May 11 – Devotion Sharing (Jeremiah 46-50)

Submitted by Hannah Y. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Key Verse

Jer. 46:28 “ Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you”

Jer. 48:47 “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the days to come” declares the Lord.

Jer. 49:6 “Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites.” declares the Lord.

Jer. 49:39 “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in the days to come” declares the Lord.

God is …

God is Sovereign over all the nations and He will assert His rightful place in them.  God is a God of justice.  He cannot tolerate the defiance, pride, arrogance, and idolatry of His people.  In God there is no falsehood or deception.  Ultimately the truth will prevail and God will pronounce his judgment on those who are godless.  In these last chapters of Jeremiah, we see God’s final judgment upon the nations and their final destiny.  God is clear about the destiny of those who are disobedient and idolatrous, and He is not like the false prophets who were promising peace when there was no peace.  He will swiftly deal with his rebellious people.  However, God is also a God of mercy.  He wants to restore the fortunes of the nations that He destroyed and there is that note of hope. Through this we can see that God’s heart is really that people would repent and turn to Him and he does not want to completely destroy.  He is willing to deal with them, willing to go through all these years of sending prophets to warn them, admonish them and plead with them to turn from their wickedness and their adulterous hearts.  Even to the very end, after final destruction of the nations, in “days to come”, God is willing to restore them and desires to see them have a new beginning.

Lessons for me …

Finally, in the last pages of Jeremiah, as I read the prophecies spoken to these different nations, Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazar, Elam and finally to Babylon, it was a chilling feeling to go through the variety of emotions as God pronounces their final destiny.  I was struck by God’s tireless dealing with the nations, wanting them to repent and to turn to Him.  Each of these nations sinned against God in different ways and aroused his righteous anger, but I was particularly struck by what God says to Moab and Babylon.  It seems that Moab was known for their pride and arrogance.  Jer48: 29 it says “we have heard of Moab’s pride, her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance, the haughtiness of her heart.  I know her insolence but it is futile,” Declares the Lord, “and her boasts accomplish nothing”.  I thought about how Moab is such an apt picture of our society today.  They trusted in their deeds and riches (48:7).  Instead of trusting in God, they became so used to their wealth and material possessions, that they trusted in themselves, they trusted in the stuff they attained, perhaps large buildings, cutting edge technology of their time, good food and wine, abundance of possessions, their physical stature, and their fame among the other nations.  I can see how trusting in these outwardly things can give you such a sense of security.  April was promotion season for my company and as my coworkers were talking about who will be promoted, how the company will be reorganized, who will be recognized for their achievements, it was obvious that those who were getting that promotion just felt so secure and so good.  And those who didn’t get mentioned had such a sense of insecurity, some even bad mouthing management that they were not chosen to be recognized.  Even in this little way, I thought about how we are so prone to be like Moab.  I could really sense God’s heart, reaching out to them, urging them to turn from their pride and to turn to God.  48:31 says, “I will wail for you Moab, for all Moab I cry out…I weep for you”.  This is God’s heart for Moab and for me because He knows our destiny.  He knows that in the end, their “jars will be smashed”, “their towns will be invaded”, their glorious staff will be broken, they will be ashamed, their fortified cities will be in ruin, and their finest men will go down in the slaughter.  Ultimately, all that they took pride in would be completely destroyed.  Moab will be broken down.  It made me see how God wants me to let go of the pride that I find in myself through these fleeting things, and to humbly see the truth and the reality that He is the one who provides true security and reason for pride and boasting.  That I should not boast in myself but in Him.

I was by Babylon as well.  This is the nation that was conquering and defeating other nations.  But in the end, their time came as well.  Babylon had been God’s way of bringing down these sinful nations.  51:20 “you are my war club, my weapon for battle- with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms…”  Babylon seemed like such a successful nation this whole time, but in the end, Babylon too fell into God’s hands and eventually became a desolate nation.  I thought about how indeed there will be times of success.  There will times of conquest, times of feeling superior and satisfied because of success, but in the process, I can not leave God and depend on my own successes and competence.   Babylon was punished for their sinful ways, turning from God and worshipping idols, and their wicked treatment of those in captivity. This was a warning for me.  Especially when things seem to be going well, and when I find that temptation to just depend on myself and go in cruise control in my spiritual life. I was reminded again that I need to come back to the truth.  The truth that I am at the mercy of God, that I am a wretched sinner in constant need of God’s forgiveness, and that I have this privilege of being a minister of reconciliation for God.

