Now Hear This!

  • Author: Ray C. Stedman
Read the Scripture: Jeremiah 46 - 51
Jeremiah 46 - 51

1 This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations:

2 Concerning Egypt:
This is the message against the army of Pharaoh Neco king of Egypt, which was defeated at Carchemish on the Euphrates River by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah:

3 "Prepare your shields, both large and small,
and march out for battle!

4 Harness the horses,
mount the steeds!
Take your positions
with helmets on!
Polish your spears,
put on your armor!

5 What do I see?
They are terrified,
they are retreating,
their warriors are defeated.
They flee in haste
without looking back,
and there is terror on every side,"
declares the LORD.

6 "The swift cannot flee
nor the strong escape.
In the north by the River Euphrates
they stumble and fall.

7 "Who is this that rises like the Nile,
like rivers of surging waters?

8 Egypt rises like the Nile,
like rivers of surging waters.
She says, 'I will rise and cover the earth;
I will destroy cities and their people.'

9 Charge, O horses!
Drive furiously, O charioteers!
March on, O warriors—
men of Cush and Put who carry shields,
men of Lydia who draw the bow.

10 But that day belongs to the LORD, the Lord Almighty—
a day of vengeance, for vengeance on his foes.
The sword will devour till it is satisfied,
till it has quenched its thirst with blood.
For the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will offer sacrifice
in the land of the north by the River Euphrates.

11 "Go up to Gilead and get balm,
O Virgin Daughter of Egypt.
But you multiply remedies in vain;
there is no healing for you.

12 The nations will hear of your shame;
your cries will fill the earth.
One warrior will stumble over another;
both will fall down together."

13 This is the message the LORD spoke to Jeremiah the prophet about the coming of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to attack Egypt:

14 "Announce this in Egypt, and proclaim it in Migdol;
proclaim it also in Memphis and Tahpanhes:
'Take your positions and get ready,
for the sword devours those around you.'

15 Why will your warriors be laid low?
They cannot stand, for the LORD will push them down.

16 They will stumble repeatedly;
they will fall over each other.
They will say, 'Get up, let us go back
to our own people and our native lands,
away from the sword of the oppressor.'

17 There they will exclaim,
'Pharaoh king of Egypt is only a loud noise;
he has missed his opportunity.'

18 "As surely as I live," declares the King,
whose name is the LORD Almighty,
"one will come who is like Tabor among the mountains,
like Carmel by the sea.

19 Pack your belongings for exile,
you who live in Egypt,
for Memphis will be laid waste
and lie in ruins without inhabitant.

20 "Egypt is a beautiful heifer,
but a gadfly is coming
against her from the north.

21 The mercenaries in her ranks
are like fattened calves.
They too will turn and flee together,
they will not stand their ground,
for the day of disaster is coming upon them,
the time for them to be punished.

22 Egypt will hiss like a fleeing serpent
as the enemy advances in force;
they will come against her with axes,
like men who cut down trees.

23 They will chop down her forest,"
declares the LORD,
"dense though it be.
They are more numerous than locusts,
they cannot be counted.

24 The Daughter of Egypt will be put to shame,
handed over to the people of the north."

25 The LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "I am about to bring punishment on Amon god of Thebes, on Pharaoh, on Egypt and her gods and her kings, and on those who rely on Pharaoh. 26 I will hand them over to those who seek their lives, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Later, however, Egypt will be inhabited as in times past," declares the LORD.

27 "Do not fear, O Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, O Israel.
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.

28 Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
for I am with you," declares the LORD.
"Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only with justice;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished."

1 This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines before Pharaoh attacked Gaza:

2 This is what the LORD says:
"See how the waters are rising in the north;
they will become an overflowing torrent.
They will overflow the land and everything in it,
the towns and those who live in them.
The people will cry out;
all who dwell in the land will wail

3 at the sound of the hoofs of galloping steeds,
at the noise of enemy chariots
and the rumble of their wheels.
Fathers will not turn to help their children;
their hands will hang limp.

