By Russ Ramsey
There was a family in my town growing up (for the purposes of anonymity, let’s call them the Elams) who had a lot of kids. The Elam kids were known to be a tough bunch. The stories people told about the Elam boys, who were a few grades ahead of me, were terrifying. They picked a lot of fights. They said lots of bad things about other kids’ mothers. They were the town bullies. For most kids, a sense of dread came over us at the mention of their name. The thought of running into them on a Friday night made our blood run cold.
There was an Elam boy in my grade. Early on, I stayed out of his way. I didn’t want any part of what I knew the Elams dished out. But over time, I discovered that the Elam in my class was actually a kind kid, someone I even came to regard as my friend. I had lumped them all together, but they weren’t all the same.
Jeremiah 49 ends with two main messages to the nation of Elam. First, God tells them that He is going to break them and scatter them. The language God uses is chilling and comprehensive. His judgment against them will be severe. But the second thing He says is this:
“Yet, in the last days, I will restore the fortunes of Elam.
This is the LORD’s declaration” (v.39).
In other words, the Elam of Jeremiah’s day, a nation at war against the Lord and His people, will not be the only Elam history remembers. Restoration will come. Just as not every Elam boy in my town deserved the reputation the older brothers earned for themselves, not every Elamite in Scripture will be remembered as God’s enemy.
Where do we see the prophecy of God restoring the fortunes of Elam fulfilled? We see it at Pentecost in Acts 2, where the nations gather and God pours out His Holy Spirit on them all. We then see it in the spread of the New Testament church, where people from every tongue, tribe, and nation are welcomed into the Body of Christ as full heirs of God’s kingdom, by grace through faith in Jesus. We see it even further in the way Paul labors in his letter to the Galatians to emphasize that there is no distinction in God’s eyes between Jew and Gentile, but all are one in Christ. The fortune the Lord restores to the descendants of Elam is nothing short of the kingdom of God itself.
The truth is, God’s Church is made up of people who descend from either Gentile nations who once opposed God, or Israel, His covenant people who were rebellious and stiff-necked in His presence. Every one of us descends from a line of people who have a reputation for fighting with God. But He has a reputation of preserving a remnant. If we are in Christ, we are part of that remnant. That any of us would be counted among His own is a sign of His great mercy and grace.
Written by Russ Ramsey