Jeremiah chapter 46: Punished fairly but not destroyed completely, I can be restored.
The message in this chapter was a special address to Egypt, the first of the foreign nations to be condemned. Back to history, Assyria had been great in the years of 720s and the great northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC (2 Kings 17:1-6). However, Assyria had started to decline during the times of King Josiah of Judah (the southern Kingdom of Israel). Actually, this is one of the reasons why Josiah was able to carry out reformation within his kingdom since Assyria that always interfered with Judah’s policies was falling. Remember, King Josiah ruled between 640-609 BC.As the power of Assyria declined down, neighboring countries of Babylon and Egypt were increasing their strength. In one of Assyria`s wars with Babylon, Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria was captured by Babylon in 612 BC. Pharaoh Necoh of Egypt feared this great expansion of Babylon and so he wanted to unite with Assyria and weaken Babylon. But Egypt had to cross through Palestine (Judah) to be able to reach Assyria.
What happened? King Josiah feared the unification of Assyria and Egypt which would end up robbing Judah of its independence and so refused the Egyptian army from crossing on his soil and thus entered into a conflict with Egypt. The result was bad. King Josiah was killed in war in 609 BC (2Kings 23:28-30). In the same year, Egypt with Assyria matched against Babylon but they were defeated at Harran (the then capital city of Assyria that had been taken in 610 BC following the capture of Nineveh in 612 BC). Assyria shifted its capital city to a third town called Carchemish, on the Euphrates River.
The two united kings were lastly hammered at Carchemish by Babylon in 605 BC. Some historians as cited by theologian John Gill take this year to be 607 or 608 BC. However, since many writers take 605 BC as the rising peak of Babylon, then it is better to take it as the right year. The complete fall of Egypt came some more years after this Cardemish war but Egypt had already lost its influence in the region leaving Judah under the rule of Babylonians who were by then the strongest.
So our today’s chapter opens with a kind of mocking when all the Egypt will be ready to fight only to end up losing. Get up, get your strongest worriers, the soldiers who never fear, and only see victory, Egypt. But what do I see? I see fearful soldiers running away and being killed and your victory is actually a defeat (verses 1-5). Egypt had risen to greatness but all this was to be thrown down just as we described in the first paragraphs (verses 6-9). Listen, the reason is not that either its enemies are stronger, no; it is because the day belongs to neither Egypt nor its enemies but the Lord. For this reason, the Lord would use whoever he wishes to make his plans come true. No matter how prepared Egypt seemed, everything would not help when the Lord’s punishment flowed in. Remember, Egypt had killed King Josiah of Judah some few years behind (verses 10-12).
Beginning with verse 13, Jeremiah foresaw another battle of Egypt in which Egypt would lose its gods to the demanding Nebuchadnezzar. While the above battle took place outside the real Egypt country, this other one would be on the real Egyptian soil. Remember, after Babylon`s victory, Assyria had been absorbed and lost itself. Egypt held on in the same place for some time but was later forced to withdraw into itself. The message was announced in 3 special cities in the country (Migdol, Memphis, and Talphanhes) as major targets simply because they were the major country areas and also because the Israelites (Judah) had to settle in these areas against God`s counsel and thus would observe God’s word coming true about wars, hunger and terrible diseases (see chapters 43 and 44).
In this battle, the Egyptian king is just talkative who talks a lot and accomplishes little. In their homeland, soldiers would die trying to escape for the Lord would mean it to see the end of Egypt (verses 13-26). All the gods and the strength of this boastful nation would be handed over to Nebuchadnezzar, not because the gods of Babylon are stronger than those of Egypt (no gods possess any power) but because the Lord had decided upon the war, the victor and the victim, the loser and the winner, and that was it. However, Egypt is promised with restoration and back into peace times (verse 26). This was true for Egypt regained freedom and a sense of peace under Cyrus, forty years from the above disaster but it never became so influential as before (Ezekiel 29:11-15).
The chapter ends with a message of restoration to Israel (verses 27-28). Even though God had always or will always punish His people, total extinct is never his option. There will always be the remnants and the story of restoration is true. This was a message of encouragement to those who had long been captured and were captives in Babylon, and those who had forcefully been taken to Egypt by Johanan and his men. Some writers like Grotius think that when Egypt carried Jehoahaz as a captive, they took him with some Jews but this is not indicated anywhere (see 2Kings 23:33). Therefore, since the information is about Israel, it refers to all the people of God as represented by the family of Jacob. Historically, this pointed out to the captives in all the nations that had ever ruled or disturbed the peace of Israel or Judah.
As we have always noted, the Israelites returned and acquired the best of peace here on the earth but as we all know their peace is always disturbed up to today. Thus, is right to push this God’s promise to the real restoration of the church which we should be waiting for. And as Christians, we should be encouraged that no matter how hard we fall, we are never destroyed completely. Always God will bring us some other moments of joy, peace and prosperity. So hold on in faith.
Our today’s focus is verse 28, “Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I [am] with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished”. This message is extraordinary. The Lord says that He will completely destroy the enemies of the church but will spare the church for ever-lasting peace. While people of God wont go unpunished, they can not lose their souls for the punishment is a lmost the guide to that which is better and ever-lasting.
What am I saying? No matter how hard life has thrown you down, it is not going to be your end. There is a substance in you that God never attacked and that is the source of your restoration. Everyone before death is part of this plan (after all, he or she is not an enemy of the church or God’s people, he or she is instead part of the plan) and is reliable to restoration on a single confession of Jesus as the Lord and savior of his life. So do not worry at all. Maybe you are too poor, maybe you are sick, maybe you are in prison, maybe you are having difficulties with people or neighbors or in your relationship, but that is not your end. It may probably be God punishing you for something or a natural consequence of a mistake or a natural hazard without a clear cause, but it will not finish you up. God is still the controller and He won’t lose you. He may punish us but cannot destroy us completely yet He will definitely destroy the devil and all the bad angels that work with him. Glory be to Him.
I can never end without inviting you to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and savior. Say this prayer with me: “Oh God, I am sorry I have wronged you. I now see you sent your only son to die for me so I can live forever in happiness. I am a sinner and I regret it all. Please, forgive me Jesus and receive me in your family as your child. Thank you for loving me. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray. Amen”. If you have prayed this prayer, we believe you have been saved. Find a true church near you and be part of it for your spiritual sharing and growth.
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