Friday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 48-50 (NKJV)
48:1 Against Moab.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
“Woe to Nebo! For it is plundered, Kirjathaim is shamed and taken; The high stronghold is shamed and dismayed—2 no more praise of Moab. In Heshbon they have devised evil against her: ‘Come, and let us cut her off as a nation.’ You also shall be cut down, O Madmen! The sword shall pursue you; 3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim: ‘Plundering and great destruction!’ 4 Moab is destroyed; Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard; 5 For in the ascent of Luhith they ascend with continual weeping; For in the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction. 6 Flee, save your lives! And be like the juniper in the wilderness. 7 For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, you also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, his priests and his princes together. 8 And the plunderer shall come against every city; No one shall escape. The valley also shall perish, and the plain shall be destroyed, as the LORD has spoken. 9 Give wings to Moab, that she may flee and get away; For her cities shall be desolate, without any to dwell in them.
10 “Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, and cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.
11 “Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, and has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent has not changed. 12 Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I shall send him wine-workers who will tip him over and empty his vessels and break the bottles. 13 Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.
14 “How can you say, ‘We are mighty and strong men for the war’? 15 Moab is plundered and gone up from her cities; Her chosen young men have gone down to the slaughter,” says the King, Whose name is the LORD of hosts. 16 The calamity of Moab is near at hand, and his affliction comes quickly. 17 Bemoan him, all you who are around him; And all you who know his name, say, ‘How the strong staff is broken, the beautiful rod!’
18 “O daughter inhabiting Dibon, come down from your glory, and sit in thirst; For the plunderer of Moab has come against you, He has destroyed your strongholds. 19 O inhabitant of Aroer, stand by the way and watch; Ask him who flees and her who escapes; Say, ‘What has happened?’ 20 Moab is shamed, for he is broken down. Wail and cry! Tell it in Arnon, that Moab is plundered. 21 And judgment has come on the plain country: On Holon and Jahzah and Mephaath, 22 On Dibon and Nebo and Beth Diblathaim, 23 On Kirjathaim and Beth Gamul and Beth Meon, 24 on Kerioth and Bozrah, on all the cities of the land of Moab, far or near. 25 The horn of Moab is cut off, and his arm is broken,” says the LORD.
26 “Make him drunk, because he exalted himself against the LORD. Moab shall wallow in his vomit, and he shall also be in derision. 27 For was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him, you shake your head in scorn. 28 You who dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the rock, and be like the dove which makes her nest In the sides of the cave’s mouth.
29 “We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, and of the haughtiness of his heart.” 30 “I know his wrath,” says the LORD, “But it is not right; His lies have made nothing right. 31 Therefore I will wail for Moab, and I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres. 32 O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer. your plants have gone over the sea, they reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and your vintage. 33 Joy and gladness are taken from the plentiful field and from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; No one will tread with joyous shouting—not joyous shouting!
34 “From the cry of Heshbon to Elealeh and to Jahaz they have uttered their voice, from Zoar to Horonaim, like a three-year-old heifer; For the waters of Nimrim also shall be desolate. 35 “Moreover,” says the LORD, “I will cause to cease in Moab the one who offers sacrifices in the high places and burns incense to his gods. 36 Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab, and like flutes My heart shall wail for the men of Kir Heres. Therefore the riches they have acquired have perished. 37 For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped; On all the hands shall be cuts, and on the loins sackcloth—38 a general lamentation on all the housetops of Moab, and in its streets; For I have broken Moab like a vessel in which is no pleasure,” says the LORD. 39 “They shall wail: ‘How she is broken down! How Moab has turned her back with shame!’ So Moab shall be a derision and a dismay to all those about her.”
40 For thus says the LORD:
“Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, and spread his wings over Moab. 41 Kerioth is taken, and the strongholds are surprised; The mighty men’s hearts in Moab on that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs. 42 And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, because he exalted himself against the LORD. 43 Fear and the pit and the snare shall be upon you, O inhabitant of Moab,” says the LORD. 44 “He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who gets out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For upon Moab, upon it I will bring the year of their punishment,” says the LORD.
45 “Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, a flame from the midst of Sihon, and shall devour the brow of Moab, the crown of the head of the sons of tumult. 46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; For your sons have been taken captive, and your daughters captive.
47 “Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab in the latter days,” says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.
49:1 Against the Ammonites.
