Jeremiah 49:28-33

28 Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked:

This is what the Lord says:

“Arise, and attack Kedar
    and destroy the people of the East.
29 Their tents and their flocks will be taken;
    their shelters will be carried off
    with all their goods and camels.
People will shout to them,
    ‘Terror on every side!’

30 “Flee quickly away!
    Stay in deep caves, you who live in Hazor,”
declares the Lord.
“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has plotted against you;
    he has devised a plan against you.

31 “Arise and attack a nation at ease,
    which lives in confidence,”
declares the Lord,
“a nation that has neither gates nor bars;
    its people live far from danger.
32 Their camels will become plunder,
    and their large herds will be spoils of war.
I will scatter to the winds those who are in distant places
    and will bring disaster on them from every side,”
declares the Lord.
33 “Hazor will become a haunt of jackals,
    a desolate place forever.
No one will live there;
    no people will dwell in it.”
(Jeremiah 49:28-33 NIV)

Today’s text addresses the people in the northern region of Arabia.  Since these people were nomadic and lived in tents, not cities, the Lord referred to the geographic area rather than a particular city.  Elsewhere, these people were known as desert-dwellers and sometimes as Arabs.  Here is a map showing what historians believe to be the area occupied by these people.

At first reading this section, we may ask ourselves why the Lord would bring down judgment on these people.  There is no mention of the worship of foreign gods, nor are there any great sins mentioned, other than self-reliance (v. 31).  They seem to be peaceful shepherds and nomads tending their flocks.

Other historical documents, however, reveal the rest of the story.  While these people were living off the land and tending their flocks and herds, they were also thieves, looters, and raiders.  They would band together and attack civilized areas, then quickly retreat and disappear into the desert with their stolen treasures.

These stolen treasures included valuables such as gold, silver, and precious stones, as well as idols (statues of foreign gods) and sometimes people (as slaves).  History records that Assyrian King Ashurbanipal went on punitive raids into Arabian territory twice to recover stolen treasures.  Today’s text indicates (and history later confirmed) that Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar will also go on a punitive raid to reclaim treasures stolen from his kingdom.

Verse 31 states that these nomads living in tents with no city walls to protect them will be no match for the organized and trained armies of Babylon.  Not only will the stolen riches be reclaimed by their rightful owners, but the nomads’ means of survival (sheep for meat and camels for transportation) will also be taken away.

Like other prior testimonies against some of the areas, the Lord makes no mention of rebuilding the area.   Their only means of salvation is to escape to the depths of the desert (v. 30).  If they fail to heed the Lord’s advice, they will be scattered to the winds (v. 32) or become desolate (v. 33).

So what is our faith lesson from today’s text?   One question comes to mind:  Are we takers, or are we givers?  Are we “rabbit-hole Christians”, venturing into the outside world only long enough to buy what we need, then scurry back to our “safe haven” of Christian friends, home, and church?  Or do we engage the world around us, genuinely caring for those who are hurting, or need a word of hope, or a helping hand?

May we, as followers of Christ, follow His example and love those around us in both word and deed, so that others may see Christ in us and desire a relationship with Him.