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CRITICAL AND EXEGETICAL NOTES.—1. Chronology of the Chapter.—Naegelsbach suggests, with ample justification, that “this prophecy certainly belongs to the time of Jehoiakim, and before the fourth year, the Chaldeans and Nebuchadnezzar not being mentioned;” and adds: “The form of the superscription favours its contemporaneousness with the first prophecy against Egypt (Jeremiah 46:1-2).” Cf. notes on chap. 25.
2. Contemporary Scriptures.—Cf. on chap. 25. Here it is appropriate to point out that this chapter is, to a remarkable degree, a compilation of extracts from other prophets, mainly from Isaiah. Gesenius “depreciates this prophecy as a tasteless piece of patchwork” [Dr. Payne Smith] from Isaiah; and adverse critics have challenged the wisdom and good taste of Jeremiah’s work in thus putting together such a fragmentary collection of older inspired utterances “against Moab.” But Naegelsbach well states the case: “Jeremiah’s object in this prophecy was evidently to reanimate, as it were, the former declarations of similar purport, and comprise them together for the sake of a powerful total effect. From Jeremiah 48:29 onwards there is a constant, more or less free, use of older utterances.” Quotations taken from Isaiah 15, 16 are numerous. Thus comp. Isaiah 15:2-7 with Jeremiah 48:37-38; Jeremiah 48:34; Jeremiah 48:5; Jeremiah 48:36; Isaiah 16:6-12, with Jeremiah 48:29-33; Jeremiah 48:36; Jeremiah 48:35; and Isaiah 24:0 with Jeremiah 48:43-44. So, also, words and phrases, in Jeremiah 48:45; Jeremiah 48:24; Jeremiah 48:41, seem to be appropriated from Amos 2:2; and in Jeremiah 48:26; Jeremiah 48:42 from Zephaniah 2:8-10; and Jeremiah 48:15; Jeremiah 48:46 from Numbers 21:28-29; Numbers 24:17. It should be noted that Isaiah prophesies the devastation of Moab by the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser; Jeremiah refers to its overthrow by the Chaldean king, Nebuchadnezzar.
3. National Affairs.—The historic record of 2 Kings 24:2, shows that Moab had at that time joined the Chaldeans in hostility to Judah.
4. Contemporaneous History.—Moab’s overthrow was effected by Nebuchadnezzar five years after his destruction of Jerusalem, at the time when he also attacked Egypt (cf. notes on chap. 43, specially Jeremiah 48:8-13) and Ammon (cf. chap. Jeremiah 49:1-6). In Josephus, Antiq., x. 9, § 7, we have the record.
5. Geographical References.—Jeremiah 48:1. “Nebo,” a mountain and town of Moab. “Keria-thaim,” a place of great antiquity, originally possessed by the Enim (Genesis 14:5), and afterwards by the Moabites; placed by Eusebius ten miles west of Medcba. “Misgab,” i.e. citadel, not a proper name at all.
Jeremiah 48:2. “Heshbon,” the chief city of Moab, situate midway between the rivers Arnon and Jabbok; it was an ancient and royal city. “Madmen,” a town of which no information exists.
Jeremiah 48:3. “Horonaim:” the same as the city Avara mentioned by Ptolemy. See Nehemiah 2:10; Isaiah 15:5. It lay in a plain.
Jeremiah 48:5. “Luhith” lay on a height; locality unknown.
Jeremiah 48:18. “Dibon,” situate on the south bank of the Arnon. The remains of the fortifications of Dibon are still visible (Burckhardt’s Travels).
Jeremiah 48:19. “Aroer.” On the north bank of the Arnon, a city of Ammon.
Jeremiah 48:20. “Arnon. This river was the north boundary between Moab and Ammon. See Numbers 21:13.
Jeremiah 48:21. “Holon.” Cf. Joshua 15:51. “Jahazah.” Cf. Numbers 21:23. “Mephaath.” Cf. Joshua 13:18; Joshua 21:37. Of these and following cities enumerated little or nothing is known.
Jeremiah 48:32. “Sea of Jazar.” Jazar lies in an upland valley, about fifteen miles north of Heshbon. “Sea” is very doubtful here; probably a transcriber’s error.
6. Personal Allusion.—Jeremiah 48:7. “Chemosh,” the national god of Moab (Numbers 21:29). His being led into captivity represents the total ruin of the nation he protected. The literal name here is “Chemish,” and this is doubtless correct, as in the word “Carchemish,” i.e. the fortress of Chemish.
7. Natural History.—Jeremiah 48:28. “The dove that maketh her nest in the sides of the hole’s mouth;” lit. “that resteth in the passages of the sides of the abyss.” Tristram says, “The wild pigeon invariably selects … deep ravines for its nesting and roosting places.” Henderson quotes the following classics:—
Φύγεν ὥστε πέλεια
Ἣ ῥά θʼ ὑπʼ ἵρηκος κοίλην εἰσέπτατο πέτρην.—Iliad, xxi. 493.
“Qualis spelunca subito commota columba
Cui domus, et dulces latebroso in pumice nidi.”—Æneid, 48:213.
8. Literary Criticisms.—Jeremiah 48:2. “In Heshbon they have devised:” a play upon words. הָשְׁבוּ—הֶשְׁבּוֹן, “Heshbon” means a place of devising or counsel. “Thou shalt be cut down (margin, brought to silence), O Madmen:” another play on words; “Madmen” means silence.
Jeremiah 48:7. “Thy works,” i.e. fortifications. Moab was renowned for them.
Jeremiah 48:45. “Because of the force,” rather without force. A better translation is: “The fugitives stand powerless under the shadow of Heshbon.” “The crown of the head of the tumultuous ones.” “Crown of the head” is here poetical for the loftiest elevation of Moab; and the Moabites, in reference to the roar and fury with which they give battle, are called “sons of tumult.”
SUBJECT OF CHAPTER 48
Jeremiah 48:1. Theme: SIN THE PRECURSOR OF DOOM. “Because the destruction of the Moabites is of no service to us except for penitence, we must note well what particular sins are specified, of which they were guilty, and for which such heavy punishments were heaped upon them, viz.:—
I. Disdain, in that they gave no one a good word, were unfriendly, and only blustered and boasted with every one (Psalms 52:3).
II. Confidence in their fortifications, power, money, and riches (2 Chronicles 32:8; Isaiah 40:6).
III. Security, as if all were prosperous and peaceful, which was the sin of their sister Sodom (Ezekiel 16:49; Zephaniah 2:9).
IV. Talking great things, and indulging self-praise. But although Goliath was so mighty a fellow, he had yet to bite the grass (1 Samuel 17:50).
V. Pride and arrogance. These never do well, but act with violence and injustice. By violence, injustice, and avarice, however, a kingdom passes from one people to another.”—Cramer.
