Jeremiah 46-51 fulfill part of Jeremiah’s prophetic mandate from Jeremiah 1:5, where God calls him to be a prophet not just to Judah but also to other nations; in these chapters the specific nations of Egypt, Philistine and Moab.
As we embark into these chapters, some comments from the Holman Old Testament commentary on Jeremiah, written by Fred Wood & Ross McLaren, are useful. I’m going to paraphrase their thoughts.
Did Jeremiah only write these prophesies down, or did he proclaim them to the nations in question? Other Old Testament prophets were certainly sent to proclaim God’s words to the nations they were talking about. Jonah is the easiest example of this to call to mind. It is entirely likely, given Jeremiah’s vocal ministry to Judah, the he not only penned these prophetic words but also traveled to the nations to deliver them in person.
Second, what is the point of these prophesies? Wood and McLaren offer three thoughts here:
- In speaking these words, Jeremiah makes it very clear that God is a holy God not only for Israel but for all of the nations; and because of that the nations were responsible to him for their deeds.
- These messages to the foreign nations were a comfort to the people of Judah and others who heard them. Most of these nations had been enemies or abusers of the Jewish nation at one point in time or another, so it was comforting to know that God was going to hold them accountable for their evil.
- These prophesies were not just judgmental. They were also intended to show to the nations in question that they were also included in God’s redemptive plan for humanity. Remember that God promised to bless all of the nations in the world through Abraham and his offspring.
My final point is one of my own. Notice as you are reading these words that it is not just the nations and their leaders that are going to be punished, but also the foreign gods. Remember back to the Exile, when God led Moses and Israel out of slavery to Egypt, God made it very clear that he was bringing judgement on the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12 if you need a refresher). God is not only out to correct humanity, but to prove that the other things we worship instead of God are empty, impotent vessels in light of the one and only Almighty One. We would be wise to take this council to heart, for there are indeed modern gods that we bow the knee and offer worship to.
- What was familiar from this passage of scripture? What was something I already knew?
- What was new from this piece of scripture? What was something that really stood out for me that I have never paid attention to before?
- Does Jesus appear in this passage of scripture?
- How does this passage apply to my life, here and now? Do I need to do anything about it?
- What prayer would I offer up to God after reading this piece of scripture?
Tomorrow’s Reading: Jeremiah 49-50