15 “He made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
16 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
17 “Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
The images he makes are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
18 They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
19 He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including the people of his inheritance—
the Lord Almighty is his name.
20 “You are my war club,
my weapon for battle—
with you I shatter nations,
with you I destroy kingdoms,
21 with you I shatter horse and rider,
with you I shatter chariot and driver,
22 with you I shatter man and woman,
with you I shatter old man and youth,
with you I shatter young man and young woman,
23 with you I shatter shepherd and flock,
with you I shatter farmer and oxen,
with you I shatter governors and officials.
24 “Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion,” declares the Lord.
25 “I am against you, you destroying mountain,
you who destroy the whole earth,”
declares the Lord.
“I will stretch out my hand against you,
roll you off the cliffs,
and make you a burned-out mountain.
26 No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone,
nor any stone for a foundation,
for you will be desolate forever,”
declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 51:15-26 NIV)
As we continue in chapter 51, the Lord proceeds with the dual themes of Babylon’s defeat and God’s people redeemed.
Today’s passage is separated into two themes – there is only one God (vv. 15-19), and Babylon’s use and demise (vv. 20-26).
Verses 15 – 19 are nearly a word-for-word copy from 10:12-16. The passage in chapter 10 was spoken against Judah for her perverse worship of other gods; this passage in chapter 51 is spoken against Babylon for its heathen blindness to God at work.
Verse 19 shows the close relationship between the Lord and His people. The “portion of Jacob” refers to Jacob honoring God; “the people of His inheritance” refers to God treating Jacob (and his ancestors) as His son and the rightful heir of His inheritance. This verse depicted a close bond between Father (God) and son (Jacob and his ancestors). No such relationship existed between Babylon and her idols.
Verses 20 -26 show Babylon’s use in the Lord’s hands and her eventual demise. In verses 20 – 23 the Lord reiterates how He uses Babylon for His glory. Verses 24 – 26 predict the final status of Babylon after the Lord is done with her.
Does this imagery sound familiar? In 50:23, the Lord depicts Babylon as a tool (a hammer, to be precise). In today’s text, the Lord describes Babylon as a weapon (a war club). And why is the Lord going to war? To deliver justice (Divine retribution) for all the wrongs done in Zion (in God’s Promised Land).
In verses 25 – 26, the Lord deals specifically with Babylon. The Lord portrays Babylon as a mountain that overshadows the rest of the known world. Imagine, for just a moment, that this mountain is actually a volcano, spewing its hot lava out and destroying everyone and everything in its path. Like some volcanos, Babylon eventually burns itself out and becomes worthless and desolate. This extinct volcano has no redeeming qualities; its rocks cannot be used for any building projects, either as a foundation stone or as a cornerstone.
In whom or what do we put our trust? Do we have any “idols” that have preeminence over the Lord? Do we look to friends or family, to city, state, or national governments for our well-being? Are possessions or money our means of protection or provision? Where do all these people and things fall in comparison to our union with Christ?
May the Apostle John’s words be a reminder as to how we should live:
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
(1 John 2:15-17 NIV)