TODAY’S READING: JEREMIAH 49
“Concerning the Ammonites. Thus says the Lord: ‘Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then has Milcom dispossessed Gad, and his people settled in its cities?’…But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 49:1, 6
God seems to bring a lot of terror, horror, death, and destruction on the various peoples in the prophecies of Jeremiah 49. Therefore, Jeremiah 49:6, which says that God will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, really caught my attention. For, it shows that God was not out to literally, physically destroy the Ammonites. If he was, then there would have been nothing left of the people to restore.
It was this statement that the Holy Spirit used to help me see Jesus in this passage. The Holy Spirit asked me
- who were the Ammonites
- why does the Lord ask if Israel has no sons and no heir
- who was Milcom
- who was Gad
- what does it mean to restore the fortunes
The name Ammon means a people or a great people.
But, where did this great people come from?
Genesis 19:34-38 says, “The next day, the firstborn said to the younger, ‘Behold, I lay last night with my father. Let us make him drink wine tonight also. Then you in and lie with him, that we may preserve offspring from our father.’ So they made their father drink wine that night also. And the younger arose and lay with him, and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab. He is the father of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites to this day.”
So, the Ammonites came from the incestuous relationship of Lot and his younger daughter.
And, for what purpose did Lot’s younger daughter sleep with her father?
“That we may preserve offspring from our father.”
The purpose of this incestuous relationship was to produce a son, an heir. But, as is seen throughout the Bible, there is nothing good that comes from inappropriate relationships that attempt to produce sons and heirs through their own strength.
The true son, the promised heir, a truly great people, can only come in fulfillment of God’s promise through his ways and plans.
HAS ISRAEL NO SONS AND NO HEIR?
So, the Ammonites came from an incestuous relationship in attempt to produce a son and an heir. Therefore, I believe this is exactly why the Lord asked the Ammonites, “Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir?”
We know that Israel does indeed have a son and an heir. The son and the heir is Jesus. Jesus is the offspring, the seed. Galatians 3:16 says, “Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, ‘And to offsprings,’ referring to many, but referring to one, ‘And to your offspring,’ who is Christ.”
So, is it possible that Israel has no son, no heir? If he does, then what happened to this son, this heir?
The name Milcom means their king or high king. Some have even believe it means the most high king.
Milcom is another name for Molech. Molech was the god of the Ammonites, their king, their high king, their most high king.
The Ammonites worshiped Molech in two primary ways. The first was through sexual rituals, which should come as no shock since the people were birthed from an incestuous relationship. The second was through child sacrifice, or passing children through the fire.
How would the Ammonites sacrifice their children?
They would create a metal statue of Molech with outstretched arms. They would then heat up the metal statue and place their children, typically their firstborn, into the arms of the statue to burn them alive, passing their children through the fire.
Why did the Ammonites worship Molech this way?
Because they believed Molech would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children. In other words, the belief was that passing their children through the fire they would have good fortune.
Molech is first mentioned in Leviticus 18:21, which says, “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.” Before Israel even inherited the promised land, God warned them that they should not worship Molech by passing their children through the fire.
The next mention of Molech is in Leviticus 20:1-5. As you read the passage pay particular attention to the bolded phrases.
“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Say to the people of Israel, Any one of the people of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech shall surely be put to death. The people of the land shall stone him with stones. I myself will set my face against that man and will cut him off from among his people, because he has given one of his children to Molech, to make my sanctuary unclean and to profane my holy name. And if the people of the land do at all close their eyes to that man when he gives one of his children to Molech, and do not put him to death, then I will set my face against that man and against his clan and will them off from among their people, him and all who follow him in whoring after Molech.”
According to Deuteronomy 23:3, the Israelites were not to marry an Ammonite. And according to Deuteronomy 2:19, God said, “When you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.”
But, some of the tribes of Israel did end up settling in the land of the Ammonites.
Care to guess one of the tribes?
Joshua 13:24-26 says, “Moses gave an inheritance also to the tribe of Gad, to the people of Gad, according to their clans. Their territory was Jazer, and all the cities of Gilead, and half the land of the Ammonites, to Aroer, which is east of Rabbah, and from Heshbon to Ramath-mizpeh and Betonim, and from Manahaim to the territory of Debir.”
Gad dwelled in the land of Ammon despite God’s command not to. And, notice that Jeremiah 49:1-6 includes the same cities listed in Joshua 13:24-26 as part of Gad’s inheritance.
As we will see, this is why God asks “Why then has Milcom dispossessed Gad?”
So, Israel was not to dwell in the land of Ammon. And the tribe of Gad did.
And Israel was not to marry the Ammonites. But, they did. One important person in paticular
1 Kings 14:21 says, “Now Rehoboam the son of Solomon reigned in Judah…His mother’s name was Naamah the Ammonite.” So, Solomon married an Ammonite. Interestingly, it was the son from this marriage that was the first king over the 10 tribes of Israel cut off from Judah.
God told the Israelites not to marry foreign women because they would draw Israel away to worship their gods. So, 1 Kings 11:7 says, “Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem.”
