Jeremiah 48

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 26, 2005


We are now in a section of prophecies given to the Gentile nations that surround Israel.

Jeremiah 48 (NKJV)

:1-5 Moab destroyed

:1 Against Moab. Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Woe to Nebo! For it is plundered, Kirjathaim is shamed and taken; The high stronghold is shamed and dismayed;

Moab – descendants of Moab, one of the sons of Lot.  When Lot fled from Sodom with his daughters, the daughters were afraid that there were no more men left on the earth.  They got their father drunk, had sex with him, and each fathered a son.  The Moabites settled southeast from Israel, on the opposite side of the Dead Sea.

The Moabites had a long history of causing trouble to Israel and Judah.

When Israel was getting ready to conquer the Promised Land, the king of Moab hired the prophet Balaam to bring a curse on the Israelites.  When Balaam wasn’t able to curse them, they cooked up an idea to send the young Moabite gals into the Israelite camp to seduce the men and cause them to worship the Moabite gods.  They caused big trouble.
More recently, during the days of Jehoiakim, the Moabites had teamed up with the Babylonians and the Ammonites to send raiders against Judah.
(2 Ki 24:2 KJV)  And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Ammon, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servants the prophets.
And yet now word comes that it’s going to be time for judgment for the Moabites.

Nebo, Kirjathaim – see map of Moab

:2 No more praise of Moab. In Heshbon they have devised evil against her: 'Come, and let us cut her off as a nation.' You also shall be cut down, O Madmen! The sword shall pursue you;

Heshbon, Madmen – see map of Moab.  “Madmen” is the name of a city (right under the word “Moab” on the map)

:3 A voice of crying shall be from Horonaim: 'Plundering and great destruction!'

Horonaim – see map of Moab

:4 "Moab is destroyed; Her little ones have caused a cry to be heard;

:5 For in the Ascent of Luhith they ascend with continual weeping; For in the descent of Horonaim the enemies have heard a cry of destruction.

Luhith – see map of Moab

:6-10 Flee Moab

:6 "Flee, save your lives! And be like the juniper in the wilderness.

:7 For because you have trusted in your works and your treasures, You also shall be taken. And Chemosh shall go forth into captivity, His priests and his princes together.

Chemosh – the chief god of the Moabites

:8 And the plunderer shall come against every city; No one shall escape. The valley also shall perish, And the plain shall be destroyed, As the LORD has spoken.

:9 "Give wings to Moab, That she may flee and get away; For her cities shall be desolate, Without any to dwell in them.

:10 Cursed is he who does the work of the LORD deceitfully, And cursed is he who keeps back his sword from blood.

who keeps back his sword from blood – This meant for the Babylonians who are going to be used to wipe out the Moabites. God has determined judgment against the Moabites, the Babylonians are to carry it out.     

:11-13 Settled on his dregs / Time for change

:11 "Moab has been at ease from his youth; He has settled on his dregs, And has not been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remained in him, And his scent has not changed.

In the ancient days, when the grapes were crushed, the liquid often had lots of sediment mixed into it.  The wine would be poured into vessels and stored while it began to ferment.  After the first forty days, it was necessary to pour the wine from one vessel to another to separate the liquid from the dregs (or, “lees”).  If the wine didn’t go through this process, it would become too sweet, too thick, and would eventually spoil.

The Moabites had never been into exile.  When the Israelites lived in Egypt for awhile, the Moabites had been kicking back at the old homestead.  When the northern kingdom of Israel had been taken captive by Assyria, the Moabites took it easy.  When the kingdom of Judah was taken to Babylon, the Moabites were helping the Babylonians.

It was time for the Moabites to make a change.

:12 "Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I shall send him wine-workers Who will tip him over And empty his vessels And break the bottles.

The picture of bad wine was a picture of complacency.

(Zep 1:12 NKJV)  "And it shall come to pass at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And punish the men Who are settled in complacency, Who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, Nor will He do evil.'


