Did you hear the message? Did you receive the message? Did you respond to the message? Were you listening or did you ignore the message? Were you understanding the message? How will you respond? Will you allow the message to make a difference or will you keep living life like you used to? Will you live a life transformed or repeating the past? Do you get it?
This morning’s reading starts with an interesting situation where people are being confronted by the truth of what just happened, the reason behind it, and the fact that they were given many opportunities to turn, but they didn’t and have left destruction behind them. Have you heard a message? Have you received a memo about your life? Have you received it or ignored it? Let’s jump in and hear what God has to say today…
The Lord’s Message to the Israelites in Egypt1The Lord spoke to me concerning all the Israelites living in Egypt, in the cities of Migdol, Tahpanhes, and Memphis, and in the southern part of the country. 2The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, said, “You yourselves have seen the destruction I brought on Jerusalem and all the other cities of Judah. Even now they are still in ruins, and no one lives in them 3because their people had done evil and had made me angry. They offered sacrifices to other gods and served gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever worshiped. 4I kept sending you my servants the prophets, who told you not to do this terrible thing that I hate. 5But you would not listen or pay any attention. You would not give up your evil practice of sacrificing to other gods. 6So I poured out my anger and fury on the towns of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem, and I set them on fire. They were left in ruins and became a horrifying sight, as they are today.7“And so I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, now ask why you are doing such an evil thing to yourselves. Do you want to bring destruction on men and women, children and babies, so that none of your people will be left? 8Why do you make me angry by worshiping idols and by sacrificing to other gods here in Egypt, where you have come to live? Are you doing this just to destroy yourselves, so that every nation on earth will make fun of you and use your name as a curse? 9Have you forgotten all the wicked things that have been done in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem by your ancestors, by the kings of Judah and their wives, and by you and your wives? 10But to this day you have not humbled yourselves. You have not honored me or lived according to all the laws that I gave you and your ancestors.11“So then, I, the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, will turn against you and destroy all Judah. 12As for the people of Judah who are left and are determined to go and live in Egypt, I will see to it that all of them are destroyed. All of them, great and small, will die in Egypt, either in war or of starvation. They will be a horrifying sight; people will make fun of them and use their name as a curse. 13I will punish those who live in Egypt, just as I punished Jerusalem—with war, starvation, and disease. 14None of the people of Judah who are left and have come to Egypt to live will escape or survive. Not one of them will return to Judah, where they long to live once again. No one will return except a few refugees.”15Then all the men who knew that their wives offered sacrifices to other gods, and all the women who were standing there, including the Israelites who lived in southern Egypt—a large crowd in all—said to me, 16“We refuse to listen to what you have told us in the name of the Lord. 17We will do everything that we said we would. We will offer sacrifices to our goddess, the Queen of Heaven, and we will pour out wine offerings to her, just as we and our ancestors, our king and our leaders, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. Then we had plenty of food, we were prosperous, and had no troubles. 18But ever since we stopped sacrificing to the Queen of Heaven and stopped pouring out wine offerings to her, we have had nothing, and our people have died in war and of starvation.”19And the women added, “When we baked cakes shaped like the Queen of Heaven, offered sacrifices to her, and poured out wine offerings to her, our husbands approved of what we were doing.”20Then I said to all the men and the women who had answered me in this way, 21“As for the sacrifices which you and your ancestors, your kings and your leaders, and the people of the land offered in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem—do you think that the Lord did not know about them or that he forgot them? 22This very day your land lies in ruins and no one lives in it. It has become a horrifying sight, and people use its name as a curse because the Lord could no longer endure your wicked and evil practices. 23This present disaster has come on you because you offered sacrifices to other gods and sinned against the Lord by not obeying all his commands.”24-25I told all the people, especially the women, what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, was saying to the people of Judah living in Egypt: “Both you and your wives have made solemn promises to the Queen of Heaven. You promised that you would offer sacrifices to her and pour out wine offerings to her, and you have kept your promises. Very well, then! Keep your promises! Carry out your vows! 26But now listen to the vow that I, the Lord, have made in my mighty name to all you Israelites in Egypt: Never again will I let any of you use my name to make a vow by saying, ‘I swear by the living Sovereign Lord!’ 27I will see to it that you will not prosper, but will be destroyed. All of you will die, either in war or of disease, until not one of you is left. 28But a few of you will escape death and return from Egypt to Judah. Then the survivors will know whose words have come true, mine or theirs. 29I, the Lord, will give you proof that I will punish you in this place and that my promise to bring destruction on you will come true. 30 I will hand over King Hophra of Egypt to his enemies who want to kill him, just as I handed over King Zedekiah of Judah to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, who was his enemy and wanted to kill him.”–from Jeremiah 44
