Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
Understanding His story helps us to understand that His-Story is our Story!
How much do you know? (Answers at the end of the lesson)
From the very beginning, we have seen the fate of those who opposed the Word of God! Adam and Eve were told to obey - they twisted and then ignored God’s Word! They gave away their walk with God and chose in its place, sin that left them with a dead spirit, naked and ashamed. (That dead spirit is why the Holy Spirit has to live in us in order to give us eternal life… He replaces the death that was gained through sin with His Eternal Spirit!) Over and over, people like Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were told the Lord would take care of them if only they would follow His Words of instruction. Yet they get drunk, lie, cheat and even kill. Moses, the children of Israel, Samson, David, Solomon and even good King Hezekiah all have their times of pride and sin against God. But, God is merciful to those who will turn from their sin and He used these men and so many more men and women for His purpose in order to fulfill the promise of the One who would come - Jesus!
But, there are also people in God’s Word that openly rebelled against God and they did not repent. Their fate is much different than those we listed above. Rebellion against God carries the same fate for everyone who chooses that road through life… Destruction!
At this point in our chronological study of God’s Word, we will begin studying the ministry of Jeremiah and the times in which he lived. The times of the last kings and the exile of the last of the tribes left in Israel: Judah and Benjamin. As far as we can tell, Jeremiah’s first prophecies are given during the reign of King Josiah and they are going to be against the nations that surround Israel. The Lord’s sights fall straight on the Philistines and Moabites. Two nations that had seen the works of God for generations, yet refused to give up their own false gods. In fact, they not only refused to worship and serve the One True God, they also actively fought against God’s people and opposed God’s Word. And God would have no more of that!!!
In this lesson, we are going to look at Jer. 47 - The prophecy against the Philistines and Jer. 48 - The fate of Moab who were cousins of Israel descended from the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. Moab hated Israel and strongly opposed her many times. These two chapters will show us a clear example of the fate of all who oppose God and God’s people while refusing to turn to the Lord.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all nations, peoples and ethnic groups!
Those who oppose God make themselves enemies of the cross of Christ (Phil. 3:18).
The fate of the lost will be the Lake of Fire unless we share the hope found in Jesus Christ with them.
Did you know that the Book of Jeremiah was not written down by Jeremiah? It contains the words of Jeremiah as the Lord gave them to him, but they were written down by a man who became Jeremiah’s scribe, secretary, defender and very close friend, Baruch. According to the Jewish historian Josephus, Baruch was a Jewish aristocrat, a son of Neriah and brother of Seraiah ben Neriah, chamberlain of King Zedekiah of Judah. (“ben” means “Son of” in Hebrew.) Baruch wrote down the words of Jeremiah, but that scroll was destroyed. Jeremiah then dictated the words from the Lord contained in the first scroll while Baruch accurately rewrote the words the Lord had originally given (see: Jer. 36). Baruch and Jeremiah would both see the siege and destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians with their own eyes and they would also see the destruction of the Temple Solomon built. The Temple where God’s Name would dwell… Both men were often heartbroken and distraught because of the lack of response from God’s people to the Word of God. Something many pastors can in some way or another identify with today. (And parents of teenagers! LOL!)
Jeremiah began to prophesy during the reign of Josiah. Jeremiah begins the book by telling us when he received the Word of the Lord that is contained in the book. “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month” (Jer. 1:1-3). But, the book is by no means in chronological order. In fact, we have to go all the way to chapter 47 to begin. During his lifetime, Jeremiah witnessed the downfall of the Assyrian Empire in 606 B.C.E.; the death of Josiah in 605 B.C.E.; the destruction of the Jewish State by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E.; and the carrying-away of most of the people in captivity to Babylon. He prophesied for a period of more than forty years.
The earliest message recorded by Beruch is the pronouncement of the final judgment of the Philistines and of Moab in Jer. 47 and 48.
1. Jeremiah 47 - The Philistine Connection
The first prophecy Jeremiah received (ch. 47) was in 627 BC and it was against the Philistines. The Philistines were allies with Abraham for a short while (Gen. 21:32), but later, they became a problem for his son Isaac and then for Jacob when the Philistines stopped up all of the wells that Abraham and Isaac had dug (Gen. 26:18). The Philistines had been a thorn in Israel’s side since the times of Isaac and they remained a problem right up to the day that Judah was carried into captivity by Nebuchadrezzar.
