Day 234: Three Huge Themes in Jeremiah 46-49

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This is the word of the Lord that came to the prophet Jeremiah about the nations:

Jeremiah 46:1

Today’s reading is another one of those tough slogs. Why do I need to know about God’s judgments on Egypt (chapter 46), the Philistines (47), Moab (48), Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam (49)? Is there value for the Christian in reading all this? Well, there is, if for no other reason than that it is God’s Word, and 2 Timothy 3:16 is clear that all scripture is inspired and useful.

That would be enough. But praise God, that is not the only reason Christians find hope and relevance in these chapters. Throughout today’s and tomorrow’s reading, there are three elements that most of the judgments against the nations have in common:

  • All of them are enemies Israel.
  • God raises up a nation other than Israel to judge them.
  • For most of them (not all), there is a word of restoration at the end of the judgment.

Taken together, these three characteristics validate what God consistently reveals about His character, His relationship with Israel, and His ultimate plan for redemption.

First, God has always had and always will have a special relationship with Israel. Out of all nations on earth, He chose Israel to be his treasured possession, kingdom of priests, and holy nation (see Exodus 19:6). There is only one explanation given for why. In fact, there are more reasons for not choosing Israel than there are for choosing Israel:

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭7‬:‭7‬-‭8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

In this way, Israel represents all of us who are saved by grace and not by works (Eph 2:8-9). We bring nothing to the table for our salvation except the sin that makes it necessary. But when we are saved, then what is true about Israel is true of us. The apostle Peter applies the words of Exodus 19:6 to followers of Christ:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Second, those whom God chooses, He also protects. Every nation that rose up against Israel has been judged by God. Most of them have disappeared completely (case in point: You know any Hittites or Perizzites? Didn’t think so). Yet, Israel had nothing to do with the defeat of any of them. The nations described in today’s reading were all destroyed by someone else. And hasn’t that been God’s M.O. throughout Scripture?

  • “And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”” Exodus‬ ‭14‬:‭13‬-‭14‬ ‭ESV‬‬
  • “And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the Lord and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.” So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha.” 2 Kings‬ ‭6‬:‭18‬ ‭ESV‬‬
  • “Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.” Psalm‬ ‭91‬:‭9‬-‭10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
  • “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” Zech. 4:6

The list goes on and on. God fought Israel’s battles for them. Not once in all of Scripture did God say, “Guys, you need to figure this out.” And again, what is true for Israel is true for us. God goes before us. God fights for us. God, through Jesus, fought the enemy we could not fight.

Paul, in 1 Corinthians, described death as the last enemy that is to be defeated. Who defeats death? Not us! How is death defeated? Not through our power! Here’s how Paul says it in 1 Corinthians 15:

Death has been swallowed upin victory.
55 Where, death, is your victory?
Where, death, is your sting? 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

1 Cor. 15:55-57

Third: Judgment is Not the Final Word. Restoration Is. Notice how most of the judgments against nations end:

  • Against Egypt: But after this, Egypt will inhabit the land as in ancient times (46:26)
  • Against Moab: Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the last days (48:47)
  • Against Ammon: But after that, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites. This is the Lord’s declaration (49:6)
  • Against Elam: Yet, in the last days, I will restore the fortunes of Elam. This is the Lord’s declaration (49:39)

Why is there not a full and final end to these enemy nations (and full disclosure, not every nation gets this “But after this” promise). Why do they get off the hook?

Here’s why. Because God has promised that there will be people from every tribe and tongue and nation gathered before His throne. Revelation 7:9:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Revelation 7:9

For God to be faithful to God’s Word, there will have to be Egyptians and Ammonites and Moabites and Elamites in that great multitude.

Earlier, I joked that none of us has ever met a Hittite. But you know what? God knows where they are today. And in God’s grace, there’s going to be at least one Hittite waving palm branches one day.

I can’t wait to meet him.

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