4 For the day has come
to destroy all the Philistines
and to cut off all survivors
who could help Tyre and Sidon.
The LORD is about to destroy the Philistines,
the remnant from the coasts of Caphtor.

5 Gaza will shave her head in mourning;
Ashkelon will be silenced.
O remnant on the plain,
how long will you cut yourselves?

6 " 'Ah, sword of the LORD,' you cry,
'how long till you rest?
Return to your scabbard;
cease and be still.'

7 But how can it rest
when the LORD has commanded it,
when he has ordered it
to attack Ashkelon and the coast?"

1 Concerning Moab:
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
"Woe to Nebo, for it will be ruined.
Kiriathaim will be disgraced and captured;
the stronghold will be disgraced and shattered.

2 Moab will be praised no more;
in Heshbon men will plot her downfall:
'Come, let us put an end to that nation.'
You too, O Madmen, will be silenced;
the sword will pursue you.

3 Listen to the cries from Horonaim,
cries of great havoc and destruction.

4 Moab will be broken;
her little ones will cry out.

5 They go up the way to Luhith,
weeping bitterly as they go;
on the road down to Horonaim
anguished cries over the destruction are heard.

6 Flee! Run for your lives;
become like a bush in the desert.

7 Since you trust in your deeds and riches,
you too will be taken captive,
and Chemosh will go into exile,
together with his priests and officials.

8 The destroyer will come against every town,
and not a town will escape.
The valley will be ruined
and the plateau destroyed,
because the LORD has spoken.

9 Put salt on Moab,
for she will be laid waste ;
her towns will become desolate,
with no one to live in them.

10 "A curse on him who is lax in doing the LORD's work!
A curse on him who keeps his sword from bloodshed!

11 "Moab has been at rest from youth,
like wine left on its dregs,
not poured from one jar to another—
she has not gone into exile.
So she tastes as she did,
and her aroma is unchanged.

12 But days are coming,"
declares the LORD,
"when I will send men who pour from jars,
and they will pour her out;
they will empty her jars
and smash her jugs.

13 Then Moab will be ashamed of Chemosh,
as the house of Israel was ashamed
when they trusted in Bethel.

14 "How can you say, 'We are warriors,
men valiant in battle'?

15 Moab will be destroyed and her towns invaded;
her finest young men will go down in the slaughter,"
declares the King, whose name is the LORD Almighty.

16 "The fall of Moab is at hand;
her calamity will come quickly.

17 Mourn for her, all who live around her,
all who know her fame;
say, 'How broken is the mighty scepter,
how broken the glorious staff!'

18 "Come down from your glory
and sit on the parched ground,
O inhabitants of the Daughter of Dibon,
for he who destroys Moab
will come up against you
and ruin your fortified cities.

19 Stand by the road and watch,
you who live in Aroer.
Ask the man fleeing and the woman escaping,
ask them, 'What has happened?'

20 Moab is disgraced, for she is shattered.
Wail and cry out!
Announce by the Arnon
that Moab is destroyed.

21 Judgment has come to the plateau—
to Holon, Jahzah and Mephaath,

22 to Dibon, Nebo and Beth Diblathaim,

23 to Kiriathaim, Beth Gamul and Beth Meon,

24 to Kerioth and Bozrah—
to all the towns of Moab, far and near.

25 Moab's horn is cut off;
her arm is broken,"
declares the LORD.

26 "Make her drunk,
for she has defied the LORD.
Let Moab wallow in her vomit;
let her be an object of ridicule.

27 Was not Israel the object of your ridicule?
Was she caught among thieves,
that you shake your head in scorn
whenever you speak of her?

28 Abandon your towns and dwell among the rocks,
you who live in Moab.
Be like a dove that makes its nest
at the mouth of a cave.

29 "We have heard of Moab's pride—
her overweening pride and conceit,
her pride and arrogance
and the haughtiness of her heart.

30 I know her insolence but it is futile,"
declares the LORD,
"and her boasts accomplish nothing.

31 Therefore I wail over Moab,
for all Moab I cry out,
I moan for the men of Kir Hareseth.

32 I weep for you, as Jazer weeps,
O vines of Sibmah.
Your branches spread as far as the sea;
they reached as far as the sea of Jazer.
The destroyer has fallen
on your ripened fruit and grapes.

