DIVINE JUDGMENT WILL EXPOSE THE ARROGANCE AND FALSE SECURITY OF NATIONS THAT TRUST IN THEIR OWN RESOURCES
Powerful nations imagine that they are secure and impenetrable. They arrogantly trust in their military strength, their material resources, their defensive strongholds, their wisdom and their history of dominating weaker neighbors. They have a sense of false security and a confidence that their kingdom will endure. However, history has demonstrated that no nation maintains its dominion forever. God has decreed that He will judge nations for their failure to trust Him and submit to His sovereign rule. Only the Kingdom of God will reign in majesty and supremacy forever. How important a lesson for the nations of today.
Kidner: Elam relied on its archers (35; cf. Is. 22:6), Ammon on its Molech (Milcom, v. 3), Edom on its cleverness and its crags (v. 7, 16), Damascus on its fame (25), Kedar on its remoteness and its mobility (29, 31). Cf. 9:23-24
DIVINE JUDGMENT WILL EXPOSE THE ARROGANCE AND FALSE SECURITY OF NATIONS THAT TRUST IN THEIR OWN RESOURCES
I. (:1-6) ORACLE AGAINST AMMON – FALSE SECURITY EXPOSED –
WHO WILL COME AGAINST ME?
“Concerning the sons of Ammon. Thus says the LORD:”
Parunak: Like the Moabites, the Ammonites were continually scrapping with Israel.
1) They flowed back into their ancestral territory in the vacuum left when Assyria took the northern tribes (including the Trans Jordanian settlements) into captivity.
2) Jer. 40:15, sponsored the assassination of Gedaliah, perhaps in an attempt to extend their control even west of the Jordan.
3) Central in the resistance to the rebuilding of the city walls in Neh (4:1ff).
A. (:1-2) Judgment Levied for Land Grabbing
1. (:1) Guilty of Snatching Territory from Israel
“Does Israel have no sons?
Or has he no heirs?
Why then has Malcam taken possession of Gad
And his people settled in its cities?”
Feinberg: These rhetorical questions connote reproach.
Clarke: The Ammonites, it appears, took advantage of the depressed state of Israel, and invaded their territories in the tribe of Gad, hoping to make them their own forever. But the prophet intimates that God will preserve the descendants of Israel, and will bring them back to their forfeited inheritances.
2. (:2) Israel Will Retake Possession of Her Land
“’Therefore behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD,
‘That I will cause a trumpet blast of war to be heard
Against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon;
And it will become a desolate heap,
And her towns will be set on fire.
Then Israel will take possession of his possessors,’
Says the LORD.”
B. (:3-5) Judgment Levied for Arrogance
1. (:3) Judgment Bewailed
“Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai has been destroyed!
Cry out, O daughters of Rabbah,
Gird yourselves with sackcloth and lament,
And rush back and forth inside the walls;
For Malcam will go into exile
Together with his priests and his princes.”
Kidner: Long before the return of this region to Jewish hands, Ammon was to be in trouble: first through Nebuchadnezzar’s reprisals in 582 for Gedaliah’s murder, and soon afterwards, fatally, through a wave of invasions from the Arabian desert, by tribes which overran not only her but Moab and Edom. By the end of the century all three peoples had been driven out, and their territories taken over.
2. (:4) Judgment Unexpected but Deserved
“How boastful you are about the valleys!
Your valley is flowing away,
O backsliding daughter
Who trusts in her treasures, saying,
‘Who will come against me?’”
David Guzik: The Ammonites believed their geography would help defend them against the Babylonians, but it was a poorly placed trust. The same could be said as they trusted in her treasures. All would fail them in the days of judgment.
3. (:5) Judgment Described
“’Behold, I am going to bring terror upon you,’
Declares the Lord GOD of hosts,
‘From all directions around you;
And each of you will be driven out headlong,
With no one to gather the fugitives together.’”
Constable: Yahweh promised to terrorize the Ammonites with enemies that would attack from all directions (cf. Jeremiah 49:29; Jeremiah 6:25; Jeremiah 20:3-4; Jeremiah 20:10; Jeremiah 46:5). No one would be able to organize the fugitives because the scattering would be so great.