Need for change

I like to be comfortable.  I like it when I can depend on things to happen in a usual, predictable manner.
But God doesn’t want us to be complacent and lazy.
He wants us to serve Him.
He wants us to be ready and willing to go wherever He would send us.
Years ago, a man named Red Adair learned how to extinguish the most difficult of fires, the oil well fire.  His expertise was sought whenever a crisis occurred.  When Sadam Hussein set the Kuwaiti oil fields on fire, Red Adair was called on and his team put out 117 oil well fires.
Though I don’t think that life should just be about “putting out fires”, I think the value of the picture is that when God is looking for someone to send on a “mission from God”, He has a few numbers to call.  Hopefully mine will be one of them.
And yet that’s difficult when my life gets so comfortable and I get so spiritually sleepy that when God calls, I don’t even pick up the phone.
When the Israelites were in the wilderness, they were being led by a pillar of cloud and fire.  Whenever the cloud moved, it was time to pack up the tents and move on.  If you decided to settle down and build your farmhouse, you’d miss out.  God’s presence would move on and you’d be left behind.
I don’t think it’s healthy to change things just for the sake of change.
But I think there are times when the pot needs to be stirred, when the wine needs to be poured from vessel to vessel.
Can you “let go” of things?
Jesus was teaching about what life would be like in the “latter days”, just before He would return.
(Luke 17:28-33 KJV)  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; {29} But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. {30} Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. {31} In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. {32} Remember Lot's wife. {33} Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
Jesus told us to “remember Lot’s wife”.  What should we remember?
God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  God sent two angels to evacuate the few righteous people from the city.  The angels gave Lot and his family some instructions.
(Gen 19:17 KJV)  And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
(Gen 19:25-26 KJV)  And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. {26} But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
Lot’s wife couldn’t “let go”.  She couldn’t let go of her grip on the things of Sodom.  She was “settled on her lees”.
Be ready to let go of what might be holding you back from following the Lord.
Sometimes we don’t have much of a choice when it comes to change.  Sometimes we’re just suddenly immersed in change.  Perhaps God is simply refining the wine in your life.  Perhaps He’s working to remove some of the “dregs” from your life.

:13 Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, As the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence.

Bethel – see map, Bethel was one of the two places where King Jeroboam had placed golden calves for the Northern Kingdom to worship, in place of going to Jerusalem to worship at the Temple.

:14-25 Moab will be cut off

:14 "How can you say, 'We are mighty And strong men for the war'?

:15 Moab is plundered and gone up from her cities; Her chosen young men have gone down to the slaughter," says the King, Whose name is the LORD of hosts.

:16 "The calamity of Moab is near at hand, And his affliction comes quickly.

:17 Bemoan him, all you who are around him; And all you who know his name, Say, 'How the strong staff is broken, The beautiful rod!'

:18 "O daughter inhabiting Dibon, Come down from your glory, And sit in thirst; For the plunderer of Moab has come against you, He has destroyed your strongholds.

Dibon – see map of Moab.  This is the site of the famous archaeological discovery the “Moabite Stone” which is an ancient stone engraved with a history of a Moabite king and his battles against the king of Israel.

:19 O inhabitant of Aroer, Stand by the way and watch; Ask him who flees And her who escapes; Say, 'What has happened?'

Aroer – see map of Moab, seems to almost overlap Rabbah, the capital of the Ammonites

:20 Moab is shamed, for he is broken down. Wail and cry! Tell it in Arnon, that Moab is plundered.

Arnon – see map of Moab, a river

:21 "And judgment has come on the plain country: On Holon and Jahzah and Mephaath,

:22 On Dibon and Nebo and Beth Diblathaim,

:23 On Kirjathaim and Beth Gamul and Beth Meon,

:24 On Kerioth and Bozrah, On all the cities of the land of Moab, Far or near.

Holon, Jahzah, Dibon, Nebo … etc. – see map of Moab

:25 The horn of Moab is cut off, And his arm is broken," says the LORD.

horn – a Biblical symbol for power.

Why spend time charting out the locations of these cities?

It blew me away to see the extent of Nebuchadnezzar’s war.  It wasn’t just a single town or two that he conquered.  It was quite an amazing thing.

:26-47 Moabite wipeout

:26 "Make him drunk, Because he exalted himself against the LORD. Moab shall wallow in his vomit, And he shall also be in derision.

Drunken with terror

:27 For was not Israel a derision to you? Was he found among thieves? For whenever you speak of him, You shake your head in scorn.

:28 You who dwell in Moab, Leave the cities and dwell in the rock, And be like the dove which makes her nest In the sides of the cave's mouth.

:29 "We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), Of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, And of the haughtiness of his heart."

:30 "I know his wrath," says the LORD, "But it is not right; His lies have made nothing right.

