Jeremiah continues his utterances of judgment upon the nations. Today’s reading indicts Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, and Elam all conquered by Babylon. But then the day comes, when Babylon herself is judged.
Damascus is considered to be one of the oldest cities in the world, still existing today as the capital of Syria.
There are five different cities of Hazor mentioned in the Bible. This particular Hazor is connected to Kedar, a city located in Northern Arabia. According to Revell Bible Dictionary Kedar was, “A nomadic tribe of Ishmaelites who dwelt in the desert of N. Arabia, East of Palestine. Nebuchadnezzar conducted a military campaign against the Kedarites.”
Elam is in the area of modern day Iran.
It’s tragic to consider the future of ALL nations, and even all people who have rejected their Maker and Maintainer. We read words like trouble, which in the Hebrew language means “anxiety” (Jeremiah 49:23). Fear (even on every side – Jeremiah 49:24, 29), anguish, sorrow, pain, devastation, desolation, disaster, alone, outcasts, consumed, destroyed. When I read these words it’s heartbreaking to consider that this, and so much worse, forever awaits those who refuse to choose to follow God, and believe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (John 3:16).
And then there’s grace, even in wrath God remembers mercy (Jeremiah 49:39).
In Jeremiah 50 the prophet begins his prophecies of judgment against Babylon. Up to this point Jeremiah has declared the fact that Babylon would be the instrument of God’s judgment upon the nations (including Judah), but now they are the recipients of God’s wrath. Some Jews accused Jeremiah as being Pro-Babylon and anti Israel, but Jeremiah was simply a man who related the messages God gave him to give. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah, twice in this chapter, shares the fact that Babylon would be utterly judged, while Israel will be eventually justified.
Jeremiah 50:2b, 4–5 (NKJV) “Babylon is taken…in those days and in that time,” says the LORD, “The children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together; with continual weeping they shall come, and seek the LORD their God. 5 They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces toward it, saying, ‘Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD In a perpetual covenant that will not be forgotten.’”
And that’s exactly what happened. When the Medo-Persians conquered Babylon, the Jews were allowed to return to the land and rebuild the Temple. One day the ultimate “Babylon” will be destroyed (Revelation 17-18) and the Jews will embrace Jesus, their Messiah.
We see another contrast between Israel and Babylon later in the chapter:
Jeremiah 50:18–20 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. 19 But I will bring back Israel to his home, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; his soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead. 20 In those days and in that time,” says the LORD, “The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; for I will pardon those whom I preserve.”
It’s tragic when we consider the reasoning for the Jewish judgment, Jeremiah 50:6 reveals, “Their shepherds have led them astray.” They therefore forgot their resting place – the LORD.
Today we are blessed to have the Bible; we can check everything any “Shepherd” shares by the Word of God, just as the Bereans did (Acts 17:10-11). Pastors and Bible teachers have a heavy responsibility to preach the Word…and nothing else (2 Timothy 4:2; Acts 20:27). And all christians have a heavy responsibility NOT to be led astray by false teachers, for there are many out there!
God had to discipline His people. He also had to punish the nations, and Babylon was no exception. Allow me to highlight (bold) two final details in her judgment:
Jeremiah 50:14–15 (NKJV) “Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around, all you who bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows, for she has sinned against the LORD. 15 Shout against her all around; she has given her hand, her foundations have fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the LORD. Take vengeance on her. As she has done, so do to her.”
Paul’s letter to Titus is another Pastoral epistle, written about the same time as 1 Timothy – right around AD 62. Titus, another one of Paul’s younger protégés was ministering in the island of Crete with a responsibility to not only oversee the local congregation and set things in order, but to also appoint elders (pastors) in every city (Titus 1:5). Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts, but he was with Paul, and is referred to repeatedly in 2 Corinthians, and also Galatians.
How beautiful it is to read the words of Paul:
Titus 1:4a (NKJV) “To Titus, a true son in our common faith.”
Sometimes you see it (and sometimes you don’t) – where there’s no doubt about that brother or sister’s relationship with God – the fruit abounds – they’re “true.” Such was the case with Titus.