God’s Promise to Baruch1In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, Baruch wrote down what I had dictated to him. Then I told him 2that the Lord, the God of Israel, had said, “Baruch, 3you are saying, ‘I give up! The Lord has added sorrow to my troubles. I am worn out from groaning, and I can’t find any rest!’4“But I, the Lord, am tearing down what I have built and pulling up what I have planted. I will do this to the entire earth. 5Are you looking for special treatment for yourself Don’t do it. I am bringing disaster on all people, but you will at least escape with your life, wherever you go. I, the Lord, have spoken.”–from Jeremiah 45
Egypt’s Defeat at Carchemish1The Lord spoke to me about the nations, 2 beginning with Egypt. This is what he said about the army of King Neco of Egypt, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia defeated at Carchemish near the Euphrates River in the fourth year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah:
3“The Egyptian officers shout, ‘Get your shields ready and march into battle! 4Harness your horses and mount them! Fall in line and put on your helmets! Sharpen your spears! Put on your armor!’ 5“But what do I see?” asks the Lord. “They are turning back in terror. Their soldiers are beaten back; overcome with fear, they run as fast as they can and do not look back. 6Those who run fast cannot get away; the soldiers cannot escape. In the north, by the Euphrates, they stumble and fall. 7Who is this that rises like the Nile, like a river flooding its banks? 8It is Egypt, rising like the Nile, like a river flooding its banks. Egypt said, ‘I will rise and cover the world; I will destroy cities and the people who live there. 9Command the horses to go and the chariots to roll! Send out the soldiers: men from Ethiopia and Libya, carrying shields, and skilled archers from Lydia.’” 10This is the day of the Sovereign Lord Almighty: today he will take revenge; today he will punish his enemies. His sword will eat them until it is full, and drink their blood until it is satisfied. Today the Almighty sacrifices his victims in the north, by the Euphrates. 11People of Egypt, go to Gilead and look for medicine! All your medicine has proved useless; nothing can heal you. 12Nations have heard of your shame; everyone has heard you cry. One soldier trips over another, and both of them fall to the ground.
The Coming of Nebuchadnezzar13When King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia came to attack Egypt, the Lord spoke to me. He said,
14“Proclaim it in the towns of Egypt, in Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes: ‘Get ready to defend yourselves; all you have will be destroyed in war! 15Why has your mighty god Apis fallen? The Lord has struck him down!’ 16Your soldiers have stumbled and fallen; each one says to the other, ‘Hurry! Let’s go home to our people and escape the enemy’s sword!’ 17“Give the king of Egypt a new name—‘Noisy Braggart Who Missed His Chance.’ 18I, the Lord Almighty, am king. I am the living God. As Mount Tabor towers above the mountains and Mount Carmel stands high above the sea, so will be the strength of the one who attacks you. 19Get ready to be taken prisoner, you people of Egypt! Memphis will be made a desert, a ruin where no one lives. 20Egypt is like a splendid cow, attacked by a stinging fly from the north. 21Even her hired soldiers are helpless as calves. They did not stand and fight; all of them turned and ran. The day of their doom had arrived, the time of their destruction. 22Egypt runs away, hissing like a snake, as the enemy’s army approaches. They attack her with axes, like people cutting down trees 23and destroying a thick forest. Their soldiers are too many to count; they outnumber the locusts. 24The people of Egypt are put to shame; they are conquered by the people of the north. I, the Lord, have spoken.”25The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says, “I am going to punish Amon, the god of Thebes, together with Egypt and its gods and kings. I am going to take the king of Egypt and all who put their trust in him, 26and hand them over to those who want to kill them, to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia and his army. But later on, people will live in Egypt again, as they did in times past. I, the Lord, have spoken.
The Lord Will Save His People27“My people, do not be afraid, people of Israel, do not be terrified. I will rescue you from that faraway land, from the land where you are prisoners. You will come back home and live in peace; you will be secure, and no one will make you afraid. 28I will come to you and save you. I will destroy all the nations where I have scattered you, but I will not destroy you. I will not let you go unpunished; but when I punish you, I will be fair. I, the Lord, have spoken.”–from Jeremiah 46