Jeremiah 44-45 Idolatry, Cursing, And The Surety Of The Word.
To those who fled to Egypt, the word of the LORD to them through Jeremiah was that they would suffer the same desolation as occurred in Judah because of their idolatry, which was spiritual adultery (vv. 1-3). They did this even though the LORD had sent to them his “servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, ‘Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!’” (v. 4) Three things are here pointed out concerning true prophets. Firstly, they are those who are sent by the LORD, they do not act on their own volition. Secondly, they are his servants, so they do not speak their own words, but the LORD’s. Finally, they are sent out early, meaning before a man plans his day or way, the LORD intends that his word be our guide. The covenant breakers refused to heed the law-word of the covenant, and thus to repent of their idolatry, therefore the curses promised for covenantal violation were coming as warned (v. 5). Their desolation was as a result of the LORD’s anger against them (v. 6).
However, it was not just an evil done against the LORD, it was also an evil done against themselves. They had become slaves to what are not gods, but the figments of the imaginations of men. They exchanged the worship of their living Maker and Redeemer, and bound themselves to dead and useless things (vv. 7-8). They forgot their most recent history, namely the fall of Jerusalem, because of the same idolatry (v. 9). Three things characterized their state. Firstly, they did not humble themselves. Secondly, they did not fear the LORD. Thirdly, and what was the ultimate cause of their downfall, they refused to walk according to the LORD’s law and statutes (v. 10). Therefore the remnant that fled to Egypt, contrary to the word of warning from the LORD, would perish there. They would forever serve as an example of the curse that comes upon those who break their covenantal oath (vv. 11-14). Jeremiah seems to indicate that this came as a result of the men’s wives, probably marrying outside the covenant, and taking on their gods (v. 15).
They could not be any clearer in their response to Jeremiah, and the LORD. “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you!” (v. 16) They actually believed that it was their idolatrous worship that caused them to prosper (vv. 17-18). Then their wives speak, saying that their husbands knew full well what they were doing (v. 19). It sounds like an echo from the garden (Cf. Gen. 3). It is just such idolatry that the word calls abominations, for which they and the land was cursed (vv. 20-22). Again, the reason is clear, they had sinned against the LORD, refusing to obey his word, and to walk according to “His law, in His statutes or in his testimonies” (v. 23). The statutes and testimonies are that legislation found in the word that applies the law to life situations. Thus when people reject the application of God’s law, they actually reject the law itself. They confessed that they made vows to idols that they would keep, and in so doing broke the vow which they had made to the LORD (vv. 24-25).
Their was a contest which they had set up themselves, between their words and the word of the LORD. However the LORD also makes very clear that out of the remnant that fled to Egypt, there would be a remnant of those who would one day return to the land of Judah. The punishment would be the sign that it is the LORD’s word that would prevail (vv. 26-29). The Pharoah of Egypt would be given to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, just as was Zedekiah (v. 31). Again we are told that the way this book came to be was in Baruch being Jeremiah’s scribe (44:1). Evidently Baruch felt sorry for himself, being ostracized as it were (v. 2). Apparently he had hoped for great things for himself, and was thus disappointed. He had to be told that this was the wrong thing to dwell on, that he should frankly be thankful that the LORD had determined to spare his life. The great work was that the LORD was breaking up and uprooting (vv. 3-5).