Thursday, November 25, 2021

Smite the Philistines

Week 47 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 47


“Like Jeremiah, Zechariah, and John the Baptist, Ezekiel was called by God from being a priest to serving as a prophet.”[1] Their fathers, called as priests, would suggest a culture-assumed role for their sons, but each follows God’s individual calling. A prophet of God to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, Ezekiel brings God’s message, exposing their sins and idolatries, but also, revealing God’s glorious future for them. Ezekiel, born in Jerusalem during the earliest years of Jeremiah’s ministry, likely hears Jeremiah’s prophesies. Daniel (620-540) and Ezekiel (620-570) become two great Jewish prophets in exile. “Quite possibly King Zedekiah’s visit to Babylon (Jer. 51:59-61) and the arrival of Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles (Jer 29) both occurred the year Ezekiel received his call.”[2]

Like in Jeremiah’s ministry, Babylon had many false prophets who offer false hope for the Jewish exiles. The captivity, despite the untrue talk, is to be 70 years. Scripture introduces Ezekiel as a prophet kept in captivity, called to proclaim God’s truth. “In 593 BC, six years before the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel receives his first of a series of 14 visions” during a ministry spanning 22 years, “until as his last prophetic vision in 571 BC.” Married but widowed (Ez 24:15-27), Ezekiel means God strengthens. Taken to Babylon in 597 BC, these captives find themselves in great distress, and Ezekiel delivers God’s messages of judgment and restoration.

“Although he was a priest (Ez 1:3), he served as a Jewish ‘street preacher’ in Babylon for 22 years”[3] telling and retelling about God’s judgment and restoration, calling for the people to repent and obey. Ezekiel predicts the capture and destruction of Jerusalem, God’s judgment on other nations, and foretells the blessings of restoration by a faithful God. Bold describes Ezekiel’s witness to his fellow captives in this foreign land. He calls the people to remember God, remember the truth of God, and remember the power and love of God. “While Jeremiah was prophesying in Jerusalem that the city would soon fall, Ezekiel was giving the same message to the captives who were already in Babylon.”[4]

Living in one of the darkest times of Judah’s history, the people face great difficulties and feel grave despair. Despite God’s decades of warnings, the people fail to respond. Ezekiel proclaims God’s sovereignty and how He will use “the disaster to create a new people of God.”[5] Either from denial or despair and maybe both, the Jewish people nearly lose “their identity as a people of God.”[6] God uses Ezekiel to deliver His warnings and comfort, even to those weary and worn exiles. “God’s people emerged from that catastrophic century robust and whole.”[7]


God’s judgment on the nations continues with Philistia, land of the Philistines. These “Aegean people who migrated to the southern coast of Palestine in the late 13th and early 12th century B.C.E. and became one of the Israelites’ fiercest rivals” have Biblical ancestors called the Casluhites (Gen. 10:14). Solomon rules the land from the Euphrates River and “to the land of the Philistines and to the border of Egypt.” (1 Kings 4:21) Gaza, in verse one, is a Philistine city. This chapter suggests the Pharaoh has conquered Gaza at some point. Scholars debate when this takes place. “This prophecy, foretelling the desolation of Philistia by Babylon, was fulfilled 20 years later when Nebuchadnezzar took Judah.”[8]

The enemy’s reference in verse 3, “rise from the north”, would be the Babylonians. Images that men will “cry out” and “galloping hoofs of his stallions” and enemy “chariots” paint a picture of great despair. Even their allies, Tyre and Sidon, cannot help them.

“The Philistines (philisti, meaning “to wander, immigrants”) were one of the groups of sea peoples who made their way in ancient times to the coast of Canaan. They were the remnant people of the coastland of Caphtor, the ancient name for Crete.”[9] Ashkelon, noted in verse 5, is mentioned in 1 Samuel 6:17-18 during the capture of the Philistines. This Philistine city, located between Jaffa and Gaza near the Mediterranean Sea, is also destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. “Archaeological evidence of layers of ash, broken pottery, and human remains reveals the destruction of Ashkelon at this time.”[10] The shaving of heads and gashing of themselves suggests expressions of grief.

“While the day of the Lord and the judgment on that day will be incomparably horrific, the magnificence of God’s restoration of all those from every nation who put their trust in Christ will be an incomparable wonder.”[11] God sets the appointments.

Reflection – First Sunday of Advent ~ Expectation!