Finally, in the midst of so much anguish, wrath, anger toward the sins of the nations, there are pockets of hope for His people who are in captivity.  He says in Ch 46: 27-28“Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. 28 Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the Lord. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”  And He also tells Egypt, Elam, Moab and Ammon that He will restore the fortunes of these nations.  God’s intense love for his people is so clear.  Like the heart of a parent, the most intense anger, outrage and discipline is reserved for their children who they love more than anything.  I often feel this way when disciplining my own child.  However, the hope is that we would repent and turn to Him again and place Him in the rightful place in our lives.  I can see that even through all the severe judgment that God brings to these nations, His heart is for there to be restoration.

Prayer
Dear heavenly Father, as I see the way you dealt with all these nations, Oh lord, I confess that my heart is prone to this kind of godlessness and defiance.  When things go well, when things seem to be pretty smooth, please protect me from that temptation to think that it is because of my own capabilities and my own efforts. Protect my heart from becoming proud and arrogant like Moab, which you had to break down to establish the truth of who you are.  Please help me to be warned by the fate of all these nations, that ultimately you are in control and that I am at your mercy.  Please help me to come back to the truth of who I am and how I got here.  It’s through your mercy and how you worked in my life.  And thank you for loving me with this kind of intensity.  Please help me to receive your discipline and warnings with humility so that you can establish the truth of who you are in my life.

Submitted by Abe Y. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Key Verse

Jeremiah 48:29-30:

29 “We have heard of Moab’s pride — her overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance     and the haughtiness of her heart.  30 I know her insolence but it is futile,” declares the Lord,  “and her boasts accomplish nothing.

God is…

Up until now, it may seem that God is only against Judah for the sins they’ve committed, but this is clearly not the case. Here, we see see God’s response to the sins of the neighboring nations. Jeremiah foretells the destruction and downfall of Egypt, Philistines, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar, Hazor, Elam, and even the mighty Babylon. No one — no kingdom — is exempt from God’s mighty judgment.

In Jeremiah 48, we get a glimpse into God’s view of Moab. A good part of the chapter starts with the prophecy of what God will do to that nation, how God will run them off and they will become captives to foreign nations. He tells them that their days of comfort will come abruptly to an end (vv.11-13), and that their glory days are over (vv.18-25).

What is God’s main complaint against Moab? What have they been doing that deserve such punishment? Part of it is due to their worship in Chemosh, in this fictitious, made-up god.  However, it seems that God is far angrier by their pride. He is disgusted by Moab’s “overweening pride and conceit, her pride and arrogance and the haughtiness of her heart” (v.29). This is God’s main complaint against Moab, and for this reason alone, God will bring judgment against her.

Lessons for me…

In my younger days, much of my time was spent on fighting and struggling against more apparent sins. I remember constantly fighting against my lustful, fleshly desires, and that was a source of many troubles. I had a hard time in loving people, giving people my time and my heart when those are the things that I want to hold onto. I had to battle with a plethora of character issues, in learning to become just a better human being.

This isn’t to say that I don’t deal with these anymore. No, those battles are still there to this day. However, one thing I’ve been learning and relearning over the years is just how proud and boastful of a person I am. I may not be so clueless as to flaunt my skills and abilities, or to show off my intelligence, but deep in my heart, there are ways in which I continue to allow my pride to fester and grow. One thing that’s become more and more apparent to me is the different facets in which pride can reveal itself. For example, there exists within me the pride of wanting to be right, no matter what. Thus, when someone disagrees with me, or just cannot understand a certain position, I feel something inside of me swelling up. My natural instinct is to puff up, and bring out the reasons and logical arguments, to show how this person is in the wrong. This happened recently in which it became so bad, that only afterwards, when the dust had settled, I realized that I had completely missed what was really going on inside of him; I got so caught up by what he said, that I missed out on what he really meant. In our conversation, I knew I was in the right, but I so badly wanted this brother to know it, too. I was so immature, so proud, that I couldn’t bear the thought of him walking away, thinking that he was in the right. And so, I got so caught up in the tit-for-tat argument that I missed his heart — what was going on underneath — completely. It was an opportunity to really lift up this brother and encourage him, to bring truth from God in a very uplifting manner. Instead, the conversation just went further and further south.

