Project 119: Hope in the Upheaval | Jeremiah 47

 |  Project 119  |  Amy Hirsch

Jeremiah 47

“Nosy People and the Judgment of God”

Nosy people are everywhere. I can say that because, as I read Jeremiah 47, I realized I am a nosy person and had to confess that vice before the Lord! You see, as I read this passage foreshadowing the Lord’s coming judgment on Philistia, I kept thinking, “I wonder what they did wrong?” 

In Jeremiah 46–51, Jeremiah turns his attention to God’s judgment for the nations, as if to say, “Yes, Judah will definitely receive judgment for her sins. But not so fast! The rest of you aren’t off the hook either!” In today’s passage, Jeremiah foretells the coming judgment on Philistia, a nation just north and east of Judah along the sea. In Ezekiel, we also hear a bit about their wickedness: “Because the Philistines acted revengefully and took vengeance with malice of soul to destroy in never-ending enmity, therefore thus says the Lord GOD, Behold, I will stretch out my hand against the Philistines” (Ezekiel 25:15–16 ESV). This judgment would come on like a flood, like an overflowing torrent, as God would use Babylon to accomplish his purposes by judging Philistia.

The punishment described here is extreme, to the point that the speaker asks how long this judgment will last in verse 6. In Jeremiah, the Lord’s judgment has been pictured as a sword, used both against Judah and against the nations in response to their unfaithfulness. “But what kind of unfaithfulness?” the nosy person in me asks. “How did they take revenge and show vengeance? What were they doing?” While we generally know that many countries surrounding Judah worshipped false gods and treated Judah poorly, we don’t know Philistia’s particular sins in this passage. But, as I thought about this text, I realized that doesn’t really matter; my concern over their particular sin (and what kind of judgment might have been warranted) shows my own brokenness, because it is evidence of a false belief that somehow I can be a better judge than the Lord. It is also a sign that I can be far too concerned with how other people are living when I ought to be more attentive to my actions. It is far easier to pick the splinter out of our neighbor’s eye than to get the plank out of our own, isn’t it? 

God alone knew the hearts of the Philistines, and he alone had the authority to judge them. How can the Lord’s sword of judgment be quiet when it has been given a charge? God will judge them as he sees fit, in whatever way he sees fit, for as long as he sees fit—because he alone is the Righteous Judge. And just as God alone knew their hearts, he alone knows my heart, and apart from him, I would also stand condemned by the Righteous Judge because of my sins. But praise God that, for those of us who believe and trust and call upon his name, he has made a way for us through the blood of Jesus.