Theme: SINNERS ALIKE IN ALL AGES. “How many are still like the Moabites; for how many are there who—
I. Depend on their power and violence, their fortified cities and buildings, their riches, money, and property, and set all their hope and confidence thereon! How many are there who, when they have been some time at peace,
II. Become secure, and anticipate no further evil, thinking there is no more trouble from the rising to the setting of the sun! How many are there who—
III. Rely on their own strength, and say, Let the enemy come, we are a match for him! How many there are who, when they surpass others in bodily strength, or in mental gifts, or in perishable goods,
IV. Become proud and abusive; ridicule, despise, and treat badly their inferiors, as if they had “found such among thieves,” as God the Lord here says (Jeremiah 48:27)! And, although all good and perfect gifts come from the Father of lights, yet many will not acknowledge this, but
V. Ascribe their advantages to their own wisdom and skill, do not thank God for them, and thus make themselves the idol they serve.”—Bibl. Summarien, Halle, 1848. From Lange.
Jeremiah 48:2. Theme: PRAISE TO MAN SILENCED. “There shall be no more praise of Moab.”
I. Human praise is of short duration. Be it offered to nations or men, it is like the trumpet strain, which swells in loudness and then dies into silence; like the fragrance of a flower, which, however sweet, soon passes away.
II. Praise to men can scarcely be given with justice. Why should praise be given to a nation for its greatness—of wealth, intelligence, territory—when that greatness is the result of the development of natural resources, or of administrative power, given to it of God? And why should praise be ascribed to a man of genius or benevolence, when his genius is a Divine endowment, and his benevolence a Divine implantation?
III. Praise is due only to God. Shall we praise the Alps that they reach unto the clouds, or the eagle that she bears her young upon her wings and covers them with her feathers? No! The mighty Alps are what they are by the creative power of God, and the noble eagle is what she is by the instinct God has given to her.
Mighty nations are but Alps of God’s creation, and great men are but eagles of God’s endowing; for “of Him and through Him are all things, to whom be glory for ever and ever.”
IV. Heaven-taught men never fail to trace the favours their fellow-men confer up to their Divine Source. Does Joseph obtain favour of Pharaoh? It is acknowledged that “the Lord gave him favour” (Genesis 39:21; Genesis 41:52). Is Daniel a favourite in the court of Babylon? “God had brought Daniel into favour and tender love,” &c. (Daniel 1:9). Is the Church at Corinth earnestly cared for by Titus? Paul thanks God for putting that “care into the heart” of Titus.
Every river has its source, the Avon or Thames, the Niger or Nile, and so has every blessing; and that source is God!
V. Praise to man shall be silenced that God may receive His due. Often, instead of all blessings being traced to God, they are in part traced to men; and sometimes so largely to man as if he were the greater benefactor of the two.
But silence eventually shall come upon all human praise.
VI. God’s praise is the Christian’s sweetest employ, and it shall be an endless employ. “There shall be no more praise of Moab;” but neither in time or eternity will God’s praise cease.
“Praise shall employ my noblest powers
While immortality endures!
Thy days of praise shall ne’er be past
While life or breath or being last.”
Death may silence the tongue, but it cannot the soul; and in heaven it will perpetuate God’s praises.
“When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave,
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy power to save.”
As He loved us from everlasting, so shall our praise be to everlasting. His everlasting love will call forth our everlasting song.—Arranged from Pledge’s “Walks with Jeremiah.”
Jeremiah 48:4. Theme: A CRY FROM LITTLE ONES. “Moab is destroyed; her little ones have caused a cry to be heard.” Calamity comes upon all, young and old. However innocent, however “little,” none escape.
I. Children suffer. “Cry,” as if in distress! Yes, even “little ones” share in pain, grief, and calamity. (1.) Sad to think of suffering children; in hospitals, at home. (2.) Sad, also, to think of sorrowing children: little hearts broken with grief; orphans, ill-used children, hungry children. (3.) Most sad to think of sinning children. They suffer most,—in their consciences now; and, if they die in their sins, they suffer in doom! For—
II. Children perish. “Cry” as they fall under the destroyer’s hands. For “Moab is destroyed,” and in the destruction the children are included.
1. Cruel people will even injure and destroy “little ones.” Think of Herod’s soldiers slaying the infants of Bethlehem. There are evil men and women who would destroy the innocence, the purity, the affection, the truthfulness, the happiness of children. They do it with bad books, by teaching them to lie and deceive, by tempting them to break God’s day and His laws. And children are perishing around us! (See Matthew 18:6.)
2. Satan delights in destroying the “little ones.” A “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”
III. Children pray. “Cry” as if in prayer. Doubtless these “little ones” in Moab would cry out to the destroyers, entreating them not to hurt or kill them.
1. Children can pray. “Cause a cry to be heard.”
2. Children may pray in a wrong direction: to their cruel destroyers, instead of to God, their mighty Deliverer.
3. Children should pray; for peril is near, and Jesus waits to save those who seek Him. “Call upon Me in the day of trouble, and I will hear thee.”
Jeremiah 48:9. Theme: HASTENING TO ESCAPE. “Give wings unto Moab, that it may flee and get away.”
I. Wherefore should a soul “make haste” in seeking salvation? Because—
1. The “spoiler” is alert (Jeremiah 48:8).
2. None will be exempted (Jeremiah 48:8).
3. No hiding-place will be secure (Jeremiah 48:6).
4. Moments wasted give opportunity to the foe.
5. Lost opportunities never return.
II. From what should a soul so earnestly speed its flight?
1. From delights and possessions which it had hitherto cherished: “Thy works and thy treasures” (Jeremiah 48:7). “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.”
2. From every object of trust. “Thou hast trusted in,” &c. (Jeremiah 48:7). They are insufficient; and to cling to them will work delusion and destruction.
3. From all false religious hopes. “Chemosh and his priests” (Jeremiah 48:7), all shall fail Moab; as all religious hopes, but Christ, shall fail the soul.
III. How can a soul hasten its escape from pursuing perils? “Give wings to Moab, that it may flee and get away.” Comp. Psalms 55:6.
1. Its own unaided powers will not suffice to save the soul.
2. The “wings” a soul needs are prayer, purpose, faith. For by these it speeds its way to Christ.
3. Such supernatural endowments must be “given;” the soul cannot assume them at will, nor create them for the emergency. God will give such “wings.” He gives the Holy Spirit; and the Spirit stirs the soul to prayer, to purpose, and to faith.
Blessed is that soul who “gets away” from snares and pursuing foes, safely hid in Christ! “Flee” to the cross; “flee” to the throne of grace; “flee” to your Bibles; “flee” to the open heart of Jesus.
