Wednesday, January 9, 2019
I Ordained You as a Prophet to the Nations
By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The scripture reading for this teaching is: Jeremiah 46:13-28
Jeremiah was a prophet in Judah during the tumultuous time encompassing the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the brief domination of Judah by Egypt, followed by the rise of Babylon culminating in Judah being taken into exile in Babylon. Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel prophesied during this time period as well, except he was prophesying from Babylon to the Jewish people who were already in exile with him. In a way, we can look at Jeremiah and Ezekiel as twin prophets both prophesying about the inevitable fall of Judah as well as judgment coming against the nations. Jeremiah’s main focus was warning the leaders of Judah that the fall of Jerusalem was coming and, unless they changed their ways quickly, it was inevitable. For all this, though, God told Jeremiah that he was a prophet, not to Judah, but to the nations.
Jeremiah 1:4-5 NKJV 4 Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations."
Jeremiah’s words in chapter 46 verses 13-28 focus on the judgment coming on Egypt. What is God’s word through Jeremiah to the nations? What can we learn and apply today? Do his words have implications for the future?
Jeremiah had an extremely difficult task! He was a resident of Judah, yet God called him to be a prophet to the nations. The word translated “ordained” in Jeremiah 1:5 is the Hebrew word “natan,” number 5414 in Strong’s Concordance. It means to give. God gave Jeremiah to the nations to be His spokesperson. God called Him to speak His words of judgment from within a nation hostile to his message. While other so-called prophets said that God would deliver them from the hand of the Babylonians, Jeremiah said that their captivity by Babylon was a certainty. The leaders of Judah placed Jeremiah in stocks in the gate of Benjamin near the temple. Later, Jeremiah was held prisoner; he remained a prisoner until the day that Jerusalem was conquered by Babylon.
Jeremiah had an idea of what he was facing from the time that God called him when he was a young man, but God promised to be with him through everything that would happen to him.
Jeremiah 1:6-9 NKJV 6 Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." 7 But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. 9 Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.
God gave Jeremiah a huge task! Jeremiah’s mission was to root out evil in the nations and to plant God’s righteousness!
Jeremiah 1:10 NKJV 10 See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant."
Mostly, Jeremiah’s words to the nations were sent through emissaries. For example, Jeremiah sent God’s word to the leaders of the surrounding nations through their ambassadors to Judah that God had given all their lands into the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Jeremiah 27:2-4 NKJV 2 "Thus says the LORD to me: 'Make for yourselves bonds and yokes, and put them on your neck, 3 'and send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by the hand of the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 'And command them to say to their masters, "Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel-thus you shall say to your masters:
In our passage, Jeremiah relays the words of God about judgment against Egypt. To set up this prophecy, we need to look at the aspirations of Egypt and the events that led up to Egypt’s defeat. Egypt was a vassal and ally of the Assyrian Empire. When the power of Assyria was threatened by the rise of Babylon, Egypt, under Pharaoh Necho, took its army to the aid of Assyria. Their path took them right through Israel. King Josiah, seeking to stop Egypt’s army, engaged them in battle on the plains at the base of the hill of Megiddo. Egypt won the battle and King Josiah was killed. Josiah’s son Jehoahaz became king in his place, however, Pharaoh Necho captured Jehoahaz and imprisoned him. Necho made another of Josiah’s sons king and extracted tribute from him.
2 Kings 23:35 NKJV 35 So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necho.
Once Pharaoh Necho had control of Judah and the surrounding nations of Edom, Amon and Moab, he continued on his way north to the aid of Assyria. However, with his control of Judah, he had aspirations of building his own great empire.
Jeremiah 46:7-8 NKJV 7 "Who is this coming up like a flood, Whose waters like the rivers; And he says, 'I will go up and cover the earth, I will destroy the city and its inhabitants.'
Jeremiah goes on to say that when Egypt purposes to conquer and destroy, it will be the day of the LORD for them.
Jeremiah 46:9-10 NKJV 9 Come up, O horses, and rage, O chariots! And let the mighty men come forth: The Ethiopians and the Libyans who handle the shield, And the Lydians who handle and bend the bow. 10 For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, A day of vengeance, That He may avenge Himself on His adversaries. The sword shall devour; It shall be satiated and made drunk with their blood; For the Lord GOD of hosts has a sacrifice In the north country by the River Euphrates.
