Both the men and women of Judah rebel completely against God, "Then all the men who knew that their wives had burned incense to other gods" (Jer. 44:15, emphasis added). They presented a unified front in their rebellion: "all the women who stood by, a great multitude, and all the people who dwelt in the land of Egypt, in Pathros, answered Jeremiah, saying: 'As for the word that you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD, we will not listen to you!'" (44:16, emphasis added).
Jeremiah makes a point to include the women in his scathing rebuke of Judah and her blatant idolatry, "Moreover, Jeremiah said to all the people and to all the women, 'Hear the word of the LORD . . . . Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, "You and your wives . . ..'" (44:24-25). They are unified in their rebellion, "We will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offering to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem" (44:17, emphasis added).
Additionally, the people of Judah claim that worshiping idols has enhanced their lives, whereas worshiping God has diminished their lives-that idols have been the originators of life and health, instead of God: "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" (44:17-18). Wicked people blame God for their misery and attribute their success to what their hands have made, while Godly people seek God in their prosperity and misery; they acknowledge that all that they have comes by grace.
Several truths emerge about men and women from this story:
It is easier to unify people in rebellion than to unify people in obedience.
Insubordinate people become belligerent when confronted over their sin. Although confrontation seems to instigate more rebellion, confrontation must not be avoided.
Little hope exists for a people when one gender fails to influence the other for godliness.
Questions from today's chronological Bible reading (Jer. 42:1-44:30; Ez. 33:21-33):
Describe the spiritual state of those who remain in Jerusalem. How do they respond to the answer to Jeremiah's prayer on their behalf regarding remaining in Judah? What had the remnant failed to learn about God?
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