Jeremiah 48:10. Theme: DOING GOD’S WORK REMISSLY. This utter devastation of Moab was “the work of the Lord;” and the instruments He would use must do it thoroughly. Comp. Saul’s sin as to Amalek (1 Samuel 15:3; 1 Samuel 15:9), and Ahab’s as to Syria (1 Kings 20:42).
Notes.—“The prophet pronounces ‘a curse’ upon ministers of the Divine justice if, being sent to destroy Moab, they are remiss in executing the sentence.”—Dr. Payne Smith.
“The work of destroying Moab is here mainly meant. But the text taketh in all lawful employments: these are God’s works, and must be done vigorously, with all our might, in obedience to God, and for His greatest glory. Not soldiers only, that have a good cause, and in a good calling must likewise take a good courage, and do execution lustily; but magistrates also, who are keepers of both tables of the law, must do right to all without partiality. Ministers must look to the ministry which they have received from the Lord that they fulfil it. Every man, in his particular place and station, must be ‘not slothful in business, but fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.’ In God’s immediate service especially men must stir up themselves to take hold of Him, minding the work, and not doing it in a customary, formal way. A very heathen [Aristides] could say, ‘Ignavia in rebus divinis est nefaris’—Dulness in Divine things is abominable. And Numa, king of the Romans, made a law, that none should be careless or cursory in the service of God, and appointed an officer to cry oft to the people at such a time, ‘Hoc agite’—Mind what you do, and do it to your utmost. He that is ambitious of God’s curse, let him do otherwise.”—Trapp.
Theme: DECEITFULNESS IN GOD’S SERVICE. Jeremy Taylor suggests—
(i.) He that serves God with the body, without the soul, serves God deceitfully.
(ii.) He that serves God with the soul, without the body, when both can be conjoined, doth the work of God deceitfully.
(iii.) They are deceitful in the Lord’s work that reserve one faculty for sin, or one sin for themselves, or one action to please their appetite and many for religion.
(iv.) And they who think God sufficiently served with abstaining from evil, and converse not in the acquisition and pursuit of holy charity and religion.—Quoted in Lange.
Jeremiah 48:10. War Theme: THE CURSE OF COWARDICE. The God of peace would have us “follow peace with all men;” and the Prince of peace has pronounced, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” But when the lusts of men are perpetually embroiling the world with wars and fightings; when avarice and ambition would rob us of our prosperity; when they would enslave the free-born mind by their usurpation and arbitrary power; when they would tear from our eager grasp Heaven’s highest blessing, our religion—what then is the will of God? Must peace be maintained with perfidious and cruel invaders, at the expense of property, life, and religion? No; in such a time the Providence of God calls, “To arms!” The sword is then consecrated, and the art of war becomes part of our religion.
The Moabites, against whom this prophecy was denounced, were a troublesome and restless nation in the neighbourhood of the Jews, who, though often subdued by them, struggled to recover their power, and renewed their hostilities; by this and other sins their guilt rendered them ripe for execution. The Babylonians were commissioned to this work of vengeance, and they were bound to execute the commission faithfully, under penalty of a curse.
The text is a declaration of the righteous “curse” of God against a dastardly refusal to engage in war when it is our duty, or a deceitful, negligent discharge of that duty after we have engaged in it. This denunciation is levelled, like the artillery of heaven, against the coward, and against the self-seeking, as distinguished from the patriotic soldier.
I. Present a brief view of the circumstances which call us to war.
Barbarities and depredations of Indian savages and French papists. Homes demolished, and families fleeing in consternation; the dead lie mangled with brutal wounds; others have been dragged away captives, made the slaves of imperious savages. Our frontiers have been drenched with the blood of our fellow-subjects. Our country bleeds at a thousand veins, and without our timely remedy the wound will prove mortal.
Is it not, therefore, our duty in the sight of God, a work to which He loudly calls us, to take up arms for the defence of our country? Certainly: and “Cursed is he who [without justifiable reasons] keepeth his sword from blood.”
The man that can desert the cause of his country in such an emergency, whose blessings he has shared in times of peace, and whose sympathy and aid he shares in the day of distress, that cowardly, ungrateful man deserves the curse of both God and his country.
What greater evidence of ingratitude can be given than a supine neglect of the blessings the land enjoys, and a stupidly tame resignation of them into rapacious hands? Love of country and of religion calls us to action.
II. Show what is that deceitful performance of the Lord’s work, or unreasonable keeping back the sword from blood, which exposes to His curse. If soldiers should unman themselves with debauchery instead of risking life for defence of country; if they shun instead of seeking out the enemy; if they consult what is safest and easiest for themselves and not for their country; when they prolong the war that they may the longer live and riot at the nation’s expense; when they do not conscientiously exert all their power to repel the enemy and protect the state; then they “do the work of the Lord deceitfully,” and His curse lights on them as their heavy doom. Let sobriety, public spirit, courage, fidelity, and good discipline be maintained among you.
But, besides soldiers, you are sinners, and candidates for eternity. We may never meet more. You are concerned to save your own souls as well as your country. Surely immorality and debauchery cannot better inspire soldiers with fortitude against the fear of death than prayer and a life of holiness. Such courage must be a brutal stupidity or ferocity, not the rational courage of a man or a Christian.
If free from these vices, negative goodness is not enough to prepare you for death. You must experience Divine grace; become humble penitents and true believers in Jesus Christ; must “live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world.” This is religion, which will inspire and befriend in conflict, and sustain you in death.
God grant you a safe return from the struggle, crowned with the laurels of victory.
But if the defence of our country, in which we can stay but a few years at most, be so important a duty, then how much more are we obliged to “seek a better country, even a heavenly,” and to carry on vigorous war against our spiritual enemies who would rob us of our heavenly inheritance! Therefore, in the Name of “the Captain of our salvation,” I invite you to enlist in the spiritual warfare. “Take to you the whole armour of God; quit you like men; be strong.” And for encouragement, remember, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things,” and enter a kingdom which cannot be shaken or assailed.—Preached to the Militia by President Davies, A.D. 1758.
Jeremiah 48:10-11. Theme: CARNAL SECURITY. “Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles.”
For a considerable season Moab had been free from the inroads of war and the terrors of pestilence; had, therefore, become so conceitedly secure, that the Lord said, “We have heard the pride of Moab,” &c. (Jeremiah 48:29). The people became vain, hectoring, and boastful, and mocked at their afflicted neighbours the Israelites, manifesting ungenerous joy in their sorrows (Jeremiah 48:27). From this pride sprang luxury and all those other vices which find a convenient lair in the repose of unbroken prosperity. The warriors of Moab said, “We are mighty and strong men for the war;” as vainglorious sinners, they defied all law and power; trusting in Chemosh, they despised Jehovah, and magnified themselves against the Lord. The prophet compares that country to wine which has been allowed to stand unstirred and unmoved: it settles on its lees, grows strong, retains its aroma, and gathers daily fresh body and spirit. “But,” saith he, “the day shall come when God shall shake this undisturbed liquor, when He shall send wandering bands of Chaldeans that shall waste the country, so that the bottles shall be broken and the vessels shall be emptied, and the proud prosperity of Moab shall end in utter desolation.” The unusual repose of Moab had been the envy of the people of Israel, but they might well cease to envy when they understood how suddenly it should be overthrown.
