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Jeremiah 50:21-32

21 “Attack the land of Merathaim
    and those who live in Pekod.
Pursue, kill and completely destroy them,”
declares the Lord.
    “Do everything I have commanded you.
22 The noise of battle is in the land,
    the noise of great destruction!
23 How broken and shattered
    is the hammer of the whole earth!
How desolate is Babylon
    among the nations!
24 I set a trap for you, Babylon,
    and you were caught before you knew it;
you were found and captured
    because you opposed the Lord.
25 The Lord has opened his arsenal
    and brought out the weapons of his wrath,
for the Sovereign Lord Almighty has work to do
    in the land of the Babylonians.
26 Come against her from afar.
    Break open her granaries;
    pile her up like heaps of grain.
Completely destroy her
    and leave her no remnant.
27 Kill all her young bulls;
    let them go down to the slaughter!
Woe to them! For their day has come,
    the time for them to be punished.
28 Listen to the fugitives and refugees from Babylon
    declaring in Zion
how the Lord our God has taken vengeance,
    vengeance for his temple.

29 “Summon archers against Babylon,
    all those who draw the bow.
Encamp all around her;
    let no one escape.
Repay her for her deeds;
    do to her as she has done.
For she has defied the Lord,
    the Holy One of Israel.
30 Therefore, her young men will fall in the streets;
    all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,”
declares the Lord.
31 “See, I am against you, you arrogant one,”
    declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty,
“for your day has come,
    the time for you to be punished.
32 The arrogant one will stumble and fall
    and no one will help her up;
I will kindle a fire in her towns
    that will consume all who are around her.”
(Jeremiah 50:21-32 NIV)

Chapters 50 – 51 contain the dual themes of Babylon’s defeat and God’s people being released to return to the Promised Land.  Today’s text is actually part of a larger context of verses 21 – 40.  We’ll break this section into two parts; we won’t try to eat and digest everything the Lord says here in one meal.  Today’s text carries both themes of Babylon’s demise and Israel’s release.  However, it is primarily focused on the Lord’s judgment against Babylon, with only a passing mention of Israel’s release.

This section starts out with a play on words – a writer’s pun.  The names of two regions mentioned are not the actual names.  The following chart explains the pun:

Region Name Location Pun Name Pun Name Meaning
Marratim where Tigris and Euphrates Rivers meet, near where they empty into the Persian Gulf Merathaim Double rebellion
Puqudu Eastern Babylon, in the middle of nowhere Pekod Doom

Verses 21  – 25 give a series of quickly-changing themes:

  • Summoning Babylon’s attackers (v. 21)
  • Surveying the results of the attacks (vv. 22-23)
    • Notice that the “hammer” (Babylon) is broken by a bigger hammer
  • Speaking to the accused (v. 24)
    • Note that the trapper (Babylon) has become the trapped
  • Sovereign God is the leader of the army against Babylon (v. 25)

As commander of the armies (v. 25), the Lord issues His orders (vv. 26-29):

  • Break open the granaries (v. 26 – the stored food, natural resources)
  • Slaughter the bulls (v. 27 – the assembled men in the armies)
  • Listen to the feet of the captives leaving (v. 28)
    • the sound of defeat
    • God’s vengeance for His people and for the desecration of His Temple
  • Instructions for siege warfare against the great city Babylon (v. 29)
    • archers, siege ramps, surrounding the city
    • repayment in kind for what Babylon did to Jerusalem

Verse 30 is the Lord’s summary of what will happen to Babylon on that day – total victory.  Verse 30 is also the same declaration that the Lord made against Damasus (see 49:26).

In verses 31 – 32, the Lord addresses Babylon directly, then points to her as an object lesson.  One commentator notes that “The arrogant one” at the beginning of verse 32 should be personified, giving her the name “Insolence”.  I think the name is fitting, as insolence conveys the idea of pride, contempt, lack of respect, and arrogance – certainly all that was true of the Babylonians.

So what can we learn from today’s text?  Certainly one of the biggest lessons is that God holds nations morally responsible for their conduct and their treatment of other nations and peoples.  In our modern word, we often focus only on ourselves and other individuals.  We lose sight of the interaction between nations, and the effect of one country on another, for evil or for good.

This conduct of one nation toward another takes place in many forms: military, economic, trade, response to disaster or hardship, advocacy for justice (larger nations standing up for smaller countries to prevent international “bullying”), just to name a few.

If you haven’t done so recently, use the application of today’s text as a reminder to pray for the leaders of your country, and for how they treat other countries.   May mercy, grace, and justice prevail and be the standard by which relationships are conducted at the individual, national, and international levels.



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