Jeremiah 52:1-34

52 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as Jehoiakim had done. It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.

Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

So in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.

By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat. Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled. They left the city at night through the gate between the two walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah, but the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered, and he was captured.

He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath,where he pronounced sentence on him. 10 There at Riblah the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he also killed all the officials of Judah. 11 Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death.

12 On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.13 He set fire to the temple of the Lord, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down. 14 The whole Babylonian army, under the commander of the imperial guard, broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon. 16 But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried all the bronze to Babylon. 18 They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service. 19 The commander of the imperial guard took away the basins, censers, sprinkling bowls, pots, lampstands, dishes and bowls used for drink offerings—all that were made of pure gold or silver.

20 The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the twelve bronze bulls under it, and the movable stands, which King Solomon had made for the temple of the Lord, was more than could be weighed. 21 Each pillar was eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference; each was four fingers thick, and hollow. 22 The bronze capital on top of one pillar was five cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its pomegranates, was similar.23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; the total number of pomegranates above the surrounding network was a hundred.

24 The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.25 Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and seven royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land, sixty of whom were found in the city. 26 Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed.

So Judah went into captivity, away from her land. 28 This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile:

in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews;

29 in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighteenth year,
832 people from Jerusalem;

30 in his twenty-third year,
745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard.
There were 4,600 people in all.

31 In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison. 32 He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king’s table. 34 Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.
(Jeremiah 52:1-34 NIV)

The end of Chapter 51 reminds us that Chapter 52 is not part of Jeremiah’s writings.  These events captured in Chapter 52 are likely the compilations of the editors that assembled the rest of Jeremiah’s writings.

Today’s passage, besides being the end of the book of Jeremiah,  is largely a parallel of 2 Kings 24:18-25:30.    This 2 Kings passage is coincidentally the end of 2 Kings as well.  Today’s text covered approximately 30 years’ time and was likely written after the 2 Kings passage.

Chapter 52 is broken down into five sections:

  • King Zedekiah’s reign, rebellion, and end (vv. 1-11)
  • King nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem (vv. 12-16)
  • The looting of the Temple (vv. 17-23)
  • The record of the exiles (vv. 24-30)
  • Former King Jehoiachin’s release (vv. 31-34)

We could spend a lot of time comparing and contrasting today’s text with the 2 Kings passage.  However, I think the best use of our time is to focus on verses 31 – 34, the very end of the book (and the parallel to the end of 2 Kings (2 Kings 25:27-30).

While verses 1 – 30 of chapter 52 look back on the rebellion of God’s people and God’s judgment on them, verses 31 – 34 look forward to God keeping His promises (see 23:5-6 and 33:19-22).

Put yourself in King Jehoiachin’s place for a moment.  You were appointed the king over Judah, served as Judah’s king for three months, then exiled to Babylon.  You have been in prison for 37 years, and wonder what your purpose in life might be, why you are still alive.  And now, after this long imprisonment, Nebuchadnezzar’s son releases you from prison and gives you special treatment.  What gives?

From our modern-day vantage point, we see God’s hand at work in preserving Jehoiachin’s life.  When we read Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew 1:11-12, we see King Jehoiachin (listed as his given name, Jeconiah) as part of Jesus’ lineage.  As promised, God preserved the Davidic family line to the Messiah, even through their rebellion and disobedience.

May we remember that God’s redemption and purposes are true and that His timeline is different that ours.

May we see that God has the ability to redeem anything and anyone for His glory.  His use of Nebuchadnezzar and the redemption of Jehoiachin gives us hope that He can use us for His glory in His unfolding plan for today and the ages to come.

As we conclude the book of Jeremiah, we see a man:

  • called by God
  • often misunderstood
  • his loyalties questioned by his peers and countrymen
  • who was willing to be open and obedient to the Lord
  • whose life ultimately reflected God’s glory and redemption
  • who rose from self-pity and self-doubt to God-confidence
  • who moved from vulnerability to the hope of restoration, even if didn’t happen in his lifetime.

May we have faith and confidence in the Lord and walk with Him as Jeremiah did.

Merry Christmas.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:59-64

59 This is the message Jeremiah the prophet gave to the staff officer Seraiah son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah in the fourth year of his reign. 60 Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon—all that had been recorded concerning Babylon. 61 He said to Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud. 62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.’ 63 When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. 64 Then say, ‘So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring on her. And her people will fall.’”

The words of Jeremiah end here.
(Jeremiah 51:59-64 NIV)

As we conclude chapter 51, Jeremiah shares his last prophecy regarding Babylon.  Today’s text also ends the dual themes of Babylon’s defeat and God’s redemption of His people.

