you ask?
Well, since you asked, I’ll tell ya. Heliopolis was pretty much the cultural center of the worship of the sun god Ra. Egyptians considered Ra to be the most powerful god of all and they built these obelisks to honor him. They were supposedly shaped like a ray from the sun and some even believed that the spirit of Ra lived within them.
Wondering what an obelisk looks like?
If you’ve seen the Washington Monument, you’ve seen an obelisk.
Jeremiah 44:4-5 K I L L S ME!
Yet I persistently sent to you all my servants the prophets, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abomination that I hate!’ But they did not listen or incline their ear, to turn from their evil and make no offerings to other gods. Jeremiah 44:4-5
In the ESV translation we’ve seen the Father refer to His pursuit of His people this way more than once. He is persistent, consistent, and magnificent. (I just needed to add another “ent” word in there.)
But seriously, look back over all we have read so far.
- YHWH is a God of patterns.
- He is predictable.
- He WANTS us to know Him.
- He even TELLS us what will happen – in detail – when we turn from Him.
Time and again, He responds according to His word, His patterns, and His character.
Now, many people say we can’t really know Him. But the point of the entire Bible is that YHWH WANTS US TO KNOW HIM!
And Here, He reveals Himself to us within these pages. Those who do not know Him, who are surprised by His actions, have simply neglected to read the personal letters He left for them. That is pretty much what the Bible is. It is a letter from the Father to you. In it contains His wisdom, His instruction, and His plan for His creation.
The creator of our lives left a guidebook on how to live. To ignore that is to throw the instruction manual in the trash, toss all the parts up in the air, and then express wonder when they don’t automatically assemble as they begin to haphazardly land.
In 44 We see YHWH reminding the people what happened to Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah and that those places were still desolate because of their disregard and open provoking of YHWH.
And yet, He reminds them, that they are now doing the same thing which brought about this desolation.
Jeremiah 44:7-14 He questions them. Why are they committing a great evil towards themselves? He is telling them that their sin is a self destructive sin in worshipping these idols – and turning away from Him. He then informs them of what He is going to do as a result and reiterates that this has already happened when their ancestors did the same thing so it should be no surprise.
Jeremiah 44:16-19 As a result, they basically say “Well fine then, if you’re going to punish us then we’ll just go back to making offerings to the queen of heaven because when we offered to her all went well with us.”
~did y’all just gasp? I sure did~
And about this whole making offerings to the “queen of heaven”. At what point in YHWH’s word do we see that the Father has appointed a queen of Heaven?
If you answered “nowhere” give yourself a gold star.
It is believed that this was most likely Ishtar, who was a prominent goddess among idol worshippers. Say the name real fast and see if it sounds familiar. Her namesake is a bit more far reaching in our time.
All of these people – who just a chapter or so ago swore to follow YHWH, now switched horses and decided that since He is going to punish them, they’ll just go back to the false god because life was easy when they worshipped her. This is a classic pagan mindset, brought about at least partially by these men having wives who were idol worshippers (Jer 44:15).
You recall they were warned not to intermarry and this is one of the primary reasons why.
Deut 7:3-4 “You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods”
Pagans just worshipped whatever god they deemed the most powerful and god-hopped to suit themselves and their current needs or desires.
Jeremiah 44:10 and Jeremiah 44:23 sums up their transgressions and offers a good marker for us to check ourselves against.
The thing is, in Jeremiah 44:26 we see that these people, although worshipping idols, were STILL invoking the name of YHWH as if they were still following Him as well!
Father does not play second fiddle.
They were saying that He was still watching over them and the Father comes back in Jeremiah 44:27 with
~Oh yeah, I’m watching over them alright but for disaster, not for good.~
It’s just like how I always say, when we live however we want and excuse our behavior by saying “God knows my heart”. But in most cases, that thought should not bring comfort.
Jeremiah 45:4 reminds us who is in charge.
Thus says the Lord: Behold, what I have built I am breaking down, and what I have planted I am plucking up—Jeremiah 45:4
A nation He builds is not exempt from being broken by His hand. A tree He has planted is not exempt from being uprooted.
This brings to mind Malachi 3:5-7
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
“For I YHWH do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.
For I, YHWH, do not change.
Return to me, and I will return to you.
Yes, Father, We will return.
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!