When Bad Things Happen To Bad People-Jeremiah 46-52

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Big Idea: What a way to end one's story. What can we learn from such an unspeakable tragedy?

By God's grace, this concludes our sermon series of 15 sermons on the 52 chapters of the book of Jeremiah--A Fire in My Bones (Jer 20:9). The last two weeks was about little known people in the Bible who were indispensable: Ebed-Melek and Baruch. From these "unknown" people who seem inconsequential, Ebed-Melek demonstrates that we can trust God and be saved, while Baruch--Jeremiah's assistant--was magnificent. Without them there would be no Jeremiah!

This is a very difficult sermon to prepare for, since it just goes downhill from judgment to more judgment. The various titles I came up with were: "Many Reasons for Judgment, Only One Reason for Salvation." Next, was "Why Judgment, How Salvation." Then it was "A Sad Tragic End." Finally, from speaking with a friend, I settled on this just before the worship service began: "When Bad Things Happen to Bad People."

 

This final sermon on Jeremiah tells the sad tragic story of the fall of Jerusalem, which ended David's line of kings as well as the end of the temple, where God meets with his people. It may be hard to relate to such a large scale tragedy. But on an individual level, there are two accounts in the Bible that scares the daylights out of me: (1) the last days of Saul (1 Sam 28:15-20), and the horrific demise of Haman who attempted to exterminate the entire Jewish race including Esther and her cousin and guardian Mordecai (Esther chapter 7).

Outline:

  • Ch. 46 (Judgment and Salvation): God in his sovereignty will bring judgment on prideful nations, but he will provide salvation for the remnant that truly believes.
  • Ch. 47-49 (Judgment on the Nations): God is at work throughout the world, judging and restoring.
  • Ch. 50-51 (The End of Babylon and the Future of Israel): The end of Babylon is contrasted with the everlasting restoration of God's people.
  • Ch. 52 (The End of Jerusalem, Yet Hope for the Future): Even in the context of imminent and well-deserved judgment, God offers hope.

Jeremiah, as the prophet to the nations (Jer 1:510), prophesies judgment on some of Judah's neighbors. Thus, Jeremiah 46-51 is appropriately referred to as the Judgment on the Nations. The nations are: Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Kedar and Hazor, Elam and Babylon. Starting with Egypt provides continuity with Jeremiah 43-44. Ending with Babylon is appropriate because Babylon is the most powerful nation in the region, the one that brings judgment on the other nations, including Judah, and the nation whose future most affects that of the remnant of Israel.   Oracles against other nations are a common feature in the prophetic books (Isaiah 13-23; Amos 1-2; Ezekiel 25-32). Jeremiah's oracles, in general, make the point that the coming of Babylon is God's judgment on all the nations -- but that in the end Babylon too will be judged, and Judah saved from its oppression (Jer 25:15-19).

Verses about Judgment:

The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes,on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh” (Jer 46:25).

“Since you trust in your deeds and riches, you too will be taken captive…” (Jer 48:7a).

“We have heard of Moab’s pride—how great is her arrogance!—of her insolence, her pride, her conceit and the haughtiness of her heart. 30 I know her insolence but it is futile,” declares the Lord, “and her boasts accomplish nothing” (Jer 48:29-30).

“The terror you inspire and the pride of your heart have deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks, who occupy the heights of the hill. Though you build your nest as high as the eagle’s, from there I will bring you down,” declares the Lord. (Jer 49:16)

“See, I am against you, you arrogant one,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty, “for your day has come, the time for you to be punished. 32 The arrogant one will stumble and fall and no one will help her up…” (Jer 50:31-32a).

“For because of the anger of the Lord it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that he cast [thrust, banished] them out from his presence” (Jer 52:3a, ESV).

Verses about Salvation:

"Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant; do not be dismayed, Israel. I will surely save you out of a distant place, your descendants from the land of their exile. Jacob will again have peace and security, and no one will make him afraid. 28 Do not be afraid, Jacob my servant, for I am with you," declares the Lord. "Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only in due measure; I will not let you go entirely unpunished" (Jer 46:27-28).

“In those days, at that time,” declares the Lord, “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the Lord their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten” (Jer 50:4-5).

“In those days, at that time,” declares the Lord, “search will be made for Israel’s guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare” (Jer 50:20).

“Yet their Redeemer is strong; the Lord Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon” (Jer 50:34).

Questions:

  • What did Ebed-Melek do and why did God bless/save him (Jer 39:18; Prov 3:5-6)?
  • Why is Baruch a great man of God? Why is it not easy to be a Baruch (Jer 45:3, 5)?

Judgment

  1. What did God punish Egypt for (Jer 46:25; 17:5; Isa 2:22)? What should you do (Ps 20:7; Prov 3:5)? How will God judge them (46:26a)? What will God do eventually (46:26b)?
  2. Why did God judge Moab (Jer 48:7, 13, 29-30, 36) and Ammon (49:4)? Why is this serious (1 Tim 6:10)?
  3. For what did God judge Edom (49:16, 19) and Babylon (50:31-32, 24, 29, 44)? Why is this so offensive to God (Isa 55:8-9; Jas 4:6)?
  4. How does judgment feel like (Jer 46:5; 47:3; 48:33, 38-39, 44; 50:12-13, 22-23, 26, 39-43; 51:17-18, 29; 52:6-16, 24-27)? What is the greatest tragedy of arousing God’s anger and falling under judgment (52:3b; 1 Sam 28:15-20)?

Salvation

  1. Why and how did God comfort and save Israel (Jer 46:27-28; 31:3; Ex 34:6-7) while judging Egypt (46:25)? Was it because they were better (Dt 9:4-6; 8:17-18; Isa 51:5)?
  2. What does salvation look like (Jer 50:4-5, 19-20, 34; 51:5, 10, 19)?

 

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