Words to the Nations

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Jeremiah

Jeremiah 45-47, “Words to the Nations”

Have you ever been on the hot seat?  Felt like all eyes were on you for so long, that the only thing you wanted was for the topic to change and for the attention to be put on someone/something else?  No doubt many of the Jews felt the same way as they read the book of Jeremiah!  They had been on the hot seat for so long…surely the subject had to change at some point.

In Chapter 46, it does.  So much had been said about the destruction of Jerusalem and God’s judgment upon the Jews.  But God is not only the God of Israel – He is God over all the nations, whether they recognize Him or not.  Ch. 46-49 turns our attention to the nations surrounding Judah, showing how God would use Babylon as His instrument of judgment upon them.  In Ch. 50-51, God’s attention will finally turn upon Babylon itself, in judgment of its own sin.  God will judge sin wherever it is found, be it among His own people or among the pagans.

But before we get there, we get just a bit of a postscript regarding a particular Jew: Baruch the scribe.  The timeframe changes from the previous chapters, no longer looking at the time after the destruction of Jerusalem, but jumping back to several years before it occurred.

Jeremiah 45 – God’s word to Baruch
1 The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah, when he had written these words in a book at the instruction of Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, saying,

  • Remember who “Baruch” is.  This is the scribe/secretary of Jeremiah – the person who wrote down all of the words that God gave Jeremiah through prophecy.  God inspired the word, Jeremiah spoke/proclaimed the word, and Baruch wrote it all down.
  • The “fourth year of Jehoiakim” was a tough time to be employed by a prophet of God.  This was prior to the Babylonian captivity – prior to much of the turmoil that was to come.  The Jews thought they still had quite a bit of chance to live in the land and be blessed, and they didn’t hesitate to align themselves with other nations against Babylon.  Yet it was during that time that Jeremiah spoke many prophecies about the sure conquest by Babylon.  No one wanted to hear it – it was disheartening to the people, and they often rebelled against Jeremiah in violent ways.  If they opposed Jeremiah, they would oppose Baruch as well.

2 “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, to you, O Baruch:

  • Grace!  God did not just speak to the nation, but to the individual. …  God STILL speaks to individuals – He spoke to you, and called you to be saved through Jesus Christ.  He still speaks to us through His word and prayer.
  • God affirms that even as He judges Israel, He is still the “God of Israel.”  His people were in the process of abandoning Him, but He had not abandoned them.  Even during the days of Jehoiakim, the people had many generations of rebellion against the Lord.  Times of revival were the exception; not the rule.  God certainly had every reason to write off His people and abandon them, but He never did.  Why?  Because He is faithful.

3 ‘You said, “Woe is me now! For the LORD has added grief to my sorrow. I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest.” ’

  • Question: Can ministry workers get depressed?  No doubt.  Jeremiah certainly did.  To read some of David’s psalms, it certainly seems as if he did.  Baruch did as well.  To read of the Babylonian conquest – to write of the suffering of his people – to be reminded of their ongoing sin against God, it all seemed too much for Baruch.  The sorrow of it overwhelmed him.
    • As we study the book of Jeremiah, we can relate!  These are heavy prophecies, showing a justly angry God being blatantly ignored by the very people whom He had so often saved.  We’re reminded of the reality of sin, and the true awfulness of it.  We see the terrible truth that the wages of sin is death, and the last thing we ought to do is try to ignore it and ignore God.  It’s easy to get rather depressed through it all…it happened even with Baruch.
    • But that is exactly when God revealed Himself to the scribe.  Baruch saw the reality of it, and as he despaired, God reached out to him in love and grace.  Yes, the reality of sin is awful, and yes we need to be reminded of it…that takes time.  But there is more to the story of the Bible than just the awfulness of sin…there is the grace of God.  There is the sacrifice that God Himself gave when Jesus died upon the cross.  Baruch needed to get his eyes back on the bigger picture, and so do we.  We need to get our eyes back on to Christ!

4 “Thus you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land.