God is adamantly against pride because it causes people to be blind — blind towards others, blind about themselves, and blind towards Him. Can we really minister to people if we’re like the Moabites — filled with pride, conceit, arrogance, and haughtiness of the heart? “Her boasts accomplish nothing,” God says of Moab (v.30). For the nation of Moab, nothing could shake them out of this stupor, so God had to go in and intervene. For them, God had to put them to the sword — for me, it was through a painful conversation that shook me out of my own stupor.

However, God’s judgment of doom will not last forever — not on this side of heaven, anyways. Unlike me, who’s so petty and immature as to just wanting to win an argument, God cares more about winning over His people. He’s not punishing these nations to show them “who’s boss,” to show them how utterly weak they are. It is that — but also much more. With the nation of Judah, for example, even though they are so far away in their sin, He says that he will “not completely destroy [them].” Though they will go to exile, He tells them, “Do not fear.. for I am with you” (46:28). Even to the Moabites — a nation that is not of His chosen people, He does not just turn them over to destruction and leave it at that. We see that God “wails over” them, that “for all Moab [He] cries out” and “moan for the men of Kir Hareseth” (48:31). This is God’s heart for His people — He punishes them for their sin, but He mourns and laments over their sorry state. He longs for them — even the foreign nation of Moab — to let go of their pride, to see themselves as they really are, and to return back to Him. He disciplines them out of His deep love and concern for them.

O, how I am so unlike God — how I lack the Father’s compassionate heart for others. I, in my pride, am still far too petty. I, in my pride, care more about maintaining the respect of others than to take the risk of actually caring for someone.

Prayer

Lord, help me to become more and more like You. Help me to continue to die to my pride daily — the pride that gets stirred when someone rubs me the wrong way, the pride that refuses to back down, the pride that insists that I am in the right at all costs. Lord, it’s this pride that is so heinous in Your sight — isn’t it this pride that causes people and nations to fall away from You? Father, let me die to this pride so that I may be able to love others — not just making sure that they’re doing the right things, but to genuinely love and care for them. Father, even in the midst of disciplining Your loved ones, Your heart continues to reach out to them. Let me become more like You, to be able to cry out on their behalf, to be genuinely remorseful over their estate when they fall away, rather than taking in what they’ve done as an indictment against me. Let me not take their offenses personally — after all, it’s not me that they’re spurning, but You! Help me to do all that I can to win over people’s souls, even if it’s costly to me — to my emotions, to my energy level, to my pride. Let this vicious pride die, so that I may love others wholeheartedly!

Submitted by Ernestine L. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Key Verse

“the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. 5They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten. –Jeremiah 50:4-5

God is …

At this point, Israel has been marked by much bloodshed, battle and unfaithfulness to God. However, in these concluding chapters of the book of Jeremiah, we see God’s final and ultimate heart for His people. He sees His people – He sees them terrified, retreating, hopeless and beaten. Though they have experienced much defeat, the Lord their God gives them a message of hope, of fierce confidence in Him. We see this god of retribution once again extending His arms to protect Israel, telling Jeremiah that He would bring them back and bind them to Himself as it says in Chapter 50.

God is a god who wants to build up His people and keep them from destruction. The beginning of Chapter 46 lays out a picture of God’s building up of His people and the promise of safety. God tells Israel that they should not fear and not be in dismay, for He will surely save them out of a distant place, that Jacob will again receive peace and security. Though he will destroy all the nations and scatter His people among them, God has a plan for them. He does this not because He wants his people to continue suffering or enduring shame and punishment. His loving discipline is that of a Father’s for His wandering and confused children. God’s heart for His people is one of a deep love that wants them to ultimately experience victory, but only through being humbled and broken. So they would not be left without hope, but instead with a hope entirely from and in God. The victory becomes sweet as they will experience returning and clinging onto God for dear life.

