“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done against Zion, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 51:24
In the last of Jeremiah’s recorded prophecies, the LORD reveals more fully His motivations for overthrowing Babylon. There is much here about how the LORD, “who made the earth by His power,” wants Babylon to know that its idols and gods “are worthless, a work of delusion.” Just as He defeated the Pharaoh and gods of Egypt on their home turf, so the LORD “will punish Bel in Babylon, and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed.”
However, this purpose seems incidental to His primary justification: “Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of the earth.” Therefore He has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because His purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for His temple.
Prophecies are not simply a pronouncement of what is to come but are also a statement of the LORD’s heart and character. Consider what we learn about the LORD in these chapters. He has fiercely punished His people, but remains faithful to His covenant with them. Babylon was the LORD’s instrument of judgment; now Babylon itself is judged for its actions against Jerusalem.
It appears, at first glance, that Babylon is being disciplined for doing exactly what the LORD had wanted. There is nothing evident to reconcile these facts. Perhaps that, in itself, is evidence of the LORD’s priorities. His purpose is to be worshipped as the One who established the world by His wisdom, by whose voice there is a tumult in the waters in the heavens. What I want to encourage in you is a spirit of dwelling in the facts as they are presented, another stroke in the portrait of the LORD that the Bible paints.
The final chapter is a postscript recounting the final days of Jerusalem, recorded (judging by the final line of chapter 51) by someone other than Jeremiah. We are reminded of Zedekiah’s failed escape, when, at age 32, he tragically watched as his line ended. We hear of the poor being marched to Babylon, yet receiving their lives as a prize of war, and the poorest inheriting the land as vinedressers and plowmen. The outline of the Temple’s destruction honors the attention to detail that had gone into its design.
But all is not lost. As at the end of Kings, in the thirty-seventh year of [his] exile, Jehoiachin, king of Judah, put off his prison garments. And every day of his life he dined regularly at the king’s table…
Our verse for this week is Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Jeremiah 51 and 52. Now let’s read it!
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.