“That which came as the word of the Lord to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh conquered Gaza. Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, waters are going to rise from the north And become an overflowing torrent…’” (Jer. 47:1-2). The attack mentioned here probably occurred eighteen years after the prophecy was given when Neco was marching to Harran in 609 BC. Neco was a builder but he also wanted to expand the Egyptian’s territory. He had been working on what was the equivalent of the modern Suez Canal at the time. It connected the Red Sea to the Nile River. In his book called “Histories,” Herodotus said that Neco “stopped work on the canal and turned to war”. Necho moved north out of Egypt, along the Gaza Strip along the Mediterainian coast, and it is most likely that is the time he fought the Philistines. Neco then turned east to cross some of the mountains in Judah and move into the Jezreel Valley. Josiah was standing in his way at Megiddo when Josiah was wounded during the fierce and bloody battle. Neco then moved on to the north and tried to re-enforce the dwindling Assyrian empire that was now no bigger than the area around the city of Harran. But the Babylonians won the battle and the Pharaoh, Neco, who had personally led his troops, would now have to lead those left alive back to Egypt in shame. On his way back he removed Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, from the throne (Heb. Yeho’ahaz) and installed one of Josiah’s other sons as king - Jehoiakim. The Egyptians took control of Philistia and Judah, but they would not hold them long. Jeremiah prophesied what was coming and it would be fulfilled soon!
What we have learned in previous lessons was that Israel was commanded to take the land as Joshua led them in the conquest. But, they did not take all of the land nor did they drive all of the people out of the land. Including the Philistines. The Philistines had opposed and wared against Yahweh and His people since the days of Joshua. And now the price would be paid! Since Israel had refused to carry out God’s commands all those years ago, God would now use the Babylonians to do Israel’s job and destroy the Philistines once and for all.
2. The Philistines Fate
“On account of the day that is coming To destroy all the Philistines, To cut off from Tyre and Sidon Every ally that is left; For the Lord is going to destroy the Philistines, The remnant of the coastland of Caphtor (Jer 47:4). The Lord speaks of a flood coming from the north and He is actually speaking of Babylon. But Babylon is directly to the east? What actually happened was that Babylon followed the same path that Abraham had followed when he left Ur and traveled to the Promised Land. They headed north along the Euphrates River into what today is Turkey and then they swung south through what today is Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Syria. Conquering those areas, they conquered Egypt as well. The Lord mentions Tyre and Sidon because they were relatives of the Philistines and they were major international trading partners. It took thirteen years for those cities to fall. They were the most powerful trading cities in the world at that time. Babylon had to cut off their trade and weaken them before they could capture them. (Kind of like the sanctions used against some countries like Iran today.) Babylon conquered Tyre and Sidon and then the Philistines around 586 BC and he carried them off into captivity.
They were able to buy and even manufacture the most advanced weapons of the day. They had a huge wine and beer industry and their olive oil production was very large. The olive industry of the city of Ekron alone included about 200 olive oil production sites. Engineers estimate that the city's production may have been more than 1,000 tons. For comparison, the modern day output of Israel with all of our technology and fertilizers is about 3,000 tons. One-thousand tons from one city is pretty impressive for the seventh century BC. They also could smelt iron, which gave them an advantage over Israel for many years.
But, they refused to recognize the God who had made everything! They worshiped Baal, Astarte, and Dagon. As a result of their opposition against Yahweh they were carried away from their land and they ceased to be a people by the fifth century. None of them returned home after the exile was over. God removed a whole people group from future history because they did not listen to Jeremiah and the other prophets. Opposition to God had turned into a proposition from God - Turn to me or be destroyed by me! Their fate was not in their hands nor was it in the hands of the Assyrians or Babylonians! Their fate, like yours and mine, was in the Hand of God.
3. Jeremiah 48 - The Moab Connection
Moab was just to the east along the border of Israel. God renewed His covenant with the Israelites at Moab before the Israelites crossed the Jordan and entered the "Promised Land" (Deut.29:1). Moses died there (29:12), prevented by God from entering the Promised Land. He was buried in an unknown location in Moab and the Israelites spent a period of thirty days there in mourning (29:13). Moab was also a major center for trade as one of the world’s major trading routes went right through the country. They exported a number of lucrative commodities including limestone, salt and balsam (hence the term “Balm of Gilead”). They were often very prosperous and had access to many goods, weapons and foods. But like the Philistines, they constantly harassed and wanted to destroy Israel. There were many wars between Moab and Israel.
According to Gen. 19:30–38, the ancestor of the Moabites was Lot by incest with his eldest daughter. She and her sister lost their fiancés and their mother was turned into a pillar of salt in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. You probably remember the story of how Lot’s daughters got their father drunk and seduced him… The Moabite people were descended from the oldest sister and Lot . But the Moabites were related to Israel in more than one way. Ruth was a Moabite which means David had Moabite blood which also means that the Line of Christ had Moabite blood.
4. The Fate of the Moabites
In chapter 47, the Lord only gives seven versus to pronounce judgment upon the Philistines, but in chapter 48 there are forty-seven verses pronouncing judgment upon Moab. The Moabites were related to Israel! They were family and God expected more from them. That becomes even more obvious when you consider that the Lord prophesied against them using not only Jeremiah, but also Isaiah (chapters 15-16), Amos (2:1-3), Zephaniah (2:9) and Ezekiel (25:8-11). They had not allowed Israel to pass through their territory when Israel was leaving the wilderness. Think that thru for a moment… Who had been leading the people? Moses? No. He was in the pillar of cloud by day and fire at night! It was Yahweh! They had rejected God Himself! Many commentators say that they were afraid of the Israelites, but I think they were afraid of Yahweh and the judgment their wicked lives deserved!