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6


Advent offers us time to refocus on the promise, birth, redemption, and return of Christ. The Christmas season brings lights and gifts, love and joy; it retells the stories of prophets and angels, shepherds and magi, Mary and Jesus. All the wonders of Christmas open our imaginations to promises and possibilities. From before time until time to come, God embraces us with hope.


During Advent, we light four candles, one each of the four Sundays before Christmas. Some say they symbolize the four centuries of waiting, of silence between the prophet Malachi and the birth of Christ. Some name them hope, love, joy, and peace, while others remember prophets, Bethlehem, shepherds, and angels. What we call them is not so important. How we spend these four weeks IS! This journey of spiritual celebration begins with understanding God's infinite love and His desire for each one to experience everlasting life.


This week celebrate expectation as you consider God's magnificent plan to bring reconciliation to His people. After God creates mankind, the history of rebellion begins. From the beginning, God recognizes the spiritual needs of people and promises Jesus. Prophets foretell of His coming throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, John the Baptist fulfills OT prophecy and introduces Jesus.  Remember the thousands of years of endings and new beginnings, the thousands of years of waiting, the thousands of years of hope. Begin today, to seek the possibilities of God, to see endings as opportunities for God to bring new beginnings. Hope!



 God’s prophecies and plans show “extensive knowledge of each country’s geographic features, political alliances, military capabilities, religious worship, and besetting sins”[12]

Think about these people. How are they like you and me? What are their sins? Are their sins the same as ours? God desires all of us to be reconciled to Him.

Donna Oswalt

[1] Wiersbe Study Bible Intro to Ezekiel

[2] Ibid

[3] Chronological Life Application Study Bible Introduction to Ezekiel

[4] Ibid

[5] The Message Study Bible Introduction to Ezekiel

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Halley’s Bible Handbook Jeremiah Chapter 47

[9] Moody Bible Commentary

[10] Ibid

[11] Gospel Transformation Study Bible notes Jeremiah Chapter 47

[12] ESV Literary Study Bible Notes

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Pharaoh Falls

Week 46 – Book of Jeremiah

Read Jeremiah Chapter 46


“The great prediction which runs like a golden thread through the whole contents of the Old Testament is that regarding the coming and work of the Messiah.”[1] Many prophecies concerning the Jewish nation, to include Abraham and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, have been fulfilled. Today, some prophecies of the Bible are being fulfilled or not yet fulfilled. “The great body of Old Testament prophecy relates directly to the advent of the Messiah.”[2]  The New Testament contains many predictions directly delivered by Jesus. Christians still wait for the promise of the Second Advent of Christ to be fulfilled.

“Jeremiah indeed foretold a remarkably series of historical events.”[3] Prophecies are to help guide the Hebrew people, the Chosen People of God, despite their rebellion and disobedience. A prophet during the reign of five kings, Jeremiah gives 18 prophecies. The first prophecy relates to the fall of Judah and Jerusalem. Not well liked because of his foretelling of destruction, Jeremiah finds himself beaten, imprisoned, and although acquitted, he is even “tried on charges of the capital crime of false prophecy.”[4]

The words Jeremiah speaks come from Yahweh. Sometimes he uses symbolic meanings to explain the message, like the potter and the clay. All the prophecies have these basic truths: the sinful disobedience to God, God’s righteous judgment for the sin, and hope of restoration. God’s messenger Jeremiah defines the judgment to come as Babylonian captivity and exile and repeatedly reminds them of God’s mercy. The kings often disregarded the prophecies, to their regret.

The most profound prophecies are still remembered by the Jewish faithful today, the fall of Judah resulting in Babylonian exile and the destruction of the Temple. The defeat of Babylon and the return of the Jews to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple fulfills the prophecy of God’s plan for His people, a future to come.

Jeremiah’s prophecy regarding the New Covenant reveals a “context of redemptive history.”[5]  He prophesies during the last stages of the decline of Judah, the final years of the Southern Kingdom. Expressions of restoration and renewal weave throughout the Old Testament but complete “restoration would dawn only when Jesus of Nazareth came into Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God.”[6] The gospel “is foreshadowed by Jeremiah’s message” and with “his words and suffering he points to the sovereign grace of God in his control over world history and his faithfulness to His covenant that will be fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.”[7] Jeremiah is remembered and studied today as a prophet to the nations, a prophet of judgment and hope, a prophet of destruction and restoration.



