44 This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt—in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis—and in Upper Egypt: 2 “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 3 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. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods.6 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.
7 “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? 8 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. 9 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? 10 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.
11 “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. 12 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. 13 I will punish those who live in Egypt with the sword, famine and plague, as I punished Jerusalem. 14 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 44:1-14 NIV)
The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah again while he was in Egypt. Jeremiah does not identify any particular chronological references in this passage, so it may have been days, weeks, months, or even years since they arrived in Egypt. Since multiple geographic regions in Egypt were mentioned, we can assume that the timeframe has been long enough for the Jewish people to spread out from Tahpanhes.
In verses 2-3, the Lord points to the consequences of sin back in Judah and Jerusalem as the reason for God’s judgment on the people and the land. In verses 4 – 6, the Lord reminds the people that He sent prophets to speak His truth and point out the way of repentance. However, the people did not listen to the Lord or His prophets and suffered God’s discipline because of it.
In verses 7 – 10, the Lord asks a series of semi-rhetorical questions: “Why…? Why….? Have you forgotten…?” The Lord is amassing the evidence to show the Jewish people living in Egypt the error of their ways. The Lord is connecting the dots, showing the relationship between cause and effect, between action and consequence, between sin and judgment, obedience and blessing.
And what was the conclusion to all that the Lord had done so far? Verse 10 says “To this day they have not humbled themselves or shown reverence…”.
Verses 11 – 14 give the consequence: The Lord’s judgment upon the people for their sins. In the end, The Lord says that none will survive and return to Judah and Jerusalem, except a few. God will keep His promise of restoring a remnant, but the size of the group keeps getting smaller and smaller due to the people’s unwillingness to humble themselves before the Lord.
May we remember that a change in location does not alter our life issues – we cannot run away from our troubles. In fact, we take them wherever we go. Only when we repent and give our problems to the Lord, do we finally get rid of them.
May we stop and allow the Lord to “connect the dots” in our lives. Is there anything from which we need to repent? For what blessings can we be thankful?
May we confess our failures and count our blessings as we spend time with Him today, learning to rest in and depend on the God of all grace, the Comforter of our souls.