That continued prosperity breeds carnal security is proved by the instance of Moab. In the first place, this is the common mischief of ungodly men; in the second place, this is the frequent danger of the most godly.
I. Carnal security is the common mischief of the unconverted, the godless, the prayerless, the Christless. Many have become like Moab. At ease from your youth, not “emptied from vessel to vessel,” but settled upon your lees, and therefore careless and heedless.
1. This is so common among the ungodly, that the whole world was in this condition immediately before the great Deluge which destroyed the ancient race. We read that “they married and were given in marriage.” They did eat and did drink, and were drunken even until the day when Noah entered into the ark, and the floods came and swept them all away. The preacher of righteousness for one hundred and twenty years warned them that their sins were become intolerable to Heaven, and that vengeance would surely be taken upon their devices, but they laughed the prophet to scorn. The world is so little changed to-day, that if the Lord Jesus Christ should now come, as come He will, “in such an hour as ye think not,” He would find the mass of men still in the same condition. “As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of Man.” This is the abiding state of the world which lieth in the wicked one: settled on its lees, it is not emptied from vessel to vessel, and therefore it dreams itself into presumptuous peace.
2. But from the world at large to come to particulars.
(1.) The bold offenders who are at ease in open sin. They began life with iniquity, and have made terrible progress in it. These men are not disturbed in their sins; their conscience has been seared as with a hot iron: things which others would tremble at are to them a jest; they make a mock at sin; they play with burning coals of lust and carry fire in their bosom, and boast that they are not burned. These are they of whom David said, “They are not in trouble as other men,” &c. (Psalms 73:5). Read yonder handwriting on the wall, O despiser; and this is the interpretation thereof: “Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting; thy joy shall soon be taken from thee, and thy life also, and what shalt thou do in the day when the Lord requireth thy soul?”
(2.) Men who give themselves wholly up to the world’s business. Such men, for instance, as one whom Christ called “Fool.” You know the story: his fields brought forth plenteously, &c. He was a raiser of grain and a hoarder of gold, and nothing more. This is the end and object of the most of mankind. Gain is the world’s summum bonum, the chief of all mortal good, the main chance, the prime object, the barometer of success in life, the one thing needful, the heart’s delight. And yet, O worldlings, Jesus Christ calls you fools. “Thou fool,” said He; and why? Because the man’s soul would be required of him; and then whose would those things be which he had gathered together?
(3.) The man who forgets God and lives in slothful ease. He is like the man who deposited the napkin and the talent in the earth, and was perfectly at his ease—a fair picture, indeed, of many who ought to be serving God; but they think they have little ability, and therefore do not strive even to do what they can. They are not openly sinful; they are quiet, easy-going, good-tempered souls, but the talent, where is it? Buried! Alas! it will have a resurrection, and when it rises, all rusty from that rotting napkin, what a witness will it bear, and how will the Master say, “Thou wicked and slothful servant!” The charge of sloth was quite enough. His doom was swift and terrible. It is not enough to abstain from outward sin, and so to be negatively moral; unless you bring forth fruits unto righteousness, you have not the life of God in you; and however much you may be at ease, there shall come a rough awakening to your slumbers, and the shrill sound of the archangel’s trumpet shall be to you no other than the blast of the trumpet of condemnation, because ye took your ease when ye should have served your God.
(4.) There are many in the professing Christian Church who are in the same state as Moab. At the table of communion they sit with God’s people. Their profession is a very comely one, and their outward conduct exceedingly honourable, yet they lack the inward spiritual grace. They have the virgin’s lamp, but they have no oil in the vessel with their lamps; and yet so comfortable are these professors, that they slumber and sleep. Let not presumption hold you in its deadly embrace. Remember, you may think yourself a believer, and everybody else may think so too, and you may fail to find out your error until it is too late to rectify it. Be ye not, O ye professors, like Moab, that had settled upon his lees!
(5.) The mass of moral men who are destitute of faith in Jesus. They hear of the convictions and troubles of an awakened conscience, and they inwardly sneer at such fanaticism, and boast that they never stooped to such feelings. But those pangs, and throes, and tossings of a wounded conscience are signs of the dawn of spiritual life; it is by such things as these that we are led to put our trust in Jesus; and those who have never felt them may well lament before the Lord, and pray that they may experience them—that they may be brought soundly and safely out of their self-righteousness, and led to rest upon the finished work of the dear Redeemer. Better to suffer a present disturbance which will end in life, than enjoy the ease which is itself a protracted death. God give you to be saved through Jesus Christ!
II. Carnal security is the frequent danger of the most godly. A Christian may fall into a state of carnal security, in which he grows self-confident, insensible, careless, inactive, and worldly. The great disease of England is consumption, but I suppose it would be difficult to describe the causes and workings of consumption and decline. The same kind of disease is common among Christians. It is not that many Christians fall into outward sin, and so on, but throughout our Churches we have scores who are in a spiritual consumption—their powers are all feeble and decaying. They have an unusually bright eye—can see other people’s faults exceedingly well—and sometimes they have a flush on their cheeks which looks very like burning zeal and eminent spiritual life, but it is occasional and superficial. Vital energy is at a low ebb: they do not work for God like genuinely healthy workmen; the heart does not beat with a throb moving the entire man; they go slumbering on, in the right road it is true, out loitering in it.
1. The rapid results of this consumption are just these: A man in such a state soon gives up communion with God. His walk with God is broken and occasional. His prayers very soon suffer. By degrees his conversation ceases to be earnest for Christ. And now, strange to say, “The minister does not preach as he used to do;” at least the backslider says so. The reason is, that now there is little savour about the Word to him. Hymns which used to be delightful for their melody now pall upon his ears; while the prayers in which he used to join with so much fervency are very flat to him now. Very much of this sluggishness is brought on by long-continued respite from trouble.
“More the treacherous calm I dread
Than tempests rolling overhead.”
2. The great secret danger coming out of all this is, that when a man reaches the state of carnal security he is ready for any evil. If the history of great offenders could be traced, it would be very much like this: they began well, but they slackened by degrees, till at last they were ripe for foul sin. Who would think that David, the man after God’s own heart, should come to be the murderer of his friend Uriah, to rob him of his wife? O David! art thou so near to heaven and yet so near to hell? There is a David in every one of our hearts, and if we begin to backslide from God, we do not know to what extent we may slip.