C. (:6) Merciful Future Restoration
“’But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the sons of Ammon,’ declares the LORD.”
1. God’s sovereignty in distributing the circumstances of this world. Land that Ammon lost to Sihon becomes Israel’s, but land that Israel loses to TP3 does not become Ammon’s. God alone holds the title deeds.
2. The many sides of sin. Is Ammon judged because she abuses Israel, or because of her pride? Yes. Sin is the expression of our sinful nature; its outward forms are many, but all stem from the root rebellion against God, and he can deal with them together.
3. The punishment suits the crime.
4. God is merciful to some of those whom he judges, and (in spite of their history) promises to restore them to the place of blessing – as he has done with us in salvation.
Constable: Some reasons for Yahweh”s judgment on Ammon were her military aggression (Jeremiah 49:1) and her proud trust in her geographical situation and her treasures (Jeremiah 49:4).
II. (:7-22) ORACLE AGAINST EDOM – TRANSFORMATION FROM IMPENETRABLE ARROGANCE TO OBJECT OF HORROR –
YOU CAN’T TOUCH ME
“Concerning Edom. Thus says the LORD of hosts,”
Constable: The Edomites lived to the southeast of Judah, south of Moab. The Zered River was their northern border, the Gulf of Aqabah (about100 miles to the south) the southern, the Arabah the western, and the desert the eastern borders. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, and a long history of antagonism with the Israelites that reached back to the days of Jacob and Esau, and Israel’s wilderness wanderings, marked their relationship (cf. Numbers 20:14-21; Judges 11:17).
Kidner: Edom was evidently well known for two great assets: her wise men and her almost inaccessible strongholds.
A. (:7-13) Inevitable Doom
1. (:7-8) Wisdom Cannot Protect Against Impending Judgment
a. (:7) Failure of Wisdom
“Is there no longer any wisdom in Teman?
Has good counsel been lost to the prudent?
Has their wisdom decayed?”
Feinberg: Edom’s cardinal sin was its pride manifested in its unrelenting and violent hatred of Israel and its rejoicing in her misfortune (Obadiah 3, 10-14). There is no prophecy of future restoration for Edom. . . Part of God’s judgment against the Edomites was to bring them foolish and incompetent leadership. To this day, this is one way God may show His displeasure against a nation.
b. (:8) Futility of Fleeing
“Flee away, turn back, dwell in the depths,
O inhabitants of Dedan,
For I will bring the disaster of Esau upon him
At the time I punish him.”
Guzik: He told the Edomites to dig in deep, as a soldier does in a foxhole or trench, trying to find some shelter against the judgment to come.
2. (:9-11) Stripped Bare
a. (:9) Thorough Devastation
“If grape gatherers came to you,
Would they not leave gleanings?
If thieves came by night,
They would destroy only until they had enough.”
b. (:10) No Place to Hide
“But I have stripped Esau bare,
I have uncovered his hiding places
So that he will not be able to conceal himself;
His offspring has been destroyed along with his relatives
And his neighbors, and he is no more.”
c. (:11) Protection of the Helpless
“Leave your orphans behind, I will keep them alive;
And let your widows trust in Me.”
Longman: The ravaging of Edom is likened to the stripping bare of a person. Edom will be completely bare after God is through with it. Many will perish, but the last line hints that some will remain. Indeed, the remnant will be made up of the most vulnerable, the orphans and widows, who are traditionally under God’s care.
3. (:12-13) Perpetual Ruins
a. (:12) No Acquittals
“For thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, those who were not sentenced
to drink the cup will certainly drink it, and are you the one who
will be completely acquitted? You will not be acquitted, but you
will certainly drink it.’”
b. (:13) Object of Horror
“’For I have sworn by Myself,’ declares the LORD, ‘that Bozrah
will become an object of horror, a reproach, a ruin and a curse;
and all its cities will become perpetual ruins.’”
