Day 21: Bad Brothers

Lamentations 4:17-22 :

Our eyes still fail,
looking in vain for our help.
In our watching we have watched for a nation that could not save.

They hunt our steps,
so that we can’t go in our streets.
Our end is near.
Our days are fulfilled,
for our end has come.

Our pursuers were swifter than the eagles of the sky.
They chased us on the mountains.
They set an ambush for us in the wilderness.

The breath of our nostrils,
the anointed of Yahweh,
was taken in their pits;
of whom we said,
under his shadow we will live among the nations.

Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Edom,
who dwells in the land of Uz.
The cup will pass through to you also.
You will be drunken,
and will make yourself naked.

The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, daughter of Zion.
He will no more carry you away into captivity.
He will visit your iniquity, daughter of Edom.
He will uncover your sins.

As I considered this passage, I found it helpful to recall the history of Israel’s dealings with Edom. When we do that, it’s important to remember the founder of the nation. It was Jacob’s brother Esau that was it’s father. The land of Edom comes from the a twin brother of Israel. You would think that if you wanted help from a nation, it would only be natural to get that help from a group of very close relatives, but that’s not how it went.

When Moses was guiding the redeemed slaves of Israel through the desert, they actually asked the Edomites if they could simply pass through it without staying. Edom not only didn’t invite them to stay a while, they denied them the ability to pass through and even threatened them with harm if they tried.

Things obviously didn’t change over the years after Israel became a strong nation. Now, when they were brought low, Edom continued to keep their distance from Israel. I sense a bit of sarcasm from God here, if I’m reading it right. He says: “Rejoice and be glad, daughter of Edom… You will be drunken, and will make yourself naked.” What I read here is that not only was it their brother Israel’s time of judgment, but it was about to be Edom’s also.

We have some very comforting words at the end of this lamentation. God says: “The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished, daughter of Zion. He will no more carry you away into captivity.” What a wonderful thing it is for any of us to hear that our time of judgment is over and that we will have peace with God. That’s why Christmastime so special. It’s when God announced His peace with mankind. What an amazing day that was when God Himself sent angels to tell the world that He was now ready to remove their iniquity.

Day 192: Pride of the Heart

Jeremiah 49:15-22

“For, behold, I have made you small among the nations,
and despised among men.
As for your terror,
the pride of your heart has deceived you,
O you who dwell in the clefts of the rock,
who hold the height of the hill,
though you should make your nest as high as the eagle,
I will bring you down from there,” says Yahweh.
“Edom will become an astonishment.
Everyone who passes by it will be astonished,
and will hiss at all its plagues.
As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and its neighbor cities,” says Yahweh,
“no man will dwell there,
neither will any son of man live therein.

“Behold, he will come up like a lion from the pride of the Jordan against the strong habitation;
for I will suddenly make them run away from it,
and whoever is chosen,
I will appoint him over it.
For who is like me?
Who will appoint me a time?
Who is the shepherd who will stand before me?”
Therefore hear the counsel of Yahweh, that he has taken against Edom,
and his purposes that he has purposed against the inhabitants of Teman:
Surely they will drag them away,
the little ones of the flock.
Surely he will make their habitation desolate over them.
The earth trembles at the noise of their fall;
there is a cry, the noise which is heard in the Red Sea.
Behold, he will come up and fly as the eagle,
and spread out his wings against Bozrah.
The heart of the mighty men of Edom at that day will be as the heart of a woman in her pangs.

When I do a web search for Edom, the words: “was” and “ancient” are present. It’s obvious that what God said about them here, happened. It’s also evident that this civilization was great. They carved themselves right into the rock in a city called “Petra.” If you get a chance to check it out, you will probably be amazed. God said here that He knew that they “dwell in the clefts of the rock” and “hold the height of the hill.” I have to admit that their situation was impressive. I’m pretty sure that just coming up to the city of Petra to do battle would have been intimidating. It could be that we are now a part of Jeremiah’s prophesy as we observe the remains of Petra. It says here that “everyone who passes by it will be astonished.” Just how did such a strong people die off?

It may be possible for us to build strong defenses against men, but it is impossible for us to defend ourselves against God. It’s clear what happened to Edom. God says right here that the “pride of your heart has deceived you.” We may work harder than everyone and think that our defenses are beyond penetration, but none of that matters to the God who made rock out of nothing. God says: “For who is like me? Who will appoint me a time? Who is the shepherd who will stand before me?” Not only did God take Edom down, He made sure that “no man will dwell there.”

Esau was a man of war. We saw that way back when he met his brother Jacob on the road with a band of fighting men. The nation became strong with many kings over the years, but when God decided that enough was enough, He finished them off. This is yet another warning to mankind. The pride of man’s heart can deceive him. No matter how great our endeavors, God is always greater and if we dare to fight against Him, God will win and we may never stand again.