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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 46:11,12

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, November 1, 2014

11 Go up to Gilead and get balm,
      virgin daughter of Egypt!
You have used many medicines in vain.
  There is no healing for you.
12 The nations have heard of your shame
      and your cry fills the earth.
Warrior stumbles against warrior,
  and the two of them fall together.

Three times in the Bible, Gilead (the region east and northeast of the Sea of Galilee) is equated with soothing, healing balm. In Jeremiah 8:22, the prophet wondered whether there was any healing for his people: “Is there no balm in Gilead?” Much earlier, Judah and his brothers watched an approaching camel train loaded with balm and other spices from Gilead and conspired to sell their brother Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:25). Here the Lord taunts wounded Egypt to stop in at Gilead during their retreat from their defeat at Carchemish and visit the doctors there, if they think that might help them a little bit.

Gilead had a reputation for being the place to go for healing. Whether it was for a balm to sooth an itch, a dentist to pull a tooth, or a surgeon to heal a wound, Gilead was the place to go. The Greek historian Herodotus, writing only a generation or two after Jeremiah, said this:

“The practice of medicine they split up into separate parts, each doctor being responsible for the treatment of only one disease. There are, in consequence, innumerable doctors, some specializing in diseases of the eyes, others of the head, others of the teeth, others of the stomach, and so on; while others, again, deal with the sort of troubles which cannot be exactly localized.” (Herodotus The Histories II,84-85)

Does verse 12 end with comedy or tragedy? Two Egyptian warriors are so tired that they bump into each other and fall down. It recalls the Lord’s promise to smash one drunken fool against another in chapter 13 (Jeremiah 13:14), but there the threat was against Judah; here the scene is of routed Egyptians staggering home.

God will bring his enemies to their knees, and in the end every knee will bow before the Lord (Isaiah 45:23). Sadly, there will be billions of people bowing before the very same Jesus whom they rejected during their time of grace. They wanted to keep Jesus at arm’s length. They wanted to label him as a “great teacher” and the greatest preacher of morality, yet they rejected his claims to be the Son of God and the Savior of mankind. If they had truly accepted his great teaching, they would have become his disciples, but they chose to give him lip service instead of knee service. In the end, every knee will serve him; all of us will worship him as God. But those of us who understand that Jesus himself is the greatest medicine, the true Balm for mankind, will bow our knees from the bliss of heaven and not from the dark terror of hell. There is no question as to whether we will worship Christ after the resurrection. Everyone will. The only question is, will you worship him as his forgiven child in heaven, or will you be condemned to worship him in hell?

Keep trusting in Jesus. He is the one who said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). By the grace of God, who have a place with him in heaven.

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.