Does it frustrate you when the word of God falls on deaf ears? Have you ever been exasperated that someone was refusing to obey God because that individual had embraced a false interpretation of history? None of this is new. Two divergent understandings which clashed about 580 B.C. provide us with a wonderful learning opportunity.
How Some Within Judah Apparently Viewed Things:
Throughout her history, Judah had experienced various periods of prosperity. During much of this time, an assortment of gods and goddess had been worshiped to varying degrees. The people associated their well-being with the gods that they were concurrently worshipping.
Then about 630 B.C., Josiah grated against their beliefs by officially eliminating their gods so that only Yahweh would be worshipped. But after he died in battle, his son reinstated their various gods.
The party came to a disastrous end in 597 B.C. as the Babylonians finally breached the walls of Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s fall had been a horrific one. Due to the siege of the city a famine had ensued which had even led some parents to eat their children.
To avoid further wrath from Babylon, some of the Jews had decided to flee to Egypt for safety. Longing to return to the security and well-being they had known years earlier, they pursued the various gods and goddesses whom they believed had provided that security.
How God and His Prophets Saw Things:
Throughout Judah’s history, God had sent His prophets warning His people that punishment awaited them if they insisted on serving and relying upon other gods. In His mercy and kindness, God did not immediately bring disaster upon them but provided them with ample and repeated opportunities to repent.
About 630 B.C., Josiah responded to the LORD and removed the idols from the land. Although Josiah might have reestablished the true worship of the one God, it seems as though many people did not take it to heart (Jer. 3:6-7,10). When Josiah died, his son reopened the flood gates to idolatry.
God warned that severe repercussions would ensue if they persisted in rebellion. Finally the day of the LORD descended upon Jerusalem as the Babylonians crushed her. The glory of the city rose in smoke. The temple was destroyed. Judah had been destroyed.
Since God was in control, He told the people to accept the yoke of the Babylonians and remain in the land because Nebuchadnezzar would not be permitted to further hurt them. Instead, they rebelled once again by running away to Egypt where they insisted upon worshiping false gods.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘You have seen all the calamity that I have brought on Jerusalem and on all the cities of Judah; and behold, this day they [are] a desolation, and no one dwells in them, because of their wickedness which they have committed to provoke Me to anger, in that they went to burn incense to serve other gods whom they did not know, they nor you nor your fathers. … why are you … provoking me to anger with the works of your hands, burning sacrifices to other gods in Egypt?” (Jer. 44:2-3,7,8 NKJV).
“[As for] the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you! But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For [then] we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble. But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine” (Jer. 44:16-18 NKJV).
* This article will probably not be read by those who need it most.
* Just because things are going well for someone does not provide any proof that he or she is right with God (Luke 12:16-21; 16:19-25).
* It is not uncommon for people to fail to recognize the true source of their blessings (Hos. 2:8; Deut. 8:7-18; Matt. 6:30-33).
* A person’s belief about what takes care of him or her can lead that individual to love and serve the object of those beliefs (Jer. 44:16-18; Hos. 2:5).
* A person’s interpretation can powerfully shape how decisions are made in the present (Matt. 12:22-28; Jer. 44:18).
* If someone’s beliefs or values are false, the truth might be dismissed as nonsense (Gen. 19:14; Luke 16:14, 31; 2 Cor. 4:3-4).
* Because of the foregoing observations, a tremendous need exists for people to embrace the message of scripture allowing it to shape what they believe and how they interpret this world.