47 This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines before Pharaoh attacked Gaza:
2 This is what the Lord says:
“See how the waters are rising in the north;
they will become an overflowing torrent.
They will overflow the land and everything in it,
the towns and those who live in them.
The people will cry out;
all who dwell in the land will wail
3 at the sound of the hooves of galloping steeds,
at the noise of enemy chariots
and the rumble of their wheels.
Parents will not turn to help their children;
their hands will hang limp.
4 For the day has come
to destroy all the Philistines
and to remove all survivors
who could help Tyre and Sidon.
The Lord is about to destroy the Philistines,
the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor.
5 Gaza will shave her head in mourning;
Ashkelon will be silenced.
You remnant on the plain,
how long will you cut yourselves?
6 “‘Alas, sword of the Lord,
how long till you rest?
Return to your sheath;
cease and be still.’
7 But how can it rest
when the Lord has commanded it,
when he has ordered it
to attack Ashkelon and the coast?”
(Jeremiah 47:1-7 NIV)
Chapter 47 focuses on the fate of the Philistines. While the timeframe is not exactly known, most scholars guess that the timeframe is somewhere between 609 and 605 BC.
The Philistines transplanted themselves into the seacoast towns of the region. They were originally from what we know today as southwestern Turkey and the Aegean islands.
While verse 1 calls out the Egypt’s attack on the Philistines by Pharoah, other references point to the assault of the Babylonians. While the Egyptians had visions and aspirations of world domination (46:8), their hopes were dashed almost as soon as they began by their defeat by the Babylonians at the Battle of Carchemish.
Again, the Lord makes plain the judgment against the entire nation of Philistia (vv. 2-3). The attack will be so overwhelming that even parents will be powerless to help their children in the day of distress (v. 3).
In verse 6, the Philistines recognize the sword of the Lord against them and beg for relief. However, the Lord answers and says that no one can stop what He has begun. Unlike Egypt and some of the other nations, the Lord offers no mercy or grace in this passage. The Lord offers no salvation or surviving remnant in this context.
Verse 7 mentions the city of Ashkelon, the same town that the Babylonians attacked and triggered the call for fasting by King Jehoiakim of Judah (Chapter 36). This call for a nationwide fast is also the event that allowed Baruch to read Jeremiah’s words from the Lord from the Temple balcony (Chapter 36).
As we consider the question of God’s justice (verses 6 – 7) in Jeremiah’s day, how does that apply to life in our day? Does the Lord not intervene against injustice in our day as well?
May we remember that the Lord is Creator of the heavens and earth and everything in them. As such, He is sovereign over all people and nations and uses each to bring about His plan and His glory.
May we remember that as Creator of the Universe, God has set His standards of conduct toward Himself and toward other people. When those standards of conduct are violated, the Lord steps in and provides justice for the downtrodden and abused as well as against the abusers.
May we, as Christ’s followers, exemplify His character and conduct as we learn to treat one another with the same love and concern that God offers to us (1 John 4:7).