JEREMIAH CHAPTER 49 PART 3 (Verses 23-27): Always be slow to get involved when a parent is dealing with his child, you may get hurt. Damascus missed the lesson.

Damascus, the capital of Syria, was soon to be attacked following its regeneration. According to Bridgeway Bible commentary by Don Fleming, Syria had been destroyed by Assyria in 732 BC (2 Kings 16:2). However, during the times of Prophet Jeremiah’s ministry, that begun in 627 BC, Damascus had rebuilt herself and was a famous city within the Assyrian empire. Prophet Jeremiah received God’s message regarding the destruction of Damascus by Babylonian king even before the fall of Assyria. Interesting, God can see far. So around 612 BC, only 15 years after the commencement of Jeremiah’s ministry, the empire of Assyria was conquered by Babylon. What could follow after the fall of Assyria, it was Damascus. According to commentaries by Jamieson et al, Damascus was destroyed 5 years after the fall of Jerusalem. And since Jerusalem fell around 587 BC (see our studies of chapter 24 and 27), then Damascus fell into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar in 582 BC.

The message opens up pointing to two other known towns in Syria; Hamath and Arpad (2Kings 18:34). Upon hearing such bad news of the Chaldeans who were ruthlessly coming against the whole of Syria and the capital city, Damascus, people were frightened, their hearts melted with fear, and were ashamed of such occurrences. Their pain is compared to a woman in labor to simply expose how distressed they were (23-24). According to so many writings about Damascus, it is said that this city was so beautiful and had a name among all other cities of time. Benjamin who lived in Damascus’ time said, ‘it was a very great and beautiful city, surrounded with a wall; and the country about it was full of gardens and orchards, fifteen miles' walk on every side of it; and no city in the whole world appeared with such plenty of fruit as that did”. Also, Monsieur said this of the city; “the city of Damascus is in the middle of a spacious plain, surrounded with hills, but all distant from the town, almost out of sight; those on the north side are the nearest, on which side it hath a great many gardens, full of trees, and most fruit trees; these gardens take up the ground from the hill of the forty martyrs, even to the town; so that at a distance it seems to be a forest.'' (Cited by John Gill in his expositions of Jeremiah 49) [25].

So despite all the above uniqueness and beauty of the city, the Lord was seriously considering destroying it to the ground, including the King’s homes. According to 1Kings 20:1, Ben-Hadad was the king of Aram (Syria) by the time it was attacked by Nebuchadnezzar. So God would destroy the city and not only the homes of common men will be destroyed but even the King’s (27). But up to now, you could be wondering what the sin of Damascus was!! Surely, the whole of this reading does not reveal what the sin was. However, if you could guess well, you can remember that most of these nations had mistreated Israel (Judah) during its time of stress. But since we cannot base our entire lesson on guess work, let us visit Amos 1:3-5. “Thus saith the LORD; for three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron”

According to Wikipedia, Gilead was the son of Machir (Numbers 26:29) and therefore, a grandson of Manasseh (one of the 12 tribes of Israel) and a great grandson of Joseph. The above verse from the book of Amos accuses Damascus to have overridden on the bodies of Gilead (Israelites) with boards that had iron in them. According to Jeremiah chapter 39:5-7, when King Zedekiah was captured by Nebuchadnezzar’s commandos, he was taken to a place called Riblah in the land of Hamath. From the verses we read today, Hamath was one of the famous towns of Syria. This simply shows how Damascus collaborated or participated in the wars that tortured Judah (God’s children). I have not dug out the details of whether the people of Gilead stayed in Judah or the northern Kingdom of Israel, but what is clear and important is that Gilead were part of the great nation of Israel and Damascus had preyed on them some days before. God was repaying them for such acts on his people.

What is our focus today? When Job was hit with health problems and economic losses, many people, including his friends and wife thought that God had turned his back on him and so advised Job to dessert his creator too (Job 2:9). They accused Job of sins he did not commit as to cement the reason God was leaving him in pain (Job 11:14). But when God replied, he ashamed all the accusers and rewarded Job beyond what they expected (Job 42:7, 12). Simply, never confuse a parent’s punishment for his children with hatred or denial of his love for them, leave the matters of parents and their children alone. When the Israelites were under punishment of a sort or transformation of some kind (after all, not all our distress is due to our sins. Sometimes, it is another story and a good one), the people and kings of Damascus worsened their pain. What they did not know was that the same God who was letting his people face trouble was the same loving God who had gotten them out of Egypt and promised them everlasting victory and peace. Yeah, God deals with us at times, but never to the full destruction of our hope. The righteous will fall down, but will stand up again (Psalms).

Finally, the devil might whisper in our ears that our sins and wicked life put us far away from God’s love and that we are too sick to be healed, but the good news is that we can be restored no matter how far we have fallen. Those taking advantage of your weakness and failures will pay heavily while God is restoring all your happiness more than before. 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 and be part of it.

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