With today’s Scripture reading, the focus of Jeremiah’s prophecies shifts from the remnant of Judah to the Gentile nations, all of whom would fall before Nebuchadnezzar and his army. Under that king, Babylon became a world empire, defeating its neighboring nations in rapid succession.
In the closing chapters of Jeremiah, God revealed to His prophet the humiliating defeat Egypt would suffer (Jeremiah 46), and the demise of the Philistines (Jeremiah 47). The nation of Moab also fell to Babylon’s sword (Jeremiah 48), and was followed by the Ammonites (Jeremiah 49:1-6) and Edomites (Jeremiah 49:7-22). Syria became a vassal state of Babylon (Jeremiah 49:23), as did several tribes of the Arabian desert (Jeremiah 49:28-39). Lastly, Jeremiah’s prophecies concluded with revelations concerning Babylon’s future, its decline, and overthrow by the Medo-Persians (Jeremiah 50-52).
Jeremiah 46 – A Prophecy Concerning Egypt
Remembering how Egypt swore a treaty with Judah, Pharaoh led his army out of Egypt and came against Nebuchadnezzar’s army that was laid in siege against Jerusalem. When Nebuchadnezzar heard the Egyptian force was come up against him, he ordered his army to withdraw from Jerusalem and attack the Egyptians.
Babylon’s army crushed the Egyptian soldiers, many of whom were hired mercenaries (46:5, 9). Though armed with shield and sword and skilled as archers, those soldiers learned no nation could stand before an enemy when the LORD sets “a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries” (46:10). The blood of God’s vengeance could not be satisfied, and no medicines could heal the wounds Egypt suffered (46:11). So great was the defeat, Egypt’s soldiers stumbled over each other in their flight (46:12, 16).
The LORD then commanded Jeremiah to declare in Egypt, that the LORD had determined “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon should come and smite the land of Egypt” (46:13). Several metaphors were given to warn Egypt of the humiliating defeat that nation would suffer: Egypt would be like a cow facing the butcher (46:20), and a snake scurrying for safety (46:22). Babylon would afflict Egypt like trees felled by an axe, a forest facing with locusts (46:23), or a daughter raped and disgraced (46:24);
Three Reasons for God’s Judgment (46:25-28)
Egypt would not be spared the wrath of the LORD for the people were guilty of idolatry, they had been led astray by her leaders, and they had placed their trust in evil men (46:25-26). Yet, though other nations would be decimated by Nebuchadnezzar’s forces, Egypt would be spared annihilation and remained inhabited (46:26). Perhaps the explanation for Egypt’s reprieve was the presence of a remnant of Judah that dwelled in that land (46:26-28).
Closing thoughts (46:27-28) – The LORD had not forgotten His wayward people, nor set aside His covenant with Israel. The LORD commanded Jeremiah to declare to His people, “be not dismayed, O Israel…I will save thee from afar off…28Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, Saith the Lord: for I am with thee; For I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: But I will not make a full end of thee, But correct [chasten] thee in measure; Yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished” (46:27-28).
Jeremiah 47 – A Prophecy Concerning the Philistines
Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the Gentiles continued in chapter 47, and the Philistines are the focus. We read, “The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1). Consider the last phrase, “before that Pharaoh smote Gaza” (47:1b). Why Pharaoh attacked Gaza is not stated; however, perhaps that Philistine stronghold served as a defense for the Egyptian army as it retreated from Judah to its country.
The Rise of the Chaldean Army: Like Flood Waters (47:2-5)
Nebuchadnezzar’s army was pictured as rising flood waters from the north, that flowed over the land devastating everything and killing everyone in its path (47:2). The swiftness and devastation of the Babylonian army was described as “the noise of the stamping of the hoofs…At the rushing of his chariots” (47:3). Philistine’s fathers were said to be so overcome with fear, they failed to look back and wait upon their children (47:3). Philistine cities fell before Nebuchadnezzar, and the men shaved their heads as a sign of humiliation, defeat and mourning (47:5).
Closing thoughts (47:6-7) – Jeremiah’s prophecy against the Philistines concluded with the prophet asking, Lord, how long before your sword is satisfied, and you put it in the “scabbard, [to] rest, and be still” (47:6). Even as he asked the question, the prophet was reminded, God’s sword is a symbol of judgment, and it has purpose and work as long as the LORD has appointed it to do its work (47:7).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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