Egypt gathered its army which consisted of mercenary forces from Ethiopia, Libya, and Lydia. They marched north to Carchemish by the Euphrates River where they fought a battle with the Babylonians in aid of the Assyrians. There at the Battle of Carchemish in 604 BCE, Babylon defeated both the Assyrian and Egyptian armies. Both Assyria and Egypt are now on the run! Jeremiah describes Egypt’s defeat as an illness from which there is no cure.
Jeremiah 46:11-12 NKJV 11 "Go up to Gilead and take balm, O virgin, the daughter of Egypt; In vain you will use many medicines; You shall not be cured. 12 The nations have heard of your shame, And your cry has filled the land; For the mighty man has stumbled against the mighty; They both have fallen together."
The battle at Carchemish sealed the defeat of both Assyria and Egypt. Babylon first consolidated its victory over the Assyrian Empire before turning its eyes on the Egyptian controlled Israel and the nations surrounding it. This is where we pick up our scripture passage. The agent of Egypt’s defeat and destruction was Babylon.
Jeremiah 46:13 NKJV 13 The word that the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet, how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon would come and strike the land of Egypt.
Jeremiah prophesies about the utter destruction of Egypt beginning with its armies.
Jeremiah 46:15-17 NAS95 15 "Why have your mighty ones become prostrate? They do not stand because the LORD has thrust them down. 16 "They have repeatedly stumbled; Indeed, they have fallen one against another. Then they said, 'Get up! And let us go back to our own people and our native land Away from the sword of the oppressor.' 17 "They cried there, 'Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a big noise; He has let the appointed time pass by!'
Jeremiah prophesied that the mercenaries Egypt hired would flee back to their own lands. Egypt’s armies would be decimated and no longer able to hold back the mighty forces of Babylon. The extent of that destruction is hidden in a Hebrew word play in verse 15. The Hebrew word translated as “mighty ones” is ab-beer, number 47 in Strong’s Concordance, meaning angels, bulls, mighty ones, or strong ones. One of Egypt’s main gods was Osiris represented by a bull or apis. As we continue, the phrase become prostrate is from the Hebrew phrasing “nes haf”, Phxn which literally means to be swept away. However, splitting the word to the individual words “nes” and “haf” as the Septuagint does, the meaning becomes “apis fled.” As we look at both the literal and deeper meaning of this passage, we see that not only is the army of Egypt destroyed but so are its gods! The fleeing mercenaries state that Pharaoh, who was also considered a god, is only a loud noise.
When the children of Israel fled from Egypt with Pharaoh in pursuit, Pharaoh stated that he would overtake and destroy the children of Israel. At that time, he was also only a loud noise and Egypt’s armies were destroyed.
Exodus 15:9-10 NAS95 9 "The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.' 10 "You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
Just like the Pharaoh of Moses’ time missed the opportunity to let Israel go without having the judgment of God fall on it, so too, does Jeremiah say that Pharaoh Necho missed the time or opportunity to make a decision that would avert the coming disaster. Egypt would go into captivity!
Jeremiah goes on to describe Egypt as a heifer pestered and stung by horseflies or stinging insects. The mercenaries, no longer strong bulls, but fattened calves ready for slaughter, flee leaving the heifers unprotected.
Jeremiah 46:20-21 NAS95 20 "Egypt is a pretty heifer, But a horsefly is coming from the north--it is coming! 21 "Also her mercenaries in her midst Are like fattened calves, For even they too have turned back and have fled away together; They did not stand their ground. For the day of their calamity has come upon them, The time of their punishment.
Two of the plagues on Egypt were a plague of flies covering everything and a plague of pestilence on the cattle. The word translated as “horsefly” is “kaw-rats”, Number 7171 in Strong’s Concordance meaning, according to the Brown, Drive, Briggs lexicon, nipping or stinging insect, a gadfly. Strong’s lexicon defines it as destruction. “Kaw-rats” comes from a word meaning to pinch, bite or sting.
The destruction of Egypt shall be so complete that the loud noise or roar of Pharaoh becomes like the hissing of a serpent, and the people of the land, the entire population, fall like trees being cut down by the wood cutter.
Jeremiah 46:22-23 NKJV 22 Her noise shall go like a serpent, For they shall march with an army And come against her with axes, Like those who chop wood. 23 "They shall cut down her forest," says the LORD, "Though it cannot be searched, Because they are innumerable, And more numerous than grasshoppers.