Isaiah had a prophecy that was very similar a few hundred years earlier:

(Isa 16:6-7 KJV)  We have heard of the pride of Moab; he is very proud: even of his haughtiness, and his pride, and his wrath: but his lies shall not be so. {7} Therefore shall Moab howl for Moab, every one shall howl: for the foundations of Kirhareseth shall ye mourn; surely they are stricken.

Apparently this was one of the trademarks of Moab, their “pride”.


Pride – Anger - Lying

They’re all tied together.
Its pride that makes you think that you’re the best.

A young woman went to her pastor and said, “Pastor, I have a besetting sin, and I want your help. I come to church on Sunday and can’t help thinking I’m the prettiest girl in the congregation. I know I ought not think that, but I can’t help it. I want you to help me with it.” The pastor replied, “Mary, don’t worry about it. In your case it’s not a sin. It’s just a horrible mistake.”

-- Haddon Robinson, "Good Guys, Bad Guys, and Us Guys," Preaching Today, Tape No. 80.

Its pride that fuels your anger at people when they don’t do things the way you think they ought to.

Executive consultant Richard Hagberg told this story: The head of one large company recently told me about an incident that occurred as he and his wife waited in line to get his driver’s license renewed. He was frustrated at how long it was taking and grumbled to his wife, “Don’t they know who I am?” She replied, “Yeah, you’re a plumber’s son who got lucky.”

-- Fortune (6/26/96).  Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.

Its pride that makes you lie to others to keep up the crumbling front that says you’re the best.

A mayor who was very proud of his city was asked how the recession had affected it. He answered, "We don't have a recession here, but I will admit we are having the worst boom in many years.

Could it be that your anger would go away if you would humble yourself? If we would humble ourselves, perhaps we’d find it easier to tell the truth.

:31 Therefore I will wail for Moab, And I will cry out for all Moab; I will mourn for the men of Kir Heres.

Kir Heres – see Kir Hareseth on map of Moab.

:32 O vine of Sibmah! I will weep for you with the weeping of Jazer. Your plants have gone over the sea, They reach to the sea of Jazer. The plunderer has fallen on your summer fruit and your vintage.

Sibmah, Jazer – see map of Moab

:33 Joy and gladness are taken From the plentiful field And from the land of Moab; I have caused wine to fail from the winepresses; No one will tread with joyous shouting; Not joyous shouting!

:34 "From the cry of Heshbon to Elealeh and to Jahaz They have uttered their voice, From Zoar to Horonaim, Like a three-year-old heifer; For the waters of Nimrim also shall be desolate.

Heshbon … etc. – see map of Moab

:35 "Moreover," says the LORD, "I will cause to cease in Moab The one who offers sacrifices in the high places And burns incense to his gods.

:36 Therefore My heart shall wail like flutes for Moab, And like flutes My heart shall wail For the men of Kir Heres. Therefore the riches they have acquired have perished.

flutes – used for funeral dirges

:37 "For every head shall be bald, and every beard clipped; On all the hands shall be cuts, and on the loins sackcloth;

:38 A general lamentation On all the housetops of Moab, And in its streets; For I have broken Moab like a vessel in which is no pleasure," says the LORD.

a vessel in which is no pleasure –

no pleasurechephets – delight, pleasure; that in which one takes delight

(NLT) like an old, unwanted bottle.

(NASB) like an undesirable vessel,"


Vessel of honor

There is a sense in which God simply delights in us, His people.
But there is also a sense in which we are encouraged to not be a vessel of “dishonor”, but to be a vessel of “honor”.  It’s a choice we make.
(2 Tim 2:20-22 KJV)  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. {21} If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. {22} Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
You don’t serve desert to your guests in the dog’s dish.  You serve it in something a little nicer.
When we “flee youthful lusts” and follow after the things of God, we are being a vessel of “honor”, something useful to the Master.
(2 Ti 2:20-21 The Message) 20 In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets—some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage. 21 Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.
“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax.”

-- Abraham Lincoln,

I think God wants to make “sharp” men and women, tools that are useful in His hands.  Being a vessel of “honor” is being a tool that is sharp and useful.
Gardener Needed
In First Things First, A. Roger Merrill tells of a business consultant who decided to landscape his grounds. He hired a woman with a doctorate in horticulture who was extremely knowledgeable.  Because the business consultant was very busy and traveled a lot, he kept emphasizing to her the need to create his garden in a way that would require little or no maintenance on his part. He insisted on automatic sprinklers and other labor-saving devices.
Finally she stopped and said, “There’s one thing you need to deal with before we go any further. If there’s no gardener, there’s no garden!”  There are no labor-saving devices for growing a garden of spiritual virtue. Becoming a person of spiritual fruitfulness requires time, attention, and care.

