Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Consequences Of Refusing To Take Responsibility

Jeremiah 44:20-30

“Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind?  So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; 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 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.”  (Jeremiah 44:20-23)

The people had told Jeremiah that their problems had begun with their stopping worshipping the queen of heaven.  They made a common logical mistake, that because two events occurred in close proximity, one caused the other.  Sometimes it is true that the first event caused the second, but sometimes something else caused both events, and other times there is no connection between the two events.  Even when the first event caused the second, we need to find out what caused the first one.   A failure to determine the underlying cause leaves the opportunity for the problem to happen again. 

While Josiah had sought the Lord with his whole heart and destroyed the altars of the other gods, he had gotten involved in a battle between Egypt and the Assyrians and gotten himself killed.  The Egyptians them put his son Jehoiakim as king, claiming Judah as Egyptian territory and introducing the Egyptian gods.  Four years later, the Babylonians conquered Egypt, even though they were still worshipping the queen of heaven. Had they thought it through it should have been obvious that just worshipping the Queen of Heaven would not have prevented the Babylonian invasion of Judah. 

Jeremiah explained that the problem was not that they had quit serving he queen of Heaven, but that they had begun.  Every time they offered a sacrifice or incense to her it was an insult to God, much like a married person caught making out with somebody other than their mate.   It is a sure way of causing marital problems.   Judah was in effect blaming their unhappiness on having stopped seeing the other person rather than taking responsibility for their sin, and God wasn’t buying it.  Their misery was the result of their unfaithfulness. 

“Moreover Jeremiah said unto all the people, and to all the women, Hear the word of the LORD, all Judah that are in the land of Egypt: Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying; Ye 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: ye will surely accomplish your vows, and surely perform your vows.

Therefore hear ye the word of the LORD, all Judah that dwell in the land of Egypt; Behold, I have sworn by my great name, saith the LORD, that my name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah in all the land of Egypt, saying, The Lord GOD liveth.   Behold, I will 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 be an end of them.” (Jeremiah 44:24-27)

It is possible to work things out and even have a strong marriage if the guilty spouse is willing to place their marriage as more important than other things.  If however, they then go back and have another affair, their mate has every reason for filing for divorce and refusing to be considered their husband or wife.  God in effect divorced those who worshipped the queen of Heaven, for having gone back and having another affair.  He swore that no Jew who had chosen to worship the Egyptian gods would ever refer to him as their God again.   God would no longer go out of his way to minimize their suffering, but would , when given a choice do what would hurt them until  they were completely destroyed. 

“Yet a small number that escape the sword shall 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 shall stand, mine, or theirs. “ (Jeremiah 44:28)

In spite of his anger, god still loved Judah.  A few, those who had been taken to Egypt against their will and wished to serve the Lord would still be saved.  They would know the truth of the matter, whether Jeremiah was right or whether the people were. 

“And this shall be a sign unto you, saith the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, that ye may know that my words shall surely stand against you for evil: Thus saith the LORD; 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.” (Jeremiah 44:29-30)

God had told Israel the way to know whether a prophecy was from God or not was by whether the short term parts of the prophecy came to pass.  If they did not the prophecy was not from God.  The test or proof of Jeremiah’s prophecy would be that the Jews would be punished right where they were.  Hophra, the pharaoh of Egypt would be defeated and taken by Nebuchadnezzar just as Zedekiah king of Judah had been, partly for protecting the Jews from punishment for the deaths of his governor and other representatives.    Their refusal to take responsibility for their sin would cost them and those who supported them.  

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