As I spent time in Jeremiah this week, the given chapters brought me back to a place of private school education. The chapters reminded me of those we used to read in Bible class. Chapters filled with war and destruction. Chapters about ancient civilizations and primal rulers. Chapters I would skim over with nothing but confusion and apathy.
“What does this have to do with me?”
This was the main thought in my head, as I would read through passages such as these. How does God destroying the mighty rule of Egypt apply to my dating life or friendships? So God brings down the hammer on Amon God of Thebes and the Pharaoh. What in the world does that have to do with my personal walk with God? I think these are questions that often fill our heads as we skim through Old Testament passages about nations we couldn’t pinpoint on a map, or rulers we may have talked about in history class that one time. And it wasn’t until a few years ago that God convicted me of this way of thinking and replaced the above question with one that would change my personal quiet times forever.
“What does this teach me about my God?”
Reading these chapters of Jeremiah with this thought in mind, all of a sudden the passage begins to come alive. Unexpectedly, verses about chariots and horses, warriors, and mercenaries have a new and profound meaning. Meaning that isn’t just rooted in my personal life, but meaning that is rooted in my Creator and the definition of who He is. Jeremiah chapters 46-47 teach us an incredible amount regarding the character and nature of God. Two lessons that are etched throughout this description of the take over and destruction of Egypt and the Philistines are as follows:
- God is God of all nations. While His chosen hold a special place in His heart and His hands, all nations fall at the feet of His power. His plans are not limited to His people. He reigns sovereign over all.
- He will never forget His people. In the midst of the chaos and destruction of these nations, God does not forget His people nor forget to remind them of their protection. The God that rules all kingdoms and orchestrates all power of the nations will never forget His chosen nor cease to protect them.
These are powerful aspects of God I think we often forget when we spend a majority of our time in the New Testament. We focus our attention on growing ourselves spiritually and simply apply given passages to our own personal lives. We often forget that God is not just our God. He is God over all. We forget that this life is not just about His plans for us, but is about His plans for all. And when we are reminded of such things, when we don’t get answers we want and realize our view of His plans are often limited to ourselves, we begin to question. Is He still there for me? Has He forgotten me? Has He left me?
This is the beauty of the Old Testament and the beauty of such passages we read this week. We are reminded and assured that God is a God who has power and gives attention to more than just us. He is a God sovereign over foreign affairs. A God who is sovereign over all nations. A God who is sovereign over all peoples.
“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. I will give them into the hands of those who want to kill them—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past,” declares the Lord. ~Jeremiah 46:25-26
“Alas, sword of the Lord, how long till you rest? Return to your sheath; cease and be still. But how can it rest when the Lord has commanded it, when he has ordered it to attack Ashkelon and the coast?” ~Jeremiah 47:6-7
But beyond that, God does not forget His chosen. In the midst of the chaos and madness that surrounds us, God continues to protect and comfort His people.
“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.” ~Jeremiah 46:28
And isn’t this a great lesson to learn? The God we serve goes so far beyond us—our own reach, our own abilities, and our own personal lives. He is a powerful God in control of all. By this we can understand that we will never fully grasp the grand scheme of His plans. If we are ever left with unanswered questions, gaps in understanding, or confusion of purpose, we can be assured it is not that God has forgotten us, but that His workings are so far beyond us.
Because at the exact same time, the God we serve is a personal God. He is within and in control of all personal circumstances, growth, trials, and successes. He is a loving God and He comes into our lives and delivers His presence one-on-one.
Jeremiah 46 and 47 are beautiful reminders that our God is one who can be trusted beyond our personal experiences and day-to-day lives. He is a God that cares about all aspects of this life and reaches beyond His chosen people. Yet, His chosen are held so near to His presence, never once leaving His sight or His comfort. Our God is a God of all nations, a God of personal comfort.