“This shall be the sign to you, declares the LORD, that I will punish you in this place, in order that you may know that my words will surely stand against you for harm…” —Jeremiah 44:29
With the forty-fourth chapter of Jeremiah, you come to the prophet’s last recorded words to the Judeans. Chapters 46–51, known as the “oracles against the nations,” are from an earlier date, actually the same date as chapter 45, the fourth year of Jehoiakim. In Jeremiah 25:13, Yahweh says, “I will bring upon that land all the words that I have uttered against it, everything written in this book, which Jeremiah prophesied against all the nations” (emphasis mine). Chapters 46–51are this book as the opening verses (46:1–2) make clear. Beyond these, we only have chapter 52, which is a kind of a postscript. As far as recorded revelation is concerned, this is Jeremiah’s last sermon.
Jeremiah’s long and faithful ministry is drawing to a close. He’s now preaching in a new location, but it seems as though he’s dusting off all his old sermons, marking out “Jerusalem” and inserting “Egypt.” Deal is, he’s still preaching to the same church. Jeremiah isn’t finishing lazy, recycling old material. The people of God are repeating the same old sins.
Jeremiah ends where he began, rebuking their idolatry and warning of judgment. Further, Jeremiah’s ministry ends where it all began. The people of God, redeemed out of Egypt, are now rejected in Egypt. This time, instead of leaving Egypt blessed, they return cursed. In Egypt, the people began, being delivered by judgment. Now, back in Egypt, they will end, being destroyed by judgment. They have returned back to the beginning for the end.
The remnant refuses to heed this word, saying they will keep their vows to the queen of heaven. God then vows that they will no longer make vows in His name, for they are and will be cut off. What this last word boils down to is a contest of who will have the last word. The Judeans resolve to keep their vows to the queen of heaven. Yahweh resolves to judge their idolatry. Whose word will stand? Jeremiah’s last words were everlasting words, for they were the words of the everlasting God. God doesn’t simply have the last Word, His is always the everlasting Word. His word, both of judgment and grace, will forever stand.