Part of the task Titus had was to help bring healing to the church at Crete. Warren Wiersbe share something interesting about Titus 1:5, “The Greek word translated ‘set in order’ is a medical term that means ‘to set a broken bone.’ The church body suffers when we avoid facing and solving serious problems.” We must do our part to heal that which is broken.
Titus was also to be a leader of leaders. In Titus 1:5-9 Paul lays out the qualifications for an elder (pastor). One of the reasons that pastors are sometimes referred to as elders, is because these men were usually older, Scripturally seasoned, and experienced in life. Granted, not all older men are wise, but wisdom does typically take time, trials, and years of studying God’s Word.
Things need to be in order at home if an elder is to be appointed. He’s to be a one-woman man with faithful children (see also 1 Timothy 3:4-5). In 1 Timothy 1:7 Paul changes terms and uses the word “Bishop” which is a translation of the Greek word “episkopos” or overseer. Spiritual leaders are to “watch over” God’s people; feeding them the truth, protecting them from lies, serving, leading, all according to the Scriptures.
A call to the ministry is a call to holiness, it’s a call to emulate the character of Christ. Pastors and leaders are to teach, not only with our lips, but also with our lives; there’s power in purity. We are not to be self-willed, or lack self-control, we are not to be hotheads with a short fuse, greedy for money, or given to wine. Personally, I don’t believe a pastor (or Christians for that matter) should drink alcohol at all (Ephesians 5:18; Proverbs 20:1; 31:4; Isaiah 28:7). In today’s society the wine is much stronger, it’s not necessary, it’s dangerously addictive, and is a perfect tool in the hands of the enemy to cause other Christians to stumble (Romans 14:21).
Unfortunately, back then (and we still see it today), there were many false teachers/talkers who went into the church setting with their legalistic lies and created confusion in the congregation – Titus was to protect the people from that. But not everything these guys said was false – the Cretans had a bad reputation for being lazy liars, evil beasts, ungodly gluttons. Paul said it was actually true, and commanded Titus to rebuke the people sharply for that.
Much like today, there were many who professed to know God, but they really didn’t, and the proof is in the pudding – they lacked the works to back up their words. They were just talkie-talkies, not walkie-talkies.
The fact that the LORD reigns should make His people rejoice. We read in Psalm 97:2 that righteousness and justice are the foundations of His throne. God will defeat all of His enemies; His glory is seen in the things He has made. Why would anyone serve any other god? There is no other god!
Whenever we put anyone or anything before the Lord, we are guilty of idolatry and evil. May we return to that place of rejoicing only in the Lord our God – with passionate praise!
Psalm 97:10 (NKJV) “You who love the LORD, hate evil!”
We must not hate the sinner, but we must hate the sin.
Psalm 98 is an enthusiastic Psalm reminding us to sing afresh, to shout joyfully, to make some noise with our voice accompanied by instruments – why?
God has done marvelous things (Psalm 98:1). His right hand and holy arm (Jesus) have brought salvation to us (Psalm 98:1-2). He has been faithful forever and His witness is everywhere, all around the world (Psalm 98:3). Not only that – He is coming soon to judge all the evil in this world. We can praise God now, knowing that one day, justice will prevail!
Proverbs 26:13-16 (NKJV) “The lazy man says, ‘There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!’ 14 As a door turns on its hinges, so does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.
In verse 13 we see that the lazy man is good (creative) at making excuses for his laziness. Have you ever met someone like that? They have an excuse for everything.
Benjamin Franklin said, “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.”
In verse 14 we have another characteristic of lazy people – they love to sleep, even when they’ve had enough. Usually our bodies wake up with an internal “alarm-clock,” – it tells us, “Okay, you’re good, time to wake up.” At that point we need to make a decision because we’re usually still slightly tired, cozy, and comfortable under the covers…we’re plush with all those pillows. The wise person gets out of bed. The lazy person says, “five more minutes” twenty-seven more times.
Verse 15 IS possible, but a more practical way of looking at it to see a man unwilling to feed himself, or his family, because he is too lazy to go out, get a job and work. Paul the Apostle instructed us how to deal with such people.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NKJV) “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.”
There’s a diametric difference between those who can’t work, and those who won’t work.
Verse 16 gives us insight, at least into part of the reason this person is so lazy, they think they can outsmart the stytem, get by without working, they’re just not teachable.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.