We are entering the last segment of the book of Jeremiah, chapters 46-52. Most commentaries call chapters 46-49 God’s judgment on the nations, with chapters 50-51 relating to the fall of Babylon.  “While the names, places, and events are ancient history to most of us, the lessons behind these events reveal to us the hand of God in the rise and fall of rulers and nations.”[8] In Chapter 46 we find God’s judgment on Egypt. Even though Pharaoh Neco defeats Judah, killing King Josiah at Megiddo in 609 BC, history tells us that Nebuchadnezzar defeats Neco in Carchemish during Jehoiakim’s reign. This begins the rise of the Babylonian Empire as a superpower. In chapter 46, Jeremiah describes the Babylonian invasion of Egypt.

The famous Battle of Carchemish becomes the focus of Jeremiah, the great and shameful defeat of Egypt by a new world power. In verse 5 we again see the familiar phrase “‘terror on every side’ that we’ve met before (6:25, 20:3) and will meet again (49:29).”[9] Full of confidence, Egyptian military leaders go into battle with horses and chariots. “Egypt is the primary source of fine horses during this time period.”[10] Horses imported from Egypt during Solomon’s reign sell for “600 shekels of silver.”[11] Predictions that “no healing” for Egypt (v 11) is especially ironic as “Egypt was renowned for its expertise in the healing arts.”[12] This is “a holy war in that God offered Egypt as a sacrifice.”[13]

Scholars date vs 13-26 around 568-67 BC, which fulfills Jeremiah’s action sermon previously described in Jeremiah 43:8-13. Various metaphors and imagery reflect soldiers, military failure, symbols of the Egyptian pharaoh, and Egyptian deities. “I shall give them over… into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.” (v 26) Nebuchadnezzar does conquer Egypt but his “conquest of Egypt was only temporary, the destruction minimal, and he soon withdrew without making it part of his empire.”[14]

In the closing words, once again God’s hope for Israel rises above the chaos, “I am going to save you from afar.” (v 27) The Lord continues to reassure, “do not fear, for I am with you.” (v 28) “God’s love is far-reaching and multifaceted. It includes blessing, protection, and guidance. It also includes discipline, forgiveness, and restoration.”[15]


. . . The LORD merely spoke, and the heavens were created. He breathed the word, and all the stars were born. He gave the sea its boundaries and locked the oceans in vast reservoirs . . . let everyone stand in awe of Him. . . The LORD looks down from heaven and sees the whole human race. From His throne He observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so He understands everything they do. . . the LORD watches over those who fear Him, those who rely on His unfailing love. . . We depend on the LORD alone to save us. Only He can help us, protecting us like a shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we are trusting in His holy name. . . our hope is in You alone. Psalm 33 NLT

I invite you to read all of Psalm 33 as it describes the characteristics of our Sovereign God, the LORD of all creation. In these verses we are reminded of Genesis chapter 1 as it reflects the beginnings of the world. God is referred to in Genesis 1:1-3 as Elohimthe All-powerful One, the Creator. The LORD in Psalm 33 is the Hebrew Yahweh, I AM, the One Who Is. God never changes, and His promises never fail. He is always faithful, even when we are not.


I don’t know about you, but my imagination cannot begin to understand this kind of holy power. Just thinking about the minute details of every living thing brings a sense of awe and wonder to my mind. This reverent awe, this overwhelming wonder brings me to my knees in worship and praise of God. This kind of fear transforms the heart, mind, and soul; this is the mark of reverence.


LORD, Yahweh ~ You are the beginning and the end of all things, of all measured time. Your whisper can change the wind, calm the storm, light the night sky, and water the earth. Your Goodness embraces me and Your Protection surrounds me, but I do not notice. You are the Source of life, yet I forget. Forgive me as You fill me with holy wonder. Transform me as You teach me unfailing love. May my life reveal a mark of reverence for the Creator of all!



Eugene Peterson writes, “God isn’t geographically restricted… His mercy extends to the far corners of the earth.” We frequently make God small, try to explain the mystery, and sometimes put Him in a little defined and limited container.

How BIG do you allow God to be in your life?

