Are you wise or foolish? The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about foolish and sinful choices: “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty” (Prov. 22:3). And these actions have consequences: “The waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them” (Prov. 1:32).
Even though Jeremiah was kidnapped and taken to Egypt by the disobedient Jewish remnant, his prophetic ministry continued. Through the object lesson of the buried stones (Jer. 43:8–10), he continued to tell his people that their disobedience was sinful. Their idolatry would result in the righteous wrath of God (Jer. 44:7–10). Egypt could not protect them, for Babylon would conquer them as well. They would never return home; instead, they would die in Egypt (vv. 11–14). But, even now, the hope of humble repentance was held out to them (v. 10).
The people’s response was further arrogance and insolence (vv. 15–19). We might paraphrase their response this way: We will not listen. We will not obey. We reject God’s warning. We will continue doing as we please. The punishment that has fallen on us is not from God but because of times in the past when we stopped worshiping idols. They were likely referring to King Josiah’s revival, which lasted from about 621 to 609 B.C. In any case, they proclaimed their loyalty to the Queen of Heaven, that is, Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility.
If we are looking at these events in chronological order, verses 20–23 are Jeremiah’s last words: He condemned their idolatry and confirmed God’s judgment on their sins. Tradition tells us that Jeremiah was stoned to death by his fellow Jews in Egypt.
>> Today’s title is a question many parents ask (with a sigh) about their children. We need love, patience, and self-control to parent like God does. Pray today for more of these virtues!
Extended reading: Jeremiah 44–45
Dear God, You are the ultimate example of love, patience, and self-control. Help us emulate You in our dealings with our children, employees, and others under our authority.