B. (:14-18) Shocking Humiliation
1. (:14) Time to Face the Music
“I have heard a message from the LORD,
And an envoy is sent among the nations, saying,
‘Gather yourselves together and come against her,
And rise up for battle!’”
2. (:15-16) How the Mighty Have Fallen
a. (:15) Made Small and Despised
“For behold, I have made you small among the nations,
Despised among men.”
b. (:16) False Security Toppled
“’As for the terror of you,
The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
O you who live in the clefts of the rock,
Who occupy the height of the hill.
Though you make your nest as high as an eagle’s,
I will bring you down from there,’ declares the LORD.”
3. (:17-18) Complete Devastation
a. (:17) Object of Horror
“Edom will become an object of horror; everyone who passes by it will be horrified and will hiss at all its wounds.”
b. (:18) Comparison to Sodom and Gomorrah
“’Like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah with its neighbors,’ says the LORD, ‘no one will live there, nor will a son of man reside in it.’”
C. (:19-22) Two Ravaging Images
1. (:19) Image of Attacking Lion
“Behold, one will come up like a lion from the thickets of the Jordan against a perennially watered pasture; for in an instant I will make him run away from it, and whoever is chosen I shall appoint over it. For who is like Me, and who will summon Me into court? And who then is the shepherd who can stand against Me?”
2. (:20-22) Image of Attacking Eagle
a. (:20) Divinely Ordained Devastation
“Therefore hear the plan of the LORD which He has planned against Edom, and His purposes which He has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman: surely they will drag them off, even the little ones of the flock; surely He will make their pasture desolate because of them.”
b. (:21) Widespread Impactful Devastation
“The earth has quaked at the noise of their downfall. There is an outcry! The noise of it has been heard at the Red Sea.”
c. (:22) Sudden Terror
“Behold, He will mount up and swoop like an eagle and spread out His wings against Bozrah; and the hearts of the mighty men of Edom in that day will be like the heart of a woman in labor.”
Parunak: Summary – This oracle continues to develop the lessons that we have seen in the others:
1. If God judges his own people, whom he loves and to whose wellbeing he has pledged himself, how much more will he bring judgment on those who are not under his covenant. Implicit in all of the oracles, this is explicit here (12).
2. Though God’s judgment comes by the hand of his creatures, he is behind it (13, 19b-21). It is a grievous error to say, “That wasn’t God’s hand, because it was the hand of man.”
3. Though Edom’s conduct is hardly savory, the reason that Jer gives for her judgment is not her deeds (as in the other prophets) but her pride (16), as in the case of Moab and Ammon. He is most concerned with people’s tendency to trust themselves and not the Lord.
4. Last but not least, v. 11 is a precious example of how even those who oppose the Lord find him ready to receive them, if they will only turn in faith to him.
III. (:23-27) ORACLE AGAINST DAMASCUS – PANIC ATTACK –
FUTILITY OF STRONG WARRIORS AND STRONG FORTIFICATIONS
Wiersbe: The prophet Isaiah condemned Damascus, the capital of Syria (Isa. 17). Amos accused the Syrians of treating the people of Gilead like grain on a threshing floor (Amos 1:3-5). God would judge them for their inhumanity and brutality to His people.
A. (:23-24) Dread
1. (:23) Unrelenting Anxiety
“Hamath and Arpad are put to shame,
For they have heard bad news;
They are disheartened.
There is anxiety by the sea,
It cannot be calmed.”
2. (:24) Helpless Terror
“Damascus has become helpless;
She has turned away to flee,
And panic has gripped her;
Distress and pangs have taken hold of her
Like a woman in childbirth.”
Constable: The bad news was that Damascus had panicked and fled before an enemy. She would behave like a woman in childbirth, namely, fearfully and helplessly.
B. (:25) Deserted Refuge
“How the city of praise has not been deserted,
The town of My joy!”
MacArthur: Could be translated, “the city of renown,” famous due to its situation in a spacious oasis and its trade, as in Eze 27:18.
C. (:26) Death of Warriors
“’Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets,
And all the men of war will be silenced in that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts.”