God hates pride. He detests it. As we look at the Moabites and the other nations, we see the extent of God’s heart against that deeply rooted sin called pride. As the chapters go on to include God’s message against the nations – Philistines, Moab, Ammon and so on, we take a look at just how much the Moabites banked on things that did not last – they trusted in their deeds and riches, but soon enough they too would be held captive and none of what they amounted to would matter. They indulged in their riches, in their idols and altars and ultimately retreated from reality, seeking comfort by keeping the sword from bloodshed.

And yet, a remarkable thing to note about our God is that He is one of deep compassion. Though He proclaims to Jeremiah the detailed accounts of how each of these nations will ultimately be brought down; though they bask in their pride and arrogance right now, there is still that mark of mercy. “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab, in days to come,” declares the LORD. “Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, declares the LORD. And the same goes for Elam. God’s mercy depicts perfectly for us the heart of God. Though these nations will be destroyed, He will restore and redeem them when their pride has been broken and destroyed. There is this plan for each nation in mind.

Lessons for me …

The downfall of Moab would be her pride – conceit, arrogance, haughtiness of heart, insolence as Jeremiah 48:29-30 lists. God sees this attitude and condition as detestable and yet pitiful because He then wails over Moab, cries out, moans for their men. How true of this is God’s heart for me when I am in the midst of my detestable pride, when I rage up inside against others, against God Himself; when I want control over my life and over others like the Moabites over their nation, when I too want to retreat and keep my sword from bloodshed, wanting to just indulge in the comforts, the idols, the “riches” in my life – things I think I have control over. Again, God’s heart is that these things will be destroyed, they will be no more, futile in the grand scheme of this spiritual battle I am engaged in.

We see the bittersweet return of the people of Israel in Chapter 50:4-5 – as the attacks on Babylon will take place, these are the times, declares the Lord, that “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.” Finally, their hearts will want to turn back to God, after long turmoil, after much defeat of their pride and the accounts of their unfaithfulness. Only when they themselves have been beaten down can they return with such longing of heart. This is how God sees me and every person – only when pride has been banished, destroyed, when our hearts have been wrecked do we see the sweetness, the beautiful retreat back to God – wanting to be bound with the Lord in this everlasting covenant. Only as I see myself more clearly, as I experience my pride being torn down, my desire for some semblance of control that is finally relinquished do I acknowledge this ever desperate need to come back to God.

When I think of these nations that gave into their idols, whose man-made systems of self-gain and self-glorification proved faulty in the eyes of God, so pitiful and futile, I see how relevant this picture is to me when I do the same exact thing – when I claw after the things of this world – image, status, respect, self-glory, which only resort in pride and arrogance. God’s wrath is against this; He wages war against my pride. I think about the people so given into the heights of their hills, the people proud and arrogant b/c they think they’ve got it going strong and well for them at this moment in time. However, they do not know how much this is wrecking the heart of God; they have no idea how futile their efforts are – those who chase after seeking glory for themselves, being driven by their pride and arrogance. Ultimately, God beckons to the lost, to my heart when it goes astray, to these nations – to come in tears to seek Him, to be bound to His everlasting covenant, to finally be given peace and security.

From examining each of these nations and God’s response to them, I see the effect of my own pride, my own chasing after idols, my own building up of high places – it was because these things were never meant to be for those purposes. Though God blesses me with fortunes, I cannot take them, twist them for my own gains. As in ministry – I cannot use what I have received from God for gain of self-glory. In relationships, I cannot turn them for self-approval or comparison to make myself feel more or less of anything. When I receive responsibilities over tasks or ownership over people, again, I cannot bulk up in any sort of arrogance thinking I can handle more or less than someone else. God sees the folly of each nation and how they have been enraptured by the heights of their hills and the clefts of their rocks as the Edomites were. And when my pride is exposed, this is when God needs to destroy and conquer over my heart, when He has in mind the steps needed to bring down my arrogance, then His promise to each nation and to me is “Yet I will restore….”  And yet He has in mind to restore me and still bless me with a life used for His advancement.

