While we’re on a prophetic tour of the nations around Israel, it might be helpful to do a little geography review so we’re familiar with what Jeremiah is talking about.
Yesterday we read God’s prophecies regarding Egypt, the Philistines, and Moab. Egypt sits at the Northeast corner of Africa, and was a place of refuge for Abraham, Jacob, and their descendants. Up on the southern shore of the Dead Sea sits Edom, the home of Esau’s descendants. Working northward around the sea is Moab, followed by Ammon, both children of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. To the Northeast of Israel was the kingdom of Aram (or Syria), with its capital of Damascus. And looping westward to the Great Sea you’ll find Tyre and Sidon, seafaring traders of the Mediterranean. Much further to the east sits Elam, with its ancient culture around Susa.
Each of these nations had mixed relations with Judah and Israel. When David and Solomon reigned, all but Egypt, Tyre and Elam had paid tribute to Israel. Most had exploited the strife of the divided kingdom and were at times allied with or at odds with Judah and Israel. And they all would soon have Babylonian conquest in common.
The LORD accuses Ammon of stealing land from Israel, and tells Moab “because you trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken.” Edom is dispossessed, possibly – as the LORD had promised in Numbers 24 – for their refusal to help Israel during the Exodus. It’s unclear why Elam and Hazor incurred the LORD’s wrath, and as with narratives, it’s wise not to speculate.
By far the greatest focus is on the coming judgment of Babylon. After a thousand years under Assyria’s yoke the Chaldeans had only recently united the Middle East under their banner, and already their days were numbered. “For behold,” the LORD says, “I am stirring up and bringing against Babylon a gathering of great nations, from the north country.” For though they had served the LORD’s purpose in judging His people, Israel’s “Redeemer is strong; He will surely plead their cause.”
Our verse for this week is Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jeremiah 49 and 50. Now let’s read it!
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.