Donna Oswalt

[1] Easton’s Bible Dictionary

[2] Ibid

[3] Prophecies of Jeremiah

[4] Ibid

[5] Gospel Transformation Study Bible, intro to Jeremiah

[6] Ibid

[7] Ibid

[8] Be Decisive, Wiersbe, Warren p 164

[9] Ibid, p 165

[10] Archaeological Study Bible

[11] 1 Kings 10:28-29                                                                                                                                                           

[12] Archaeological Study Bible

[13] Wiersbe, p 165

[14] Apologetics Study Bible, Jeremiah 46:26b

[15] Blackaby Study Bible notes on Jeremiah 46

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Weary and Worn

Week 45 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 45


The Old Testament book, sometimes referred to as Lamentations of Jeremiah the prophet, consists of melancholy and mournful poetic recollections  of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. “Tradition holds that the prophet Jeremiah was the author of Lamentations.”[1] Some more contemporary scholars raise doubts about his authorship, although many agree “it is apparently written by an eyewitness to Jerusalem’s destruction” in 587-586 BC.[2] Descriptive language in Lamentations 3:1 and Lamentations chapter 4 strongly suggests this. Lamentations is read in synagogues each year “on the ninth day of the month Ab” (the fifth Hebrew month), to commemorate “the destruction of the first and second temples.”[3]

Perhaps one of the most important contributions of Lamentations is “the Hebrew people believed.  God would never allow pagans to capture the holy city or to enter the Most Holy Place.”[4] Their infidelity to God opens this door of weeping and permits the world’s wickedness to enter. God’s sovereign judgment allows this. Lamentations, also, expresses the anguish of the people, reveals the consequences of their disobedience.

These five chapters include themes of mourning for Jerusalem, God’s righteous judgment of Judah, the hope that rises in the suffering, and prayer for restoration. In the Bible, Lamentations falls between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. “In the Old Testament” it is frequently common for “cities to be portrayed as a woman.”[5] Using the phrase “Daughter of Zion” personifies Jerusalem and appears seven times in the book. The writer’s raw emotion, pure anger and disappointment, both rages and rests in the presence of God, both shouts and whispers directly to God.

One of the most familiar passages in Lamentations is 3:22-23, “The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” The writer gives testimony to whom he believes God to be, to the hope trusting God brings. “Lamentations is a confronting book, showing us the seriousness of rebellion against God.”[6] The language, honest and radical, exposes sin and consequence. Hope is reborn in grief and restored in love. God’s mercies are unfathomable and ever new.



Most scholars think the recorded event of Jeremiah Chapter 45 dates, “about 605 BC, before the fall of Jerusalem, in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim, son of Josiah, King of Judah.”[7] The timeline is about four years after the first group from Judah is exiled to Babylon, which happens in 609 BC. Remembering that this book is not in chronological order, this event fits between Jeremiah 36:8 and 36:9. Chapter 45 is the last in a series of chapters that describe God’s judgment of Judah.

Following God’s instructions, Jeremiah’s scribe records the message to Judah on a scroll. Here, Baruch’s lamentations moan“woe is me” and “I am worn out.” (v3) Recognizing all that had been built, God is now going to tear it down, all that has been planted will be uprooted. Reality of the coming destruction weighs on him. God promises Baruch that despite all the disaster, He will protect him.

“That the names of [Baruch’s] father Neriah and his grandfather Mahseiah (32:12) are given may indicate that he comes from an educated family of the upper class.”[8] Not only does Baruch record the words of Yahweh, but he also must read them out loud (36:4-8). All this reinforces the profoundness of the truth, deepness of the despair.

God responds in 46:5, “But are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them.” Despite the destruction and disaster to come, God says He will protect Baruch. Keeping the focus on God, keeping the hope in God matters more than the disappointment that limited vision offers. Centuries later, Jesus teaches this lesson of sacrifice in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Christ’s crucifixion magnifies the word sacrifice; Christ’s death and resurrection personifies the “ransom for many.”


. . . by the mercies of God: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what He wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 The Message

The Scripture above is more familiar in the translations that use phrases like living sacrifices and be transformed by the renewing of your mind, but The Message gives us examples of how we are to be these phrases. Becoming too much like the world is a constant danger for us. The power of the world entertains our imaginations, teases our thoughts, heightens our emotions. Darkness will always lure us down to its level of immaturity. So, how are we to be transformed? We must keep our focus on God, whose compassions “are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:23)

Eternal Hope ~
I confess that darkness entices me, and each time, I rediscover its illusions of better and happier and wishful. Deceptively, the world veils the truth like a magician, distracting me with a maze of limited results. This is not hope!

The Word tells me to passionately wait and quietly hope in God. I am to bring the things of my ordinary life and to offer them to the Holy Father. Lovingly and creatively chosen for me, God’s purposes are always best. I wait for Hope!

Transform me! Make me more like You; change me from the inside out.
Renew me! Find me where I am; pour out Your mercies everyday.
Teach me! Give me life lessons that grow faith; develop perseverance.
Refine me! Take my joys and my burdens; melt me into Your will.
Create me new everyday with Your unlimited possibilities! 
You are Living Hope! Amen.

Lamentations 3:24-30 The Message


Blackaby reminds, “Our chief aim ought to be the accomplishment of God’s will, not the achievement of our plans.”

How often do my ambitions conflict with God’s hope for me? Where do I find contentment?

God is patient with me because He wants me to experience spiritual transformation. Identify some ways God has/is transforming you spiritually.

Donna Oswalt

[1] Harper’s Bible Dictionary Lamentations

[2] Blackaby Study Bible Intro to Lamentations

[3] Archaeological Study Bible Lamentations

[4] Blackaby

[5] Archaeological Study Bible

[6] Gospel Transformation Study Bible Intro to Lamentations

[7] Walking the Ancient Paths Kaiser, Walter C, p 485

[8] Ibid, p 486

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

Don't Blame God

Week 44 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 44


In the last few chapters of Jeremiah, we read about a “remnant” of Judah, the ones left behind after three times Jews are exiled to Babylon. What do we know about the “Jewish remnant” that God promises to spare, the remnant that will become the future of Israel? Who is the remnant? In Deuteronomy (30:1-3), after forty years of wandering, in Moab, about two months before the children of Israel cross the Jordan River to enter the Promise Land, Moses’ words are both promise and prophecy and “introduces the concept of a future restoration of Israel. This prophecy includes todays’s descendants of Israel.[1]

Remnant is mentioned various places in the Old Testament. The term is used in Isaiah (10:20-22) and refers to those who survive the invasion of the Assyrians. In Isaiah (11:11-16) God promises that one day they will return to the Promised Land given by Yahweh. “Isaiah’s concept of the remnant may have included both the faithful minority and and those who would accept God’s message under the impact of the forthcoming disaster”.[2]

Remnant is also included in the prophets’ writings of Micah, Jeremiah, and Zephaniah. Jeremiah calls them, “the poor people who had nothing “ and are left in Judah when all the others are exiled to Babylon. Micah 2:12 reads, “I will surely gather the remnant of Israel.” The prophet Zephaniah (3:17-20) tells of a future for Israel when God will deal with their oppressors, save the lame, gather the outcasts, and restore their fortunes. Obedience to God, worshiping the One True God brings restoration. “God will act on behalf of all His people who have suffered in exile.”[3]

Prophets Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, and Zechariah write after the exile. Their Biblical writings suggest Jews who return to Jerusalem from Babylon captivity are the remnant. Ezra (9:8-9) tells of the grace of God who leaves a “remnant” to restore Jerusalem, as the King of Persia (Cyrus) will allow their return. “Prophets also spoke positively of a remnant of Israel who would repent and be restored after the purifying judgment of exiles and who would continue to bear the identity and destiny of Israel.”[4] This is a testimony of God’s enduring lovingkindness.

In the New Testament (Romans 11:5), the faithful remnant is mentioned. Paul, an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, part of the tribe of Benjamin, and evangelist for the Gospel of Christ, writes that God has a plan for the righteous remnant. He explains, how God includes the Gentiles into His grace, and “even though many of [the Jews] are presently rejecting the gospel, God still has a merciful plan for saving all his people, both Jews and Gentiles.”[5] Paul closes this writing with truth, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Or WHO HAS FIRST GIVEN TO HIM THAT IT MIGHT BE PAID BACK TO HIM AGAIN? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

Prophecies of exile and destruction of Israel along with promises of survival and hope run throughout the Bible. Scripture gives evidence to “the belief that the future of Israel would be assured by the faithful remnant surviving the calamities that would befall the people as a a result of them departing from the way of God.”[6] Jeremiah echoes God’s promise, “Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply”, follows with God’s prophecy, “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: The LORD is our righteousness.” (Jeremiah 23:3. 5-6)

Another concept of the remnant is the church, the body of Christ. Matthew 7:13-14 reveals the way to God is to enter through the narrow gate. Few will choose the narrow way; few will find eternal life. Looking back, Jeremiah 31:10 reminds, “He who scattered Israel will gather him.” This is a glimpse of the sovereignty of God, the goodness of His righteous judgment, and divine plan for reconciliation and restoration. This is the great mystery of faith. “The eternal promise and plan of God is declared irrevocable by Paul in Romans 11:29, but that is no guarantee that every person or every generation will participate in that promise God made to Israel, for that will only come by belief and trust in the coming Man of Promise, the Messiah.”[7] God’s steadfast loves endures.