33 Joy and gladness are gone
from the orchards and fields of Moab.
I have stopped the flow of wine from the presses;
no one treads them with shouts of joy.
Although there are shouts,
they are not shouts of joy.

34 "The sound of their cry rises
from Heshbon to Elealeh and Jahaz,
from Zoar as far as Horonaim and Eglath Shelishiyah,
for even the waters of Nimrim are dried up.

35 In Moab I will put an end
to those who make offerings on the high places
and burn incense to their gods,"
declares the LORD.

36 "So my heart laments for Moab like a flute;
it laments like a flute for the men of Kir Hareseth.
The wealth they acquired is gone.

37 Every head is shaved
and every beard cut off;
every hand is slashed
and every waist is covered with sackcloth.

38 On all the roofs in Moab
and in the public squares
there is nothing but mourning,
for I have broken Moab
like a jar that no one wants,"
declares the LORD.

39 "How shattered she is! How they wail!
How Moab turns her back in shame!
Moab has become an object of ridicule,
an object of horror to all those around her."

40 This is what the LORD says:
"Look! An eagle is swooping down,
spreading its wings over Moab.

41 Kerioth will be captured
and the strongholds taken.
In that day the hearts of Moab's warriors
will be like the heart of a woman in labor.

42 Moab will be destroyed as a nation
because she defied the LORD.

43 Terror and pit and snare await you,
O people of Moab,"
declares the LORD.

44 "Whoever flees from the terror
will fall into a pit,
whoever climbs out of the pit
will be caught in a snare;
for I will bring upon Moab
the year of her punishment,"
declares the LORD.

45 "In the shadow of Heshbon
the fugitives stand helpless,
for a fire has gone out from Heshbon,
a blaze from the midst of Sihon;
it burns the foreheads of Moab,
the skulls of the noisy boasters.

46 Woe to you, O Moab!
The people of Chemosh are destroyed;
your sons are taken into exile
and your daughters into captivity.

47 "Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
in days to come,"
declares the LORD.
Here ends the judgment on Moab.

1 Concerning the Ammonites:
This is what the LORD says:
"Has Israel no sons?
Has she no heirs?
Why then has Molech taken possession of Gad?
Why do his people live in its towns?

2 But the days are coming,"
declares the LORD,
"when I will sound the battle cry
against Rabbah of the Ammonites;
it will become a mound of ruins,
and its surrounding villages will be set on fire.
Then Israel will drive out
those who drove her out,"
says the LORD.

3 "Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is destroyed!
Cry out, O inhabitants of Rabbah!
Put on sackcloth and mourn;
rush here and there inside the walls,
for Molech will go into exile,
together with his priests and officials.

4 Why do you boast of your valleys,
boast of your valleys so fruitful?
O unfaithful daughter,
you trust in your riches and say,
'Who will attack me?'

5 I will bring terror on you
from all those around you,"
declares the Lord, the LORD Almighty.
"Every one of you will be driven away,
and no one will gather the fugitives.

6 "Yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites,"
declares the LORD.

7 Concerning Edom:
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
"Is there no longer wisdom in Teman?
Has counsel perished from the prudent?
Has their wisdom decayed?

8 Turn and flee, hide in deep caves,
you who live in Dedan,
for I will bring disaster on Esau
at the time I punish him.

9 If grape pickers came to you,
would they not leave a few grapes?
If thieves came during the night,
would they not steal only as much as they wanted?

10 But I will strip Esau bare;
I will uncover his hiding places,
so that he cannot conceal himself.
His children, relatives and neighbors will perish,
and he will be no more.

11 Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.
Your widows too can trust in me."

12 This is what the LORD says: "If those who do not deserve to drink the cup must drink it, why should you go unpunished? You will not go unpunished, but must drink it. 13 I swear by myself," declares the LORD, "that Bozrah will become a ruin and an object of horror, of reproach and of cursing; and all its towns will be in ruins forever."

