Jeremiah 46-47
(Oracles Against Other Nations)
August 18th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

"Shamed is daughter Egypt, handed over to a people from the north."

- Jeremiah 46:24 (NAB)

Summary of Chapters

The remaining seven chapters of Jeremiah are oracles against the other nations of the Middle East. They are assumed to have been mostly written by Jeremiah, but there may be some that were added by other people. In the translation found in the NIV Jeremiah reviews the neighboring countries in order from west to east. He begins in chapter 46 with a prophecy regarding the defeat of Egypt at the hands of the Babylonians. The Egyptians had a mighty army and were boastful:

But the LORD had determined that there would be a day of defeat when the warriors would retreat in shame, stumbling over one another as they return to their cities in chaotic fashion. The Pharaoh would be embarrassed before all other nations from which the mercenaries had come: “they'll nickname Pharaoh 'Big-Talk-Bad-Luck' (Jer 46:17 - The Message).” Egypt is depicted as a snake slithering away in advance of the Babylonians, who are “more numerous than locusts (Jer 46:23 - NIV).”

At the end of the chapter, Jeremiah notes that the LORD seeks to console the sons of Jacob (the Israelites). He tells them that though they have been scattered to nations that will be destroyed, he will one day bring them back to safety.

Chapter 47 is a message about the Philistines, who had been a long-term opponent of Israel. The terror will be so great on the day of their demise that “Fathers will not turn to help their children (Jer 47:3 - NIV).”

Reflection and Application

The timing of the original writings of these oracles is not fully clear, but they have been placed at the end of the book as a concluding note to emphasize God’s sovereignty over the world. One can read similar oracles in Isaiah and books of other prophets in the Bible.

Every great power on earth eventually falls. Each is temporary. Assyria had become the regional power, but was replaced by Babylon, which had been a satellite of their empire. The Egyptians considered their nation to be equal to or superior to the Babylonians, but were eventually defeated and embarrassed. As foreseen by the prophets, Babylon would eventually succumb to the Persians. The Persians would later be defeated by the Greeks and the Greeks by the Romans who ruled over much of the known world at the time of Jesus’ birth on earth.

The constant presence through the rise and fall of these empires has been God. He is as constant as the rising of the sun. He allows events to transpire, but then chooses when to intervene – often in ways not expected by the general population: A man from Persia becomes an instrument from God to set the Israelites free from Babylon, a carpenter’s son from Nazareth is actually the son of God, a Christian persecutor becomes the most prolific writer in the New Testament, a petite woman from Albania becomes Mother Theresa, who displays great strength in saving the undesirables from ignominious death on the streets of India. What might God be doing today? His work is all around us, but we may not recognize it if we are not fully open to the infinite possibilities of his intervention.

Let us open our hearts, minds, eyes, and ears today so that we may recognize all the ways in which God is currently working in our world.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What is one of your memories of a successful collaboration on a project?
    2. What are some of the ways that God is working in our world today?
    3. How do we attune ourselves to filter out the noise of our world and recognize what God is doing in our lives?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you created the earth, sun, moon, planets and stars, and that you will outlast every human empire. Help us to put our trust in you.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    People working with the "undesirables" of our world

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 48-49 (More Oracles Against Other Nations)

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