Day 38

Prophecies Against Elam

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan


Jeremiah 49:1-39, Zephaniah 2:8-11, 1 Timothy 6:17-19

BY Melanie Rainer

What’s the opposite of a banner year? Whatever it is, that’s what our family has experienced in the last year. Grief, frustration, brokenness, envy, death, and sickness stretched us out like a rubber band, taking us further than we thought we physically had the capacity to go.

At some point, every response started to seem rote, even the biblical ones. I stopped talking to certain people, because I knew they would offer a platitude that did nothing to assuage the torrent of grief and sadness. I longed for a true reprieve, a glimpse of the promise that I know in my bones is true: that one day there will be no more sadness and no more death (Revelation 21:4).

The brutal prophecies against the nations in the final few chapters of Jeremiah feel like that: unrelenting, devastating, impossible to withstand. Chapter 49 unwinds the devastations that were to come: the land of Ammon would be like a desolate mound; the chief city Bozrah would be destroyed, “an example for cursing” (v.13). Edom would become insignificant among all nations and uninhabitable (vv.15); fires would consume Damascus (v.27); Elam would lose the source of their power and be finished off, their kings destroyed (vv.35, 37–38). But then we read this:

“Yet, in the last days, I will restore the fortunes of Elam.
This is the LORD’s declaration” (v.39).

There are short verses tucked in each chapter that promise restoration—the Egyptians (Jeremiah 46:26), the Moabites (48:47), the Ammonites (49:6), and the Elamites. And earlier in Jeremiah, God made a promise to His people, the people of Judah who had betrayed Him: “‘I will restore your fortunes, and gather you from all the nations and places where I banished you’—this is the LORD’s declaration. ‘I will restore you to the place from which I deported you’” (Jeremiah 29:14).

This is because our just God is also our merciful God. Even in the midst of judgment, executed in His perfect justice and righteousness, He promises to restore His people. He promises to restore their enemies. God is so big and so good.

Jeremiah is a study of God’s character. The reality of His grace and His justice is too much for our brains to comprehend. How, after all the things the Elamites and Ammonites and Egyptians and Moabites did to the people of God, could He promise to restore them? How, after all the ways His people betrayed Him, could God show them mercy? I do not understand it. But I know I need that same mercy.

Charles Spurgeon, a British theologian and pastor, said: “God’s mercy is so great that you may sooner drain the sea of its water, or deprive the sun of its light, or make space too narrow, than diminish the great mercy of God.” It is this great mercy of our good and just God that we see woven throughout this chapter of desolation. Thanks be to Him.

Post Comments (40)

40 thoughts on "Prophecies Against Elam"

  1. Hayley Walker says:

    Love the constant glimmers of hope and restoration and God’s heart in these passages

  2. Ella Mihov says:

    The Lord forgives me every day. His great mercy to me is endless. And in his example, I can learn to be patient and forgive others, showing great mercy everyday.

  3. K D says:

    Thank God for His mercy.

  4. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Lord help me to understand

  5. Parasa says:

    Thank you my Lord

  6. Anna Hersh says:

    Something stuck out to me as I was reading. I’ve been feeling so angry and sad and grieved about everything happening right now. For friends who are facing terrible situations, for people affected and on the front lines facing COVID19. Seeing stories and reading prayer requests on here of those affected breaks my heart. Something that broke me today was knowing there are some who I still love who don’t see this virus the same way I do or choose to live in the same precautions I have. It makes me sad and angry that I can’t control or make them see differently (silly me trying to be in control). It comforted me to read verses 7-8 where God is concerned about these people’s lack of wisdom. It gave me comfort for some reason knowing that God sees what I see, he is bigger than I am, and He is ultimately in control.

  7. Sherri Koh says:

    This study of Jeremiah cannot be more apt during this season as we face the one single situation binding all of us together. Where I am (here in Singapore, I’m time zones away from where most of your readers are) but we’re fighting the same covid war. But we also all stand on the one same promise that our God is always sovereign. This study on Jeremiah is a humble reminder to us (Christians and non Christians alike) to humble ourselves before Him and repent and He will restore our richness.
    Shalom everyone and may the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guide your hearts, your minds and your souls.

    1. Natasha R says:

      Shalom from Hong Kong, Sherri. Happy to “see” a sister from the same side of the world! And yes, this pandemic binds us all together. ❤️

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