Verse 59 marks a particular time and date of the event – when Zedekiah was king (approximately 594 BC).  Jeremiah enlists his trusted friend Seraiah who was one of the officials traveling with King Zedekiah to Babylon.  Seraiah was Baruch’s brother, another trusted friend and also the scribe Jeremiah employed to write down God’s words (36:4).

So why was King Zedekiah going to Babylon?  Nebuchadnezzar had appointed Zedekiah as a vassal king, but there had been a meeting of the neighboring country leaders to discuss a possible revolt against their Babylonian ruler (chapter 27).  The Lord sent Jeremiah to speak to Zedekiah and the other rulers not to rebel against Nebuchadnezzar or Babylon.

Word had likely gotten to King Nebuchadnezzar about a revolt in the making (or at least the suspicious meeting of local heads of state).  King Zedekiah was either preemptively going to Babylon to personally pledge his allegiance to Nebuchadnezzar, or Nebuchadnezzar had summoned Zedekiah to report for questioning.

Regardless of the impetus for the trip, the Lord prompts Jeremiah to make use of the opportunity to prophesy against Babylon.  Jeremiah wrote down all the things the Lord had said about Babylon on a scroll, then sent that scroll with Seraiah.  Jeremiah then instructed Seraiah what to do once he got to Babylon.

Seraiah was to read the scroll aloud (likely in the presence of the exiled Jews), then speak (pray) a summary of God’s judgment against Babylon.  After the prayer, Seraiah was to tie a stone to the scroll and throw it into the Euphrates River.  As the scroll was sinking, Jeremiah gave Seraiah final words to say about the demise and desolation of Babylon.

This symbolic act of the rock and the scroll was to visibly portray the sinking (destruction) of Babylon.  The symbolic act was not lost on the moment – in fact, a similar future symbolic act is recorded in Revelation 18:21 regarding the final demise of Babylon:

21 Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:

“With such violence
    the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
    never to be found again.
(Revelation 18:21 NIV)

The last words of verse 64 are a suitable bookend to Jeremiah’s beginnings in Chapter 1.  The Lord called Jeremiah out to serve Him, and now Jeremiah’s duties are complete.  Granted, there is one more chapter in Jeremiah’s book, but it is a summary and recap of the events also recorded in 2 Kings chapters 24 and 25.

It is interesting that Jeremiah’s words stopped at the end of chapter 51, but yet, God has preserved His Word, and it lives on today, outlasting many kings, conquerors, rulers, and kingdoms.  Isaiah captured this thought well:

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    because the breath of the Lord blows on them.
    Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
    but the word of our God endures forever.”
(Isaiah 40:7-8 NIV)

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:54-58

54 “The sound of a cry comes from Babylon,
    the sound of great destruction
    from the land of the Babylonians.
55 The Lord will destroy Babylon;
    he will silence her noisy din.
Waves of enemies will rage like great waters;
    the roar of their voices will resound.
56 A destroyer will come against Babylon;
    her warriors will be captured,
    and their bows will be broken.
For the Lord is a God of retribution;
    he will repay in full.
57 I will make her officials and wise men drunk,
    her governors, officers and warriors as well;
they will sleep forever and not awake,”
    declares the King, whose name is the Lord Almighty.

58 This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“Babylon’s thick wall will be leveled
    and her high gates set on fire;
the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing,
    the nations’ labor is only fuel for the flames.”
(Jeremiah 51:54-58 NIV)

As we continue in chapter 51, the Lord proceeds with the dual themes of Babylon’s defeat and the redemption of His people.  Today’s text concludes this section of the Lord’s response to His people complaining about their harsh treatment under the Babylonians.

Verses 54 – 55 are an audio prelude to the visual word-picture the Lord paints for us.  We first hear the Babylonians’ cries for help as the enemy approaches.  Next are the sounds of destruction, followed by silence (v. 54).  Finally, we listen to the roar of the enemy’s assault all around us in the distance – the sound of war (v. 55).  The roar of the enemy is not singular – it continually comes in waves, like the ocean (see also 51:42).

Verse 56 provides the visual imagery to go with the audio of verses 54 – 55.  This verse is a summary of what the Lord had already spoken in detail (see 50:11-16).  And what is the reason for Babylon’s destruction?  The Lord is a God of retribution – He will repay Babylon in full for her wickedness and harsh treatment of His people.

In verse 57, the Lord repeats the word picture from 51:39.  In verse 39, the people were drunk, went to sleep, and did not awake (they died).  In verse 57, the government officials, wise men, governors, officers, and warriors were the ones that got drunk, went to sleep, and never awakened (they slept the sleep of death).

