Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jeremiah 46-48: Fall of Jerusalem's Neighbors

LINK: Jeremiah 46-48 (read over the next three days) 

BACKGROUND 


File:Levant 830.<span class=
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or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Remember that Jeremiah's prophecies are topical and not chronological. Jeremiah 46:1-52:34 are God's judgment on the foreign nations. These nations thought they would be free of God's judgment and punishment for their sin. Just like Jerusalem, these nations would also receive God's judgment.  

Jeremiah 46 - Egypt (west of this map) 

Pharaoh Necho ("the big noise") defeated Judah and killed King Josiah at Megiddo in 609 B.C. (2 Chronicles 35:20-27). Then Nebuchadnezzar of the Babylonians defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. making Babylon the dominating world power. Eventually, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in about 568-567 B.C., just as Jeremiah had prophesied (43:8-13; 44:13-26). God was stronger than all the Egyptian gods (46:25).

Egypt's army contained mercenary soldiers for Cush (southern Egypt, Sudan, and northern Ethiopia), Put (Libya), and Lydia (west coast of Asia Minor). It was strong, but the Lord was stronger. Egypt would be destroyed. There would not be a "balm from Gilead." This was a healing resin from the storax tree that was grown in Gilead, east of the Jordan River (Genesis 37:25; Jeremiah 8:22; 51:8; Ezekiel 27:17). 

Despite Egypt's defeat, God did promise that they would be restored (46:26).

Note in 46:27-28 that God tells Israel to not fear or be dismayed because they would return from exile, enjoying peace and security (31:1-6).

Jeremiah 47 - Philistia (grey on map) 

The Philistine people are believed to have come from Crete (Caphtor, 46:4; Amos 9:7; Zephaniah 2:5). They had been warring with Israel for a long time. They were a wealthy nation because of their sea trade, and their allies were Tyre and Sidon (47:4; Ezekiel 27-28), but they would not be able to help these places when judgment came.

Being caught in the struggle between Babylon and Egypt, Gaza was attacked by the Egyptians (Jeremiah 47:1), and Ashkelon was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in November-December 604 B.C. (Jeremiah 36:9). 
The Philistine cities lost their independence to Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria by 732 BC, and revolts in following years were all crushed. They were subsequently absorbed into the Babylonian and Persian empires, and disappeared as a distinct group by the late 5th century BC. 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philistines#Iron_Age_.288th.E2.80.935th_centuries_BC.29)

Jeremiah 48 - Moab (yellow green, east of the Dead Sea, north of Zered River and south of the Arnon River) 

Like the Ammonites, the Moabites were descendants of Lot through an incestuous relationship with one of his daughters (Genesis 19:30-38). They led Israel into idolatry (Numbers 25:1-3). Cemosh was their national god (48:7; Numbers 21:29 1 Kings 11:7), and child sacrifice was a part of their worship (2 Kings 3:26, 27). 

Salt was a symbolic way of showing total destruction of a city (48:9; Judges 9:45). Moab had enjoyed peace throughout their history (48:11). So, they were arrogant and prideful (48:29). 

Despite the destruction, God promised that some of these neighboring countries would be restored: Egypt (46:26), Moab (48:47); Ammon (49:6); and Elam (49:39). Many commentators believe this is through the restoration of Jesus Christ. "Gospel blessings, temporal and spiritual, to the Gentiles in the last days, are intended" (A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, Je 48:47).

REFLECTION 
In this chapter (Jeremiah 46), we gain several insights about God and his plan for this world: 
(1) Although God chose Israel for a special purpose, he loves all people and wants all to come to him. 
(2) God is holy and will not tolerate sin. 
(3) God's judgments are not based on prejudice and a desire for revenge, but on fairness and justice. 
(4) God does not delight in judgment but in salvation. 
(5) God is impartial - he judges everyone by the same standard. 
(From The Life Application Bible, 46:1, page 1363)
This is the drum I have been tapping since the beginning of the Bible Book Club. God wants to bless ALL nations (Genesis 12:1-4). He wants to be their God. 

APPLICATION

The countries mentioned today are all in the Arab world, and they are going through tremendous changes. Pray for Egypt as they forge a new nation, post Mubarak. Also, pray for peace between Arabs and Israelis in Palestine. Pray for the people of Gaza (former Philistine area) too. 

PRAYER

Lord, while You had judgment for nations who defied You, You also have compassion for all those who sincerely seek You. We pray for the countries of Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Libya, and Palestine. We pray the peoples would seek You. We ask for leaders who fear You and can lead their nations into peace. It is in Your name we pray. Amen. 

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