3. God’s cure for this malady. His usual way is by pouring our settled wine from vessel to vessel. If we cannot bear prosperity, the Lord will not continue it to us. Have you never dreamed that you were trying to walk and could not? You felt as though you could not move a foot—some one was about to overtake you who would do you serious mischief, and you longed to run and could not stir an inch. That is the state of mind in which we get when we would but cannot pray, when we would but cannot repent, when we want to believe and cannot, when we would give a world for one single tear, would almost pawn our souls to obtain a quiver of spiritual feeling, but were insensible still:—
“If aught is felt, ’tis only pain
To find ‘I cannot feel.’ ”
Do you ever sink into that petrified condition? Can you be its victim and yet be happy? Betake yourself to earnest prayer. It will need God within us to keep us from such a tremendous peril.
See Addenda: TROUBLES REVIVE US.
4. What ought we to do if we are prospering? If God is prospering us, the way to prevent lethargy is—be very grateful for the prosperity which you are enjoying; do not pray for trouble—you will have it quickly enough without asking for it; be grateful for your prosperity, but make use of it. Do all you possibly can for God while He prospers you in business; try to live very closely to Him. Watch the very first symptoms of declining, and fly to Christ, the Great Physician. He will give you the balm of Gilead which will prevent the mischief, and you may bear the heats of prosperity as safely as the chill blasts of adversity.
But if you have fallen into such a state, the one cure is the Holy Spirit. Go to the cross of Christ again. Christian, if you have fallen from your first estate, go as you hope you went at first; go with your deadness, and sloth, and lethargy, and put your trust in the precious blood, and ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with the Spirit once again, that you may be renewed. Try to get a due estimate of your indebtedness to God’s grace; try to see the danger of your lethargy; think more of eternity and less of time. Rend yourself away a little from your worldly engagements, if possible; put away your fancied security, and by strong crying and tears turn again to your former state of nearness to the living God.
Owing Thee so much, O Jesus! may we love Thee much in return, and be found faithful when Thou shalt come to reward Thy people and to be glorified in Thy saints. Amen.—C. H. Spurgeon, A.D. 1867.
Jeremiah 48:11. Theme: INDIFFERENCE TO ETERNAL REALITIES. “Moab hath been at ease from his youth.”
I. True of men in the prime of life or in the decay of old age. The high-born, cradled in luxury, &c. No concern as to things temporal or spiritual. “Soul, take thine ease,” &c.
Multitudes of men of business and toilers in all grades of social life have “been at ease from their youth” touching their eternal interests. Conscience seared; no heed of the momentous truths of revelation.
II. Deplorable to see men “at ease” in the condition in which sin has placed them and the Gospel finds them. That condition is one of guilt and condemnation. In this condition the Gospel comes with declaration of free remission of all their sins through faith in Jesus Christ; yet states that, rejecting Christ’s grace, the soul must die!
Guilt and condemnation are, therefore, increased when the Gospel is rejected; and yet men, despising salvation, are “at ease.”
III. Apathy so serious, so appalling, calls for explanation. For men to be easy under condemnation, surely it bespeaks Satan’s influence exerted on mind and heart (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
The explanation therefore of this ease and indifference is supernatural “blindness.” Danger seen or apprehended destroys thoughtless ease and stoical apathy. No sooner is a soul enlightened to its state and peril than the distressed cry rises, “What must I do to be saved?”
IV. Peace can be found only in Jesus. It is a peace solid, substantial, and abiding—the fruit of faith. Far different from the stolidity of Moab. Yet this divinely-given peace is not mere quietude. For the soul is aroused, active, earnest.
V. Under the very sound of the Gospel souls “sit at ease.” The call is addressed, “Awake, thou that sleepest,” &c., but they remain in death-like torpor. The warning, “Flee from the wrath to come!” is given, but they treat it as a false alarm. The invitation is presented, “Come unto Me,” but they turn aside.
God regards such with special anger: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion.” They slight not the word of man, but of God. “I have called, but ye refused,” &c. (Proverbs 1:24; Proverbs 1:26).
Careless souls, rouse from your torpor.
Why cry “Peace, peace! when there is no peace”?—Pledge’s “Walks with Jeremiah.”
Comments.—Jeremiah 48:12. “I WILL SEND UNTO HIM WANDERERS,” &c., lit., “tilters, who shall tilt him up and empty his vessels,” i.e., the Chaldeans, who would remove Moab from his settlements. “His vessels” are the cities of Moab. The “broken bottles” or pitchers alludes to smaller receptacles as well as the larger vessels, and suggests the destruction of “everything that has contained the wine of her political life, both small and great.”—Dr. Payne Smith.
Jeremiah 48:13. “ISRAEL WAS ASHAMED OF BETHEL.” Israel had trusted in the calf-deity worshipped at Bethel (1 Kings 12:27; 1 Kings 12:29; Hosea 10:15; Amos 3:14; Amos 5:5-6; Amos 7:13), but Shalmanezer’s conquest had put their trust to “shame.” Even so would Moab become “ashamed” of Chemosh, their hope in his protection being refuted.
Jeremiah 48:15. “HIS CHOSEN YOUNG MEN ARE GONE DOWN TO THE SLAUGHTER.” A text suitable for sermon on occasion of CALAMITY BEFALLING YOUNG MEN, or upon the theme SIN’S DESTRUCTIVE ACTION UPON THE YOUNG.
I. How appalling are the ravages of calamity or sin! “Gone down to the slaughter.”
II. How unsuspecting is youth of perils and destruction! “Young men are gone down,” not dreaming of the dire issue of their course.
III. How pitiless is evil to the preciousness of youth! Slaughters even “chosen young men!” i.e., “the choice ones of his young men.”
IV. How urgently should the young regard the warnings of danger! It was impossible for these “young men” to escape “slaughter” in going down to face the invincible Chaldeans. “Young men” may deem themselves strong—may scorn the perils which others see for them, and of which they warn them—but the world is full of dangers to youth!
Observe that this admonition of coming doom to the reckless young men is spoken by “the KING whose name is the LORD of hosts.”
Jeremiah 48:16. “CALAMITY IS NEAR TO COME, AND AFFLICTION HASTETH FAST.” “Near” to the prophet’s eye, although twenty-three years elapsed between the fourth year of Jehoiakim (when this prophecy was uttered) and the fifth year after Nebuchadnezzar’s conquest of Jerusalem (when this prophecy was fulfilled).