Becoming a useful vessel to the Lord doesn’t just magically happen while you sleep.  You have a garden to tend to.  You make decisions that affect the output of your life.  Yes, there are things in our lives that only God can take care of, but there are things that we clearly have a choice about.

Preparation for the ministry is nothing less than the making of the man.

-- Warren Wiersbe

Ministry isn’t just for professionals who have “Rev.” in front of their name.  Ministry is for all of us.

God wants to work in our lives to sharpen us, to cleanse us, to help us stay “useful”.

His purpose is to “make the man”.

:39 "They shall wail: 'How she is broken down! How Moab has turned her back with shame!' So Moab shall be a derision And a dismay to all those about her."

:40 For thus says the LORD: "Behold, one shall fly like an eagle, And spread his wings over Moab.

This is primarily speaking of the Babylonians invading Moab.

I wonder if there couldn’t be a future fulfillment as well.  It is not uncommon for a prophecy to have more than one fulfillment.

We mentioned the tie to Isaiah 16, a passage about Moab and it’s pride.

But Isaiah 16 is also a passage that seems to open up the door of possibility of talking about the future Tribulation period, and that the Jews would be seeking refuge from the antichrist by fleeing to Moab and Edom, or more specifically, the city of Petra.

John describes this time period through a vision he saw, a vision filled with symbols.

(Rev 12:13-16 KJV)  And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
The dragon is Satan who will be indwelling the antichrist.  The woman is the nation of Israel, which had given birth to the Messiah, Jesus.
{14} And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
The Jews will flee to the wilderness, we think to the city of Petra.  They will hide there for the last 3 ½ years of the seven year Tribulation period.
{15} And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. {16} And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
Satan, through the antichrist, will try to destroy the Jews, but they will have some sort of miraculous deliverance.

:41 Kerioth is taken, And the strongholds are surprised; The mighty men's hearts in Moab on that day shall be Like the heart of a woman in birth pangs.

Kerioth – see map of Moab

:42 And Moab shall be destroyed as a people, Because he exalted himself against the LORD.

The Nabataeans were Arab merchants who moved into the area around three hundred years before Jesus, and they were still in control of the area at the time of Jesus.  The “Treasury” at the rock city of Petra was built by the Nabataeans. (see slide)

:43 Fear and the pit and the snare shall be upon you, O inhabitant of Moab," says the LORD.

:44 "He who flees from the fear shall fall into the pit, And he who gets out of the pit shall be caught in the snare. For upon Moab, upon it I will bring The year of their punishment," says the LORD.

There will be no escaping from God’s judgment.

:45 "Those who fled stood under the shadow of Heshbon Because of exhaustion. But a fire shall come out of Heshbon, A flame from the midst of Sihon, And shall devour the brow of Moab, The crown of the head of the sons of tumult.

Sihon – the king of the Amorites that Israel conquered before they crossed the Jordan and conquered the land of Canaan.  The Moabites were occupied much of the land that used to belong to Sihon.

Heshbon – this was the old original capital city of Sihon.

Jeremiah ends this section on Moab by quoting an old song that had been sung in Heshbon. When the Israelites originally conquered the land of Sihon, Moses wrote:

(Num 21:27-29 KJV)  Wherefore they that speak in proverbs say, Come into Heshbon, let the city of Sihon be built and prepared: {28} For there is a fire gone out of Heshbon, a flame from the city of Sihon: it hath consumed Ar of Moab, and the lords of the high places of Arnon. {29} Woe to thee, Moab! thou art undone, O people of Chemosh: he hath given his sons that escaped, and his daughters, into captivity unto Sihon king of the Amorites.

This old song was a taunt against the Moabites.  The Amorite king, Sihon, had earlier taken this territory from the Moabites as a “fire” coming out of his city.
And in Jeremiah’s prophecy, there would be Moabites fleeing for help to Heshbon, but a fire would again come out and consume them, this time from the Babylonians.

:46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh perish; For your sons have been taken captive, And your daughters captive.

:47 "Yet I will bring back the captives of Moab In the latter days," says the LORD. Thus far is the judgment of Moab.

There will one day be a restoration of Moab.  Perhaps this will take place after Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom on earth.

Restoration of Moab