It must have come as a relief to Jeremiah’s hearers and readers when he started to warn somebody else about impending judgement and national destruction for a change.
In this last section of the book, that’s where Jeremiah’s attention turns. Here Egypt, Philistia, Ammon and Moab are in the LORD’s sights. They may have been used to carry out his will, but that doesn’t mean that their cruelty in doing so will go unpunished, nor that their arrogance can be forgotten. Their gods won’t fare any better. Apis of Egypt and Milcom of Ammon are warned that they too will suffer defeat and disgrace.
It’s a secondary question how far Jeremiah considers these names to reflect real gods – though it seems likely that he does indeed see them as real, malign spiritual beings. His point is simply that they are immeasurably lesser than the LORD. One of the lessons of exile would be that the greatness of the LORD cannot be measured, as most people thought, by the greatness of Israel. He is the one God who is capable of and willing to use nations who don’t acknowledge him in his plans to correct his chosen people; they and their gods can at times be his agents, willing or otherwise.
The same is true about the guiding forces of our society, be they economic, political, cultural or spiritual. They have no power which the LORD does not allow them to have. That doesn’t mean that they’re right, and it certainly doesn’t mean that they will last. Apis and Milcom aren’t exactly prominent in the spread of world religions, and the forces in society which set themselves against the LORD will in the long term go the same way.
But in the meantime, knowing that the LORD stands above all the forces which assail us can give us confidence to see our struggles in perspective – they will not be forever.