September 27, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Nations Rise and Fall”

Jeremiah 49:23-39

“Concerning Damascus: “Hamath and Arpad are dismayed, for they have heard bad news. They are disheartened, troubled like[d] the restless sea. Damascus has become feeble, she has turned to flee and panic has gripped her anguish and pain have seized her, pain like that of a woman in labor. Why has the city of renown not been abandoned, the town in which I delight? Surely, her young men will fall in the streets; all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will set fire to the walls of Damascus; it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.” Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked: This is what the Lord says: “Arise, and attack Kedar and destroy the people of the East. Their tents and their flocks will be taken; their shelters will be carried off with all their goods and camels. People will shout to them, ‘Terror on every side!’ “Flee quickly away! Stay in deep caves, you who live in Hazor,” declares the Lord. “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has plotted against you; he has devised a plan against you. “Arise and attack a nation at ease, which lives in confidence,” declares the Lord, “a nation that has neither gates nor bars; its people live far from danger. Their camels will become plunder, and their large herds will be spoils of war. I will scatter to the winds those who are in distant places and will bring disaster on them from every side,” declares the Lord. “Hazor will become a haunt of jackals, a desolate place forever. No one will live there; no people will dwell in it.” This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah: This is what the Lord Almighty says: “See, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might. I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of heaven; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go. I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who want to kill them; I will bring disaster on them, even my fierce anger,” declares the Lord. “I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. I will set my throne in Elam and destroy her king and officials,” declares the Lord. “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,” declares the Lord.

One of my favorite hobbies is playing board games but one game that I have never finished is Risk. In Risk, each player controls an army inhabiting certain territories and aims to be the last army standing occupying every territory. Battles between players are determined by dice rolls and alliances may form or break throughout the game. What frustrates me about Risk is that it requires several hours to finish, due to the inevitable victories and defeats one endures throughout the game.

Despite my feelings about Risk, it accurately exhibits the truth that nations rise and fall throughout human history. In Jeremiah 49:23-39, we witness prophecies against the people of Damascus, Kedar, Hazor and Elam. In regards to Damascus, Jeremiah prophesies that the nearby cities of Harmath and Arpad will be dismayed at their impending destruction (Jer. 49:23-27). This is significant, as other Bible verses mention these cities as places of idol worship (Isa. 36:19, 2 Kings 18:34). Ultimately, as described in other Old Testament books such as Daniel, these cities were conquered by the Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians as part of God’s sovereign plan.  

While not much is known about Kedar and Hazor, we do know that Elam was an ancient kingdom that fought against Abraham (Gen. 14). As a nation who trusted in the bow (Isa. 22:6), God specifically promised that He “will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might” (Jer. 49:35). However, God also promised that “He will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come” (Jer. 49:39); and this promise was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, as the Elamites are mentioned among the many people present when the Holy Spirit entered the human heart for the first time (Rom. 5:5; Jn. 7:39).

Throughout history, nations have trusted in their military might for their significance and security. However, the Israelites declared that “some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7). As changes occur in our lives and the world around us, who are we ultimately putting our trust in? It would be very wise to put our trust in eternal God.

Prayer: Father, it is so easy to trust in my abilities or in my desire to work hard. Help me to remember that all human efforts apart from You will eventually fail. Help me to trust in You and Your sovereignty and work out of my dependence on You. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 42


Lunch Break Study

Read Daniel 2:36-47: (Daniel says to King Nebuchadnezzar who just had a very strange dream) “This was the dream, and now we will interpret it to the king. 37 Your Majesty, you are the king of kings. The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; 38 in your hands he has placed all mankind and the beasts of the field and the birds in the sky. Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all. You are that head of gold. 39 “After you, another kingdom will arise, inferior to yours. Next, a third kingdom, one of bronze, will rule over the whole earth. 40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron—for iron breaks and smashes everything—and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” 46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 47 The king said to Daniel, “Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How is God’s sovereignty emphasized in Daniel’s actions?
  2. How is God’s sovereignty revealed in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
  3. How is God’s sovereignty reflected in your life today?

Note

  1. Throughout his explanation of the dream, Daniel emphasizes that it is God who reveals mysteries (v.28), not him.
  2. Many scholars believe that the first four kingdoms in the dream are the empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome. However, the only kingdom that will remain in the end is the kingdom of God.
  3. Personal response

Evening Reflection

It may be second nature for us to forget God in crises big or small. Were there times today when you relied on yourself or others instead of God? Ask that God would help build in you a spirit of dependence on Him.

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