14 I have heard a message from the LORD :
An envoy was sent to the nations to say,
"Assemble yourselves to attack it!
Rise up for battle!"

15 "Now I will make you small among the nations,
despised among men.

16 The terror you inspire
and the pride of your heart have deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks,
who occupy the heights of the hill.
Though you build your nest as high as the eagle's,
from there I will bring you down,"
declares the LORD.

17 "Edom will become an object of horror;
all who pass by will be appalled and will scoff
because of all its wounds.

18 As Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown,
along with their neighboring towns,"
says the LORD,
"so no one will live there;
no man will dwell in it.

19 "Like a lion coming up from Jordan's thickets
to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Edom from its land in an instant.
Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
And what shepherd can stand against me?"

20 Therefore, hear what the LORD has planned against Edom,
what he has purposed against those who live in Teman:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
he will completely destroy their pasture because of them.

21 At the sound of their fall the earth will tremble;
their cry will resound to the Red Sea.

22 Look! An eagle will soar and swoop down,
spreading its wings over Bozrah.
In that day the hearts of Edom's warriors
will be like the heart of a woman in labor.

23 Concerning Damascus:
"Hamath and Arpad are dismayed,
for they have heard bad news.
They are disheartened,
troubled like the restless sea.

24 Damascus has become feeble,
she has turned to flee
and panic has gripped her;
anguish and pain have seized her,
pain like that of a woman in labor.

25 Why has the city of renown not been abandoned,
the town in which I delight?

26 Surely, her young men will fall in the streets;
all her soldiers will be silenced in that day,"
declares the LORD Almighty.

27 "I will set fire to the walls of Damascus;
it will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad."

28 Concerning Kedar and the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon attacked:
This is what the LORD says:
"Arise, and attack Kedar
and destroy the people of the East.

29 Their tents and their flocks will be taken;
their shelters will be carried off
with all their goods and camels.
Men will shout to them,
'Terror on every side!'

30 "Flee quickly away!
Stay in deep caves, you who live in Hazor,"
declares the LORD.
"Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has plotted against you;
he has devised a plan against you.

31 "Arise and attack a nation at ease,
which lives in confidence,"
declares the LORD,
"a nation that has neither gates nor bars;
its people live alone.

32 Their camels will become plunder,
and their large herds will be booty.
I will scatter to the winds those who are in distant places
and will bring disaster on them from every side,"
declares the LORD.

33 "Hazor will become a haunt of jackals,
a desolate place forever.
No one will live there;
no man will dwell in it."

34 This is the word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah:

35 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
"See, I will break the bow of Elam,
the mainstay of their might.

36 I will bring against Elam the four winds
from the four quarters of the heavens;
I will scatter them to the four winds,
and there will not be a nation
where Elam's exiles do not go.

37 I will shatter Elam before their foes,
before those who seek their lives;
I will bring disaster upon them,
even my fierce anger,"
declares the LORD.
"I will pursue them with the sword
until I have made an end of them.

38 I will set my throne in Elam
and destroy her king and officials,"
declares the LORD.

39 "Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam
in days to come,"
declares the LORD.

1 This is the word the LORD spoke through Jeremiah the prophet concerning Babylon and the land of the Babylonians :

2 "Announce and proclaim among the nations,
lift up a banner and proclaim it;
keep nothing back, but say,
'Babylon will be captured;
Bel will be put to shame,
Marduk filled with terror.
Her images will be put to shame
and her idols filled with terror.'

3 A nation from the north will attack her
and lay waste her land.
No one will live in it;
both men and animals will flee away.

4 "In those days, at that time,"
declares the LORD,
"the people of Israel and the people of Judah together
will go in tears to seek the LORD their God.

5 They will ask the way to Zion
and turn their faces toward it.
They will come and bind themselves to the LORD
in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.

6 "My people have been lost sheep;
their shepherds have led them astray
and caused them to roam on the mountains.
They wandered over mountain and hill
and forgot their own resting place.

