Today we remember that God is not just the God of the Jews – but the God of the world – all the nations. And as God has watched the sins of these nations – so will He exact discipline on these nations. Jeremiah writes what God tells him to write regarding the coming destruction that God will oversee and orchestrate against Israel’s neighbors.
Jeremiah uses vivid imagery to describe these events:
“The sword will devour till it is satisfied, till it has quenched its thirst with blood.” (Jeremiah 46:10 NIV)
“Moab is disgraced for she is shattered.” (Jeremiah 48:20 NIV)
His descriptions show not only how scary and total the destruction will be – but also what a sad state of affairs these societies had become. The most powerful passage that got my attention was in the message against the Philistines, “Terrified fathers run madly, without a backward glance at their helpless children.” (Jeremiah 47:3b NLT). Where have the strong, brave protectors and defenders of their families gone?
We would do well to pay special attention to the passages that point to the reasons for this judgment. All of these neighbors are being punished for their mistreatment of God’s chosen people, as well as for their own sins. “Since you trust in your deeds and riches, you too will be taken captive…We have heard of Moab’s pride – her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart…In Moab I will put an end to those who make offerings on the high places and burn incense to their gods…Moab will be destroyed as a nation because she defied the LORD” (Jeremiah 48:7, 29, 35, 42 NIV). How many similarities do you have to Moab – just one of the countries that would feel the burn of God’s discipline? How do you treat God and His people? Is your pride in check? Where do you put your trust – in your job, your finances, your teachers, your doctors, yourself – or in God? Do you offer your best and first time, talents and resources to God or to selfish pursuits and false gods?
After 46 verses of judgment against Moab, the final verse of chapter 48 says, “Yet, I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come.” Hope and restoration is coming – at least for those judged worthy. Amongst the condemnation of these chapters, Jeremiah includes a beautiful word from God for Israel as well,
“But do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel.
For I will bring you home again from distant lands,
and your children will return from their exile.
Israel[f] will return to a life of peace and quiet,
and no one will terrorize them.
28 Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
for I am with you,” says the Lord.
“I will completely destroy the nations to which I have exiled you,
but I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you, but with justice;
I cannot let you go unpunished.” (Jeremiah 46: 27-28 NLT)
God sees and will not let the guilty go unpunished. But His deepest desire is to find and reward faithfulness in His children so He can live with them in peace. God still judges in His love today – as a wise and caring parent. There will yet be a time of unequaled punishment for those who appeared to get away with evil with a proud heart, relying on themselves and turning their backs on God. This is discipline with justice. And, then, there will be restoration and peace. Come Lord Jesus Come – may He find us faithful.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at Jeremiah 46-48.
Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 49-50 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan