Today you should read: Jeremiah 47
Joshua 23:3–13 offers a stiff warning to Israel at the time of the Conquest—drive out the inhabitants of the Land, do not associate with them, do not intermarry with them—they will be a snare and a trap for you and a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes (Josh. 23:13). In Judges 3:1–4, we see clearly that Israel failed to drive them out. Indeed, as Joshua predicted, the inhabitants of the Land, and especially the Philistines, were a constant thorn for Israel.
Our chapter today is Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the Philistines. Although it had been 700+ years since Joshua issued his warning, the Lord spoke through a new prophet that the Philistines would face destruction.
The language of the prophecy is harsh, and so is the reality of its fulfillment. Both Egypt and Babylon sacked Gaza and Ashkelon respectively. So, what can we learn from this text about predictive prophecy?
First, prophecy reveals God’s faithfulness. A former professor would say, “The only apologetic (proof) God ever gives for His own existence is to say He will do something, and then do it.” God is true to His Word. We have repeated examples of fulfilled prophecy—especially as it relates to Jesus. More importantly than the power to know and speak with authority about the future, we cherish God’s faithfulness to do that which He promises.
Second, prophecy reveals God’s character. There are several good prophetic utterances in the Bible, but most of the prophecies are about impending destruction. God does not declare the prophecy of destruction in a mocking “nah-nah-na-boo-boo” way. Instead, He says “judgment is coming” and on the occasions that individuals or groups repent, they are always spared. Yes, Jeremiah declares the Word of the Lord that Philistia was going to be crushed. Yet, we can see from the many examples in Scripture that if individuals repent, they will survive the trial.
Third, prophecy reveals God’s justice. God has not punished sin fully and completely. Although Christ crushed sin on the cross, the gavel has not yet fallen and sin has not received its sentencing. We live in a time that many call the “already-not yet” for that reason.
God has spoken prophecies of judgment that have been fulfilled, like Jeremiah 47. However, there are many prophecies yet unfulfilled. God is just, sin cannot go unpunished, and either Christ takes that punishment for individuals or they take it for themselves. Although God used the Philistines to bring judgment on Israel at various points, God does not wink at their wickedness. As we see in today’s passage, their day is coming.
God’s justice is still alive and active. There are many prophecies regarding the sin and evil in this world that have yet to come true. It took over 700 years for the Philistines to face the judgement they deserve. Do not mistake God’s waiting for absence, nor his grace of time to repent for apathy. God is neither absent nor apathetic; He is waiting. He is waiting for a time that is known only to Him when the Church has fulfilled its mission.
He has spoken regarding the future—not fully, but sufficiently. We know Christ is coming back. We know that judgment is coming. The only question is what will you face when it comes and how many people in your life will ask why you didn’t tell them?
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate
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