7 Whoever found them devoured them;
their enemies said, 'We are not guilty,
for they sinned against the LORD, their true pasture,
the LORD, the hope of their fathers.'

8 "Flee out of Babylon;
leave the land of the Babylonians,
and be like the goats that lead the flock.

9 For I will stir up and bring against Babylon
an alliance of great nations from the land of the north.
They will take up their positions against her,
and from the north she will be captured.
Their arrows will be like skilled warriors
who do not return empty-handed.

10 So Babylonia will be plundered;
all who plunder her will have their fill,"
declares the LORD.

11 "Because you rejoice and are glad,
you who pillage my inheritance,
because you frolic like a heifer threshing grain
and neigh like stallions,

12 your mother will be greatly ashamed;
she who gave you birth will be disgraced.
She will be the least of the nations—
a wilderness, a dry land, a desert.

13 Because of the LORD's anger she will not be inhabited
but will be completely desolate.
All who pass Babylon will be horrified and scoff
because of all her wounds.

14 "Take up your positions around Babylon,
all you who draw the bow.
Shoot at her! Spare no arrows,
for she has sinned against the LORD.

15 Shout against her on every side!
She surrenders, her towers fall,
her walls are torn down.
Since this is the vengeance of the LORD,
take vengeance on her;
do to her as she has done to others.

16 Cut off from Babylon the sower,
and the reaper with his sickle at harvest.
Because of the sword of the oppressor
let everyone return to his own people,
let everyone flee to his own land.

17 "Israel is a scattered flock
that lions have chased away.
The first to devour him
was the king of Assyria;
the last to crush his bones
was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon."

18 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
"I will punish the king of Babylon and his land
as I punished the king of Assyria.

19 But I will bring Israel back to his own pasture
and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
his appetite will be satisfied
on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.

20 In those days, at that time,"
declares the LORD,
"search will be made for Israel's guilt,
but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
but none will be found,
for I will forgive the remnant I spare.

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, O 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, O 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."

33 This is what the LORD Almighty says:
"The people of Israel are oppressed,
and the people of Judah as well.
All their captors hold them fast,
refusing to let them go.

34 Yet their Redeemer is strong;
the LORD Almighty is his name.
He will vigorously defend their cause
so that he may bring rest to their land,
but unrest to those who live in Babylon.

35 "A sword against the Babylonians!"
declares the LORD—
"against those who live in Babylon
and against her officials and wise men!

36 A sword against her false prophets!
They will become fools.
A sword against her warriors!
They will be filled with terror.

37 A sword against her horses and chariots
and all the foreigners in her ranks!
They will become women.
A sword against her treasures!
They will be plundered.

38 A drought on her waters!
They will dry up.
For it is a land of idols,
idols that will go mad with terror.

39 "So desert creatures and hyenas will live there,
and there the owl will dwell.
It will never again be inhabited
or lived in from generation to generation.

40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah
along with their neighboring towns,"
declares the LORD,
"so no one will live there;
no man will dwell in it.

41 "Look! An army is coming from the north;
a great nation and many kings
are being stirred up from the ends of the earth.

42 They are armed with bows and spears;
they are cruel and without mercy.
They sound like the roaring sea
as they ride on their horses;
they come like men in battle formation
to attack you, O Daughter of Babylon.

43 The king of Babylon has heard reports about them,
and his hands hang limp.
Anguish has gripped him,
pain like that of a woman in labor.

44 Like a lion coming up from Jordan's thickets
to a rich pastureland,
I will chase Babylon from its land in an instant.
Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this?
Who is like me and who can challenge me?
And what shepherd can stand against me?"

45 Therefore, hear what the LORD has planned against Babylon,
what he has purposed against the land of the Babylonians:
The young of the flock will be dragged away;
he will completely destroy their pasture because of them.

46 At the sound of Babylon's capture the earth will tremble;
its cry will resound among the nations.

1 This is what the LORD says:
"See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.

2 I will send foreigners to Babylon
to winnow her and to devastate her land;
they will oppose her on every side
in the day of her disaster.

