Jer. 44:14-18 – Then all the men which knew that their wives had burned incense unto other gods, and all the women that stood by, a great multitude, even all the people that dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying, As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto 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 had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.
Jeremiah prophesied before, during & after the Babylonian captivity came to Judah. This was the time in which the fifth course of curses outlined in Lev. 26 as part of the Law contract was beginning to come upon the Southern Kingdom. Judah’s idolatry had grown to such an extent that she did worse than the Amorites that had dwelt in the land of the LORD prior Israel’s conquest under the leadership of Joshua (II Kings 21:11). The Law repeatedly forbade Israel from walking in the ways of the nations that surrounded her and promised severe, repercussive consequences by way of curses for so doing.
Amazingly, as the very law they had spurned worked out its promised curses before them, the people came to an altogether different conclusion as to why all this had befallen them. They declared their unwillingness to hearken to the word of God by Jeremiah, and they chose to live by what came “out of [their] own mouth.” Jer. 44 indicates that the men of Judah ascribed the reason for their chastening to the fact that they had “left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven.”
How fully convinced they were that this was the reason for their demise! And how was it that they had arrived at such a conclusion? They looked to what they thought they had experienced ‘God’ doing for them. They resolved to return to their idolatrous practices, “for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine” (Jer. 44:17b-18). They were convinced that these experiences they were having were ‘the blessings of God’ in their lives. They were convinced that ‘God‘ was the one doing these things for them, and that this certified that their doctrine was pure. This, however, despite their passionate persuasion, was completely wrong!
Jer. 44:20-23 – Then Jeremiah said unto all the people, to the men, and to the women, and to all the people which had given him that answer, saying, The incense that ye burned in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, ye, and your fathers, your kings, and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the LORD remember them, and came it not into his mind? So that the LORD could no longer bear, because of the evil of your doings, and because of the abominations which ye have committed; therefore is your land a desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant, as at this day. Because ye have burned incense, and because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, nor walked in his law, nor in his statutes, nor in his testimonies; therefore this evil is happened unto you, as at this day.
Judah put stock in what they thought was ‘the blessing of God’ and ended up swallowing hook, line & sinker the deception of Satan. They were suckered into deception because they judged their matters by the wrong standard. For Jeremiah to contradict the confidence that they had in what they and their “fathers” had experienced was an idle endeavor, not because Jeremiah was wrong, but because they were already convinced in their own mind. They chose to evaluate what God was doing in the world by looking around at what they perceived to be ‘God’s blessings’ and they went on their destructive way and became some of the biggest fools that have ever lived.
Today, dear Christian, not much has changed! Even believers live their lives superstitiously and governed by their own estimations of what God is doing. Many talk of ‘the blessings of God’ that they have experienced and have never once consulted the word of God to find out if those things align with what God has said that He would be doing for them in this age. In many cases, these supposed ‘blessings of God’ do not have even a hint of scripture to suggest that God is the one doing it, nevertheless, it is viewed as ‘more spiritual‘ to assign those things to God than to recognize them for what they are. Suggest to such a person who has chosen this as his path that perhaps God is not the one doing those things, and the response will not differ greatly from that Jeremiah received from the men of Judah; complete disdain and disapproval. But I remind you, Jeremiah was right!
The bottom line is that we need to become far more discerning about the work of God in the world today if we do not want to be deceived. We must become intimately acquainted with the text of God’s word and judge all things thereby. Everything is not as it appears to be nor is it as we are often led to believe it to be. Satan is slick, and we do not have the capacity to discern his devices by what comes “out of our own mouth.” We must live “by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Deut. 8:3). If not, we will unwittingly play Satan’s game for him by choosing his ‘spiritual’ path, and unless the word of God “dwells in [us] richly” to give us the discretion to recognize the spiritual deception, we will be “taken captive by him at his will” (Col. 3:16; 2Tim. 2:26). Satan works to confirm bad doctrine in your thinking. He is happy to let you think God is doing certain things for you so long as you do not “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4). The quickest way for this to happen is when the word of God does not have preeminence in all your judgments. Let us then take heed and obey 1Thess. 5:21.