Jeremiah 44:15 Then all the men who were aware that their wives had been making offerings to other gods, and all the women who stood by, a great assembly, all the people who lived in Pathros in the land of Egypt, answered Jeremiah: 16 “As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the Lord, we are not going to listen to you. 17 Instead, we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out libations to her, just as we and our ancestors, our kings and our officials, used to do in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. We used to have plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no misfortune. 18 But from the time we stopped making offerings to the queen of heaven and pouring out libations to her, we have lacked everything and have perished by the sword and by famine.”
God, through the prophet Jeremiah, had warned the people of Israel against fleeing to Egypt when the Babylonians invaded Judah. They fled anyway. It did not go well. What’s interesting about this passage is the open defiance from the people of God against the word from Jeremiah.
This passage reflects a very practical faith on the part of Israel. They had embraced worship of the “queen of heaven” because it seemed to work (v.17). When they stopped worship of the queen of heaven things went poorly – though they may have expected God to bless them. That’s not how it worked out. Later in Jeremiah 44 we are told God was punishing Israel for their idolatry. Turning back to God didn’t produce the results Israel was looking for (provision and protection) so – back to queen of heaven.
It might seem absurd to us to read this story, but I understand the impulse. There are times when I get tired of waiting for God to act. To respond. To speak. So I turn elsewhere. It doesn’t generally go well. I want to be faithful to God, but I want results – NOW. I’m wondering how this behavior represents idolatry on my part – placing my faith in things other than the Lord.
Heavenly Father forgive me when I give up on you and turn elsewhere. Give me grace to depend on you first and only. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.