From Jeremiah 46-48
Like a contest where the worlds most powerful fighters fight to the death. Jeremiah’s message is about the battle between Egypt and Babylon. Today’s passage is one of several which are called death songs and war poems. There is a greater and more violent power than Egypt and Babylon who will slice all his opponents. The LORD. His sword will drink of their blood.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comment
Like a contest where the worlds most powerful fighters fight to the death. Jeremiah’s message is about Egypt and its eventual fall to Babylon. In this passage Egypt starts off well (Jer 46.1-12). But if we continued we will see that Egypt is not the powerful kingdom it used to be. It will be defeated (Jer 46.13f).
46 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations. 2 About Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: (Jer 46.1-2)
This passage is the first of several where Jeremiah prophesies about the fate of the nations around Judah.
They are death songs and war poems.
Jeremiah starts off mimicking the rallying call for the Egyptians.
3 “Prepare buckler and shield, and advance for battle!
4 Harness the horses; mount, O horsemen! Take your stations with your helmets, polish your spears, put on your armor! (Jer 46.3-4)
Jeremiah describes the preparations involved for battle. Bucklers are small shields. Shields of course defend from blows and thrusts. Horses move at great speed and can run down enemies. Helmets protect the head and can reduce the field of vision. Spears can impale enemies at a distance. Many spears can fend off an advancing army. Armour protects the body from the numerous blows that will inevitably come in battle.
The battle is joined. Blood is spilt.
5 Why have I seen it? They are dismayed and have turned backward. Their warriors are beaten down and have fled in haste; they look not back— terror on every side! declares the LORD.
6 “The swift cannot flee away, nor the warrior escape; in the north by the river Euphrates they have stumbled and fallen. (Jer 46.5-6)
The battle is not described and Jeremiah asks a question. ‘Why have I seen it?’ Presumably Egypt has lost the battle because of the mention of the river Euphrates. Despite all their preparations Egypts warriors are defeated. They flee in terror and cannot escape their death.
7 “Who is this, rising like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge?
8 Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, ‘I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.’
9 Advance, O horses, and rage, O chariots! Let the warriors go out: men of Cush and Put who handle the shield, men of Lud, skilled in handling the bow. (Jer 46.7-9)
The Egyptians boasted in their skill and power. They thought they would win. The imagery Jeremiah uses describes the river of the Nile rising and covering the lands. Defeating the nations around them. Their boasting in their own strength turned out to be hollow self praise.
The LORD unleashes the Babylonian beast on the world.
10 That day is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes.
The sword shall devour and be sated and drink its fill of their blood. For the Lord GOD of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates. (Jer 46.10)
The violence of God against the world is violence taken out on his enemies (46:10a). The war is the LORD’s great day on which he makes the world his sacrifice and feast (46:10b). At this banquet, the nations drink the cup of the wine of destruction (48:26; 49:12–13; cf. 25:15,17,27–28).
11 Go up to Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt! In vain you have used many medicines; there is no healing for you.
12 The nations have heard of your shame, and the earth is full of your cry; for warrior has stumbled against warrior; they have both fallen together.” (Jer 46.11-12)
Egypt is badly wounded. They seek healing and want to rebuild their strength. But there is no coming back for them. There is no healing for them. The nations around them have heard of their downfall.
Story of Israel
“The ‘day of the LORD’ is an expression in brief is, ‘that crisis in the history of the world when the LORD will interpose to rectify the evils of the present, bringing joy and glory to the humble believer, and misery and shame to the proud and disobedient.
This great crisis is called a day, in antithesis to the ages of the Divine long-suffering: it is the LORD’s day, because, without a special Divine interposition, there would be no issue out of the perplexities and miseries of human life.”
There are many days of the Lord and there is only one.
Every great revolution is a fresh stage in the great judgment-day. The classic passages in the prophets for this expression are Amos 5:18, 20; Zeph 1:7, 14; Joel 2:1,11; Isa 2:12; 13:6,9. (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Jeremiah (Vol. 2, p. 207). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.)
Egypt believed they were the superpower and they could conquer all. They were defeated by Babylon. Babylon will likewise fall to another. All nations however will be conquered by the LORD is his great day. Their fate should remind us all nations submit to the power of the LORD.
Story of Jesus
In the gospel, Jesus also predicts the coming day of the LORD. A day of judgment and wrath. Where the people of the LORD will be separated from all others.
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.
42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.
44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 47 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions.
48 But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know 51 and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt 24.36-51)
Jesus gives us some simple warnings and instructions in light of the coming day.
‘Stay awake’ and ‘be ready’ because we don’t know when he is coming and we want him to find us serving him when he does.
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