“This is Jeremiah’s last recorded message to his people, given in Egypt probably in the year 580 BC.”[8] Beginning in 626 BC, Jeremiah’s ministry stands at a total of forty-six years. In Chapter 44:1, Jeremiah addresses “all the Jews living  in the land of Egypt” with the list suggesting they have settled in diverse locations throughout Egypt. After arriving in Egypt, they soon begin to worship local gods. Seemingly oblivious their disobedience and idolatry are the reasons for God’s judgement. Despite God telling them not to go to Egypt, they go anyway and continue to ignore God. While a harsh consequence, God’s message is loud and clear: “So there will be no refugees or survivors for the remnant of Judah who have entered the land of Egypt to reside there and then to return to the land of Judah, to which they are longing to return and live; for none will return except a few refugees.” (v14) Who are these refugees that find exception? “Only those who repented of going to Egypt and returned to their own land would escape judgment. God wanted a change of both attitude and action.”[9]

Excuses for worshiping idols abound. “This is a most revealing glimpse of spiritual perversity…these people were turning the truth exactly upside down.”[10] The reference to the “queen of heaven” likely identifies the Babylonian fertility goddess Ishtar. Prior to Josiah’s reformation in Judah, incense is burned, and immoral acts of worship are offered to Ishtar. In Egypt, they return to the cult of idol worship, giving credit for past prosperity and now seeking blessings again.

Jeremiah condemns their sacrifices to idols and offers them a sign that God will not tolerate their behavior. The Pharaoh Hophra of Egypt will be handed over to Nebuchadnezzar. History records Hophra loses his throne and is executed. These hostages turned refugees continue disobeying and ignoring God, never learning from previous mistakes.


The LORD your God is making this covenant with you who stand in His presence today and also with all future generations of Israel. . . The LORD made this covenant with you so that no man, woman, family, or tribe among you would turn away from the LORD our God to worship these gods of other nations . . . if you are drawn away to serve and worship other gods, then I warn you now that you will certainly be destroyed. . .Today I give you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses… Choose to love the LORD you God and to obey Him and commit yourself to Him, for He is your life… (from Deuteronomy 29-30)

The Israelites are God's Chosen People, a covenant-people. The warnings of Moses will become reality. Israel and Judah will both choose to worship idols, choose to follow the rituals of religion but without the right intention. Both will fall as predicted because they are not totally committed to the Lord. (You can read the following references for an account of their fall: 2 Kings 17 for Israel's exile to Assyria; 2 Chronicles 36 for Judah's exile to Babylon.)

God provides the way for the Israelites to remain separated from the pagan culture of this new land, provides a guide to purity and faithfulness that would signify that they belong to Him. Their faithfulness to God through the Covenant would provide all they need in their Promised Land. To be successful they need to remain committed to God.

Commitment is not easy. Remaining faithful to God requires us to seek God at every turn. While God provides all that we need and more, unless we seek Him in obedience and follow with sincere commitment, we, too, will miss the blessings. In our faith journey, God gives us a choice, too. We can choose to worship the Lord, choose to love the Lord wholeheartedly, or we choose to go another way, choose the way of the world. Our commitment to God's Promises defines the depth of our faithfulness and the height of our joy!

The LORD your God will make you successful in everything you do. . . God will delight in being good to you. Deuteronomy 30:9

Even though the Israelites wander from God in their new land, He never stops loving them. He will restore them. Even if we wander from Him, God still chooses to love us! He will restore us! Jesus Christ becomes the New Covenant for all people. Through Him, our relationship with God can be restored. God is totally committed and chooses us!


Lord, I am amazed that You choose me ~ choose to love me with my doubts and failures, choose to reach out to me when I look the other way, choose to heal me with all my wounds, choose to rescue me when I wander so far away. You are totally committed! Forgive me! Encourage me! Strengthen me! I long for my intentions to be pure, faithful, committed. I long for Your Delight! Amen.



Do you blame God for your circumstances, your past, your failures, your doubts, your disappointments, your future?

How do I demonstrate my total commitment to God? What are my consequences when I choose another way?

Donna Oswalt

[1] “What the Bible says about the Remnant of Israel”

[2] Remnant of Israel

[3] ESV Global Study Bible notes Zephaniah

[4] Ibid

[5] ESV Literary Study Bible Notes Romans 11


[7] Walking the Ancient Paths Kaiser, Walter C, p 480

[8] Be Decisive, Wiersbe, Warren, p160

[9] Life Application Study Bible Notes Jeremiah 44

[10]Jeremiah Kidner, Derek p 133