Thus says the LORD:
“Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then does Milcom inherit Gad, and his people dwell in its cities? 2 Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will cause to be heard an alarm of war in Rabbah of the Ammonites; It shall be a desolate mound, and her villages shall be burned with fire. Then Israel shall take possession of his inheritance,” says the LORD. 3 “Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is plundered! Cry, you daughters of Rabbah, gird yourselves with sackcloth! Lament and run to and fro by the walls; For Milcom shall go into captivity with his priests and his princes together. 4 Why do you boast in the valleys, your flowing valley, O backsliding daughter? Who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’ 5 Behold, I will bring fear upon you,” says the Lord GOD of hosts, “From all those who are around you; You shall be driven out, everyone headlong, and no one will gather those who wander off.
6 “But afterward I will bring back the captives of the people of Ammon,” says the LORD.
7 Against Edom.
Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“Is wisdom no more in Teman? Has counsel perished from the prudent? Has their wisdom vanished? 8 Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Dedan! For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will punish him. 9 If grape-gatherers came to you, would they not leave some gleaning grapes? If thieves by night, would they not destroy until they have enough? 10 But I have made Esau bare; I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself. His descendants are plundered, his brethren and his neighbors, and he is no more. 11 Leave your fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; And let your widows trust in Me.”
12 For thus says the LORD: “Behold, those whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunk. And are you the one who will altogether go unpunished? You shall not go unpunished, but you shall surely drink of it. 13 For I have sworn by Myself,” says the LORD, “that Bozrah shall become a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse. And all its cities shall be perpetual wastes.”
14 I have heard a message from the LORD, and an ambassador has been sent to the nations: “Gather together, come against her, and rise up to battle!
15 “For indeed, I will make you small among nations, despised among men. 16 Your fierceness has deceived you, the pride of your heart, O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, who hold the height of the hill! Though you make your nest as high as the eagle, I will bring you down from there,” says the LORD. 17 “Edom also shall be an astonishment; Everyone who goes by it will be astonished and will hiss at all its plagues. 18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,” says the LORD, “No one shall remain there, nor shall a son of man dwell in it.
19 “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the floodplain of the Jordan against the dwelling place of the strong; But I will suddenly make him run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? Who will arraign Me? And who is that shepherd who will withstand Me?”
20 Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that He has taken against Edom, and His purposes that He has proposed against the inhabitants of Teman: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; Surely He shall make their dwelling places desolate with them. 21 The earth shakes at the noise of their fall; At the cry its noise is heard at the Red Sea. 22 Behold, He shall come up and fly like the eagle, and spread His wings over Bozrah; The heart of the mighty men of Edom in that day shall be like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.
23 Against Damascus.
“Hamath and Arpad are shamed, for they have heard bad news. They are fainthearted; There is trouble on the sea; It cannot be quiet. 24 Damascus has grown feeble; She turns to flee, and fear has seized her. Anguish and sorrows have taken her like a woman in labor. 25 Why is the city of praise not deserted, the city of My joy? 26 Therefore her young men shall fall in her streets, and all the men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the LORD of hosts. 27 “I will kindle a fire in the wall of Damascus, and it shall consume the palaces of Ben-Hadad.”
28 Against Kedar and against the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon shall strike.
Thus says the LORD:
“Arise, go up to Kedar, and devastate the men of the East! 29 Their tents and their flocks they shall take away. They shall take for themselves their curtains, all their vessels and their camels; And they shall cry out to them, ‘Fear is on every side!’
30 “Flee, get far away! Dwell in the depths, O inhabitants of Hazor!” says the LORD. “For Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has taken counsel against you, and has conceived a plan against you.
31 “Arise, go up to the wealthy nation that dwells securely,” says the LORD, “Which has neither gates nor bars, dwelling alone. 32 Their camels shall be for booty, and the multitude of their cattle for plunder. I will scatter to all winds those in the farthest corners, and I will bring their calamity from all its sides,” says the LORD. 33 “Hazor shall be a dwelling for jackals, a desolation forever; No one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it.”
34 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, saying,
35 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the foremost of their might. 36 Against Elam I will bring the four winds from the four quarters of heaven, and scatter them toward all those winds; There shall be no nations where the outcasts of Elam will not go. 37 For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,’ says the LORD; ‘And I will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. 38 I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the princes,’ says the LORD.
39 ‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the LORD.”
50:1 The word that the LORD spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
2 “Declare among the nations, proclaim, and set up a standard; Proclaim—do not conceal it—say, ‘Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; Her idols are humiliated, her images are broken in pieces.’ 3 For out of the north a nation comes up against her, which shall make her land desolate, and no one shall dwell therein. They shall move, they shall depart, both man and beast.
4 “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.’
6 “My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; They have turned them away on the mountains. they have gone from mountain to hill; They have forgotten their resting place. 7 All who found them have devoured them; And their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, the LORD, the hope of their fathers.’
