Flee, get you far off, dwell deep, O ye inhabitants of Hazor, saith the LORD; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath taken counsel against you, and hath conceived a purpose against you. — Jeremiah 49:30
On Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the United States military forces stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The attacking planes came in two waves; the first hit its target at 7:53 a.m., the second at 8:55. By 9:55 it was all over. As smoke arose from that scene of terrible devastation, the staggering truth emerged: the Japanese attack resulted in the deaths of 2,403 servicemen, destroyed 188 planes, and damaged or destroyed eight battleships, decimating the Pacific Fleet.
Many historians suggest that the attack — which precipitated the entry of the United States into World War II — succeeded because of a failure to pay attention to warning signs. Radar had picked up incoming Japanese planes, and this was reported to the officer on watch at the central station with the terse statement, “many planes.” However, that very morning, a flight of American B17s was due in from the same direction and the officer assumed these were the planes the radar was picking up. Without confirming the number of planes, he told the radar operator not to worry about it.
This error, along with other missed signals that an attack was imminent, may have resulted from a seemingly pervasive mindset among the United States Army and Navy high commands that Japan would not and could not attack the fortified island of Oahu. What a tragic misconception!
In our focus verse, the Prophet Jeremiah issued a warning to the inhabitants of Hazor, a nomadic people living in the area east of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar and the powerful armies of Babylon were about to sweep over them in a destructive wave. They were told to flee the coming calamity.
Like the officers at Pearl Harbor and the people of Hazor, we have also received warnings, and our decision to heed or not to heed will have momentous consequences. Through God’s Word we are cautioned that the devil’s intent is to utterly destroy us, but we can heed the warnings God has given us. We can follow God’s Word, take appropriate action, and be protected from Satan’s annihilation. Or we can ignore the warnings and reap the consequences. It’s up to us!
Today’s text continues the prophecies about the judgment of the nations, addressing Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, and Elam.
Verses 23-27 were directed to Syria, of which Damascus was the major city. Three trade routes intersected there, and at one time it was a beautiful place. Hamath was located on the Orontes River about one-hundred-ten miles north of Damascus. Arpad was further northward about ninety-five miles and had a significant fortress. Instead of being lovely and grand, Damascus would be “feeble” and filled with fear and death. In time, the Assyrians and also the Chaldeans conquered Damascus.
Kedar and Hazor are addressed in verses 28-33. These were Arabian tribes who lived in the desert east of Judah. Kedar was a son of Ishmael, and his descendants were nomadic. They were adept in archery. Hazor may have referred to semi-nomadic tribes that built villages in the desert. The phrase “in the utmost corners” meant the men of these tribes shaved off the hair at their temples to honor their gods. These were wealthy people with many cattle, so the potential booty was attractive to Nebuchadnezzar. They were warned that he would attack them and there would be great fear, so they should flee. Hazor would be a desolation and no one would live there.
Verses 34-39 deal with Elam, a country located to the east of Babylon. Elam had Persia to its east and was north of the Persian Gulf. Its capital, Susa, was over seven hundred miles away from Jerusalem, where Jeremiah was when he gave this prophecy during Zedekiah’s reign. The Elamites were also known for excellence in archery, but that would not save them. God was indicating that He is sovereign over all nations of the world, and none would stand once judgment had been declared against them. Some Bible scholars believe that some of the scattered Elamites gathered to become a part of the Persian Empire.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The pronouncement of judgment against the nations
F. Against Damascus (49:23-27)
G. Against Kedar and Hazor (49:28-33)
1. The destruction of Kedar (49:28-29)
2. The destruction of Hazor (49:30-33)
H. Against Elam (49:34-39)
1. The destruction of Elam (49:34-38)
2. The restoration of Elam (49:39)
We can learn from history. By paying attention to how things went wrong in the past when warnings were not heeded, we can avoid having similar destructive outcomes. May we resolve to follow God and pay serious attention to His guidance and warnings!