Pastor Steve Ellison
Plague, pestilence, misfortune, epidemics, pandemics, and contagions of all kinds have been part of the human existence since Genesis 3 and they always will be, at least until Christ returns. Many people observe these and see signs indicating that the return of Christ is near. That is not true. Rather, these things are reminders of the sinful, fallen state of mankind. These things will simply continue as sober, deadly, loving reminders that eternity must be considered. Jeremiah 42-43 sheds light here. Jerusalem lay in ruins. The Temple had been destroyed. Many of the Jews had been carried into Babylonian Captivity. Many of the Jews who were left in Judea wanted to flee to Egypt seeking safety and security. They believed that they could get away from the presence of God who was angry with them. Jeremiah, speaking the word of the Lord, warned them not to go but they would not listen. God warned them plainly, that sword, famine, and pestilence would follow them wherever they went. The Jews did not listen. They fled to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them.
Jeremiah 43 is an interesting and pertinent record of events. In Jeremiah 43:8-13, God makes declarations and predictions that give evidence of His sovereignty. “Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, 9 “Take some large stones in your hands and hide them in the mortar in the brick terrace which is at the entrance of Pharaoh’s palace in Tahpanhes, in the sight of some of the Jews; 10 and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold, I am going to send and get Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and I am going to set his throne right over these stones that I have hidden; and he will spread his canopy over them. 11 “He will also come and strike the land of Egypt; those who are meant for death will be given over to death, and those for captivity to captivity, and those for the sword to the sword. 12 “And I shall set fire to the temples of the gods of Egypt, and he will burn them and take them captive. So he will wrap himself with the land of Egypt as a shepherd wraps himself with his garment, and he will depart from there safely. 13 “He will also shatter the obelisks of Heliopolis, which is in the land of Egypt; and the temples of the gods of Egypt he will burn with fire.”‘” (NASU)
In a stunning declaration of sovereignty, God had Jeremiah hide evidence of a prophecy that Nebuchadnezzar would invade, win victory, and erect his throne in an exact spot. In verse 10, God declares that He will use whatever instrument He desires and there is nothing man can do about it. Verse 11 shows God’s sovereignty through His declaration that fleeing from His decrees is futile. Whatever God intends will come to pass and He includes not only nations but right down to individuals. In verse 13, God gets right to the foundations. God declares openly and without equivocation that He will show His sovereignty over all idols by destroying their sacred obelisks and temples.
If you think Jeremiah 42-43 is an interesting history lesson only, you have missed the point. This is a lesson in current events, current theology, and current idolatry. We attempt to live according to our own desires, thinking that we will escape the discipline of God. We will not escape. We make idols of bad things and good things. We idolize good entertainment and evil entertainment. We idolize safety and thrill-seeking. We idolize freedom and security. Perhaps we should be careful.