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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 49:14-22

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, April 25, 2015

14 I have heard news from the LORD,
      and a messenger has been sent to the nations,
“Gather yourselves together
   and come against her!
   Rise up to the battle!”

Jeremiah is continuing the Lord’s judgment on Edom. As we saw earlier, verse 14-16 correspond to Obadiah 1-4, but it is not possible to say with certainty whether Obadiah borrowed from Jeremiah, whether Jeremiah borrowed from Obadiah, or whether both prophets borrowed from someone else (such as a forgotten oracle by an earlier prophet like Elisha). A fourth possibility, that both men were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write down nearly identical prophecies against Edom either at the same time or different times, should also be mentioned, although I think it is more likely that one prophet borrowed from the other.

Edom might have felt secure because of her alliance with other nations, but the Lord was calling still more nations to band against Edom.

15 “I have made you small among the nations,
      and despised among men.
16 The terror you instill has deceived you,
      the pride of your heart!
You who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
  who hold the height of the hill,
though you should make your nest as high as the eagle’s,
  I will bring you down from there,” says the LORD.

The word for “terror” (or “trembling”) at the beginning of verse 16 is perplexing. Jeremiah’s usual word for “terror” is magor (Jeremiah 20:3). Here he uses the unique word tipletset. It is unique because it only occurs here in the whole Bible (in Obadiah 3 the phrase is shorter: “The pride of your heart has deceived you”). Tipletset could be related to the Hebrew word palatz “shake” (Job 9:6) or even the Yiddish word plotz “fall down in frustration or exasperation.” But it also might be a corruption of the name of a Babylonian god. But whatever this terror might have been, it is nothing before God.

An eagle’s nest, high up on a cliff side, is inaccessible and invulnerable. Who can scale the cliff to reach it, and would it ever be worth the risk? But the Lord assures Edom: Even if you think nothing can touch you, I can touch you. I am the Lord.

17 “Edom will become a horror.
        Everyone who passes by it will be astonished,
        and will scoff because of all its wounds.
18 As Sodom and Gomorrah
      and their neighboring cities were overthrown,” says the LORD,
“no one will live there,
  not one person will dwell in it.

The overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah was so thorough that today we’re not even sure where these cities stood. Perhaps under the slime of the western shore of the Dead Sea there are some ruins, but who can say? The destruction was so complete, that perhaps no archaeological expedition would uncover anything of value. You can almost anticipate what a subsequent Nova special on PBS would say: “Could these uncertain ruins, uncovered by so-and-so’s team at such a tragic cost, be the ruins of Sodom and Gomorrah, or some of the surrounding cities mentioned in the Genesis account? Perhaps we will never know. Their complete and utter ruin makes even their date impossible to detect. This may be one secret that the archaeological record will keep to itself.”

And to this God adds: It will be the same for Edom.

19 “Like a lion coming out of the thickets of the Jordan
         into the meadows:
I will suddenly chase them away from it;
  and I will appoint whoever I choose over it.
For who is like me?
  Who will challenge me?
  What shepherd can stand before me?”
20 Therefore hear what the LORD has planned for Edom;
      and what he intends to do against the people of Teman:
Even the little ones of the flock will be dragged away.
  He will make their pasture desolate because of them.
21 The earth will tremble at the noise of their fall.
      Their cry will be heard all the way to the Red Sea.
22 Behold, he will come up and fly like an eagle,
      and spread out his wings against Bozrah.
In that day the heart of the mighty warriors of Edom will be like the heart of a woman in her labor pains.

God takes on two different shapes in this prophecy of Edom’s demise. He will be like a lion appearing suddenly from the bushes, and he will be like an eagle, folding its wings and diving to kill. The pastures and meadowlands will be deserted and will become a desert. The cities will fall. The hearts of their bravest soldiers will melt. Edom, too, will go into captivity.

This is God’s judgment on sin. This is God’s call, again and again, to repent. He wants us to turn to him and to turn away from our sins. In him there is hope, forgiveness, rescue and peace.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.