3 Let not the archer string his bow,
nor let him put on his armor.
Do not spare her young men;
completely destroy her army.

4 They will fall down slain in Babylon,
fatally wounded in her streets.

5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the LORD Almighty,
though their land is full of guilt
before the Holy One of Israel.

6 "Flee from Babylon!
Run for your lives!
Do not be destroyed because of her sins.
It is time for the LORD's vengeance;
he will pay her what she deserves.

7 Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD's hand;
she made the whole earth drunk.
The nations drank her wine;
therefore they have now gone mad.

8 Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken.
Wail over her!
Get balm for her pain;
perhaps she can be healed.

9 " 'We would have healed Babylon,
but she cannot be healed;
let us leave her and each go to his own land,
for her judgment reaches to the skies,
it rises as high as the clouds.'

10 " 'The LORD has vindicated us;
come, let us tell in Zion
what the LORD our God has done.'

11 "Sharpen the arrows,
take up the shields!
The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
because his purpose is to destroy Babylon.
The LORD will take vengeance,
vengeance for his temple.

12 Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon!
Reinforce the guard,
station the watchmen,
prepare an ambush!
The LORD will carry out his purpose,
his decree against the people of Babylon.

13 You who live by many waters
and are rich in treasures,
your end has come,
the time for you to be cut off.

14 The LORD Almighty has sworn by himself:
I will surely fill you with men, as with a swarm of locusts,
and they will shout in triumph over you.

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 "Every man is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
His images 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 tribe 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 maiden,

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, O 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.

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 like women.
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:
"The Daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time it is trampled;
the time to harvest her will soon come."

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 upon 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 Sheshach will be captured,
the boast of the whole earth seized!
What a horror 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 man 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.

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 think on 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 reaches the sky
and fortifies her lofty stronghold,
I will send destroyers against her,"
declares the LORD.

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."

59 This is the message Jeremiah 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, 'O LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither man nor animal 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 upon her. And her people will fall.' "
The words of Jeremiah end here.

New International Version

In our last study we left our hero, Jeremiah, sweltering in Egypt, an old man. He had preached to the nation of Judah for forty years, and had watched it crumble and slide morally and politically until at last it succumbed to the power of Babylon. He saw Jerusalem captured, the temple burned, the king's house destroyed, the king captured, his eyes put out, and the people led into captivity in Babylon -- except for a remnant that stayed in the land. Among this remnant Jeremiah ministered. But it too apostatized and went down to Egypt. There in Egypt, according to Jewish tradition, Jeremiah died, a martyr at the hands of his own countrymen.

The book of Jeremiah closes with a series of messages addressed to the nations around Israel. With this we conclude our studies. When, as a teenager, he was called to be a prophet, God said to him, "See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down," (Jeremiah 1:10a RSV). Now we see Jeremiah sending messages to the various nations around Israel regarding their destinies. There are three such collections of messages to the nations in the prophets. Isaiah has one -- many of them to the same nations addressed by Jeremiah. Another is found in Ezekiel. All three taken together comprise a tremendous amount of Scripture, about 603 verses altogether, longer than many of the books of the New Testament. Yet I wonder how many Christians could pass an exam on what God has said to the nations through these great prophets?

Jeremiah begins with Egypt, where he himself was living at the time he compiled this series, and ends far to the east in the land of Babylon, across the Euphrates River. As we look at this section together we will see once again that truth in the Scriptures comes to us at several levels of understanding and application. First there is the historical, or national, or political level of understanding this passage. These prophecies have to do with actual nations. God has said various things about them. Four of them he says will endure throughout time, and at the end of their history God will restore their fortunes and bless them. Those four nations are still existing today, and have in fact awakened from the dust of centuries and come to life again in these last few decades. Of two other nations nothing is said of ultimate blessing, but they still remain today, though no blessing is promised them. And three of these nations God specifically says shall disappear from the face of the earth. They have long since been lost to history.

There is another level at which this truth can be understood. On the historical level these nations come and go as God wills. But this address to the nations can also be understood as symbolizing, or typifying, forces at work within us. We will see this as we go through the account.