And the Lord had been very patient. Generation after generation had rejected and even actively attacked Israel and the Lord. God meant business with them. In Deut. 23, Moabites (men) and the Ammonites (men) are forbidden to convert into Judaism. (The Ammonites are descended from Lot and his second daughter.) In fact, God tells Israel in v.6, “You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.” And God keeps His promise of destruction. Babylon conquers the Moabites and carries them away into captivity. In captivity over the next few centuries, these people groups become absorbed into a mixed group from many nations and the Jewish people somehow manage to keep many of their lineages Jewish.
Jer. 48:7-8 (NLT) says, “Because you have trusted in your wealth and skill, you will be taken captive. Your god Chemosh, with his priests and officials, will be hauled off to distant lands! ‘All the towns will be destroyed, and no one will escape—either on the plateaus or in the valleys, for the Lord has spoken.’” The fate of those who oppose God is set. The Lord has spoken! The Philistines and Moabites are completely destroyed. The Lord even pronounces a curse of those who refuse to carry out His judgment! “Cursed are those who refuse to do the Lord’s work, who hold back their swords from shedding blood” (Jer. 48:10 NLT)! But there is hope!
Study and Application - Finding Jesus in Every Page:
What does this lesson teach us about God? Man? Sin? Grace?
The people of Moab and the people of Philistia were absorbed into the collective DNA of the world’s population when Babylon, then Persia, then Greece and finally Rome all conquered, mixed, and moved people all over their empire. In the Torah (the first five books of Moses) it is forbidden for Moabite or Philistine men to convert and become Jewish. But within a few hundred years of the fall of Jerusalem, the Talmud (Jewish commentary on the Law - fourth Century AD) proclaims a new way of doing things for Jewish conversion. Basically it says that since the exile, the bloodlines of the nations like the Philistines and the Moabites have become so polluted that it has become impossible to tell who belongs to whom? So, all men are now able to convert to Judaism. That is why for Jewish people there are only two groups of people - Jews and Gentiles! Babylon is responsible for that. But that is not really the point here…
The Philistines, Moabites, Ammonites and so many other nations had their DNA mixed into other races, and if we only looked at these passages of judgment in the Old Testament, it might look like there is no hope for their descendants even today, but that is not the case. In fact, the Lord declares this about Moab: “‘But I will restore the fortunes of Moab in days to come. I, the Lord, have spoken!’ This is the end of Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning Moab” (Jer. 48:47 NLT). The Lord declares He will restore. What does that mean?
I think that means that the promise to bless all nations given to Abraham through his seed is the answer. Jesus is the Answer!
The point is that around 2,000 years ago, God sent His One and Only Son so that WHOSOEVER believes in him would not perish but would have eternal life! (See: John 3:16) That means all people! All races! All skin colors! Male, female, large, small, short or tall; everyone has the choice to follow Christ or they become the enemy of God and are opposed to the things of the Spirit. But how will they know if you don’t tell them? How will they hear the stories of those who opposed God and were destroyed if you do not learn those stories and then tell them?
So, who opposes the Lord? Phil. 3:18 says, For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, The fate of the lost who reject the gift of Salvation make themselves the enemy of God! In today’s world… at least in our world here in the United States, people place their trust is so many things and it is not those things - idols - that can save them from destruction! Jer. 9:23 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the Lord’”.
The lost who die without Christ are headed for destruction just as surely as the Philistines and Moabites did. But there is hope! That hope is the Gospel! The Good News of a Savior! His Name is Jesus Christ! If that hope lives in you - you must share it with others around us. To do less is to be no better than the Israelites that were carried away into captivity. I was recently used by the Lord to reach a number of people for Christ in one day! You want to know what I did to make that happen? NOTHING! I actually did not even plan for it. I planned to be there in that place, but I did not plan for that! You see, I know something I did not know when I was younger… He did not need me! He chose to use me. He could have used anyone because he is God!! I am thankful and grateful for every instance that the Lord would choose to use me. I do not understand why He would even do that for me. What I do know is I want Him to do more and I want to be a part of that. That is why I study. To learn more about the One that loves me so much that He gave His Only Son... And you know what? The more I get to know Him the more I love Him! Funny how that works...
God speaks through Jeremiah at different points throughout his life in order to warn Israel and the surrounding nations of the consequences of opposing God and His Word!
God acts by delivering Judah and the surrounding nations into the hands of the Babylonians thus keeping His promises of judgment for rejecting the Lord as God.
God reveals His mercy in the promise to restore Moab in later days.
What are some ways that people oppose God in today’s world?
Why do you think all of the nations around Israel opposed Israel?
Why do you think Israel failed to see the truth of Jeremiah’s words until it was too late?
Answers to: How much do you know?
According to Gen. 19:30–38, the ancestor of the Moabites was Lot by incest with his eldest daughter.
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