I. God’s warnings give time for preparation.
II. Justice, though slow, yet surely moves onward.
III. God’s hand lingers to deal the fatal blow so long as there is possibility of amendment.
Jeremiah 48:17. Theme: BEMOANING THE SINNER’S DOOM. “All human glory is turned to shame, whether one glorify himself, as (according to Jeremiah 48:14) Moab had done—to which the destruction of all his warlike power stands in strong contrast (Jeremiah 48:15)—or good friends and neighbours praise us; for these may early and easily find occasion (Jeremiah 48:16) to turn their song of praise into a lamentation.”—Naeg.
“Bemoan”—not that Moab deserved pity, but this mode of expression pictures more vividly the grievousness of Moab’s calamities.—Jamieson.
“Know his name”—peoples at a distance who had heard his name.
“Strong staff”—metaphorical of Moab’s power, other nations having been oppressed and terrified thereby (Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 14:4-5).
“Beautiful rod”—the splendour of the Moabite kingdom (Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 14:29; Ezekiel 19:11-12; Ezekiel 19:14).
I. Human greatness brought to ruin. Fame reversed. Dignity humiliated. Wealth lost. Influence forfeited. Virtue squandered. Noble powers prostituted. Fair promises of piety falsified. Precious character degraded. Immortal soul lost. Oh, the wrecks of human greatness! Oh, the irretrievable loss of human purity! Oh, the eternal doom of impenitent souls!
II. A sinner’s ruin helplessly bewailed.
1. Friends, near and afar, those “about him,” and those “who know his name,” intimate friends and more remote acquaintances, can do nothing but lament! Cannot help, yet can weep.
2. The ruin of a noble life is indeed cause for bemoaning. Who can tell the woe of the lost, the “weeping and gnashing of teeth”!
III. Outward glory utterly desolated.
1. Strength (“strong staff”) and beauty (“beautiful rod”) win men’s recognition and praise.
2. Outward virtues (physical and extrinsic) do not prove the possession of intrinsic worth of character and spirit.
3. External virtues are valueless to God without piety.
4. Men’s admiration and praise will not save a soul.
Jeremiah 48:19. Theme: THE FATE OF OTHERS A WARNING TO US. “Stand by the way and espy; ask him that fleeth and her that escapeth, What is done?”
The pillar of salt on the plains of Sodom was a warning to individual sinners. Buried Nineveh is a monumental admonition to godless nations. Wretched homes around us show the woe consequent upon guilty indulgences. Embittered lives testify of the miseries of iniquity, the delusion of the world’s seductions, the falsity of sin’s pleasure, that “it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against God.”
I. Admonitions are offered by the careers others pursue.
II. An observant eye will discern the consequences of wrong.
III. Miseries befalling others warn us to shun the cause.
IV. God writes lessons upon the lives men live that we may be wise.
V. Attention to human history proves the woe of ungodliness.
VI. Men need salvation from themselves—from their sins, which work their ruin; from their self-glorying, which shuts away the gracious help of God and the saving power of Christ.
Stand in the “public way” and see what sermons the careers of men preach; “ask” individual sinners of the consequences of their indulgences and their impiety; then beware! See Psalms 1:0.
Jeremiah 48:27. Theme: DERISION OF GOD’S PEOPLE AVENGED. Moab had exulted formerly over the calamity which befel the ten tribes (2 Kings 17:6) under the Assyrian Shalmanezer (Isaiah 15:6); now Moab rejoices over the fall of Judah under the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar.
I. God takes up His people’s cause as His own. See Obadiah 1:10; Obadiah 1:13. He feels what they endure.
II. Wrong charges against the godly refuted by God Himself. Jehovah demands the justification of Moab’s derision. What had Israel done to deserve it? Was he detected in nefarious conduct? had he consorted with evil conspirators? “Was Israel found among thieves?” See Zechariah 3:2.
III. Retribution comes back to evildoers in kind. “Moab also shall be in derision” (Jeremiah 48:26). He in his disaster shall be a derision to Israel. Oh, when sinners are overthrown in awful judgment at the end of the world, how will the saints of God have cause to chide and scorn them for their proud contempt of those whom God loved! See Moses’ song over the defeated host of Pharaoh, Exodus 15:0; also Israel’s exultation over Babel as “Lucifer,” Isaiah 14:4-17; also the Church’s rejoicing over Satan’s fall, Revelation 12:9-12; and the true Church of Christ over the apostate Church of Rome, Revelation 18:1-20.
Even so shall God have scorners in derision when calamity overtakes them. See Proverbs 1:26-30. “I will laugh at your calamity,” &c.
Jeremiah 48:28. Theme: A ROCK FOR SAFE HIDING. “Dwell in the rock, and be like the dove.”
Text part of prophecy concerning the overthrow and desolation of Moab. Yet she is warned to escape the impending danger, and shelter herself in the mountain fastnesses where the sword could not reach them.
I. Admire the compassion God displays.
1. He warns before He smites.
2. He provides a shelter before the storm bursts.
3. He shows solicitude for those who disregard their own safety.
II. Accept the security God provides.
1. Distrust the safety which the world offers. “Leave the cities.”
2. Dream of no security away from Christ. “Dwell in the Rock.”
3. Hide in Him amid lowering storms. “Come, my people, hide thyself as it were for a little moment,” &c., Isaiah 26:20.
4. Fear no future crisis when safe in Him. Not death, nor the glorious return of Christ, &c.
III. Avoid the sins God condemns.
1. Apathy and heedlessness. “Moab at ease from his youth” (Jeremiah 48:11). Light thoughts of sin. Careless of God’s warnings.
2. Self-sufficiency and self-righteousness. “Heard of the pride of Moab,” &c. (Jeremiah 48:29).
3. Procrastination and delay. “Calamity is near” (Jeremiah 48:16).
IV. Announce the tidings God declares.
1. To those terrified by apprehensions. Let them know there is a “Rock” for safe hiding.
2. To those beguiled by false securities. Urge them to “leave the cities” which they imagine safe.
3. To those loitering amid gathering perils. It is wise to seek Christ at once, and hide in Him.
4. To those unsteady in their religious habits. “Dwell in the Rock”—constantly, contentedly; and “be like the dove that maketh her nest”—“Rest in the Lord.”
Jeremiah 48:28. Theme: FLEEING FOR REFUGE. “Oh, ye that dwell in Moab, leave the cities and dwell in the Rock, and be like the dove that maketh her nest by the side of the hole’s mouth.”
The uniformity of the principles of Divine government in providence and grace. It was an important part of the duty of the prophets to foretell the overthrow of those kingdoms which opposed the Church of God. It was a source of consolation that the empires that persecuted the Church should themselves be finally swept from earth, that the way might be made smooth for the coming of Christ—“the glory of His people Israel.”
