Scriptures

Jeremiah 44

Introduction

We have seen the prophecies of Jeremiah throughout his book, but this chapter is believed to be his final prophecy, that is, chronologically speaking. It seems that right up to the very end of his life, this great 6th Century B.C. servant of God was serving his God.

We don’t know the exact date of this writing, but we know that it came after the events we have just dealt with in Jeremiah 43. We know this because we are told here that the remnant was living in various cities of Egypt, which seems to indicate that they had been in Egypt for some time.

A suggested outline of this chapter would be:

1. Jeremiah warned them that their fate would be the same as that of Jerusalem’s, if they disobeyed. Jeremiah 44:1-7.

2. Worshipping idols would destroy them. Jeremiah 44:8-10.

3. Sword, Famine and Plague, your reward. Jeremiah 44:11-14. 4. We will worship the Queen of Heaven. Jeremiah 44:15-19.

5. Jeremiah warns punishment for their false reasons. Jeremiah 44:20-23.

6. God will keep His word. Jeremiah 44:24-30.

‘This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt—in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis— and in Upper Egypt: ‘This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. Again, and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.’ Jeremiah 44:1-6

These verses recap on the recent events concerning Judah. Migdol is a Canaanite term meaning tower or fortress. The proper name of the city is Magdala, mentioned in the Tel el Amana tablets. Pathros was the designation of upper or lower Egypt. Jeremiah gives an overall view of the previous and present rebellions, of the people, the remnant, against God.

Surely, they could not fall to see the consequences of their behaviour?

They are also warned against committing the same awful sin of idol worship, as their forefathers did.

It is believed that the location of this event was in the southern end of Egypt. It is also believed that Jews from all over Egypt had gathered at this spot for some kind of festival, to the Queen of Heaven. The women were taking the leading role in this. Jeremiah comes amongst them. He warns them to repent and turn back to God, and he reminds them of what happened to Jerusalem and the surrounding towns in Judah.

Have you forgotten that God punished his people back home for doing the very same things that you are now doing?

Isn’t marvellous to see how Jeremiah continues his great work for God?

This may be his last message, but despite the rebellion of God’s people, Jeremiah remains faithful to the cause.

‘Now this is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Why bring such great disaster on yourselves by cutting off from Judah the men and women, the children and infants, and so leave yourselves without a remnant? Why arouse my anger with what your hands have made, burning incense to other gods in Egypt, where you have come to live? You will destroy yourselves and make yourselves a curse and an object of reproach among all the nations on earth. Have you forgotten the wickedness committed by your ancestors and by the kings and queens of Judah and the wickedness committed by you and your wives in the land of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem? To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence, nor have they followed my law and the decrees I set before you and your ancestors. ‘Therefore, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I am determined to bring disaster on you and to destroy all Judah. I will take away the remnant of Judah who were determined to go to Egypt to settle there. They will all perish in Egypt; they will fall by the sword or die from famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by sword or famine. They will become a curse and an object of horror, a curse and an object of reproach. I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. None of the remnant of Judah who have gone to live in Egypt will escape or survive to return to the land of Judah, to which they long to return and live; none will return except a few fugitives.’ Jeremiah 44:7-14

Punishment will be severe if they don’t obey God’s commands. The remnant will perish, and there will only be a handful of survivors. Verse 9 compares the wickedness of the queens of Judah and the wickedness of the ordinary wives back in their homeland.

The mention of the queens of Judah reminds us of the queens of Solomon, who worshipped pagan temples for themselves, and led Solomon to worship them.

These verses warn the people, you will have no part in the future plans of God. The future of God’s people will rest with the remnant that return from Babylon, not with the remnant in Egypt. They may still be dreaming of returning to Judah, but they will die in Egypt.

‘Then all the men who knew that their wives were burning incense to other gods, along with all the women who were present—a large assembly—and all the people living in Lower and Upper Egypt, said to Jeremiah, ‘We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD! We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. At that time, we had plenty of food and were well off and suffered no harm. But ever since we stopped burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have had nothing and have been perishing by sword and famine.’ The women added, ‘When we burned incense to the Queen of Heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did not our husbands know that we were making cakes impressed with her image and pouring out drink offerings to her?’ Jeremiah 44:15-19

As soon as they entered the land, they were embracing the gods of Egypt. As I’ve already said, it was the women who were the main culprits, and they encouraged their men to offer drink offerings and to burn incense. Despite all the warnings, the remnant carried on in their destructive ways.

They thought that IF, as their fore-fathers had done, they offered to Molech and Ishtar, then food would be plentiful, just as it was in the previous days. Their mistake was in thinking that God okayed this. They did not realise that God allowed them to destroy themselves by their foolish actions. He took so much from them, and then He punished them.

Who was this Queen of Heaven?

She has been identified with many female goddesses, such as Ashtaroth, Ishtar, Venus, Aphrodite. She was considered to be the goddess of fertility, the female equivalent of Baal. There was absolutely no reason for God’s people to be worshipping a sex-goddess instead of worshipping God Himself.

It was obviously, the kind of sexual pleasures they achieved from this that attracted them to this kind of worship. A similar problem is clearly shown in Numbers 25, where God’s people preferred this kind of worship to that commanded by God.

In verse 18 the people claimed that it was only because they had stopped worshipping the Queen of Heaven that all of the problems appeared, they had received nothing but perishing by famine and the sword since they stopped burning incense!

They are probably referring to the reign of the good king, Josiah. whose reforms led to idol worship being stopped. He stopped all of the shameful wickedness prevalent at that time. Now they are claiming that it was the reforms that caused the disaster in Jerusalem, and that their worship of idols had done more good for them than God had done.

The harlot in Hosea 2:5 says,

‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’

Like the remnant in Egypt, she didn’t realise that all these good things came from God.

In verse 19 the women seem to be saying, don’t think we did all this without our husband’s approval. Like all of these so-called gods, the worship of the Queen of Heaven had connections with astrology. They with the sun, the moon, and the stars. You may recall the words of Stephen in Acts 7:42 when he said,

‘God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies.’

It was to this type of goddess that Stephen was referring.

‘Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, who were answering him, ‘Did not the LORD remember and call to mind the incense burned in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem by you and your ancestors, your kings and your officials and the people of the land? When the LORD could no longer endure your wicked actions and the detestable things you did, your land became a curse and a desolate waste without inhabitants, as it is today. Because you have burned incense and have sinned against the LORD and have not obeyed him or followed his law or his decrees or his stipulations, this disaster has come upon you, as you now see.’ Then Jeremiah said to all the people, including the women, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, all you people of Judah in Egypt. This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You and your wives have done what you said you would do when you promised, ‘We will certainly carry out the vows we made to burn incense and pour out drink offerings to the Queen of Heaven.’ ‘Go ahead then, do what you promised! Keep your vows! But hear the word of the LORD, all you Jews living in Egypt: ‘I swear by my great name,’ says the LORD, ‘that no one from Judah living anywhere in Egypt will ever again invoke my name or swear, “As surely as the Sovereign LORD lives.’ For I am watching over them for harm, not for good; the Jews in Egypt will perish by sword and famine until they are all destroyed. Those who escape the sword and return to the land of Judah from Egypt will be very few. Then the whole remnant of Judah who came to live in Egypt will know whose word will stand—mine or theirs. ‘This will be the sign to you that I will punish you in this place,’ declares the LORD, ‘so that you will know that my threats of harm against you will surely stand.’ This is what the LORD says: ‘I am going to deliver Pharaoh Hophra king of Egypt into the hands of his enemies who want to kill him, just as I gave Zedekiah king of Judah into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the enemy who wanted to kill him.’ Jeremiah 44:20-30

In verse 21 Jeremiah is as good as saying, do you think that all of these people, who worship idols such as the Queen of Heaven, really succeeded because of them?

If that is what you believe, think about the land of Judah, and the ruin in which you left it!

Here we have Jeremiah’s last words to this remnant. He reaffirms his belief that worshipping idols and turning their backs on God were the causes of Judah’s recent downfall. And because they had learnt nothing from this, it would also be the cause of their downfall.

Jeremiah then throws down the challenge to them, carry on your ways if you want to, but, if you do, God will surely punish you. Their end would come about by the overthrow of Pharaoh. Captivity was to be the future reward for Egypt as well.

We don’t know if Jeremiah lived long enough to see this prophecy fulfilled. We do know that he was killed in Egypt by those who hated him. He was killed because he faithfully carried the messages of God to a people who thought that they knew better than him, and better then God.

Go To Jeremiah 45

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

Hebrews 4:12

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