  • God affirms that He will indeed judge.  He would not turn away from what He had declared.  What Baruch had written was accurate.  It was awful, in regards as to what would happen to his people.  But it wasn’t all…

5 And do you seek great things for yourself? Do not seek them; for behold, I will bring adversity on all flesh,” says the LORD. “But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.” ’ ”

  • God affirms that He would protect Baruch.  The nation would be judged, but the scribe would live through the judgments.  As much as God would intervene in the life of the nation through judgment, He would intervene in the life of Baruch.  God would reach out to him, and protect him.
  • That said, Baruch needed to be careful getting too attached to the things of the nation.  He wasn’t to “seek” after “great things,” such as positions of influence or riches.  All those things would pass away.
    • Keep your focus on the right things!  Keep your focus upon Jesus.

Jeremiah 46

  • Egypt’s 1st humiliation to Babylon (vss. 1-12)

1 The word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations.

  • This is actually a bit of a prelude to the next several chapters (up through Ch. 51).  The nation of Israel will never be too far from focus, but God’s judgment is not limited to His own people.  Judgment may begin at the house of God, but it doesn’t end there.  He sees all the nations of the world, and He also judges them in righteousness.

2 Against Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Necho, king of Egypt, which was by the River Euphrates in Carchemish, and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah:

  • Chapter 46 actually contain two prophecies against Egypt.  Both concern Egypt’s humiliation by Babylon, but there are two different battles/timeframes in mind.  The first is in regards to the Battle of Carchemish – a battle of immense historical importance that took place in 605/606BC. [MAP]  Prior to the rise of the Babylonians, the Assyrian empire was the power that dominated the Mediterranean Middle East.  Remember that it was Assyria that had conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, whereas God protected Judah at the time.  (Sadly, Judah wasted the opportunity for grace given them by God!)  Assyria did not rule over Israel, but over most of the nations in that area – including Egypt.  As Babylon began to gain strength, they defeated the Assyrians at their capital city of Ninevah (the city to which the prophet Jonah had been sent), and the Assyrians moved their capital to Carchemish.  The Babylonians came after them there as well, and Assyria did battle.  Egypt, though no longer being the superpower it once was, came up to the battle as well, seeking to begin to reassert itself in world affairs.  On their way north, they were delayed for a bit at Megiddo, as Judah went to battle against them, and that was the battle in which King Josiah was killed (2 Kings 23:29).  The Egyptians finally arrive, and experienced a terrible defeat at the hands of Babylon.  In the words of the Babylonians themselves (“The Babylonian Chronicles”), they claim that Nebuchadnezzar “accomplished their defeat and beat them into non-existence.”  Not only had the Babylonians crushed the Assyrian empire, but they had crushed the resurgent Egyptians, relegating them to a second-rate power.
  • “Nice history lesson…so what?”  So it just goes to demonstrate that the God of Israel is a lot bigger than Israel.  What we’re about to read are the words that God had Jeremiah write concerning the battle that took place in the past (from Jeremiah’s perspective), but the battle took place according to the sovereign plan of God.  Long prior even to Babylon’s rise to power, God had proclaimed that Egypt would be defeated by the Assyrians.  Isaiah 20:3–4, "(3) Then the LORD said, “Just as My servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder against Egypt and Ethiopia, (4) so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians as prisoners and the Ethiopians as captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt." []  He also prophesied of the fall of Assyria.  Isaiah 14:24–25, "(24) The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, “Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand: (25) That I will break the Assyrian in My land, And on My mountains tread him underfoot. Then his yoke shall be removed from them, And his burden removed from their shoulders." []  Over and over again, God shows Himself to be sovereign over the nations.  The prophets tell of the rise and fall of Babylon, and (via Daniel) the world empires that would follow Babylon in succession.  The Jews were warned by God in the days of Isaiah not to go down to Egypt for help from Babylon, though their need for help would not yet arise for several more generations (as detailed in Jeremiah 42-44).  All these things that we read as ancient history were once future events prophesied in the Bible.  God knew it all, had it all written down via the prophets, and then performed it all exactly as He said He would.  Our God is in control of all the world!
    • With that in mind, consider world events at the moment.  The terrorist group ISIS has arisen in the Middle East with the goal of establishing a new Islamic caliphate (empire).  The US just began air raids in Syria, engaging in a new pre-emptive war against ISIS.  On another front, Russia has begun to rise from the ashes of the cold war, and assert itself against its neighbors attempting to rebuild the Soviet empire.  The continent of Africa is in complete disarray, with ethnic genocide taking place on a daily basis.  This world looks to be in utter chaos, and it would be easy to come to the conclusion that things are spinning out of control.
    • HOWEVER…nothing is out of control.  Our God is still sovereign.  He is as sovereign today as He was in the days of Jeremiah.  If things appear to be chaotic, it is because God has allowed them to be that way.  Why?  Because of sin.  Sin has horrific consequences, and left to our own devices, mankind would surely destroy itself from the world.  Yet we know that’s not going to happen.  God is in control, and we have the certain promise of Jesus’ return.  The Bible prophesies that things will get much worse in this world before it gets better.  There will be continued wars and rumors of war.  There will be earthquakes and other natural disasters in various places.  There will be famines and plagues (ebola?).  Yet even all of that is just a prelude to the time known as the Great Tribulation, when the focus of all the world will once again be fixed upon Israel – the Jewish nation itself will come to faith in Christ Jesus, and King Jesus will come back in power and glory at the end of the age.  (Praise God!) 
    • The obvious question is this: how can we know all of this will happen?  Answer: because God has never been proven wrong in the past.  One of the primary reasons to study historically fulfilled prophecy is what it teaches us about the future.  God’s track record has always been perfect; it will always be perfect.  No doubt, things during Jeremiah’s day looked to be just as chaotic as things in ours.  Yet the people could look into the word of God & see that all of this was soundly predicted, and thus they could hold out hope for God’s future deliverance.  So can we.  We look at the past, see what God has done, and as a result we have hope as we look for Jesus’ soon return in the future.
  • God goes on to describe the Battle of Carchemish…