This prophecy was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, and the destruction of the chief cities of Moab took place, as Josephus says, five years after the overthrow of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. That conqueror not only burnt the Temple of God, but poured the tide of his desolation and conquests over the neighbour nations, and Moab among the number. But when pursuing his own gigantic and ambitious designs, he little thought that he was accomplishing prophecies of which he had never heard—just as Herod and Pilate, in the Crucifixion of Christ, only fulfilled what “God’s own hand and counsel before determined to be done.”
I. The parties addressed. Learn the compassion of God to the chief of sinners. The inhabitants of Moab, whose calamity is foretold with so much compassion and tenderness; which teaches us that God exercises a gracious solicitude not only for friends but for enemies. For Moab was not a neutral state, but a hostile one—always in enmity and arms against the Church of God. Their country closely bordered upon the Holy Land.
But though such near neighbours and closely allied in blood, the Moabites were bitter enemies to the people of God. When Israel came from Egypt, Moab met them with no provision, and refused them a passage through their country. They hired Balaam to curse; they fought bloody battles with them; they held Israel in bondage in time of the Judges eighteen years; they rebelled against Israel under Ahab; they warred against Judah under Jehoshaphat; and when the ten tribes were led into captivity by Sennacherib, they mocked their miseries and danced for joy. “For was not Israel a derision to thee? was he found among thieves? for since thou spakest of him thou skippest for joy.” Yet Israel mourns their overthrow, and God here gives instruction and warning for their guidance—that they should escape the cities and enter the Rock.
1. Learn, then, that God warns before He strikes, and follows the wicked with warning upon warning and entreaty upon entreaty. Did He not forewarn the men of the old world one hundred and twenty years before the Deluge came on? Did He not wait till the iniquity of the Amorites was full before He swept them away? Did He not raise a long succession of prophets to foretell the destruction of Jerusalem? and is not Moab here warned of the approaching desolation? Was it not for rebellious sinners that God gave His own Son to die? Did not Jesus weep over Jerusalem? Is it not true that “God willeth not the death of a sinner”? Yet it is over these warnings and hindrances you pass on to destruction.
2. The loss of a single soul is an object of mourning to the Church of God, as the conversion of one sinner gives joy in heaven. What a harvest is burnt upon the ground! What a vintage is destroyed! “O vine of Sibmah, I will weep for thee” (Jeremiah 48:32). Where are the tears fit to be wept?
II. The direction given. Heed the dangers of false security. “Leave the cities and dwell in the Rock.”
In like manner God provides the refuge we need in the Gospel. He guards us against the evils of a fancied security; and would have us forsake all false refuges and enter the true. “A man shall be a hiding-place from the wind.” “By two immutable things,” &c., “we have strong consolation who fled for refuge.”
This affords an argument for hope and security to the righteous. If He show so much care and sympathy for enemies, how much more will He guard and bless His friends? If He find food for the raven, a shelter for the wild dove, and the shadow of a great Rock for guilty Moab, will He neglect His own children in their calamities, and leave them forsaken and shelterless under the storms of life? Did He not provide succour for Naomi in Moab itself? Did not the angel supply Elijah with food at Horeb? Was not David preserved against the persecutions of Saul? Were not Hagar and Ishmael preserved for Abraham’s sake? Better to be God’s outcasts than the world’s favourites. A portion with God’s people is better than the best portion of the world. “Their rock is not as our Rock,” &c. (Deuteronomy 32:31).
The cities were of man’s building; the Rock was of God’s providing; and David wisely said, “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.”
This accords with all analogy. God furnishes relief, and finds the means of protection and shelter to all beings. No creature but is furnished with means of security and defence. He wings the angel, guides the sparrow, directs the young lion to its prey, and hears the ravens when they cry.
The weakest creatures have often the strongest shelters. The vine stays on the elm; the ivy clings to the tower; the worm hides itself in the sure and firm-set earth; the dove flies to the rock; and man seeks and finds his refuge in God. In religion the extremes of being meet. Human weakness and Divine strength; human folly and Divine wisdom; human insufficiency, Divine all-sufficiency.
III. The faith and trust to be exercised. “Be like the dove.” The doves and wild pigeons in the East delight in cool and inaccessible places. They build their nests in cliffs and caverns overhanging fearful precipices, especially in clefts of the rock where the adventurous foot of man cannot tread. This is referred to by Homer, who tells us that, when frighted by the fowler, or by birds and beasts of prey, they are seen “flying on the wings of fear to their hiding-place in the rocks.” Voltaire says that Solomon makes him better acquainted with the customs of the East than Homer himself does. “Oh, my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs; let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice: for sweet is thy voice.”
We can scarcely have a more beautiful description of the simple exercise of faith and dependence than this image supplies. Flying to the rock and resting there. The poor dove has no weapons of defence. She does not stay to fight with the vulture or contend with the fowler, but, relying on the swiftness of her wings, hastens to the rock, assured that once there she shall be safe.
Faith is the eye that discerns Christ, the hand that grasps Christ, the wing that flies to Christ.
The constancy of our trust and dependence. “Dwell in the Rock.” It is not her place of shelter merely, but of permanent abode. “He that DWELLETH in the secret place.” “That Christ may DWELL.” “Arise, go to Bethel, and DWELL there.”
IV. The infatuation to be deplored.
1. Pride and self-sufficiency. “We have heard of the pride of Moab.” Everybody had—mentioned six times in this chapter. It is the distinction of impious men to have a hard heart under softening providences, and a proud heart under humbling ones.
2. Beware of idolatry and creature confidence (Jeremiah 48:35).
3. Beware of procrastination and delay; of despairing of mercy.—Rev. S. Thodey (1856).
Jeremiah 48:29. Theme: VAUNTINGS OF PRIDE. “We have heard of the pride of Moab (he is exceeding proud),” &c.
I. Pride is the trumpeter of its own fame. “We have heard,” &c. Proud people cannot rest unnoticed; they will “sound a trumpet before themselves”—as did the Pharisees—and make men know that they really do exist, and are of great consequence in the world.
“Pride is his own glass, his
own trumpet, his own chronicle.”—Shakespeare.
“What is pride? A whizzing rocket,
That would emulate a star.”—Wordsworth.
II. Pride has its grades of inflated grandeur. “He is exceeding proud.” There are higher heights of vanity, as there are lower depths of infamy.
“Whatever sort beside
You take in lieu, shun spiritual pride!
A pride there is of rank, a pride of birth,
A pride of learning, and a pride of purse;
A London pride—in short, there be on earth
A host of prides, some better and some worse;
But of all prides, since Lucifer attaint,
The proudest swells a self-elected saint.”
III. Pride manifests itself in numerous varieties of form. “Loftiness, arrogancy, pride, haughtiness.” In manner and bearing—conceited: “loftiness.” In imperious and unreasonable exactions of attention and homage—ostentatious: “arrogancy.” In habitual estimates of self as compared with others—inflated: “pride.” In feelings of indifference to and contempt for inferiors—cruel: “haughtiness.”
