TODAY’S READING: Jeremiah 49–50
In the first century BC, deities were verified by whether or not their worshipping nations were victorious in battle. The thinking went that if Babylon conquered Israel, then the god of Babylon was mightier than the god of Israel. This time-bound view of the divine was unsettling as nation defeated nation: Assyria replaced Babylon who was replaced by the Neo-Babylonians who were replaced by the Medes and Persians. Jeremiah, prophet to all nations, cut through the nonsense of rotating deities and asserted there is only one true God, His name is Jehovah, and He will eternally rule over all nations.
Jeremiah’s prophecies remind us that missionaries should not be private or proud (Jer. 50:2, 30–32). We are to proclaim to all nations that Jehovah alone is God and that all nations must worship Him. Any nation that appears victorious is merely the hammer of God, a tool of the eternal God to force all nations to worship (v. 23). There is no place for the missionary to be arrogant or secret (our role as proclaimers precludes being sneaky, duplicitous, confusing, or indirect; we are announcers, not concealers). If we are God’s hammer, voice, messenger, tool, or servant, we must remember that without His animating power we are lifeless, useless, and insignificant.
Jehovah’s rule over all nations includes both wrath and ransom. Every nation will be judged, and every nation will have representatives who are redeemed and joined to the family of God. After declaring to Ammon (present day Jordan) that Jehovah would destroy their pretender god Milcom (Molech), God promised the Jordanians that afterwards He would bring back their captives (49:3, 6). After pronouncing desolation on Edom (stretching from Jordan to Basra, Iraq), God promised to preserve their fatherless children alive and care for their widows who will trust in Him (v. 11). God promised that plunder would be won from the Arabs and that the Iranians, though scattered to every nation, would be restored in the latter days (vv. 28–32). The God of all nations beautifully promised the same mercy and the same judgment to all peoples that He guaranteed to Israel.
At the end of days, Jehovah alone will be exalted. All pretender gods will be exposed as false. All nations and all men will be judged and humbled, and all will have a remnant who repent, find mercy, and assemble around the throne. Our missionary God will achieve His purpose for human history: the blood-bought redeemed from every people group who will enjoy Him forever. This is the story of the Bible, and to this end we live and serve among the Somali Bantu. They too will be used of God. They too will be judged. They too will be represented in life eternal. All glory to the God of kings, the Lord of nations, the benevolent Ruler of all.