Our reading today begins with Jeremiah continuing his declaration of judgment against the nations. Now he takes aim at Moab (48:1 – see 25:21 – also see similarities in Isaiah 15-16). He pronounced judgment on various Moabite cities (vv. 1-5).1 He also declares that they are destined for destruction and captivity (vv. 5-7). Chemosh (v. 7) was the primary Moabite god. Note once again that God’s judgment includes the gods of the pagan nations. Captivity is pictured again verse 9. God curses those who do not carry out His will, in this case, the destruction of Moab (v. 10). This speaks to the surety of their judgment.
Verses 11-12 picture Moab as full and undisturbed vessels that will be poured out and broken in judgment. Then they will be ashamed of their worship of false gods (v. 13). Like Egypt (see 46:3-4, 8) Moab fancies herself strong and ready for battle (v. 14). But like Egypt (see 46:5-6) Moab will be destroyed (vv. 15-17). Verse 18 is a call to humble repentance. But Moab will not repent, and will be destroyed (vv. 20-25) because of her pride against God (v. 26) and His people (v. 27). This is expounded in verses 29-30. Moab’s destruction will be so complete that God mourns over her (vv. 31-32, 36 – see Isa 16:9-11).
Verse 34 mentions more cities of Moab, pointing to the completeness of the coming destruction. And again we see that this is for her worship of false gods (v. 35). Even the nations should recognize Who God is! Verse 40 is a description of Babylon, and verse 41 a description of the destruction she will bring. In verse 42, we see that Moab will cease to be a people (see v. 2). History tells us that this happened not long after Judah’s Babylonian captivity came to an end. Note again that this will happen because Moab “magnified himself against YHWH.” Verses 43-44 again speak of the completeness of the coming judgment. In verse 46, we again see that it is Moab’s idolatry that brought this upon them. But there is yet hope. In verse 47, we see that, like Egypt (see 46:26), even Moabites will be part of God’s spiritual people and ultimately saved.
Chapter 49 begins with judgment against Ammon (49:1 – see 25:21). We see that the Ammonite god Milcom has been worshiped by Israel (see 1 Kings 11:5). Therefore, Ammon (and by association, Milcom – see v. 3) will be judged by God. Judgment will, like all the other nations, including Judah, include destruction (v. 2) and exile (v. 3). And though they will go into captivity (v. 5), God will also include Ammonites in His spiritual people (v. 6).
Next is judgment against Edom (v. 7 – see 25:21). Destruction and captivity are coming their way, too, as evidenced by the metaphor of gathering grapes (vv. 9-10 – see 6:9, 8:13). In verse 11, that there will be some saved out of Edom (like all other nations) is shown in God’s calling the orphans and widows as His own. In verse 12, we see again that the spiritual people of God are not exempt from suffering in this world. How much more the wicked? So Edom will become a wasteland (v. 13). God is gathering nations (Babylon) to come against her (v. 14). God compares Edom to Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 18), pointing to complete destruction.
Next comes a pronouncement of destruction on Damascus (vv. 23-27). That these are birth pains (v. 24) implies salvation for some of Damascus. Then, we have Kedar and Hazor that were destroyed by Babylon (v. 28). Note the “terror on every side” of verse 29. There will be captivity (v. 32) and destruction (Hazor will become a wasteland – v. 33). Then Elam becomes the object of judgment (v. 34). Their military might will be destroyed (v. 35) and they, too, will go into captivity (v. 36). Yet even Elam will have those of the spiritual people of God (v. 39).
1 Note that “Madman” is not the English word, it is a city of Moab.