There is a pride of feeling, of speech, of action; a pride of possessions, and a subtler pride of profession [to be or to have what is false]; a pride of goodness, of greatness, and even of godliness.
IV. Pride has its seat in a haughty heart. “The haughtiness of his heart.” For “out of the heart proceedeth” every deformity. If a man’s own heart could settle the question of his personal importance, each one of us would be too big for the world.
When Severus, emperor of Rome, found his end approaching, he cried out, “I have been everything, and everything is nothing!” Then ordering the urn to be brought to him in which his ashes were to be enclosed, he said, “Little urn, thou shalt contain one for whom, the world was too little.”
But the “heart is deceitful;” and “whoso trusteth to his own heart is a fool.”
“Of all the causes which conspire to blind
Man’s erring judgment and misguide the mind,
What the weak head with strongest bias rules
Is pride, the never-failing vice of fools.”
V. Pride provokes the scornful notice of God.
“I know his wrath” [or insolence], “saith the Lord.” And God hates pride and hot arrogance. Because of pride Nebuchadnezzar was thrust from men’s society, Saul was cast from his kingdom, Adam was driven from Paradise, Haman was expelled from court, and Lucifer hurled out of heaven.
VI. Pride meets at length its degradation and defeat
“But it shall not be so; his lies shall not effect it;” i.e., all his brawlings are emptiness and fallacies. God will bring to nought the plans of arrogant Moab, and lay his pride low in contempt.
“A proud heart and a lofty mountain are never fruitful.”—Gurnall.
“As the first step heavenward is humility, so the first step hellward is pride. Pride counts the Gospel foolish, but the Gospel always shows pride to be so.”—Mason.
“His heart is black with pride.
He for himself hell’s gate has opened wide,
For, weighed in God the All-Sufficient’s scale,
Not claims nor righteousness or men avail:
But these are costly in His sight indeed,—
Repentance, contrite shame, and sense of need.”
—Oriental, tr. by Trench.
Jeremiah adds to Isaiah’s words descriptive of Moab’s pride (comp. Isaiah 16:6) other terms, indicating that the chastisement inflicted on Moab for his former arrogance against Israel had not lessened his pride; he was even more “lofty and arrogant;” therefore now his sentence of doom is weighted with heavier penalties.
Jeremiah 48:32-33. “O vine of Sibmah,” &c.
“So great was the general joy inspired by the vintage, that its cessation was one of the punishments denounced against Moab.”—Topics for Teachers.
“Their shouting shall be no shouting:” for warriors shall tread down Moab in the battle-field, and change the joyous shoutings of vintners into the agonised cry of alarm.
Jeremiah 48:40. “He shall fly as an eagle,” i.e., the Babylonian conqueror. Points of analogy:—i. The rapidity with which the eagle rushes on its prey. (See Habakkuk 1:8; 2 Samuel 1:23; Lamentations 4:19.) ii. Its peculiar habit of expanding its wings (see chap. Jeremiah 49:22), suggesting the spreading out of the Chaldean forces.
Jeremiah 48:42. “Destroyed … because he hath magnified himself.”
i. SELF-EXALTATION often impresses beholders with its show of pomp, power, and permanence.
ii. SELF-EXALTATION AGAINST GOD provokes His swift indignation and ultimate overthrow.
iii. SELF-EXALTATION therefore is but ANOTHER FORM OF SELF-DESTRUCTION. They who “magnify themselves against the Lord” do thereby seal their sure doom, for they alienate God’s grace and invoke God’s justice. (See Addenda: SELF-ESTEEM.)
Jeremiah 48:45. “A fire shall come forth out of Heshbon.” Not only will Ammon (of which Heshbon was the capital) refuse aid to Moab, but her ruin would start from thence. Historically it occurred that the Ammonites were conquered before the Moabites; and Nebuchadnezzar formed the plan of his campaign against Moab in Heshbon (Jeremiah 48:2). Jeremiah here fitly appropriates and uses part of an old Mosaic triumphal poem (Numbers 21:27), made on Sihon’s conquests over Moab. For Nebuchadnezzar would issue “as a flame from the midst of Sihon,” just as formerly the Amorites had done.
Jeremiah 48:47. “Yet will I bring again the captivity of Moab.” Josephus records how the Moabites were afterwards restored to their country (Antiq., xiii. 13, §5, 14, § 2, &c.), though never to their former political importance.
Notes.—i. Moab is the SYMBOLICAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THOSE ENEMIES OF
GOD’S CHURCH who are characterised by carnal strength, lustful passion, unholy haughtiness, sensual and cruel violence.—Wordsworth.
ii. Moab’s restoration typifies and predicts GOSPEL BLESSINGS, temporal and spiritual, FOR THE GENTILES “in the latter days.”
ADDENDA TO CHAP. 48: ILLUSTRATIONS AND SUGGESTIVE EXTRACTS
Jeremiah 48:11. Troubles revive us. Staying for a while in the valley of Aosta, in Northern Italy, we found the air to be heavy, close, and humid with pestilential exhalations. We were oppressed and feverish—one’s life did not seem worth a pin. We could not breathe freely, our lungs had a sense of having a hundred atmospheres piled upon them. Presently, at midday, there came a thunder-clap, attended by big drops of rain and a stiff gale of wind, which grew into a perfect tornado, tearing down the trees; then followed what the poet calls “sonorous hail,” and then again the lightning flash, and the thunder peal on peal echoing along the Alps. But how delightful was the effect! How we all went out upon the verandah to look at the lightning and enjoy the music of the thunder! How cool the air and bracing! How delightful to walk out in the cool evening after the storm! Then you could breathe and feel a joy in life. Full often it is thus with the Christian after trouble. He has grown to be careless, lethargic, feverish, heavy, and ready to die, and just then he has been assailed by trouble, thundering threatenings have rolled from God’s mouth, flashes of lightning have darted from Providence: the property vanished, the wife died, the children were buried, trouble followed trouble, and then the man has turned to God, and though his face was wet with tears of repentance, yet he has felt his spirit to be remarkably restored. When he goes up to the house of God, it is far more sweet to hear the Word than aforetime. He could not pray before, but now he leans his head on Jesus’ bosom and pours out his soul in fellowship. Eternity now exerts its heavenly attractions, and the man is saved from himself.—Spurgeon.
Jeremiah 48:42. Self-esteem.
“Beware of too sublime a sense
Of your own worth and consequence.
The man who deems himself so great,
And his importance of such weight,
That all around, in all that’s done,
Must work and act for him alone,
Will learn in school of tribulation,
The folly of his expectation.”
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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Jeremiah 48". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany