Jeremiah 48-49
(More Oracles Against Other Nations)
August 19th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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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 Verses

"Edom will end up trash. Stinking, despicable trash. A wonder of the world in reverse. She’ll join Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors in the sewers of history.” God says so.

    “No one will live there,
        no mortal soul move in there"

- Jeremiah 49:18-19 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

These two chapters are a collection of oracles that forecast the defeat of various nations in the region. Each is addressed one at a time. Chapter 48 is focused on Moab, a neighboring nation that had been part of Israel at times and was an opponent at other times. The chapter describes how every town will be destroyed and depicts the terror and confusion that the people will experience.

One of the themes is the pride of the people of Moab. Jeremiah quotes the LORD using every conceivable synonym for this word in order to describe the bad attitude of Moab:

    "We have heard of Moab's pride - her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart; I know her insolence but it is futile," declares the LORD, "and her boasts accomplish nothing."

    -Jeremiah 48:29-30 (NIV)

    "We've all heard of Moab's pride,
        that legendary pride,
    The strutting, bullying, puffed-up pride,
        the insufferable arrogance.
    I know"—God's Decree—"his rooster-crowing pride,
        the inflated claims, the sheer nothingness of Moab."

    -Jeremiah 48:29-30 (MSG)

Jeremiah also records the LORD addressing the praising of false idols and the crime of defiance against the LORD. The chapter ends with the LORD promising to one day restore their fortunes after the judgment has passed.

Chapter 49 addresses the nations of Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, and Elam in specific terms. The image of an eagle is often used in these chapters because of its ability to overcome land obstacles and swoop down on its prey. The verses make clear that these nations will incur a devastating loss.

In the cases of Ammon, the first nation mentioned, and Elam, the last nation mentioned, the section ends with the same promise that ended chapter 48. For example, see the one regarding Elam: " 'Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come' declares the LORD (49:39 - NIV)."

Reflection and Application

Many of the passages in these two chapters are the same or similar to ones in Isaiah. Presumably, they are repeated in Jeremiah because they were well-liked and familiar. Some of the nations mentioned in these oracles survived the destruction, such as Egypt, allowing their cultures to persist into modern times. But they were never quite the same powerful force as before. Other nations, such as Moab, which had existed as a kingdom east of the Dead Sea, appear to have been extinguished. Their people and cultures may have blended in with others, but the nation no longer exists. The Moabites and Israelites had a long-standing experience with each other, mostly filled with conflict. One of the early encounters was recorded in Numbers chapter 23, when the Israelites were still wandering in the desert following the exodus from Egypt:

    Now Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, and Moab was terrified because there were so many people. Indeed, Moab was filled with dread because of the Israelites.

    The Moabites said to the elders of Midian, “This horde is going to lick up everything around us, as an ox licks up the grass of the field.”

    - Numbers 23:2-4 (NIV)

Remember the story of Balak? He tried to hire a prophet named Balaam to curse the Israelites, but he would not do it. You can read more about Balak and Balaam in Numbers 23-24. Despite the long-standing tensions a Moabite woman named Ruth became a key part of the redemption story, as she had married an Israelite man who had come to Moab to flee a drought. After his death, Ruth accompanied her mother-in-law back to Israel, married a man named Boaz and became the grandmother of David, who became the second king of the united Israel.

Unfortunately, this connection did not lead to long-lasting peace between the nations. For his part, David had conquered Moab and subjected it to a vassal state status. After the split of the kingdom it became a part of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but eventually seceded when Israel was fighting the Arameans. Subsequently, as described in 2 Kings 24, the Moabites often harassed the people of Judah under the direction of Nebuchadnezzar, who was king of Babylon. The Babylonians eventually demolished the kingdom Moab around 582 B.C., as foretold by the prophets Jeremiah, Isaiah, and others (1)

In addition to these Old Testament accounts we have archeological evidence that corroborates the existence of Moab. In the 19th century a memorial known as the Mesha stone was found that noted many of the places mentioned in these chapters. This stone was erected by King Mesha sometime between 840 B.C. and 820 B.C. in order to recognize a military victory that resulted in independence from Israel. The stone mentions many of the places noted in Jeremiah 48 (2).

The sins of Moab noted here are not unique to this ancient nation, but are ones that our own generation struggles with: Pride (and all its synonyms), worship of false idols, and defiance of the LORD. All of these are serious sins but may not always be self-observable. Pride was often mentioned in Proverbs and other books of the Bible and is called the deadliest of the seven sins.

Healthy pride can be a good characteristic when kept in perspective. We can take pride in our work, our school, our nation, our children, etc. Unhealthy pride is characterized by an inflated self-assessment. Once unhealthy pride gets hold of our hearts we begin to elevate ourselves above other humans and then above God, leading to defiance and worshipping of idols (including, potentially ourselves).

If we have gone too far down the road with pride we may need to perform some sort of cleansing of ourselves to begin anew and can look towards the promise that God will restore us. It's amazing that the LORD describes such total destruction and then follows with a commitment to restoration. This sequence reveals the nature of our God. He is a disciplinarian, but a loving one who gives us second chances, and third chances. He even offered this opportunity to nations outside of the "chosen one," as recorded in these chapters, and perhaps foreshadowing the Messiah who would come to offer salvation to all of the people of the world.

    For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son.

    - John 3:16 (NIV)

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. What types of positive experiences have you had with people in the nations that border your own?
    2. How can we determine where we rank on the pride-ometer? Are we closer to the healthy pride or unhealthy pride? How do we know?
    3. How much does God love us? That is something to boast about!
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know you love us so much that you gave us your only son. Help us to accept your mercy.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Humility for all of us


    (1) Boadt, Lawrence, Jeremiah 26-52, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene Oregon, 1982, p.127-128
    (2) IBID p. 128

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Jeremiah 50-51 (Bigger and Better Oracles Against Other Nations)

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