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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 48:39-44

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, February 28, 2015

39 “How broken is she! How they wail!
         How Moab turns her back in shame!
So will Moab be ridiculed
  and a horror to all around.”

In verse 38 we heard mourning and wailing from Moab’s rooftops because the nation had become a broken and unwanted jar. This verse quotes some of those wailing people.

The destruction brought on by God’s wrath might come from different sources—an army passing through, an invader bent on plunder, a plague, a swarm of locusts, a storm, a fire, or even a devastating flood. But the result of God’s wrath is always the same. It destroys completely. When people defy God, ignore him, or turn away from him, destruction will come.

40 For the LORD says: “Behold, he will fly like an eagle,
      and he will spread his wings against Moab.

The verb da’ah means to fly or fly quickly, and some translations even tip the meaning a bit to make the eagle “swoop down” or dive. The eagle that is flying toward Moab is Babylon, and specifically Nebuchadnezzar.

41 Kerioth is taken,
      and the strongholds are seized.
On that day the hearts of Moab’s mighty men
  will be like the heart of a woman in labor.
42 Moab will be destroyed as a nation
      because he has defied the LORD.
43 Terror, pit, and snare are before you,
      you who live in Moab,” declares the LORD.
44 “Whoever flees from the terror will fall into the pit.
         Whoever gets out of the pit will be taken in the snare:
for I will bring on Moab,
  the year of their punishment,” declares the LORD.

The three terms in verse 43 resound in Hebrew: pahad, pahat, pach, “Terror, pit and snare.” The strongholds will not protect the people from the disaster approaching, and no matter where the people flee, some new danger will swallow them up. Jeremiah’s image here quotes from Isaiah 24:17, and it reminds the reader of Amos’ prophecy about the sinful northern tribes: “It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him” (Amos 5:19).

God does not revel in the punishment of sinners. He offers forgiveness and salvation to all mankind. But there are those who just don’t want anything to do with his love. They turn away, and they are lost.

I’m not the world’s best cook, and grilling is far from my specialty. It doesn’t seem to matter how careful I am, I always end up doing too many things at once, and almost every time I grill there is one hotdog or one hamburger that falls down into the coals and eventually becomes a snack for the neighbor’s dog. I don’t want that to happen, but it does. I almost think that those pieces of meat jump down there on their own. Of course, God doesn’t lose souls because he’s doing too much at once, or because he’s not so deft with a spatula. But despite every offer of rescue and salvation, some are lost.

In Deuteronomy, the Lord uses the imagery of an eagle for something other than destruction. There, the Lord himself is pictured as an eagle that “hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them” and keeps its young from falling (Deuteronomy 32:10). When we are borne up by the Lord’s love, we are secure in his forgiveness and strength, and we are carried over the coming judgment, lifted into heaven itself by the soaring love of Jesus.

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.