The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
PROPHECIES AGAINST JUDAH'S NEIGHBORS Part 2
The final section of the book of Jeremiah (chapters 46 through 51) deals with God's judgments upon Judah's Gentile neighbors.
I mentioned last week that the order in which these prophecies are recorded follows a geographical pattern of west to east -- Egypt (chap. 46), then the Philistines (47:1), then Moab (48:1), then the Ammonites (49:1), then Edom (49:7), then Damascus (49:23), then Kedar (49:28), then Elam (49:34), and then Babylon (50:1; 51:1).
Two weeks ago we looked at God's judgment upon Egypt (46).
And then last week we looked at God's judgment upon the Philistines (47), Moab (48), and the Ammonites (49:1-6).
Which brings us tonight to God's judgment upon Edom (49:7), Damascus (49:23), Kedar (49:28), and Elam (49:34).
THE JUDGMENT OF EDOM
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. Malachi 1:2 and 3 says, "Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness."
The book of Obadiah also deals with God's judgment upon Edom (cf. Obadiah 1-6 with Jeremiah 49:79, 14-16).
The Edomites had been the enemies of the descendants of Jacob, the Israelites. Ezekiel 35:5 refers to the "perpetual hatred" the Edomites had for Israel. That perpetual hatred has continued to this day (Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, etc.).
Whereas Jeremiah predicted the future restoration of the Egyptians, and the Moabites, and the Ammonites (46:26; 48:47; 49:6), no promise of restoration is given to Edom (49:10, 18).
Teman is a district in Edom (49:7, 20), and Dedan was a neighbor (49:8). Edom's neighbors are also referred to in verse 10.
The Bible teaches Edom will be utterly cut off. Human wisdom could not avail to save this proud nation (49:7). All their counsels were in vain.
“The calamity of Esau” (49:8) was near at hand. God would bring it upon him. God had decreed it, and none of the men should be spared. Grape-gatherers would have to leave some gleaning grapes upon the vines. Thieves destroy only till they have had enough (49:9).
But in the case of the Edomites, they would be utterly destroyed, along with their seed, and their brethren, and their neighbors (49:10).
Regarding verse 11, H.A. Ironside said, "It is touching to find in this connection the precious message that has been a source of untold comfort to many a tried saint in later days. 'Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in Me' (49:11). This was God’s gracious provision for the helpless and feeble even of Edom. How blessedly it tells out the real compassion of His heart! Judgment is His strange work. His holiness demands that sin be dealt with. In His righteous government the nations that have practiced iniquity must perish. But He forgets not the cry of the lowly; He ever remembers the poor and the needy. The widow and the fatherless have a special claim upon His love and mercy. Never was that claim pleaded in vain" (Jeremiah and Lamentations).
Proverbs 11:21 says, "The wicked shall not be unpunished."
Twice the LORD said to Judah, "I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished" (30:11; 46:28).
And to Edom, the LORD says, "Thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it" (49:12-15).
The LORD refers to the pride of Moab, and to the pride of Edom also (49:16; cf. 48:29).
The LORD hates pride, and though Edom should make his nest as high as the eagle, the LORD would bring him down from thence, giving up his cities and fortresses to desolation (49:16, 17; cf. Obadiah 3, 4).
The ruin of Edom was to be as complete as that of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities of the plains. Like a lion coming out from the swellings of Jordan, the enemy (Babylon) would rise up against the habitation of the strong till the heart of his mighty men became as the heart of a woman in her pangs (49:18-22).
The imagery of the woman's birth pangs is seen often throughout Scripture (cf. Jer. 49:24; I Thess. 5:3).
In fact, when our Lord referred to the signs of His second coming, He spoke of religious deceivers, wars and rumours of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, and then He said, "All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matt. 24:8), or literally, "the beginning of birth pangs."
Strong's Concordance says the word refers to, "the pain of childbirth, travail pain, birth pangs, intolerable anguish, in reference to the dire calamities precede the advent of the Messiah."
The LORD asks, "For who is like me? and who will appoint me the time?" (49:19). History is "His story." The LORD controls history.
"With this the prophet abruptly concludes. There is no word of recovery. It is a ruin complete and irrevocable, as Obadiah also testifies" (HAI).
THE JUDGMENT OF DAMASCUS (49:23-27)
Next we are told of the impending doom of Damascus, the capital of Syria. Damascus is referred to in verse 25 as "the city of praise" and "the city of my joy," but the LORD judged Damascus.