3 “Order the buckler and shield, And draw near to battle! 4 Harness the horses, And mount up, you horsemen! Stand forth with your helmets, Polish the spears, Put on the armor! 5 Why have I seen them dismayed and turned back? Their mighty ones are beaten down; They have speedily fled, And did not look back, For fear was all around,” says the LORD.

  • The call to arms went forth – the time had come for soldiers to array themselves for battle.  They had come to the battlefield, lined up, prepared their weapons…and fled.  There is a swift change from the call to courage to the fearful sound of retreat.

6 “Do not let the swift flee away, Nor the mighty man escape; They will stumble and fall Toward the north, by the River Euphrates.

  • Egypt was soundly defeated at Babylon, and the Babylonian historians note that no one escaped.  What would seem to be a wild fanciful claim by the victor is actually affirmed by the Lord God.  There was none left to fight the battle, none mighty to return home.
  • There’s an interesting parallel here with the judgment of God.  Obviously Egypt was being judged by the Lord here, and God used the nation of Babylon to do it.  Not a single man was able to escape that judgment.  Likewise, not a single person can escape the judgment of God.  Every human being will one day stand before the God of the Universe, and we will have to give an account to Him with how we responded to Jesus.  Did we receive Him as our Lord, believing upon Him so that we might be saved?  Or did we spurn His offer of forgiveness and grace?  That’s a question every person will have to address…none will be able to escape it.  Some try to postpone death or pretend it doesn’t exist – but none can truly be rid of it.  It’s appointed to every man to die, and then we must face God for the judgment.  He has given us the opportunity to be ready for that day – don’t waste it!

7 “Who is this coming up like a flood, Whose waters move like the rivers? 8 Egypt rises up like a flood, And its waters move like the rivers; And he says, ‘I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.’ 9 Come up, O horses, and rage, O chariots! And let the mighty men come forth: The Ethiopians and the Libyans who handle the shield, And the Lydians who handle and bend the bow.

  • Egypt was historically known for the annual floods that occurred via the Nile River.  The imagery is used here for how Egypt thought of itself.  They believed that they could once again rise up over the known earth, as they had in the past.  They thought they could flood the world with their influence, and assert itself as a world power.  They even went so far as to assemble a massive army, incorporating mercenary soldiers from other lands (the Ethiopians, Libyans, and Lydians).  They put together an army that they believed was invincible.  They were wrong.

10 For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, That He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; For the Lord GOD of hosts has a sacrifice In the north country by the River Euphrates.

  • Try as they might, Egypt could not overcome at Carchemish.  They were soundly defeated, to the point of being devoured by the sword of Babylon.  Why was that?  Because it was the will of the Lord.  This was the “day of vengeance” – the hour God let loose His wrath upon Egypt, and took righteous vengeance upon them because of their sinful crimes.  Just as a temple sacrifice was supposed to satisfy the wrath of God, God used Egypt itself as a sacrifice – pouring out His vengeance upon the nation.
  • When God moves, none can stand against Him.  Egypt may have attempted to build up their strength, but it did them no ultimate good.  It didn’t matter how many skillful archers or shield carriers they had hired.  They were not fighting merely against Babylon, but against God Himself.
    • If there is one place we don’t want to find ourselves standing, it’s on the opposite side of the Lord!  Those who work against God inevitably regret it…sometimes for all eternity.  … …

11 “Go up to Gilead and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt; In vain you will use many medicines; You shall not be cured. 12 The nations have heard of your shame, And your cry has filled the land; For the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty; They both have fallen together.”

  • Egypt was instructed to get medicine and balm, but it wasn’t going to help.  Nothing they could do would fully heal up their wound.  All of “the nations” would hear of their humiliating defeat, and Egypt would occupy a place of shame among the nations of the world.
  • Obviously, this was given to a specific people in a specific context, but there is a lesson here that all of us can learn.  Beware of pride!  In their pride, Egypt had gone up against Babylon (and ultimately against the Lord), and when they fell, they fell hard.  Pride goes before a fall, and Egypt found this out the hard way.  We need to be careful that we don’t do the same thing.  Our pride can lead us to a place that we think we know better than God.  Our pride can make us think that we have better plans, better capabilities, and a generally better way of doing things.  And our pride lies to us, and (especially if we find ourselves working against God) will cause us to fall & fall hard.  Those who exalt themselves in pride now will often find themselves hiding in shame later.  Far better to be humble now, serving the Lord God, seeking His will, and let HIM exalt us – rather than to go try exalt ourselves in opposition to Him.  God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble. (Jas 4:6)
  • Egypt’s 2nd humiliation to Babylon (vss. 13-26)

13 The word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would come and strike the land of Egypt.

  • This particular prophecy is undated, but it’s apparent that it speaks of a different event than the Battle of Carchemish.  Not only does the context of the prophecy demonstrate this (by listing cities within Egypt, rather than outside of it), but the introduction makes this plain as well.  Nebuchadnezzer “would come and strike the land of Egypt.”  IOW, this isn’t an outside battle, but an invasion of Egypt by Babylon.
  • Although historical verification of this is sketchy, there is indeed evidence that Nebuchadnezzar did conduct this invasion around 568BC.  He did not complete it by going through the entire land, but he definitely did invade much of the land, subjugating many cities along the way.
  • At this point, Jeremiah transitions from a word of the Lord regarding a past battle, to a word of the Lord regarding the future decimation of Egypt by Babylon.  Remember this was the place to which the Jews fled, in disobedience to the Lord.  Johanan (a captain of the Jewish armies) had not trusted what God said through Jeremiah about their protection from Babylon if they stayed in the land of Judah, and because of his lack of faith, he led the people in a rebellious flight to Egypt.  God warned them at that point that Nebuchadnezzar would come in conquest to Egypt, bringing upon the Jews there all of the things that they had feared.  Those prophecies are reiterated here – not so much for the Jew, but more directly towards Egypt itself.  Egypt had been humiliated by Babylon once before, and it was going to happen again.
    • How could they be certain?  Again – by looking at fulfilled prophecy.  God had never been wrong in the past, so they could know He would always be right in the future.

14 “Declare in Egypt, and proclaim in Migdol; Proclaim in Noph and in Tahpanhes; Say, ‘Stand fast and prepare yourselves, For the sword devours all around you.’ 15 Why are your valiant men swept away? They did not stand Because the LORD drove them away.

