Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Judgment On The Philistines And Moab
“The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza.” (Jeremiah 47:1)
Jeremiah became a prophet during Josiah’s reign. Shortly before Josiah’s death, the Egyptians had seized the coastal regions of the Philistines and Lebanon before attacking the Assyrians. Josiah was killed in an attempt to drive away the Egyptians even though they were not attacking him. Jeremiah made this prophecy about the Philistines even before Egypt seized those areas.
“Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong horses, at the rushing of his chariots, and at the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to their children for feebleness of hands; Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off with the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself?” (Jeremiah 47:2-5)
While Egypt would conquer Gaza, the Babylonian Empire would overrun it, taking all the land, not just the city of Gaza. Their alliances with the Phoenicians of Tyre and Sidon would offer no protection because they would be too busy protecting themselves. The Philistines had occupied the area since shortly after the flood, going all the way back to Ham’s son, Canaan. Finally, they would be destroyed as a nation although the land would continue to be known as Palestine.
“O thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.” (Jeremiah 47:6-7)
God had chosen to use Babylon as his sword to punish the nations that rebelled against him. While people thought it should end with the defeat of the Assyrians, Jeremiah recognized God’s judgment was intended to reach all the way to the Mediterranean Sea coast.
“Against Moab thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Woe unto Nebo! for it is spoiled: Kiriathaim is confounded and taken: Misgab is confounded and dismayed. There shall be no more praise of Moab: in Heshbon they have devised evil against it; come, and let us cut it off from being a nation. Also thou shalt be cut down, O Madmen; the sword shall pursue thee. A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim, spoiling and great destruction. Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard. For in the going up of Luhith continual weeping shall go up; for in the going down of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.” (Jeremiah 48:1-5)
Moab had been settled by Lot’s descendants. For centuries, they had hated the Jews, repeatedly attacking and trying to destroy them. During all that time they had never completely turned to God as a nation although at times under Israel’s kings they had practiced some of the Jewish religion. They would not escape the Babylonian forces, but the nation would be destroyed.
“Flee, save your lives, and be like the heath in the wilderness. For because thou hast trusted in thy works and in thy treasures, thou shalt also be taken: and Chemosh shall go forth into captivity with his priests and his princes together. And the spoiler shall come upon every city, and no city shall escape: the valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD hath spoken.” (Jeremiah 48:6-8)
Lot went to Sodom and stayed, trying to increase his wealth and prestige. After Sodom was destroyed, He and his daughters fled to the area, where Moab and Benammon were born. His two sons adopted the same attitude, fixated on their wealth, but worshipping other gods, including Chemosh. The Babylonians would destroy Moab, hauling away all vestiges of their religion and wiping out every Moabite city.
“Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away: for the cities thereof shall be desolate, without any to dwell therein. Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed.” (Jeremiah 48:9-11)
When God sent Saul to destroy the Amalekites, he told him to wipe them out completely. Saul disobeyed, keeping the best livestock and their king, then lied, saying they had done what God had commanded. As a result god took the throne away from Saul, giving it to David instead. Now God warns that he will curse the Babylonians if they do not punish the nations completely as God commanded. Moab had for years escaped God’s judgment, not experiencing the same judgment Israel did for their sin. As a result they had made no effort to change. That must not be allowed to continue.
“Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence.” (Jeremiah 48:12-13)