Jeremiah concludes that this day of the LORD for Egypt is of judgment against the gods of the land as well as the leadership.
Jeremiah 46:25-26 NKJV 25 The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says: "Behold, I will bring punishment on Amon of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings-Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26 "And I will deliver them into the hand of those who seek their lives, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of his servants. Afterward it shall be inhabited as in the days of old," says the LORD.
After forty years, the people of Egypt would return to the land, but Egypt would never regain the power it once held. Its aspirations to rule over all the Earth had been brought to nothing.
Jeremiah than turns to Israel to reassure her that God would be with them even as Nebuchadnezzar turns south after securing the land once held by Assyria as its own. Judgment against Egypt is all well and good, but Nebuchadnezzar’s path to Egypt goes straight through Israel! What would happen to them? Jeremiah prophesied that they would, also, go into captivity!
Jeremiah 37:6-8 NKJV 6 Then the word of the LORD came to the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 7 "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'Thus you shall say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come up to help you will return to Egypt, to their own land. 8 "And the Chaldeans shall come back and fight against this city, and take it and burn it with fire."'
Judgment was coming to both Israel and Egypt but God told Israel not to fear.
Jeremiah 46:27-28 NKJV 27 "But do not fear, O My servant Jacob, And do not be dismayed, O Israel! For behold, I will save you from afar, And your offspring from the land of their captivity; Jacob shall return, have rest and be at ease; No one shall make him afraid. 28 Do not fear, O Jacob My servant," says the LORD, "For I am with you; For I will make a complete end of all the nations To which I have driven you, But I will not make a complete end of you. I will rightly correct you, For I will not leave you wholly unpunished."
God would bring back the descendants of Jacob. God would restore the land of Israel. Although the nations would face utter destruction – both Babylon and Assyria were completely destroyed – Israel would return.
God’s word to the nations is that they would face destruction because of the god’s they worshiped and their lust for power. Jeremiah’s prophecies against the nations don’t end with the prophecy of judgment coming to Egypt. Jeremiah prophesies that judgment will fall on Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Elam, and, finally, on the agent of judgment, Babylon.
Jeremiah 50:11-12 NKJV 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.
As the time of Yeshua’s coming approaches, Egypt will seek to gain power and come out of her land to go against a new empire that will rise out of Babylon. This new empire will set its face to the south to take Israel, the surrounding nations, and Egypt. God will appoint two prophets like Ezekiel and Jeremiah to be His witnesses and to speak His words. Once again, Israel and Egypt will be taken.
Daniel 11:40-43 NKJV 40 "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. 41 "He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. 42 "He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 "He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.
Even though this will be a time of terror, Daniel, like Jeremiah, tells the people not to fear, God will deliver His people.
Daniel 12:1 NKJV 1 "At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.
Although Israel and Egypt will fall to this new Babylon from the north, God will bring about the judgment and destruction of this Babylon.
Revelation 18:1-2 NKJV 1 After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, "Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
What is Jeremiah’s word to the nations? How does he fulfill his mission to uproot and to plant? Jeremiah brought the word of the LORD for the nations to turn from their evil ways and to do good.
Jeremiah 18:7-10 NKJV 7 "The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, 8 "if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. 9 "And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, 10 "if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.
We, also, need to hear Jeremiah’s words of warning. We need to turn from our evil ways and do good! Yeshua said that those who do the will of His Father will have their inheritance in the kingdom of God. Let us be diligent to pray for our own nations; that our leaders would follow God and seek true justice for her people. Let us practice that in our own lives.
1. Discuss the connection of this teaching to the Torah Portion Bo Exodus 10:1-13:6?
2. In what ways are Ezekiel and Jeremiah like the two witnesses in Revelation 11:3-11? How are they different?
3. We tend to think of the day of the LORD as being a one-time event ushering in the reign of Yeshua. What is the day of the LORD in Jeremiah 46:10? How does this change your understanding of this phrase?
4. How did Jeremiah fulfil his role as prophet to the nations even though he was always among the Jewish people? How could that apply to us?
5. Compare Jeremiah 46:27-28 with Yeshua’s words in Matthew 24:6-31. Is Yeshua talking about the same event? What is different about these accounts?
© 2019 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.