These nine nations fall into three groups, each with extremely significant application to each of us. That is how we will approach them.

We will begin with Chapter 46, where we have Jeremiah's word to Egypt, comprising two messages he gave on two different occasions.

The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the nations. About Egypt. Concerning the army of Pharaoh Neco, king of Egypt, which was by the river Euphrates at Carchemish and which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon defeated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: (Jeremiah 46:1-2 RSV)

This takes us back to the year 605 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar first came up against Judah. He was met by the armies of Egypt at the city of Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and there one of the great strategic battles of all history was fought. Until then, Egypt had been the most powerful nation of the day, but Babylon broke the power of Egypt at that place. Here Jeremiah is describing that battle in advance -- how long in advance we do not know. He describes in very vivid terms the advance of the Babylonian army, the clash of these conflicting forces, the terrible battle that ensued, and the final defeat of Egypt. We will not take time to cover these verses, but you can read them for yourself. The language is very beautiful.

However, in the midst of this a characterization is made of Egypt, and we do not want to miss that. In the Scriptures Egypt is a picture of the world and its influence upon us. Egypt was a place of tyranny and bondage for the people of Israel. They were under the yoke of a wicked and severe king who enslaved them and treated them cruelly. Yet strangely enough, after they escaped, it was the place they always fondly remembered and wanted to return to. They remembered the food, the comfort, and the ease of life in Egypt. So this has always stood as a picture of the lure of the world to the believer -- to think as it thinks, to react as it reacts, to seek your own satisfaction and pleasure and enjoyment instead of living for the glory of God.

Now, when I refer to "the world" I am not talking about people, nor about doing any specific so-called "worldly" thing. That is not what worldliness is. Worldliness is an attitude of life that causes you to think of living only for your own pleasures and enjoyment. That is what Egypt symbolizes in Scripture. The character of Egypt is described for us in Verses 7-8:

  "Who is this, rising like the Nile,
    like rivers whose waters surge?
  Egypt rises like the Nile,
    like rivers whose waters surge." (Jeremiah 46:7-8a RSV)

Every spring the Nile River rises and overflows its banks, and this restores Egypt. The prophet uses this as a picture of the way the world comes at us -- in surges and waves. We think we have it licked, but pretty soon it will come at us again. Repeatedly, again and again throughout our lifetime as believers on our spiritual pilgrimage, the world rises to afflict us and to lure us, and seeks to betray us and get us back into bondage again.

But there is another message here about Egypt, Verses 13-24, delivered by Jeremiah after he had gone into exile in Egypt. Here he describes the forthcoming invasion of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, which took place after Jeremiah's death. In accordance with this prophesy, Nebuchadnezzar came down into Egypt and took over the land. In the midst of this prophesy is another characterization of Egypt, Verse 17:

  "Call the name of Pharaoh, king of Egypt,
    'Noisy one who lets the hour go by.'" (Jeremiah 46:17 RSV)

Isn't that a strange name to give somebody? In other words, "the noisy one who likes to kill time". That is the characterization of Egypt -- and the world. It is one of the ways we can recognize the world: it loves noise, because it does not want to stop and think. And it loves to kill time, is always seeking ways to pass the time. Just this week I clipped an editorial from Christianity Today:

Picture, if you will, some solar ray suddenly causing all radios, cassette players, stereo sets and televisions to stop working. Trembling hands impatiently twirl dials, adjust knobs, flip switches. Eyes are dilated with fear. Breathing comes in spasms. Marx was wrong. Religion isn't the opiate of modern man; incessant sound is. We'll listen to anything to avoid silence -- long pointless talk shows, boring conversations, round-the-clock news, and even rock and country music. We like sound because it blocks out the despairing cry of our own souls, as well as the still, small voice of God. But we need occasionally to take God's hand and journey into the fearful land of silence. It can be both painful and healing with the presence of the One who is able to still the despairing cry, and give us a new song of thanks.

Yes, that is the world. It comes at us constantly, trying to get us to think only in terms of immediate pleasure and indulgence, and forgetting that it leads to slavery and bondage. So God punishes Egypt -- that is the message here.

