Gaza: Prophecy and Prophets
Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them. ...and all the mixed tribes among them; all the kings of the land of Uz and all the kings of the land of the Philistines (Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod)" — Jeremiah 25:15-16, 20
The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh struck down Gaza... Baldness has come upon Gaza; Ashkelon has perished. O remnant of their valley, how long will you gash yourselves? — Jeremiah 47:1, 5
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom. So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour her strongholds. — Amos 1:6-7
For Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation; Ashdod's people shall be driven out at noon, and Ekron shall be uprooted. — Zephaniah 2:4
Ashkelon shall see it, and be afraid; Gaza too, and shall writhe in anguish; Ekron also, because its hopes are confounded. The king shall perish from Gaza; Ashkelon shall be uninhabited. — Zechariah 9:5
What we have here are four prophets declaring specific prophetic words against Gaza. When reading texts like this, it is important to distinguish between historically fulfilled prophecies, those with typological lessons that point to spiritual truths, and those that are eschatological and relate to end-time events. Sometimes, readers will conflate or confuse these three. Yet sometimes prophecies can do all three, reinforcing God's divine and timeless Word.
In the case of these four prophets and their five prophecies about Gaza, we know that they were all historically fulfilled when God used enemy nations to invade these cities. They also serve as typological warnings of God's wrath against sin. These prophecies demonstrate God's justice and His commitment to punish sin, whether on a national or individual level, offering a serious call to repentance for all people. The fact that these places are still in turmoil today should cause us to consider the weight and ongoing relevance of God's Word.
So here are four real-time typological warnings from these texts:
First, God is always looking for godly men to echo his call. The divine judgments spoken about by these prophets are far more than predictions. They are warnings echoed by godly men who spoke on behalf of God. These men were distinct prophets, and yet they should inspire us to echo their call. We need godly men who are unafraid to speak of God's impending wrath, rebuke injustice, and preach against rebellion to God. The teaching is simple — "Sin has consequences, and God's wrath is being revealed."
Second, patterns of repetitive sin do not go unnoticed by God. The judgment of Gaza resulted from "three transgressions, and for four." There was a clear pattern of sin. This warning is a cause to pause and examine our own lives. Recurring sins should not be ignored or shrugged off. Habitual sin never escapes God's notice and has a corresponding punishment. So don't wait. Address habitual sin.
Third, there is an implied call for repentance. Repent and turn from their evil ways. Repent is the message for our time as well.
Fourth, these texts remind us that God's Word is timelessly relevant. Places of conflict in the Bible, like Gaza, continue to endure the same conflict today. So, in a new way, God's call to Gaza and the enemies of God is still relevant, while its application is a little different. Yet the same typological call and application still applies. Repent or suffer God's wrath.
Therefore, with all that happening in Gaza and Israel, the message is clear. Sin is serious. God's justice is severe. Prophets have warned us. Jesus has come. Repent by turning to Jesus. Let his Cross bear your wrath. And serve the Lord. Implore others to repent. The end is near.
In what ways do the prophecies against Gaza challenge you to examine patterns of sin in your own life? Are there habitual sins you've ignored that need to be addressed?
How can we, as modern-day believers, act as 'echoes' of the godly men who warned about God's justice? What practical steps can we take to courageously speak truth into our communities?
DO THIS: Repent.
PRAY THIS: Lord, open my eyes to the weight of Your justice and the seriousness of sin, both in history and in my own life. Empower me to echo the call for repentance, finding my own refuge in the grace offered through Jesus Christ. Amen.
PLAY THIS: Faithful To The End.
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