Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart, O thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, that holdest the height of the hill: though thou shouldest make thy nest as high as the eagle, I will bring thee down from thence, saith the LORD. — Jeremiah 49:16
We appreciate the fact that public prayer and national days of prayer have a long-standing history in the United States. In 1775, the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, and since then, calling upon God for help has been an integral part of the national heritage.
Perhaps one of the most notable calls to prayer was that of President Abraham Lincoln, given at a time when the United States was embroiled in the Civil War. On March 30, 1863, Lincoln proclaimed a day of National Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer. His proclamation said that pride was the cause of the terrible struggle the nation was enduring. It said in part: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.”
President Lincoln rightly acknowledged that the sovereign God of the universe is the One who blesses and upholds the nations, according to His will. Many nations throughout the ages of time have failed to recognize this important truth and have paid a tragic price for that failure. In today’s focus verse, the Prophet Jeremiah pronounced that Edom, a nation south of Judah, was destined to be brought down because of the pride of her heart. She would become “a desolation, a reproach, a waste, and a curse” (verse 13), and her cities would be a wasteland forever. What a terrible recompense for her prideful rebellion against God!
Where are the nations of the earth putting their trust today? News reports are laced with references to missile defense plans, strategic allies, and military preparations. However, there is no foolproof method for preserving national security except a humble and complete reliance upon God.
As we study the doom pronounced upon the nations surrounding Judah, we should purpose to pray for our nations and our leaders. Let us ask God to help them never become, in the words of President Lincoln, “too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” May God help us all learn a lesson from Edom!
Today’s text gives the judgments on Ammon and Edom. Verses 1-6 address Ammon, whose people descended from Lot and lived to the east of the Jordan River. Throughout their history, the Ammonites took land that belonged to the Hebrews. An example was when the Northern Kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity and the Ammonites took possession of Gad (verse 1). The Ammonites trusted in their “treasures,” including their productive fields. But their god would not be able to deliver them. “For their king shall go into captivity” referred to their god Milcom, also called Molech, to which they sacrificed children. The capital, Rabbah, would be burned, and chaos would take place among them.
Verses 7-22 deal with the people of Edom, who were descendants of Esau and lived south of Judah. Having long held animosity toward the Hebrew people, the Edomites aided the Chaldeans in the siege of Jerusalem and exulted when the city fell. God had the prophet utter strong words of judgment. Teman was a city in the northern part of the country, and its people were famous for having wisdom. (Job’s counselor, Eliphaz, was from Teman.) Dedan, a city on the border of Edom, was recognized for its commerce. Bozrah was Edom’s capital.
The prophet said the whole of the country would be defenseless, every hiding place discovered, and every person killed or taken into captivity (verses 9-10). It would be like gathering grapes without leaving even one behind. The Edomites had been proud (verse 16). They had built high in the mountains where they could easily defend themselves, but they would be destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah had been. At their downfall, the earth would shake and their cry would be heard at the Red Sea (verse 21). Like a lion or an eagle, Nebuchadnezzar would come upon the Edomites because he was chosen by God to obliterate them. No hope of restoration was given.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The pronouncement of judgment against the nations
D. Against Ammon (49:1-6)
1. The destruction of Ammon (49:1-5)
2. The restoration of Ammon (49:6)
E. Against Edom (49:7-22)
1. The destruction of Edom (49:7-13)
2. The cause of destruction (49:14-17)
3. The completeness of destruction (49:18-22)
God controls the destiny of nations, and He will bring judgment upon those nations who fail to acknowledge and honor Him.