Hmm…Molech was worshiped on the mountain east of Jerusalem.
Where else was Molech worshiped?
Jeremiah 7:31 says, “And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I [God] did not command, nor did it come to my mind.”
Molech was also worshiped in the Valley of Hinnom, which is where the name Gehenna comes from. Gehenna was the trash heap outside of Jerusalem where trash was burned.
There is some disagreement as to the exact location of the Valley of the son of Hinnom, Gehenna. But, some believe it was on the eastern side of Jerusalem, which would make sense as Solomon’s high place for Molech worship was on the mountain east of Jerusalem.
Are you seeing why I highlighted the law in Leviticus about passing of one of their children through the fire? Why the question might be asked if Israel has a son, an heir?
The mountain east of Jerusalem was the mount of olives. This was where Jesus sweated drops of blood as he prayed in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified.
Could it be that in order to get to the mount of olives that Jesus would have had to pass through the valley of Hinnom, Gehenna?
Could it be that this is all a picture of Jesus being offered as the firstborn to Molech by the Israelites who intermarried with the Ammonites for their financial prosperity?
Could it be that this is why Jeremiah says that Milcom dispossessed Gad?
Who is Gad?
We saw above that Gad was one the tribes of Israel who settled in the land of Ammon.
Gad was both a son and an heir to Israel, making the initial questions in the prophecy of Jeremiah somewhat ironic.
Gad was the seventh son of Israel. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection.
The name Gad means good fortune for when Zilpah, Leah’s servant, gave birth to Gad Leah said, “Good fortune has come.”
But, the nature of this good fortune is interesting. That’s because the root word of the name Gad means to cut or invade. So, in a sense, the name Gad means good fortune that comes through a cutting or an invasion into the body.
Isn’t this what we see happen to Jesus?
John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.” In verse 37, John says, “And again another scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced.'”
Jesus was the lamb slain, pierced, from the foundation of the world. As Acts 2:23 says, “This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plant and foreknowledge of God, you crucified ad killed by the hands of lawless men.” It was by Jesus’ crucifixion, his piercing, that our good fortune comes.
It was God’s plan to that Jesus would be pierced for our good fortune. But, notice back in Jeremiah 7:31 that God said he had never commanded or conceived of a son being burned in the fire. That was not his plan for the son and heir of Israel even though the Ammonites and the Israelites who followed Molech with them dispossessed Gad, the true good fortune God planned to bring.
In fact, it never occurred to God to pass his son through the fire. Leviticus 18:21 says to do profanes the name of the Lord. And, if God would never do that to Jesus, then he would never do that to any of his other children. This rules out God burning anyone in hell for eternity. Yet, with this belief still so prevalent today, it is clear that the Ammonite spirit is still with us. But, this belief profanes the name of the Lord.
So, it is through Gad, the spiritual perfect son that was pierced, that good fortune comes. Therefore, it is interesting that the name Gad appears 72 times in the Bible.
Luke 10:1 says, “After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go.”
Why did Jesus send ahead these 72 men?
To proclaim the good fortune, the good news, the gospel that Jesus was going to bring to every town he went to.
Why was the good news to be proclaimed?
So that every town would know that Jesus is Lord. In Ezekiel, the phrase “they shall know I am Lord” occurs 72 times. See Ezekiel: 72 “They Shall Know I Am Lord”s.
Even though the Ammonite spirit passes Jesus, the son of Israel, the heir, God’s son, his firstborn, through the fire, at the end of this prophecy God says he will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites.
In Hebrew, the word translated restore literally means return or turn back. It’s the word we associate with repentance.
The word translated fortune has some interesting meanings. It means both captivity and fortunes. It means carrying off to captivity, imprisonment; turn one’s fortune. And, it means an exile, or figuratively, a former state of prosperity.
The Ammonites passed their firstborn children through the fire to Molech to ensure their financial prosperity. But, by the son that was pierced, the true son, the true heir, God will bring repentance and restore the true prosperity of the Ammonites.
We who were exiles will not longer be exiles. We will be carried off to captivity to God. Perhaps this is what Ephesians 4:8 means, which according to Young’s Literal Translation says, “Wherefore, he saith, ‘Having gone up on high he led captive captivity, and gave gifts to men.'”
The Hebrew word translated fortunes is used 31 times in the Old Testament. The number 31 is spelled lamed aleph. Lamed means authority and aleph means strength. These are the two Hebrew letters that spell El, the most simple name of God. El is the strong authority. El is the strong authority, the fortune, that we are restored to.
Further, the number 31 symbolizes the fortune we are restored to is to be offspring, children, of God. The son in the house is the heir with the authority of the birthright.
John 1:12 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
And, Jesus said in John 8:34-36, “Truly, truly, i say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Praise God that Jesus sets us free from the Ammonite spirit. While we worshiped Milcom and dispossessed Gad, our true good fortune, “Israel [read Jesus] shall dispossess those who dispossessed him.”