The drunkenness mentioned in verses 39 and 57 was from drinking from the cup of God’s wrath which the Lord had forced each nation (including Judah) to drink from.  Remember how the Lord told Jeremiah to require each nation to take a drink (see 25:15-29)?  The outcome of Babylon taking a drink from the Lord’s cup of wrath is captured in verses 39 and 57.

Verse 58 lists the final results of Babylon’s destruction:  her massive walls are leveled, and her gates are burned with fire.  Her seemingly impregnable defenses have been removed – the city is no longer a safe haven for its occupants.

The second part of verse 58 is a familiar phrase also appearing in Habakkuk 2:13 – all the years of hard labor by the Babylonian people and their slaves were merely fuel for the Lord’s fire of judgment against Babylon.

The Apostle Paul also used a building analogy for the Corinthian church.  Paul told the Corinthians that he had laid the foundation of Jesus Christ, and it was up to them to build carefully on that foundation.  Paul warned the Corinthians that whatever they made would be tested by fire.  Any wood, hay, or straw used in the construction would be burned up, and nothing would remain (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

So what are you and I building?  Will our efforts for the Lord go up in smoke, or will they stand the fiery test of God’s righteousness?  Remember that our motives (the “why” we do what we do) are equally important to what we do.  If we do good things but for the wrong reasons (for our glory, and not for God’s), then those good things will burn and be for naught.  The praise of others is a poor second to the blessings of the Lord.

May Habakkuk’s words in verse 14 become our purpose, or “why” we do what we do:

13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined
    that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
    that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.
(Habakkuk 2:13-14 NIV, emphasis mine)

May God’s glory be as pervasive and all-encompassing in our hearts today as the waters in the sea.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:45-53

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).

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:34-44

34 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured us,
    he has thrown us into confusion,
    he has made us an empty jar.
Like a serpent he has swallowed us
    and filled his stomach with our delicacies,
    and then has spewed us out.
35 May the violence done to our flesh be on Babylon,”
    say the inhabitants of Zion.
“May our blood be on those who live in Babylonia,”
    says Jerusalem.

36 Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“See, I will defend your cause
    and avenge you;
I will dry up her sea
    and make her springs dry.
37 Babylon will be a heap of ruins,
    a haunt of jackals,
an object of horror and scorn,
    a place where no one lives.
38 Her people all roar like young lions,
    they growl like lion cubs.
39 But while they are aroused,
    I will set out a feast for them
    and make them drunk,
so that they shout with laughter—
    then sleep forever and not awake,”
declares the Lord.
40 “I will bring them down
    like lambs to the slaughter,
    like rams and goats.

41 “How ” will be captured,
    the boast of the whole earth seized!
How desolate Babylon will be
    among the nations!
42 The sea will rise over Babylon;
    its roaring waves will cover her.
43 Her towns will be desolate,
    a dry and desert land,
a land where no one lives,
    through which no one travels.
44 I will punish Bel in Babylon
    and make him spew out what he has swallowed.
The nations will no longer stream to him.
    And the wall of Babylon will fall.
(Jeremiah 51:34-44 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 text is God’s peoples’ complaint against Babylon, and the first part of the Lord’s response.  The Lord’s reply continues on through verse 58; we will tackle the first section of the Lord’s response today.

In verses 34 – 35, God’s people complain bitterly about their captor Babylon.  The complaint comes from both Israel (the combined nation) and Jerusalem (its capital city).  The imagery used in verse 34 of a “serpent” is very similar to “sea monster” used to describe the creature that swallowed Jonah.   For their pain, suffering, and loss at the hands of the Babylonians, God’s people call out for Divine retribution.

Verses 36  -58 are the Lord’s reply to His people’s pleas for help.  As mentioned before, we will deal with verses 36 – 44 today.

In verses 36 – 37, the Lord vows to dry up the Babylonians’ water source, leaving the city dry, desolate, and deserted.

Verses 38 – 39 depict the ravenous appetite of Babylon as that of a roaring lion or a growling cub.  The Lord will provide the feast, but the lions and cubs will get drunk, go to sleep, and never wake up.

Verse 40 shows how the Lord turns the tables against the Babylonians.  For many years they have been the lions (v. 38), the predators of all the nations around them.  Now, Babylon will become the sheep, the prey (v. 40).

Verse 41 uses the Atbash code for Babylon (“Sheshak”), as it was used in 25:26.  The Lord again shows how the “boast of the whole earth” will be captured and become the horror of the nations.  Babylon will experience the pain and fallen stature, just as they have inflicted this pain on other nations.

