Saturday, April 26, 2014

CCLIX – Finishing Jeremiah (Chapters 46-52)

Jeremiah’s book concludes with judgments (some rather lengthy) against nations that were influential in the History of Israel.  There are ten altogether, some are nations and others are groups or clans of people.  The one dominant fact out of this entire passage is that no nation or person is outside the sovereignty of God.  And also, God’s memory is absolutely perfect.  He remembers everything.  Also important is that back in the very first chapter of Jeremiah, in the 5th verse, God said, “I appoint you a prophet to the nations”.  Notice the word “nations” is plural.

Chapter 46 – Egypt

He starts with the Historically powerful nation of Egypt, and actually calls out Pharaoh Necho by name.  Remember in the last post I commented about God referring to Nebuchadnezzar as his servant.  He will actually name the Babylonian king many times in this passage.  Again, Nebuchadnezzar is merely a vessel through which God achieves His purposes.  God refers to Egypt and the surrounding nation as His adversaries.  (This was probably due to a History of them rejecting the God of Israel in favor of their multitude of pagan gods.)  In verse 9 He seems to be rallying troops of neighboring nations to assist Egypt in their defense against the Babylonians, knowing it will be a futile effort.  He even mentions their chariots, which were always the pride of their military.  In verse 6 He says that “the swift cannot flee nor the strong escape”.  God is pronouncing to them that their bitter defeat is an absolute certainty.  Jeremiah uses poetry to describe Egypt’s fall from their self-imagined pedestal.

Chapter 47 – The Philistines

The Philistines have been a thorn in the side of Israel (they still are) since Moses led the exodus from Egypt.  The Philistines occupied the land where modern-day Israel lies.  Kings Saul and David were constantly attacked by the Philistines, not to mention Samson and other judges before them.

Chapter 48 – Moab

A brief History of the Moabites.  These people were of course the descendants of Moab.  Moab was born under unholy circumstances.  His father was Lot, the nephew of the great patriarch Abraham.  After Lot escaped Sodom and Gomorrah he was left with only daughters.  The two daughters, who wanted children to carry the blood line, got their father intoxicated, and had sex with him.  The oldest daughter became pregnant by her father and she had a son.  This son of Lot and Lot’s daughter was Moab.  The descendants of Moab became a large clan referred to as the Moabites, who occupied a strip of land located in modern-day Jordan.  The Moabites had always been contentious and cruel toward the Israelites.  Evidently the Moabites were a proud and haughty people, as we have seen in several places in the Scripture the term “the pride of Moab”.  This entire chapter (also in poetic form) speaks to the fate of Moab.

Chapter 49 – Other Clans and Nations

In the first 6 verses, God pronounces judgment on the Ammonites.  These Ammonites were located just to the north of the Moabites.  Their story is similar to that of Moab.  The oldest daughter gave birth to Moab.  The younger of Lot’s two daughters gave birth to Ben-Ammi, the father of the large clan referred to as the Ammonites.  {The modern-day capital city of Jordan was long ago named Amman.}  The Ammonites were particularly evil mostly due to their chief pagan god, Molek (remember him? the only way they thought they could please Molek was to burn their children upon his altar).  The Ammonites were then, as today, an enemy of Israel.

Verses 7-22 are concerning Edom.  The Edomites are all descendants of Esau.  They too were unkind to Moses during the exodus, and forced Moses and the Israelites to turn south, way out of their way to the Promised Land.  The Edomites were a military-minded people, fancying themselves as superior warriors.  But they were no match for what God was about to inflict upon them.

Verses 23-27 speak to Damascus.  Damascus was the capital of Syria (still is), therefore when God speaks of Damascus, He is speaking of all of Syria.  Syria had become a shell of what it once was, which was powerful and prosperous.

Verses 28-33 refers to Kedar and Hazor.  Kedar was a nomadic Arabian tribe also known as “the men of the east”.  There is not much History written about Hazor, but we are to assume they were also nomadic because verse 31 mentions them both as being like “cities without gates or bars”, which suggests mobile tents for dwellings.

Verses 34-39 tell of Elam.  Elam was the son of Shem who was the son of Noah.  Elam settled in an area in the southern portion of the modern-day nations of Iran and Iraq.   They were considerably east of Judah and even east of Babylon.  It is suggested that they were considered mighty warriors, but they are not mentioned throughout the Old Testament as frequently as many of Israel’s enemies.

Chapter 50 and 51 – Babylon

Jeremiah dedicates these one hundred and ten verses to Babylon and God’s judgment against it.  Heretofore, God was using Nebuchadnezzar and his army to exact punishment on many nations, including Judah.  But now He is pronouncing judgment on Babylon itself.  Great detail is given (again in poetic form) to Babylon’s history of cruelty and how they will fall as a nation.  Jeremiah’s prophesy will be fulfilled quickly.  As powerful as the Babylonian empire was, it only lasted about seventy years, as it was easily destroyed by Cyrus and the Persians.

Chapter 52 – Review

This is unusual.  This is the last chapter in the book of Jeremiah, and in it he wrote a review of his ministry, basically in chronological order.  From a standpoint of History, it is a great overview.  This appropriately concludes our study of Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet”.

Next Post - Lamentations  

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