45 “Come out of her, my people!
Run for your lives!
Run from the fierce anger of the Lord.
46 Do not lose heart or be afraid
when rumors are heard in the land;
one rumor comes this year, another the next,
rumors of violence in the land
and of ruler against ruler.
47 For the time will surely come
when I will punish the idols of Babylon;
her whole land will be disgraced
and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
48 Then heaven and earth and all that is in them
will shout for joy over Babylon,
for out of the north
destroyers will attack her,”
declares the Lord.
49 “Babylon must fall because of Israel’s slain,
just as the slain in all the earth
have fallen because of Babylon.
50 You who have escaped the sword,
leave and do not linger!
Remember the Lord in a distant land,
and call to mind Jerusalem.”
51 “We are disgraced,
for we have been insulted
and shame covers our faces,
because foreigners have entered
the holy places of the Lord’s house.”
52 “But days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will punish her idols,
and throughout her land
the wounded will groan.
53 Even if Babylon ascends to the heavens
and fortifies her lofty stronghold,
I will send destroyers against her,”
declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 51:45-53 NIV)
As we continue in chapter 51, the Lord proceeds with the dual themes of Babylon’s defeat and God’s people redeemed. God’s people had complained about their treatment under Babylon’s rule. Today’s text continues with the second part of the Lord’s response to them.
Verses 45 – 48 are the Lord’s call to the Jewish exiles in Babylon to flee when they get the chance. Why would the Lord need to remind His people to flee from their exile, to leave their captors when the Lord freed them?
Remember what the Lord had Jeremiah write to the exiles in Babylon back in chapter 29:4-7? God told them to build houses, settle down, plant a garden, let their kids get married, even pray for their captors, as Babylon’s peace and prosperity will directly affect their well-being. God had said it would be seventy years before they would return to Israel.
For those who had obeyed the Lord, life was likely pretty good. Why would they leave when they were comfortable and making good money, and their families were thriving? Because just as Jerusalem and Judah had come to an end, the Babylonian empire was coming to a close. This same command to leave Babylon is repeated in Revelation 18:4-5, where Babylon’s final days are spelled out.
What was the reason for Babylon’s fall? Israel’s slain (v. 49). The Lord was clear: for the remnant of Judah that survived the exile, God was protecting them by giving them the command to leave when He provided the freedom (v. 50). In fact, the Lord told the people to “remember” Him and “call to mind” Jerusalem. The two verbs (“remember” and “call”) required both mental review as well as action on their part – being as well as doing. They were not to look back on what they were leaving behind, but to look forward to what was to be in the Promised Land.
The people replied that they were disgraced as a nation, as the Temple in Jerusalem had been desecrated by the pagans (v. 51). The Lord promised to punish Babylon’s idols and destroy her empire (vv. 52-53). Even if the Babylonians were to successfully recreate the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), the Lord would be victorious and have the last word (v. 53).
May we not focus on our past, but on the present and our union with Christ.
May we not become too comfortable with or focus too much on this present life, as it too is fading away, but God and His word stand forever (1 Peter 1:24-25).