  • The call is to get ready for sword and judgment.  Interestingly, although the cities mentioned are not immediate neighbors in Egypt, they are limited to a specific region.  Historically, that matches what little archaeology has been able to confirm about the Babylonian invasion.  Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign in Egypt itself was limited, and the Egyptians somewhat maintained their independence.  They were not fully conquered again until the empire of the Medes and the Persians.  That said, the areas Nebuchadnezzar did take were decisively defeated.
    • Interestingly, the cities that were mentioned were cities to which the rebellious Jews fled.  It is as if God sent Nebuchadnezzar specifically to pursue the Jews in Egypt.
  • How did it all come to pass?  It was the work of the Lord.  The hand of God is emphasized in all of this, over and above Babylon.  Babylon is simply the instrument that God chose to use in His judgment of Egypt.  By no means was Babylon perfect (their own judgment will be proclaimed later in Jeremiah), but imperfect nations could still be used by God for His purposes.
    • That’s still the case today.  There is hardly a single nation (if any!) that truly follows the Lord today in faith.  Yet no doubt God is still in control, and He’ll use imperfect nations to accomplish His will.
    • That’s not only true regarding nations, but people.  None of us are perfect, though God still uses us…and praise God for it!  If God waited until perfect people were found, the only human that would have ever been used by the Lord would be Jesus.  That said, sometimes God uses unexpected people in unexpected ways.  Just as He used the pagan nation of Babylon as His instrument of judgment, sometimes God might use ungodly people within our own lives to help wake us up out of sin.  It’s easy for us to get lax & lazy, and there are times that a little stress brings exactly the jolt we need to refocus our attention back on the Lord.  At those times, He might use “sandpaper” people to rub off our rough edges, and get us back to the place we need to be.  When we get to heaven, we might all be surprised at who God used to accomplish His will in our lives.

16 He made many fall; Yes, one fell upon another. And they said, ‘Arise! Let us go back to our own people And to the land of our nativity From the oppressing sword.’ 17 They cried there, ‘Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is but a noise. He has passed by the appointed time!’

  • Apparently Pharaoh had the opportunity to strike back at Babylon when Nebuchadnezzar had to turn back for a time (due to the passing of his father, Nabopolassar), but Pharaoh missed out.  He “passed by the appointed time.”  Now it was too late, and they would face the rest of the decimation of Babylon.

18 “As I live,” says the King, Whose name is the LORD of hosts, …

  • Don’t miss this!  It would be easy to skim over this as just one of the many mentions of God’s name.  But notice to whom God is mentioning it: Egypt.  To this pagan kingdom – this Gentile nation, who had so often been opposed to Israel, God reveals Himself to be “the King…the LORD of hosts.”  God had not only revealed Himself to His people in Judah, but He also revealed Himself to the nations around them.  No doubt, the relationship is far different as only the Israelites had the covenant with God, but God DID reach out to people beyond the Jews.  He showed Himself to be merciful to peoples who never knew Him.  How so?  He tells them His name.  He is “the LORD” – Yahweh, the great I AM – the Creator of the Universe, the covenant-keeping God of Israel – the Commander of the heavenly armies – the King of kings.  THIS God called out to Egypt, proclaiming His coming judgment upon them.
  • Question: How exactly is that merciful?  Simple…by revealing Himself to Egypt, Egypt would know who to turn to for repentance.  Remember that was the reason God sent Jonah to the Assyrians in Ninevah.  The message from Jonah was short and terrible: “Yet 40 days, and Ninevah shall be overthrown.” (Jon 3:4)  No doubt there was a bit more to it than that, but that was the basic message.  There’s no indication that Jonah told Ninevah of the opportunity repent and seek the forgiveness of the one true God.  In fact, there’s every indication that Jonah did NOT want them to ask forgiveness because he was afraid God would grant it, which He did.  Yet the people DID repent, turn to the true God, and God relented from the disaster He was determined to bring upon them.  He had been revealed in all of His holy righteousness to the people of Ninevah, and that caused them to turn to God in faith and humility.  That is exactly what God is doing here with Egypt (and with the other nations to whom He will speak).  He’s revealing His holy righteousness and power to them, in order that they would be saved.
    • This is the same way God has always worked among the nations.  Even back during the original exodus from Egypt, God told Moses that He would do His wonders and send the plagues all over the land, so that the Egyptians would know that He is the Lord. (Exo 7:5)  By the end of the plagues, none could deny that the true God had been at work, and some Egyptians actually came to faith, and accompanied the Hebrews out of the land as a part of the mixed multitude.
    • God reveals Himself to people so that people might be saved.  This is always the way God has worked among the nations.  He revealed Himself through creation and through our consciences.  He revealed Himself through His written word.  Specifically, He revealed Himself through the Incarnate Word, Jesus.  Once we see Him, we know Him to be God…and now it falls upon us to respond to Him AS God.  (If God has revealed Himself to you, you need to respond tonight!)

…“Surely as Tabor is among the mountains And as Carmel by the sea, so he shall come. 19 O you daughter dwelling in Egypt, Prepare yourself to go into captivity! For Noph shall be waste and desolate, without inhabitant. 20 “Egypt is a very pretty heifer, But destruction comes, it comes from the north. 21 Also her mercenaries are in her midst like fat bulls, For they also are turned back, They have fled away together. They did not stand, For the day of their calamity had come upon them, The time of their punishment.

