8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. 13 I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. 14 They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.”
(Jeremiah 25:8-14 NIV)
Chapter 25, particularly verses 1 – 14, provide a summary of this entire time of history and the majority of Jeremiah’s ministry. We looked at the first section of this overview yesterday (vv. 1-7), and will cover the remainder of the summary today (vv. 8-14).
In the first section (vv. 1-7), Jeremiah reminds the people of Judah and Jerusalem that the Lord had spoken through His prophets to turn from their wicked ways and repent before the Lord. Jeremiah had been preaching his message for 23 years to no avail. The people had been warned, had ignored God’s message, and now would incur His judgment.
Today’s section starts with the word “Therefore”, clearly indicating a causal relationship between the peoples’ refusal to repent and the action which the Lord was now describing.
The Lord had previously described the enemy from the north that would invade the land; in verse 9, the Lord now calls out Babylon, specifically King Nebuchadnezzar. Note that the Lord calls Nebuchadnezzar “my servant”. Nebuchadnezzar was not a worshipper of God; in fact, just the opposite. Remember the account of Daniel’s three friends getting thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing down to Nebuchadnezzar’s image (Daniel Chapter 3)? Yep, one in the same guy – King Nebuchadnezzar.
While we can refer to Daniel Chapter 4 and correctly say that Nebuchadnezzar repented and turned to the Lord, for this context in Jeremiah 25, Nebuchadnezzar is God’s unwitting servant. This viewpoint is fully consistent with Jeremiah’s message about God’s sovereignty throughout the whole world, using whom He desires and when He wants.
This perspective that God is sovereign over all rulers and kingdoms whether they acknowledge Him or not is also said of King Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1,5). The Lord called Cyrus “My servant”, even though God said Cyrus “did not acknowledge Me”.
In verses 9 – 10, the Lord again summarizes the devastating judgment that He will bring upon Judah. In verse 11, the Lord puts a limit to the judgment – seventy years.
In verses 12 – 14, the Lord then describes how He will judge Babylon for their part in judging God’s people and land. At the end of the seventy years, the Lord will do to Babylon what Babylon did to Jerusalem. Babylon will then become enslaved to other nations just as Judah was enslaved to Babylon. From both Scriptures and secular history, we know that the Medes and Persians put an end to Babylonian world domination.
May we remember that the Lord is sovereign over all rulers, nations, principalities, and everything. Nothing or no one exceeds His reach or His power. He uses people and nations to do His will, whether they accept or even know that God is doing so. God’s sovereignty includes every nation on earth, past, present, and future, whether they acknowledge God’s existence or not.
May we choose to be God’s willing servants, loving and worshipping Him only, and reflected in honoring Him in all that we are, think, say, and do.