D. (:27) Devastation of Strongholds
“I will set fire to the wall of Damascus,
And it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad.”
IV. (:28-33) ORACLE AGAINST KEDAR AND HAZOR – FALSE SECURITY EXPOSED — DEVASTATED AND PLUNDERED
“Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated. Thus says the LORD,”
Wiersbe: These two Arab nations were guilty of living at ease, isolating themselves from others, and manifesting pride and arrogant self-confidence (49:31). They didn’t need God, and they didn’t need the help of any other people! When Nebuchadnezzar arrived on the scene, they learned how foolish they had been.
Mackay: This brief poem about the desert tribes is in two strophes each of which begins with a divine summons to invaders who are to act as his instruments, “Arise and attack” (vv. 28, 31).
A. (:28-30) Devastated, Plundered and Uprooted
1. (:28) Devastated
“Arise, go up to Kedar
And devastate the men of the east.”
2. (:29) Plundered
“They will take away their tents and their flocks;
They will carry off for themselves
Their tent curtains, all their goods and their camels,
And they will call out to one another, ‘Terror on every side!’”
Byron Chesney: Notice that the LORD uses descriptions of things that they are known for: tents, flocks, camels, and wealth. These are all things that causes them to feel self-reliant. Much the same as people are today. Riches have a way of causing people to feel self-sufficient and you know what the Bible says:
1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
3. (:30) Uprooted
“’Run away, flee! Dwell in the depths,
O inhabitants of Hazor,’ declares the LORD;
‘For Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has formed a plan against you
And devised a scheme against you.’”
B. (:31-33) Surprised, Plundered and Rendered Inhabitable
1. (:31) Surprised
“’Arise, go up against a nation which is at ease,
Which lives securely,’ declares the LORD.
‘It has no gates or bars;
They dwell alone.’”
Mackay: The desert tribes thought themselves exempt from the conquering action of Babylon because of the scattered nature of their settlements, and the ease with which they could move away in the face of hostile forces. They were self-confident and lacking in apprehension at the events that were taking place in the world about them. To that extent their inadequate preparations made them an easier target to attack.
2. (:32) Plundered
“’Their camels will become plunder,
And their many cattle for booty,
And I will scatter to all the winds those who cut the corners of their hair;
And I will bring their disaster from every side,’ declares the LORD.”
Constable: Their camels and cattle would become booty for the Babylonians, who would be the Lord’s instrument in scattering and destroying the Arabs. One of their distinguishing features was that they rounded off the corners of their beards. Those who lived in the open air would scatter to the winds.
3. (:33) Rendered Inhabitable
“Hazor will become a haunt of jackals,
A desolation forever;
No one will live there,
Nor will a son of man reside in it.”
V. (:34-39) ORACLE AGAINST ELAM – SOVEREIGN DOMINION OF THE LORD OF HOSTS
“That which came as the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying:”
Mackay: it represents the end of the earth as far as the prophet and his contemporaries were concerned. The basic theme is that the realm of the God of all the earth extends as far as is conceivable, and that this will be demonstrated by the judgment he brings on those who act contrary to his wishes.
A. (:35-38) Sovereign Shattering of Elam
1. (:35) Breaking Their Military Might
“Thus says the LORD of hosts,
‘Behold, I am going to break the bow of Elam,
The finest of their might.’”
2. (:36) Scattering Their Refugees
“I will bring upon Elam the four winds
From the four ends of heaven,
And will scatter them to all these winds;
And there will be no nation
To which the outcasts of Elam will not go.”
3. (:37) Shattering Them in Divine Anger
“‘So I will shatter Elam before their enemies
And before those who seek their lives;
And I will bring calamity upon them,
Even My fierce anger,’ declares the LORD,
‘And I will send out the sword after them
Until I have consumed them.’”
4. (:38) Establishing His Divine Throne
“‘Then I will set My throne in Elam
And destroy out of it king and princes,’
Declares the LORD.”
B. (:39) Gracious Future Restoration of Elam
“‘But it will come about in the last days
That I will restore the fortunes of Elam,’
Declares the LORD.”