  • This is the certainty of Egyptian defeat in the face of Babylon.  There ought to be no doubt that Nebuchadnezzar would come, because God said that he would come…and God’s word is always true.  The Babylonians would bring destruction in their wake, and wherever they went in Egypt, they would go forth in strength, turning back the Egyptian warriors and mercenaries who fought against them.

22 Her noise shall go like a serpent, For they shall march with an army And come against her with axes, Like those who chop wood. 23 “They shall cut down her forest,” says the LORD, “Though it cannot be searched, Because they are innumerable, And more numerous than grasshoppers. 24 The daughter of Egypt shall be ashamed; She shall be delivered into the hand Of the people of the north.”

  • Egypt would be cut down to size and overwhelmed.  Like a swarm of grasshoppers (or perhaps even a reference to the plague of locusts?), Babylon would come in and shame the people of Egypt.  Everywhere the Babylonians went, they would take captives to send back to the north.

25 The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says: “Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings—Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26 And I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of his servants. Afterward it shall be inhabited as in the days of old,” says the LORD.

  • God not only declares judgment upon Egypt, but He declares war upon their false gods.  The Egyptian idol “Amon” is no match for the true God of the Universe.  False gods are either figments of the imagination, or demons (depending on the situation) – God infinitely overpowers everything else, no matter what it is.
  • In all of the words of judgment, note the last line of the prophecy regarding Egypt: “Afterward it shall be inhabited as in the days of old.”  Egypt would be humiliated by Babylon, and many of her cities would be conquered, but it would not be a complete end of the nation.  The Babylonian invasion would be temporary, and Egypt would rebuild.
    • Beyond the Babylonian era, there’s also a hint here of the future 1000-year kingdom of Israel, ruled over by the Lord Jesus (the Millennial Kingdom).  In the wisdom and mercy of God, even Egypt has a role to play in the Millennium, and the Egyptians will come to know the Lord God in true faith, even being called “My people” by the Lord God Himself. (Isa 19:21-25)  Will Egypt be inhabited?  Yes – and the people who do will worship the Lord Jesus in truth.
  • God’s promise to restore Israel (vss. 27-28)

27 “But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid.

  • It is in the midst of all of this prophecy against Egypt that this word of reassurance comes from the Lord to the Jews.  The Jews had much reason to fear, in that they had run from God to Egypt, and they themselves would face the sword of Babylon in punishment.  Yet God tells them not to fear.  Why?  Wouldn’t the Jews be punished?  Yes – most assuredly they would, and God specifically told them that they would be punished for their disobedience. (Jer 44:27-29)  But though God would punish the Jews, He would not wipe out the Jewish people from the face of the earth.  Notice His promise is to all the nation: “Jacob…Israel” – not only to the people from the southern kingdom of Judah.  At this point in their history, all of the people of Israel were scattered – be it throughout Samaria, the former lands of Assyria, Babylon, or Egypt.  Yet one day, God would bring them back and give them safety in their OWN land, the land of promise.
  • This is doubly fulfilled, in that it looked forward not only to the return of Babylonian captivity (which lasted only 70 years), but to the Millennial Kingdom.  After all, even today with a renewed political nation of Israel, there is still no “rest and ease” among the Israeli people.  That is a promise yet to be fulfilled…but it will be fulfilled.

28 Do not fear, O Jacob My servant,” says the LORD, “For I am with you; For I will make a complete end of all the nations To which I have driven you, But I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, For I will not leave you wholly unpunished.”

  • God reiterates it here.  He had not abandoned His people – they were still His servants, though they were disobedient.  The Jews had acted more like pagans than the people of God, and they rightly earned God’s punishment and discipline.  But that’s not the place God would allow them to remain.  There would come a day when the nations who captured the Jews would be judged, and the Jews themselves would be brought back as the people of God’s favor.

 

Jeremiah 47 – Philistines’ humiliation to Babylon
1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza.

