Jeremiah 46 (NLT)
Messages for the Nations
The following messages were given to Jeremiah the prophet from the Lord concerning foreign nations.
In chapters 46-51, Jeremiah delivers warnings of destruction and judgment—poetically and beautifully. He prophesies against nine nations: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Arabia (Kedar and Hazor), Elam, and Babylonia. The nations are listed geographically, i.e., from west to east. These prophecies were fulfilled after the fall of Jerusalem. Babylon will be destroyed and desolate, while Israel will be redeemed.
–William MacDonald (and other notes in red)
Jeremiah the prophet against the nations: It is an important reminder that though the Book of Jeremiah deals mostly with the judgment God would bring against Judah, God did not neglect or ignore the Gentile nations. He would also righteously judge them.
“God knows who he is. He is not a regional supervisor. He is not a tribal deity. He is the God of all nations. His sovereignty is not limited to a single culture, nation, or ethnic group.” (Ryken)
Messages about Egypt
2 This message concerning Egypt was given in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, the king of Judah, on the occasion of the battle of Carchemish when Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, and his army were defeated beside the Euphrates River by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
In the summer of 605 BC, the Battle of Carchemish was fought by the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar II and that of Pharaoh Necho II of Egypt and the remnants of the Assyrian army. The aim of Necho’s campaign was to contain the westward advance of the Babylonian Empire and cut off its trade route across the Euphrates. However, the Egyptians were defeated by the unexpected attack of the Babylonians and were eventually expelled from Syria.
“It was on his way there [Carchemish] that Pharaoh Neco had slain King Josiah of Judah in 609 when Josiah tried to turn him back.” (Kidner) Pharaoh kept his army in Carchemish four years, dominating the area and waiting for the inevitable confrontation with rising Babylon. When it came, the Egyptians were routed.
Noted biblical scholar J. A. Thompson said of this following section, Jeremiah 46:3-12, “The poetry is among the most vivid in all the OT and is certainly unsurpassed in the book of Jeremiah.”
3 “Prepare your shields,
and advance into battle!
4 Harness the horses,
and mount the stallions.
Take your positions.
Put on your helmets.
Sharpen your spears,
and prepare your armor.
On the Western Front during the First World War: Battle of Ypres, 1917 (The First World War Poetry Digital Archive)
Around 6 million horses served in World War One and a huge number of them died as a result.
In 1914 the RSPCA set up a fund for sick and wounded war horses to help alleviate suffering on the front line. Some 725,000 horses were treated in France alone.
Horses were used to perform essential tasks such as pulling ambulances and field guns, as well as carrying supplies and ammunition. The use of horses at the front was vital as they could cope with the deep mud far more effectively than vehicles.
5 But what do I see?
The Egyptian army flees in terror.
The bravest of its fighting men run
without a backward glance.
They are terrorized at every turn,”
says the Lord.
Jeremiah describes the Egyptian army in full flight. Although they were numerous and formidable, the battle seems to be over as soon as it begins. In his prophetic vision Jeremiah now sees (verses 6-8) the captains of the Babylonian army calling out orders, commanding all their soldiers to pursue and utterly defeat the retreating Egyptians.
6 “The swiftest runners cannot flee;
the mightiest warriors cannot escape.
By the Euphrates River to the north,
they stumble and fall.
7 “Who is this, rising like the Nile at floodtime,
overflowing all the land?
8 It is the Egyptian army,
overflowing all the land,
boasting that it will cover the earth like a flood,
destroying cities and their people.
9 “Charge, you horses and chariots;
attack, you mighty warriors of Egypt!
Come, all you allies from Ethiopia, Libya, and Lydia
who are skilled with the shield and bow!
10 For this is the day of the Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
a day of vengeance on his enemies.
The sword will devour until it is satisfied,
yes, until it is drunk with your blood!
The Lord, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, will receive a sacrifice today
in the north country beside the Euphrates River.
11 “Go up to Gilead to get medicine,
O virgin daughter of Egypt!
But your many treatments
will bring you no healing.
12 The nations have heard of your shame.
The earth is filled with your cries of despair.
Your mightiest warriors will run into each other
and fall down together.”
An army is seen preparing for battle, then making a hasty retreat. The army is Egypt’s, but it is composed mainly of mercenaries—Ethiopians, Libyans, and Lydians.
Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Neco at the battle of Carchemish on the upper Euphrates River in 605 B.C. and brought to a close Egypt’s political and military influence over Palestine and Syria. Egypt is no longer a great power; Babylon is ascending.
13 Then the Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah this message about King Nebuchadnezzar’s plans to attack Egypt.
Next Egypt is warned to prepare for invasion and exile. When Nebuchadnezzar invades the land, the valiant mercenary soldiers will fall against one another, then decide to go back home. Pharaoh will be renamed “Empty Sound,’ for he is just so much noise. Babylon’s commanding presence will spell captivity for the Egyptians.
14 “Shout it out in Egypt!
Publish it in the cities of Migdol, Memphis, and Tahpanhes!
Mobilize for battle,
for the sword will devour everyone around you.
15 Why have your warriors fallen?
They cannot stand, for the Lord has knocked them down.
16 They stumble and fall over each other
and say among themselves,
‘Come, let’s go back to our people,
to the land of our birth.
Let’s get away from the sword of the enemy!’
17 There they will say,
‘Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is a loudmouth
who missed his opportunity!’
18 “As surely as I live,” says the King,
whose name is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
“one is coming against Egypt
who is as tall as Mount Tabor,
or as Mount Carmel by the sea!
Tabor and Carmel are two prominent mountains in Israel. From J. A. Thompson again: “Both seemed to Jeremiah to depict Nebuchadnezzar, who towered over Egypt in his might like lofty mountains towering over a plain.”
19 Pack up! Get ready to leave for exile,
you citizens of Egypt!
The city of Memphis will be destroyed,
without a single inhabitant.
20 Egypt is as sleek as a beautiful young cow,
but a horsefly from the north is on its way!
21 Egypt’s mercenaries have become like fattened calves.
They, too, will turn and run,
for it is a day of great disaster for Egypt,
a time of great punishment.
22 Egypt flees, silent as a serpent gliding away.
The invading army marches in;
they come against her with axes like woodsmen.
23 They will cut down her people like trees,” says the Lord,
“for they are more numerous than locusts.
24 Egypt will be humiliated;
she will be handed over to people from the north.”
25 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “I will punish Amon, the god of Thebes, and all the other gods of Egypt.
The Lord will punish Amon (the sun god of ancient Thebes and the chief god of Egypt during much of its history), Pharaoh, and Egypt with their gods and their kings. But afterward there will be restoration for Egypt and for Israel, too.
I will punish its rulers and Pharaoh, too, and all who trust in him.
26 I will hand them over to those who want them killed—to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and his army. But afterward the land will recover from the ravages of war. I, the Lord, have spoken!
Now, a word of comfort to the people of God. “In the midst of wrath God remembers mercy. Though Judah shall be destroyed, Jerusalem taken, the temple burnt to the ground, and the people carried into captivity, yet the nation shall not be destroyed. A seed shall be preserved, out of which the nation shall revive.”
27 “But do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant;
do not be dismayed, Israel.
For I will bring you home again from distant lands,
and your children will return from their exile.
Israel will return to a life of peace and quiet,
and no one will terrorize them.
28 Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant,
for I am with you,” says the Lord.
“I will completely destroy the nations to which I have exiled you,
but I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you, but with justice;
I cannot let you go unpunished.”
HERE is Hillsong Chapel and “Cornerstone.” The lyrics are partly words from the old hymn “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.