Jeremiah Chapter 47
Lessons from the text
A Recompense to Evil
The Philistines were guilty of several sins before God. Since their introduction in the Bible, the Philistines were trying to cheat God’s chosen people out of what was rightfully theirs. It began with Abraham when, despite a pact of peace, the people were going around taking his wells and claiming his territory as their own (Gen. 21:22-32). After Abraham’s death, they stopped all the wells he had dug and asked Isaac to leave (Gen. 26:12-16). As soon as Israel returned from the Exodus and began to be a nation, the Philistines came against them to conquer their lands (II Sam. 21:15).
Because of these and other sins, God decreed that they would be vomited out of their land (Lev. 18:25). Years later, God said that Babylon would come from the north to fulfill this judgment on them. All the evil that the Philistines did was now coming back as a recompense against them. While they had been victorious against God’s people at certain times, they were now faced with God’s certain judgment. This judgment was so terrifying to them that they were not even able to look back at their children but were instead frozen with fear.
No matter how mighty you may think that you are, no matter how you may succeed for a time in spoiling God's people, there is a day of judgment when God will pour out His wrath on you for your sins. Such is why it is so very important to repent and come to God before that day is upon you.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1 This prophecy comes early in Jeremiah's ministry. Egypt has not yet taken over the Middle East.
2 God uses the imagery of the flood to represent the inescapable approach of the northern nation, Babylon. Unlike Egypt which thinks it is a flood (Jer. 46:8), Babylon really is a flood. The difference is that God is behind its ruler, Nebuchadnezzar, and not the other nations (Jer. 27: 6-7). Therefore, whatever Nebuchadnezzar sets out to do, he will accomplish; no nation will be able to stand against his campaign.
3-4 Although the Philistines are mighty men of war, their courage will fail them when they see the Babylonian forces. They will be so afraid they will not be able to run but will instead be frozen stiff. The explanation given for this fear is that the invading army is God's own hand. Even though humans will be the destroyers, God is using Babylon as the instrument for His judgment against nations for their sins.
5 Ashkelon is roughly eight miles north of Gaza. The question, "how long wilt thou cut thyself?" has two meanings. First, pagan priests often cut themselves in an attempt to convince their god to act on their behalf (see I Kings 18:26-28). Second, by sinning, the people are cutting themselves off from their land (Lev. 18:26-28, Jer. 44:7-8).
6-7 It is unclear whether this is Jeremiah or the Holy Spirit through Jeremiah speaking. Either way, the speaker is pleading with God to see an end to the destruction. God responds that He cannot go back on the command that He has proclaimed against these cities. The source of this proclamation is their refusal to repent from the abominations they commit with their false gods, which is all manner of fornications and child sacrifices (Lev. 18:24-25).