  • From Egypt, Jeremiah’s attention is drawn eastward to the land of the Philistines – a historical enemy of God’s people.  The attack written of here was surely known to Jeremiah’s original readers, but historically we can only guess when it occurred.  The Philistines had several attacks from Egypt, as well as from the north…if for no other reason because it was a common route for travel as armies passed from north to south.  In this case, the prophecy is introduced in retrospect, but it was given prior to this particular Egyptian attack.
  • Egypt only serves as the date reference – the trouble is Babylon.  See vs. 2…

2 Thus says the LORD: “Behold, waters rise out of the north, And shall be an overflowing flood; They shall overflow the land and all that is in it, The city and those who dwell within; Then the men shall cry, And all the inhabitants of the land shall wail. 3 At the noise of the stamping hooves of his strong horses, At the rushing of his chariots, At the rumbling of his wheels, The fathers will not look back for their children, Lacking courage, 4 Because of the day that comes to plunder all the Philistines, To cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper who remains; For the LORD shall plunder the Philistines, The remnant of the country of Caphtor.

  • It’s all the noise, panic, and horror of war.  As the Babylonians descend from the “north,” they come over the Philistines like floodwaters.  They are completely overwhelmed, and things descend into chaos.  Fathers flee for their lives, not even going back for their children, and the whole land is plundered.
  • Why does it come?  Again, it’s the will of God. “For the LORD shall plunder the Philistines.”  God used the Babylonians to judge the Philistines just as He used them to judge so many other people.  The question is why?  Why would God use such violent judgment?  Doesn’t this contradict with the idea of God’s love, mercy, and grace?  Not at all.  We have to always keep in mind that God gives people multitudes of opportunities to repent from sin.  God’s firm desire is that people would repent, and He takes no pleasure in the death even of wicked people.  It’s far better that they would turn to Him and live!  Yet what should God do if they never turn?  What kind of atrocities can nation-states commit when they continue to sin against God in horrible ways?  Eventually a righteous God MUST act against sin, if He is to be considered righteous.  And God is just as righteous as He is loving.  He gives the opportunity for people to repent, but when they don’t do so, eventually God must act in judgment.  And as violent as this judgment seems to be, there’s no doubt that it fit the crime.

5 Baldness has come upon Gaza, Ashkelon is cut off With the remnant of their valley. How long will you cut yourself?

  • Speaking of acts of shame.  Baldness is not shameful in and of itself. (Thankfully! J)  It’s when people would purposefully shave their heads that they would demonstrate their grief. The pagan people would cut themselves for the same reason.  It wasn’t a godly expression of their humiliation and sorrow, but it’s certainly descriptive of what they would do.

6 “O you sword of the LORD, How long until you are quiet? Put yourself up into your scabbard, Rest and be still! 7 How can it be quiet, Seeing the LORD has given it a charge Against Ashkelon and against the seashore? There He has appointed it.”

  • How long would the judgment of God last?  As long as it would necessary.  The fullness of His judgment would be poured out, and the people of Philistia would endure it.
  • Thankfully, this is exactly what we do NOT receive because we are in Christ Jesus.  If God were to pour out the fullness of His wrath upon us, it would take an eternity in hell to pay the price.  Yet Jesus took all of it upon Himself as He hung upon the cross for our sins.  God’s wrath WAS appointed towards us, but not any longer.  Jesus took it in our place, and now we do not fear the sword of the Lord, but we know God as our loving Heavenly Father.

Conclusion:
To Baruch, God gave a word of comfort, along with a warning.  God would preserve the scribe, but the scribe needed to be careful getting too attached to the things of the world.  Likewise, God would also preserve His people, the Israelites.  They had brought the judgment of God upon themselves, but God would bring them back to a place of blessing and grace.

To Egypt & to the Philistines, God also gave warnings…far harder warnings of His judgment by the hand of Babylon.  But even in the word of judgment, there is an extension of mercy – God gave the warning for a reason.  It was up to them to respond.

How will WE respond to the words God speaks to us?  If we know we’re engaging in sin, then the warnings God gives us are given for a reason.  He WANTS us to repent.  He doesn’t want to bring His hand of discipline upon us, but He will, if necessary.

Or perhaps it’s simpler than that.  We’re not rebelling against the word of God, but we’re having a tough time understanding it.  We might not understand how God is working in the world, or specifically in our own lives, and we’re confused.  Hold fast to God & His promise!  He will always be good to His word, so trust Him.  Be careful of getting caught up in the stuff of earth; keep your mind of the stuff of heaven.  Look to Jesus, and keep your focus upon Him, trusting Him to do what is right.

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