Prayer

Father, I come to You with all my pride and arrogance. I am like these nations, foolishly thinking I could bask in comforts, thinking I could build up altars and high hills for myself when You want to destroy all of these things within me. The battle has been marked, and You alone have spoken against my pride, my arrogance, my insolence. Your great desire for me is to have me finally return and bind myself to Your everlasting covenant. Though You speak against my sinfulness, my pride; though You break me by revealing to me the truth about myself, I understand Your great mercy that desires for me to ultimately return in humility and sweet victory over the enemy. Father, I acknowledge the detestable pride within me that rages up when I seek control in areas of my life, when I seek control over others, when I seek some sort of high hill to stand on. And I seek after You for Your mighty hand, Your protection, Your guarding over my heart against being deceived by my pride. Father, thank You for Your heart and mercy over me.

Submitted by Joel L. from Gracepoint Riverside Church

Key Verse

“Do not fear, O Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, O Israel.  I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile.  Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid.  Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, for I am with you,” declares the Lord. “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished.” – Jeremiah 46:27-28

God is …

From these chapters, I see God’s heart going out to the other nations besides Israel where He is pronouncing what will happen to them, and some kingdoms will be destroyed such that no one will live there again or some kingdoms will have their fortunes restored in the future after being punished. God’s heart is not only for His people in Israel, but He is concerned for the surrounding nations, and His words must have given some hope to the nations who would be restored one day though judgment was coming. Though Israel failed to obey His commands and be faithful to Him such that they would glorify His name, God still continues to work and pursue nations and people who would open up their hearts and minds to Him. In order for this to happen though, Israel and the nations need to be punished for their sins and their pride smashed. God is focused on salvations, and this  is with Him even in the midst of His anger and dealing with the nations. Even in the midst of punishing Israel, God is not totally angry with them, but He says they will return to their homeland and have rest and security.

Lessons for me …

Personally, I am so thankful that God is with me during those tough times where my sins are exposed or truths are revealed to me that expose my shame and guilt, because these are times where my pride instinctively rises up and wants to be arrogant and stubborn. Though I don’t want to experience the pain and suffering that comes from being humble and confessing, repentance is necessary and it’s the only way to see the reality about myself and the consequences of my choices. Time and time again I have experienced those times of rest and security afterwards, because I see with such greater clarity who I am and who God is, and the fear of the world and protecting my pride gets replaced with the proper fear of God. As with the nations that God is going to punish, so it is with me where my pride gets puffed up with the blessings of the world and comforts. The fear of God is diminished and sin grows and makes me senseless.

“Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.  His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them.  They are worthless, the objects of mockery;    when their judgment comes, they will perish. – Jeremiah 51:17-18

God knows for His people and for me that these idols will not satisfy and it pains His heart when we go down these paths and this is why God continues to speak to us so that we may remember Him and know Him. God doesn’t delight in punishing, but He wants to give us true rest and security. How maddening it is for God when I try to find these things in the world when I seek after financial security, being liked and approved by others, desiring to be comfortable, and other idols. These idols will demand more and more of my time, resources, and strength, and what is stripped is a closer walk with God and a heart without passion to do God’s will but my will. Being  a minister, I myself have to be vigilant against idols, because those who look to me for guidance , I need to be able to speak with conviction against idols that will take them down destructive paths. When things are going in their lives, I can trust God is with them and He’s ultimately working so that they may be saved, and this needs to be my heart for them despite whatever my feelings, emotions, and thoughts are filled with. My heart needs to be regularly engaged with God so that I can listen with an open heart and mind and heed God’s instruction and warning as He wants to prepare me for what is coming. When God speaks to me about some sin, I need to confess it right away. If God is speaking to me about my habits, character issues, or lack of love, I need to be desperate to respond and lift up prayers whenever I can.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, you are a holy God, and I can see a little of how your heart must be frustrated when those you  love seek after that which is detestable. These nations became proud because they trusted in their riches and success, and it led them down a path that caused them to sin greatly and leave a trail of victims. You are just when you punish, and I praise you that you remember your people so that they are not completely devastated. You offer hope and renewal when we are humbled and turn back to you, and I pray that I will be responsive when your word speaks to me and my rest and security will come from you. Though the truth may be uncomfortable for me, I pray that I will receive it with humility whether it be from your word, messages, or times of praying. Make me an instrument to do your will and share in your heart to rescue more and more people from the path of destruction and lead me to know you and your son, Jesus Christ. I pray that my heart will grow in fearing you more than anything else, and I will leave with your presence in my mind. May your name be glorified and not my name. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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