Verse 42 uses a symbolic description of Babylon’s captors taking over Babylon like the sea taking over dry land.  The vastness of the sea (Babylon’s conquerors) cannot be stopped by anyone or anything.  As a result, the Babylonian towns will become desolate and deserted.

Verse 44 takes note of Babylon’s chief god, Bel.  Whatever Bel has swallowed (consumed), the Lord will force her to regurgitate as described in verse 34.  Again, this is imagery and wording similar to the account of Jonah being swallowed by a “sea monster” and later vomited onto dry ground.

May we remember that the Lord heard the cries of His people when they were in Egypt and rescued them from their oppressors.  Now the Lord hears the cries of His people again and chooses to rescue them and restore them to the Promised Land.

May we remember that nothing is too hard for the Lord.  The Lord loves to come to our rescue when we call for His help.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:27-33

27 “Lift up a banner in the land!
    Blow the trumpet among the nations!
Prepare the nations for battle against her;
    summon against her these kingdoms:
    Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a commander against her;
    send up horses like a swarm of locusts.
28 Prepare the nations for battle against her—
    the kings of the Medes,
their governors and all their officials,
    and all the countries they rule.
29 The land trembles and writhes,
    for the Lord’s purposes against Babylon stand—
to lay waste the land of Babylon
    so that no one will live there.
30 Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting;
    they remain in their strongholds.
Their strength is exhausted;
    they have become weaklings.
Her dwellings are set on fire;
    the bars of her gates are broken.
31 One courier follows another
    and messenger follows messenger
to announce to the king of Babylon
    that his entire city is captured,
32 the river crossings seized,
    the marshes set on fire,
    and the soldiers terrified.”

33 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:

“Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor
    at the time it is trampled;
    the time to harvest her will soon come.”
(Jeremiah 51:27-33 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 text focuses on the conquest of Babylon.

Today’s passage begins with the Lord issuing a call to arms against Babylon.  The word goes out in general, and to three specific people groups:   Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.  These three nations comprise modern-day Armenia.  In Jeremiah’s day, these were known as the Medes.  In subsequent years, these nations would join forces with the larger Persian Empire led by King Cyrus.

The Lord’s purposes were to decimate Babylon (v. 29) for her wrongs against Judah and the surrounding nations.  In the end, Babylon was both defeated and ruined (v. 30).  From our prior study, remember that this was Babylon’s pattern against other nations.  The Lord would give Babylon the same treatment that Babylon gave to other nations when it conquered them.

Notice that there is no mention of slaughter and loss of life – only capture and defeat.  Also, the events portrayed in today’s passage are time-compressed.  The events seem like they were prophesied to happen all on the same day, when, in fact, they would occur at various times throughout the next decade or so.

Verses 31 – 32 give us some insight into the communication and early warning systems in place during Jeremiah’s day.  There were no such things as radio communication, telephones, or radar to let the king and his officials know that an enemy was approaching.  Instead, the king appointed messengers to bring any news directly to him.  These couriers were stationed throughout the city and would run from their posts to the king’s palace with news for the king.

And what was the news?  A single incident?  No -the couriers and messengers came from all over, and at the same time to indicate that the city was surrounded and taken captive.

Verse 33 ends this section by the Lord using a word picture to describe Babylon as a threshing floor.  A threshing floor was a flat dirt patch that was used to separate the kernels of grain from the stalks.  The farmers would bring their stalks of harvested grain to the threshing floor, lay out the stalks on the ground, then walk animals (typically oxen) over the stalks to separate the kernels of grain from the stalks.  On a windy day, the farmer would use a wooden pitchfork of sorts (called a winnowing fork)  to toss both the stalks and the grain into the air.  The wind would carry the lighter stalks and chaff away, while the heavier grain fell back to the threshing floor.  The farmer would then bag up the grain and put it in a safe place.  This grain was a major part of each family’s food supply until the next harvest a year later.

Imagine being in Jeremiah’s shoes and seeing God’s people scattered and to hear of Babylon’s eventual demise.  From a natural point of view, it often looks like the world is self-destructing.  Yet, from God’s perspective, everything is under control and according to plan.  Isaiah 44:28 – 45:7 give us insight into God’s vantage point and His purposes during this time of world upheaval.

May we remember God’s sovereignty and reign in all things throughout history, and in our day as well.  May we stop and praise Him for His righteousness and justice, for His goodness and mercy toward His redeemed.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 51:15-26

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)

Blessings,

~kevin