The Day God’s People Walked Out on Him
When the commander of Babylon’s imperial guard finds Jeremiah bound with the other captives, he lets him go. He gives Jeremiah a choice: He can remain in Judah with the remnant left behind, or he can go to Babylon. Jeremiah chooses to stay in Judah with the remnant under the leadership of Gedaliah, a fellow Jew appointed to be governor by the king of Babylon.
Governor Gedaliah encourages the remnant to inhabit the land. They do, and soon Jews who had fled from the Babylonians to the nearby nations join them. For a while, there’s peace.
But then there’s a coup. A man of Davidic blood assassinates Gedaliah. The murderer eventually escapes, but the remnant is going to be in trouble with Babylon—they have killed the Babylonian-appointed governor. The remnant asks Jeremiah to inquire of the Lord what they should do and vow to follow all of God’s instructions. God is clear: The people are to remain in Judah, and he will give them favor in the eyes of the Babylonians. If they go to Egypt, they will die.
The remnant ignores God’s words and leaves for Egypt—forcing Jeremiah to go with them. There they worship the Babylonian fertility goddess, the “Queen of Heaven.” It makes God angry. He tells them that he is going to destroy the remnant.
The King’s Heart
God’s people were really sick—they wanted nothing to do with him.
Even though God had warned them not to go to Egypt and told them what would happen if they did, they were “determined” to go (Jeremiah 42:15-17; 44:12). They were walking out on the promised land that had been handed down through their families for centuries. “We’re walking out on you and your blessings, God,” they were saying.
Once they were in Egypt, God told them through Jeremiah that their worship of the Babylonian fertility goddess was making him angry. He had promised to take care of them in Judah, but they didn’t trust him. They put their trust in the “Queen of Heaven” instead of the God of heaven and earth.
Shunned and unwanted, the Lord let them go. God didn’t walk out on his people; they walked out on him. And the remnant in Egypt was never heard from again.
The women who were worshiping the “Queen of Heaven” were able to do so because their husbands allowed them to. A religious vow made by a married woman had to be approved by her husband (see Numbers 30:10-15). Entire households were guilty of worshiping this evil goddess.