Today: [Jeremiah 47] Exposing Your Inner Philistine: In chapter 47 of Jeremiah the prophet speaks against the people of the Philistines. The Philistines speak to us of a people given to unrestrained self-indulgence and hero worship. Many times, when we are under pressure we want to give up and just allow the flesh to have its way. We look to false saviors to save us from our frustrations. In this chapter we see that ultimately giving in to these pressures only serves to put us outside the freely available favor of God.
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[Jer 47:1-7 KJV] 1 The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet against the Philistines, before that Pharaoh smote Gaza. 2 Thus saith the LORD; Behold, waters rise up out of the north, and shall be an overflowing flood, and shall overflow the land, and all that is therein; the city, and them that dwell therein: then the men shall cry, and all the inhabitants of the land shall howl. 3 At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his strong [horses], at the rushing of his chariots, [and at] the rumbling of his wheels, the fathers shall not look back to [their] children for feebleness of hands; 4 Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, [and] to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, the remnant of the country of Caphtor. 5 Baldness is come upon Gaza; Ashkelon is cut off [with] the remnant of their valley: how long wilt thou cut thyself? 6 O thou sword of the LORD, how long [will it be] ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. 7 How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath he appointed it.
In this brief chapter, Jeremiah having prophesied against the Egyptians, not turns his attention to Philistia and specifically the city of Ashkelon. Ashkelon is a city that still stands in the Gaza strip, the part of the Holy Land once occupied by the Philistines. If Egypt is a type of the world what does Philistia represent from the perspective of the prophetic? What can we take away from this chapter and apply to ourselves or our own understanding of the world around us? Remember that the term “gentile” is a word picture of one who “turns the back” toward God.
The Egyptians were considered gentiles as were the Philistines. A word study of “philistine” shows that it’s meaning is derived from a word meaning “to roll, or to wallow”. Specifically, it mentioned “rolling in the dust” as though in mourning. What does dust represent? In Gen. 3:14 God condemned the serpent saying “dust you will eat all the days of your life…” What does this mean? In scripture, dust is representative of the flesh, or sinful nature. To roll in the dust as in mourning is descriptive of the ancient gladiator’s motto “eat, drink and be merry – for tomorrow we die…” A philistine attitude would be that frustration that rises up in us that says “what’s the point? Just give up and quit trying…” This is the spirit that drove the children of Israel when they constantly cried out to Moses to take them back to Egypt. It was the fracture that provoked Lot’s wife to look back and as a result she was turned into a pillar of salt. We can feel compassion for those having this fatalistic outlook on life but we also have to remember that rejecting God in favor of wallowing in self-pity and a victim mentality is to place yourself outside the favor of God that is freely available if we would only repent and humble ourselves to his word. Many have grieved themselves to self-destruction and then in a moment of sheer and unmitigated rebellion taken their own lives rather than submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Our hearts ache for them, but we also are called upon by God’s word to frame their act in the proper context as an unnecessary, ultimate act of rebellion against Christ.
Another aspect of the error of the Philistines is seen in verse 3. The philistines, Jeremiah predicts will come under invasion and the fathers will flee and not look back to save their own children – because of looking after their own welfare instead. Again, we see the idea of a spiritual philistine that wallows in the dust, looking out for self even at the expense of their own children. This is the scourge of our day as we look about at not only an orphaned generation, but an orphaned culture – not because fathers have died but because they have turned their back on their own children in favor of living lives of abandoned self-indulgence. The word wallow – means “to revel in an unrestrained way…” Malachi speaks of a time when God will turn the hearts of the fathers once again to the children and the children thence to the fathers. We hear this strongly in the voice of the Lord in our day – calling us up to be fathers in the spirit to those who have not known what a father is because their own father was not known or available to them.
When true fathers are absent, false fathers come on the scene. The prophecy of Jeremiah focuses on Ashkelon – a city in ancient times that we steeped in Baal worship. Baal is a false god whose name means “dominative father”. When society tries to deal with the pressures of life outside of Christ they always turn to a narcissistic, dominative leader who promises to solve all their problems. Interestingly enough, in recent years bones have been unearthed in the city of Ashkelon itself that archaeologists believe are the bones of the champion Goliath, who defying the armies of God was defeated by young David. Beyond this anecdotal possibility, in history it is believed that Ashkelon was king Herod’s city of birth. Herod was a man like king Saul, “head and shoulders” above the rest who feigned godliness, while secretly plotting to kill Jesus before he could become a threat to his throne and rule. What is Herod to us? Do you ever look for someone to come along and deliver you from some trouble you are facing? The song lyric “I need a hero…” speaks directly to the history of his name “Herod”. The word “hero” originates from his name. Rather than accept their Messiah the people of the first century saw Herod as one who built their temple and satisfied their wants but never their true needs. We do not need a hero to ride in on a white horse and solve our problems. We need a savior to meet our needs.
Verse 4 says that God Himself will spoil the Philistines. Do you have a Philistine influence in your life? Verse 6 says that the sword of the Lord, which is the word of God will not be quiet until every idol and every false trust in our lives is cut down and we realize that only in Christ is the consolation, and safety and deliverance found that we have need of.
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