Hamath and Arpad were famous in their day, but now they were confounded and fainthearted. They had heard "evil tidings" that Damascus had been overthrown (49:23).
Damascus, waxing "feeble," turned herself to flee; but “anguish and sorrows have taken her, as a woman in travail” (49:24).
“Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD of hosts" (49:26).
The city was to be burned, and the LORD kindled the fire (49:27).
The palaces of King Ben-Hadad, Israel’s old enemy, would be destroyed (49:25-27).
H.A. Ironside said, "Thus briefly, in the space of five verses, does the prophet portray the downfall of one of the greatest powers of ancient times" (Jeremiah and Lamentations).
Warren Wiersbe says, "This message is brief, but it contains power. How much does God have to say to convince people that His wrath is about to fall?" (The Bible Exposition Commentary).
THE JUDGMENT AGAINST KEDAR (49:28-33)
- Kedar is listed in
Genesis 25:13 and I Chronicles 1:29 as a son of Ishmael. Therefore, the children of Kedar were
Ishmaelites or Arabs.
- Ezekiel 27:21 refers to "Arabia, and all the princes
of Kedar." They were also called, "the men of the east" (Jer.
- Genesis 29:1
says, "Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land
of the people of the east."
- Judges 6:3 says, "And so it was, when Israel had
sown, that the Midianites came up, and the Amalekites, and the children of
the east, even they came up against them."
- Referring to Job, Job 1:3
says, "So that this man was the greatest of all the men of the
- The term, "men of the east," refers to the Arabic
people who lived in the deserts of the Middle East. Another term often used to describe
these desert nomads, though it is not found in the Bible, is
- Psalm 120:5 and Song of
Solomon 1:5 refer to "the tents of Kedar," because the children of Kedar were
nomadic desert dwellers who lived in tents.
- Hazor (49:28) is not to
be confused with the city of Hazor referred to often in the book of Joshua and
the book of Judges. This Hazor
refers to Arab settlements in the desert (Unger's Commentary on the Old
- King Nebuchadrezzar’s
ultimate victory over Kedar and Hazor is predicted (49:28-30). In fact, King Nebuchadnezzar and
his fierce army was the LORD'S instrument of judgment upon all these nations
(cf. 45:30; 46:2).
- Babylon is
the invading army "out of the north" in Jeremiah 47:2, devouring the
Philistines, Tyre, and Zidon.
- Jeremiah 48:10 refers to
Nebuchadnezzar performing the LORD'S work of judging Moab. In Jeremiah 48:40, King Nebuchadnezzar
is described as an eagle, that "shall spread his wings over
- In Jeremiah 49:10,
Babylon is pictured as coming up like a lion to attack
Babylonians would also smite Kedar, and take
away their tents and their flocks and their curtains, and all their vessels,
and their camels -- "Fear is on
every side" (49:29), an expression used before by the prophet Jeremiah (cf.
6:25; 20:3, 10).
- Their flocks
and herds would feed King Nebuchadnezzar's army. "And
Hazor shall be a dwelling for dragons, and a desolation for ever: there shall
no man abide there, nor any son of man dwell in it"
THE JUDGMENT OF ELAM (49:34-39)
This prophecy came to Jeremiah in the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah (49:34). They were located near Babylon, on the other side of the Tigris River. At this time Elam was a province in the huge Babylonian Empire.
In Daniel 8:2, Daniel writes, "And I saw in a vision; and it came to pass, when I saw, that I was at Shushan in the palace, which is in the province of Elam."
Elam was a son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). The king of Elam is referred to in Genesis 14.
The Elamites were famous for being good archers (Isa. 22:6), so the LORD declared that He would "break the bow of Elam" (49:35).
The LORD said He would "scatter them toward all those winds" (49:36). Like the Moabites and the Ammonites, God would also restore the Elamites during the millennial kingdom (49:39).
H.A. Ironside said, "Thus God had revealed 'things to come' concerning the Gentile nations surrounding Immanuel’s land. From one to another the cup of His vengeance should be passed. Judgment began at the house of God, when Israel and Judah were given up to captivity. Their heathen neighbors rejoiced in their discomfiture. But they too must drink of that cup, and learn that 'those that walk in pride He is able to abase'” (Jeremiah and Lamentations).