6.75 Jeremiah -- Judgment on the Nations
Like Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah has a section devoted to oracles against other nations -- chapters 46-51. For the most part, Jeremiah addresses Israel’s neighbors, her allies and enemies. Some passages have close parallels in other prophetic books (eg. Jer 48:29-33 with Isa 16:6-10, Jer 49:14-16 with Oba 1-4). The general thrust of all the messages is:
"But all who devour you will be devoured; all your enemies will go into exile. Those who plunder you will be plundered; all who make spoil of you I will despoil" (Jer 30:16).
The prophet could even pray,
"Pour out your wrath on the nations that do not acknowledge you, on the peoples who do not call on your name. For they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him completely and destroyed his homeland" (Jer 10:25).
a. Judah has frequently turned to Egypt, rather than to the Lord, for help against Babylonia (Jer 2:18, Jer 2:36, Jer 37:5-9). Jeremiah foresaw Babylonia’s victory over Egypt at Carchemish in 605 (Jer 46:2-12), and again on Egypt’s own ground in 568-67 (Jer 43:10-13, Jer 46:13-26).
b. Philistia, Israel’s arch-enemy in the days of Saul and David, will be destroyed as by an overwhelming flood (Jer 47:1-7). This oracle suggests that disaster will also come upon Tyre and Sidon.
c. Israel’s enmity with Moab goes back to Balak, the king who first cursed and then seduced the people of Moses (Num 22-25). Jeremiah gave a long prophecy concerning her downfall (Jer 48).
d. Ammon was another longstanding foe. They were inhospitable to the people of Israel under Moses (Deut 23:3-4). Jephthah fought them (Judg 10-11), as did Saul (1 Sam 11-12) and David (2 Sam 10-12). But they inflicted the most harm when Solomon married an Ammonite (1 Kings 14:21), and set up a high place to the Ammonite god Molech that stood, along with one to the Moabite god Chemosh, for almost 350 years until Josiah destroyed it (1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23:13). In Jeremiah’s own day, after Jerusalem fell, the Ammonite king was involved in the assassination of the governor Gedaliah (Jer 40:14, Jer 41:10-15), which led to the Jewish remnant’s ill-advised flight to Egypt. The prophet denounced Ammon for driving out Israel (Jer 49:2), and prophesied destruction.
e. Edom and some of the Arab peoples are judged in chap 49.
f. Last, and most important, chaps. 50-51 preserve a series of oracles against Babylon. True, Babylon has been the Lord's "war club" (Jer 51:20). But Babylon rejoiced to pillage the Lord’s inheritance (Jer 50:11) and was arrogant (Jer 50:31-32); she has done wrong in Zion (Jer 51:24). Words originally decreed against Judah now fall on Babylon: she will suffer "total destruction" (Jer 50:21-26, Jer 51:3) like that of Sodom and Gomorrah at the hands of a foe from the north (Jer 50, Jer 51:48), and will become an object of horror to all the world (Jer 51:37-41).
God's judgment on these nations was not just on their sins, but primarily on their gods. Nebuchadnezzar
The Moabite god Chemosh "will go into exile" (Jer 48:7), as will the Ammonite Molech (Jer 49:3). Babylon’s Bel and Marduk will be put to shame (Jer 50:2, Jer 51:44-52). This is extremely important to remember: the basis of God's punishment was not ethnicity, but false religion and idolatry.