The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), August 13
God judges nations in relation to their treatment of Israel, “For the Day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head” (Obadiah 15). The final chapters of Jeremiah describe God’s judgment of the Ammonites, the Edomites, the nation of Damascus (Arameans/Syrians), the Elamites, and the Babylonians.
The Ammonites descend from Lot’s younger daughter. The Edomites descend from Abraham’s son, Ishmael. Both peoples are distant cousins to Israel and Judah. Instead of coming to the aid of their distant cousins during the final days of Babylon’s siege of Judah, however, both distance themselves and stand idly by until the siege is over. Even though God uses Babylon to chastise His people, He holds Judah’s distant cousins responsible for their lack of mourning over Judah’s demise and their willingness to plunder their (now exposed) relatives.
God addresses the Ammonites first, “Wail . . . gird yourselves with sackcloth! Lament and run to and fro by the walls” (Jer. 49:3), and He rebukes them for their false sense of security, “Why do you boast in the valleys, your flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? Who trusted in her treasures, saying, “Who will come against me?” (49:4). He promises them imminent judgment, “‘Behold, I will bring fear upon you,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts, ‘from all those who are around you; you shall be driven out, everyone headlong, and no one will gather those who wander off’” (49:5). He also promises future restoration, “But afterward I will bring back the captives of the people of Ammon” (49:6).
The LORD promises that He will strip “Esau bare; I have uncovered his secret places . . . his descendants are plundered . . . and he is no more” (49:10). Unlike the Ammonites, restoration is not in Edom’s future.
Damascus (Syria) has a past history with Judah. King David had subjugated the Syrians, and they paid him tribute (2 Sam. 8). Later the Syrians fought against a number of Israel’s kings.
The judgment of Elam (modern Iran) will occur in a far distant time, as will their restoration (49:34-39).
Finally, in chapter 50 Jeremiah announces the destruction of Babylon, “Declare among the nations, proclaim, and set up a standard; proclaim—do not conceal it—say, ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are humiliated, her images are broken in pieces’” (50:2).
At some point in their history, each of these nations had experienced jealousy toward Israel. In their weakness they could do nothing, but when they became strong nations, they acted on that jealousy.
The final prophecies of Jeremiah reveal a significant truth about God, Israel, and people:
Though the LORD may use the nations of the world to chastise His people, He will punish them for their hatred. God’s use of these nations in no way makes God the author of sin; He simply removes the hedge of protection from His people and allows evil men to fulfill their own evil desires.
Jealousy often remains latent in times weakness, but power allows jealousy the opportunity to act.
Human sinfulness manifests itself in nations as jealous leaders gain power to oppress and hurt those who are the objects of their jealousy. Rather than seeking God’s blessing themselves (and humbling themselves before God), they seek either to impoverish those whom God has blessed or to take their blessings outright.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Jer. 31:15-40; 49:34-51:14):
What does the LORD reveal about the future that makes Jeremiah’s sleep sweet to him?
What reason does the LORD give to Judah regarding Babylon’s overthrow? What does this reveal about God?