8 “Move from the midst of Babylon, go out of the land of the Chaldeans; And be like the rams before the flocks. 9 For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, and they shall array themselves against her; From there she shall be captured. Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; None shall return in vain. 10 And Chaldea shall become plunder; All who plunder her shall be satisfied,” says the LORD.
11 “Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, you destroyers of My heritage, because you have grown fat like a heifer threshing grain, and you bellow like bulls, 12 your mother shall be deeply ashamed; She who bore you shall be ashamed. Behold, the least of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land and a desert. 13 Because of the wrath of the LORD she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified and hiss at all her plagues.
14 “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. 16 Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him who handles the sickle at harvest time. For fear of the oppressing sword everyone shall turn to his own people, and everyone shall flee to his own land.
17 “Israel is like scattered sheep; The lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria devoured him; Now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.”
18 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.
21 “Go up against the land of Merathaim, against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod. Waste and utterly destroy them,” says the LORD, “And do according to all that I have commanded you. 22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. 23 How the hammer of the whole earth has been cut apart and broken! How Babylon has become a desolation among the nations! 24 I have laid a snare for you; You have indeed been trapped, O Babylon, and you were not aware; You have been found and also caught, because you have contended against the LORD. 25 The LORD has opened His armory, and has brought out the weapons of His indignation; For this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans. 26 Come against her from the farthest border; Open her storehouses; Cast her up as heaps of ruins, and destroy her utterly; Let nothing of her be left. 27 Slay all her bulls, let them go down to the slaughter. Woe to them! For their day has come, the time of their punishment. 28 The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon declares in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of His temple.
29 “Call together the archers against Babylon. All you who bend the bow, encamp against it all around; Let none of them escape. Repay her according to her work; According to all she has done, do to her; For she has been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel. 30 Therefore her young men shall fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day,” says the LORD. 31 “Behold, I am against you, O most haughty one!” says the Lord GOD of hosts; “For your day has come, the time that I will punish you. 32 The most proud shall stumble and fall, and no one will raise him up; I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it will devour all around him.”
33 Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“The children of Israel were oppressed, along with the children of Judah; All who took them captive have held them fast; They have refused to let them go. 34 Their Redeemer is strong; The LORD of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case, that He may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
35 “A sword is against the Chaldeans,” says the LORD, “Against the inhabitants of Babylon, and against her princes and her wise men. 36 A sword is against the soothsayers, and they will be fools. A sword is against her mighty men, and they will be dismayed. 37 A sword is against their horses, against their chariots, and against all the mixed peoples who are in her midst; And they will become like women. A sword is against her treasures, and they will be robbed. 38 A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is the land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols.
39 “Therefore the wild desert beasts shall dwell there with the jackals, and the ostriches shall dwell in it. It shall be inhabited no more forever, nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation. 40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,” says the LORD, “So no one shall reside there, nor son of man dwell in it.
41 “Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation and many kings shall be raised up from the ends of the earth. 42 They shall hold the bow and the lance; They are cruel and shall not show mercy. Their voice shall roar like the sea; They shall ride on horses, set in array, like a man for the battle, against you, O daughter of Babylon. 43 The king of Babylon has heard the report about them, and his hands grow feeble; Anguish has taken hold of him, pangs as of a woman in childbirth. 44 Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the floodplain of the Jordan against the dwelling place of the strong; But I will make them suddenly run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? Who will arraign Me? And who is that shepherd Who will withstand Me?”
45 Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that He has taken against Babylon, and His purposes that He has proposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; Surely He will make their dwelling place desolate with them. 46 At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth trembles, and the cry is heard among the nations.
God was bringing severe judgment on Judah at the time of Jeremiah. The entire nation had collapsed religiously, morally, economically, and socially. The destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans was the ultimate shaming of the people of Judah, and the neighboring countries rejoiced at Judah’s demise.
That was a grave mistake on their part. God sent Jeremiah to proclaim judgment on all those nations for their own wickedness, including their joy over Jerusalem’s destruction. If God judged His own covenant people so severely, what would the fate of these nations be who had never wanted anything to do with the true God or with His covenant?
As the Apostle Peter writes, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now, if the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (1 Peter 4:17-18).
The visible Christian Church is declining. She has been so ravaged by false teachers that she is barely recognizable in the world, and the world rejoices at her apparent fall. But as God once brought judgment on both Judah and the surrounding nations while preserving a remnant of believers from them, so, too, in our time, God will continue to preserve a remnant of grace and to draw some of the unbelievers into her fold before the Final Judgment comes on all those who persist in unbelief.
As silver tried by fire is pure
From all adulteration,
So through God’s Word shall men endure
Each trial and temptation.
Its light beams brighter through the cross,
And, purified from human dross,
It shines through every nation. (TLH, 260, st. 5)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.