49 Concerning the Ammonites:
This is what the Lord says:
“Has Israel no sons?
Has Israel no heir?
Why then has Molek taken possession of Gad?
Why do his people live in its towns?
2 But the days are coming,”
declares the Lord,
“when I will sound the battle cry
against Rabbah of the Ammonites;
it will become a mound of ruins,
and its surrounding villages will be set on fire.
Then Israel will drive out
those who drove her out,”
says the Lord.
3 “Wail, Heshbon, for Ai is destroyed!
Cry out, you inhabitants of Rabbah!
Put on sackcloth and mourn;
rush here and there inside the walls,
for Molek will go into exile,
together with his priests and officials.
4 Why do you boast of your valleys,
boast of your valleys so fruitful?
Unfaithful Daughter Ammon,
you trust in your riches and say,
‘Who will attack me?’
5 I will bring terror on you
from all those around you,”
declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.
“Every one of you will be driven away,
and no one will gather the fugitives.
6 “Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites,”
declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 49:1-6 NIV)
Geographically, Ammon occupied the land north of Moab and east of the Jordan River. Historically, the Ammonites were distant relatives of Abraham, the product of Lot’s daughters getting their father drunk then sleeping with him (Genesis 19:30-38) and “cousins” to the Moabites. Relationally, the Ammonites were long-standing enemies of the Israelites.
Compared to the passage against the Moabites, today’s text regarding the Ammonites is relatively short.
There are a few references that are the focus of today’s passage. The first is Molek (vv. 1 and 3). Molek is the detestable deity that is mentioned as far back as Deuteronomy 12:31, and also referred to in Jeremiah 32:35. Molek was the deity to whom people sacrificed their children by burning them. The name Molek means “the king”. What a detestable ruler over the Ammonite people!
The second reference is to Rabbah (vv. 2 and 3). Rabbah was the capital of Ammon in Jeremiah’s day. The ruins of this former capital city are now part of the modern-day city of Amman, Jordan.
So what is the fate of the Ammonites? To be driven out of their land. While today’s text does not explicitly call out the Ammonite’s captors, other historical documents record that the Babylonians ultimately controlled the land. Again, the Scriptures do not call out the Babylonians as the Ammonite conquerors, but we can surmise that the Babylonians likely overran the Ammonites for their part in the conspiracy and murder of Gedaliah, the Babylonian-appointed governor of Judah (Jeremiah chapters 40 – 41).
In the end, after the Ammonites are judged for their evil ways, the Lord promises to restore the fortunes of the Ammonites (v. 6).
So what is the faith lesson from today’s passage? To see God’s hand of judgment combined with His hand of mercy shows His character.
May we remember to show mercy to others as God showed His tender mercy to us at the Cross.
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