What does it say?
Several nations come into focus as objects of God’s wrath in Jeremiah 49. Amon is the result of Lot’s incest with his youngest daughter and the first one to appear in this list of prophecies (49:1-6). Ammon is condemned for seizing Israeli territory, yet God promises they will later be restored. Edom is next (49:7-22), to whom God promises total destruction. Isaiah 21:11-12 and Obadiah also deal with the future of Edom. Damascus (49:23-27), Kedar (49:28-33), as well as Elam (49:34-39) will suffer the effects as Babylon sweeps through the region. Kedar represents nomadic tribes.
Chapter 50 (and the next) is a collection of prophecies God gave to Jeremiah concerning Babylon over the course of his ministry. He gathers them together in one place here, an act that emphasizes the dominating importance of Babylon to Jeremiah, his prophetic ministry and to the entire Near East at this moment in history. Jeremiah wrote almost as much about Babylon as he did about the other surrounding nations combined.
What does it mean?
Two themes predominate this passage. First, God promises that Babylon will not go unpunished even though he is using them to do his will in bringing judgment on Israel and neighbors. Second, He will ultimately deliver Israel and Judah and restore the land that he gave their ancestors as part of his missional plan.
When we are under attack by those who appear to have all the power, success and resources, it is very tempting to wonder why God allows this, especially when those that attack us are certifiably evil and also enemies of God. But the story is not about whom God loves more or who is the more holy, the story is about God’s mission to be worshipped by the peoples of the world. As followers of Jesus we have our place in the mission. All sin, disobedience and poor choices bring consequences and those who place their faith in God will all ultimately be secure in his blessing and grace. In the end we will stand before him healed, whole and in pure worship if we trust him.
How will I respond?
Do I normally make decisions on the basis of what is most beneficial to me, or on the basis of what gives greater benefit to God’s kingdom? How can I very practically make both big and small decisions by considering first what would be of greatest value to God’s mission?