Fear thou not, O Jacob my servant, saith the LORD: for I am with thee; for I will make a full end of all the nations whither I have driven thee: but I will not make a full end of thee, but correct thee in measure; yet will I not leave thee wholly unpunished. — Jeremiah 46:28
Even though we serve a God of mercy, there are consequences for sin. One brother in our church congregation testifies that he had a price to pay after his conversion.
“Shortly after getting saved,” he relates, “I read a tract on restitution and realized that I needed to clear up some things in my past. I began visiting stores to pay for things I had stolen, and I wrote letters to companies I had defrauded. The amount of money I owed was enormous, but over a number of years, God helped me make every restitution that He laid on my heart until my conscience was clear.
“The biggest trial facing me was jail time. Here, again, God intervened. A Christian man wrote a letter to the judge who was going to sentence me. In that letter, he quoted the verse, ‘If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The judge was moved by the Word of God. He told me that he could sentence me to ten years for the crime I had committed, but that he would give me only one year. I ended up serving just five months and nineteen days.
“Every day, in the correctional institution, God was with me. He kept me, even though my old life was all around me. I could have fallen back into sin, but His power was with me. Every morning, I would get up and kneel by my bed to pray, and prayer saw me through. God worked another miracle in allowing me to keep my job. I was released every day to go to work. This enabled me to start paying back what I owed.”
This brother had to face the consequences of his former life, and he did. In spite of difficult circumstances, God preserved him. His problems did not develop in one day and they were not resolved in one day, but he testifies, “God was with me every step.”
Like this man, the Jews were facing the consequences of their sins. Jeremiah had warned them that they would endure many years of captivity as divine correction for their rebellion against God. However, in today’s focus verse, the prophet comforted them with the assurance that although God would punish them in measure, He would extend mercy and preserve a remnant. The fact that the Jews have remained a distinct people, while most of the nations around them long ago ceased to have any separate and visible existence, is proof that God kept His promise.
None of us have received what we deserve — God has extended grace to each one of us even though we may have faced some consequences for sin. How grateful we should be that we serve a God of mercy and compassion!
Chapters 46-51 are a separate section of the Book of Jeremiah that predict the judgments of the nations that surrounded Judah. Chronologically these chapters fit near chapter 25. However, placement there would interrupt the flow of the dialog directed to Judah, so they are located toward the last of the book. Chapter 46 deals with Egypt, and chapter 47 with Philistia. Jeremiah 46:1 is an introduction to the section.
The message to the Egyptians in chapter 46 has two parts that were written as poems. The first in verses 2-12 describes Babylon’s victory over Egypt at Carchemish. This battle in 605 B.C. was decisive because it changed who controlled the ancient East. Pharaoh-necho was a powerful leader, and verses 3-6 give a vivid account of Egypt’s preparation for battle and then its defeat. Verses 7-12 are a different picture of the same battle. The prophet compared Egypt’s armies, including its Ethiopian, Libyan, and Lydian soldiers, to the Nile River and its irrigation canals. At flood stage, water covered the land. Although Egypt’s forces were many, God ordained that they would be defeated by Babylon at the Euphrates River. The healing balm, or medicine, of Gilead would not bring recovery.
The second poem (verses 13-26) tells how King Nebuchadnezzar would destroy the land of Egypt. Some scholars believe this portion was written quite a time after the first one. Migdol, Noph, and Tahpanhes were cities on the border of Egypt, and the call was for them to be prepared for battle. But they would not be able to stand because the Lord would fight against them. “Pharaoh king of Egypt is but a noise” (verse 17) showed the Egyptians’ disrespect for their leader, calling him a loud mouth. In verse 20, the comparison of Egypt to a “fair heifer” may be a reference to its god Isis, which the people depicted as a beautiful cow. “Destruction” in the same verse could have meant a gadfly which stung cattle and caused them to run here and there. Egypt would be overcome and ruined, but verse 26 indicated it would one day be rebuilt.
The last two verses of chapter 46 contain the promise to the Jewish people that God would not completely destroy them, although He would punish them “in measure.”
Chapter 47 gives a graphic description of the defeat of the Philistines, along with Tyre and Sidon (Tyrus and Zidon), two Phoenician seacoast cities. The enemy would be so numerous and strong that it would come like an “overflowing flood.” The fathers would be terrified and worn out, and they would desert their children. There would be much mourning and a cry for God to stop His judgment.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The pronouncement of judgment against the nations
A. Against Egypt (46:1-28)
1. The defeat at Carchemish (46:1-12)
2. The invasion by Nebuchadnezzar (46:13-26)
a. The destruction predicted (46:13-25)
b. The restoration foretold (46:26)
3. The promise of comfort for Israel (46:27-28)
B. Against Philistia (47:1-7)
1. The destruction of Philistia (47:1-4)
2. The lament for the Philistines (47:5-7)
Sin has consequences, but how grateful we should be that God upholds us with mercy and compassion, even as we deal with those consequences.