Yet, on a national level, a strange word is said in Verse 26:

"I will deliver them[Egypt] into the hands of those who seek their life, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and his officers. Afterward Egypt shall be inhabited as in the days of old, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 46:26 RSV)

This undoubtedly is a reference to the end times when, after having lost its national standing and slept for centuries, Egypt has awakened, and is now a sovereign nation again. So God promises to spare Egypt. And in a similar message in Isaiah 19, God even says that eventually Egypt is going to be healed, and that he will bless them and call them his people.

In Chapter 47 we have a message to a nation very closely associated with Egypt -- the Philistines. Do you remember your Bible stories about how the Philistines were always coming up against Israel? Goliath, whom David slew, was one of the Philistine warriors. These people lived along the southern coastline of the land of Palestine. In fact the name, "Palestine," comes from the word, Philistine. They were always the enemies of Israel. Many scholars feel that originally they came from Egypt and occupied Phoenicia, or Lebanon, as we know it today.

The Philistines were in the land, but they were the enemies of God. Thus they are a symbol, or type, of the worldling who claims a place in the land of promise, i.e., a nominal Christian who is nevertheless the enemy of true faith. They are also a picture of those same attitudes in our own lives and hearts -- the tendency to want to enjoy the blessing of God in a given area of our life, but without any heart commitment to him regarding that area.

Philippiansistia is promised destruction:

The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh smote Gaza. "Thus says the Lord:
  Behold, waters are rising out of the north,
    and shall become an overflowing torrent;
  they shall overflow the land and all that fills it,
    the city and those who dwell in it.
  Men shall cry out,
    and every inhabitant of the land shall wail.
  At the noise of the stamping of the hoofs of his stallions,
    at the rushing of his chariots, at the rumbling of their wheels,
  the fathers look not back to their children,
    so feeble are their hands,
  because of the day that is coming to destroy
    all the Philistines,
  to cut off from Tyre and Sidon
    every helper that remains." (Jeremiah 47:1-4a RSV)

Here is the advance of the Babylonian army, which meant the end of the nation of the Philistines.

"For the Lord is destroying the Philistines, the remnant of the coastland of Caphtor." (Jeremiah 47:4b RSV)

And so this nation perished, never to emerge again among the nations of the world as a sovereign people.

Beginning in Chapter 48 we have another group of nations coming before us. Egypt and Philippiansistia represent the world in its enmity against us as believers. Now we have five nations -- Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and Kedor, or Arabia -- that represent something else. The link between them is that all five are somehow related to Israel. Thus they picture for us what the Bible calls "the flesh" -- that part of our nature which is inherent in us, to which we are related, from which we cannot escape. Yet it is the enemy of faith, the enemy of our lives, an inner enemy.

Moab and Ammon occupy all of Chapter 48 and the first six verses of Chapter 49. We will not attempt to read it all, but here is a description of the character and of the downfall of these nations. Moab and Ammon were the sons of Lot by his own daughters. In that terrible story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, when Lot and his daughters fled from the city, we are told that later they got him drunk so that he would lie with them and they could conceive by him. Moab and Ammon settled in what is the present land of Jordan -- Moab to the east of the Dead Sea, and Ammon north of Moab. Chapter 48 opens with a very vivid description of the cities of Moab as they are assaulted one by one by the advance of the armies of Babylon. Then Verse 11 says,

  "Moab has been at ease from his youth
    and has settled on his lees;
[That is, he is resting on his rear end, his buttocks -- "lees" is much more polite!]
  he has not been emptied from vessel to vessel,
    nor has he gone into exile;
  so his taste remains in him,
    and his scent is not changed." (Jeremiah 48:11 RSV)

Moab happened to be off the beaten track. Therefore the conquerors who passed through this land century after century left Moab alone. It had never been attacked, had never been "emptied from vessel to vessel", from conqueror to conqueror, as the prophet says here. It had never had its mouth go dry with fear. That is what "his taste remains in him" means. And "his scent is not changed" means he had never sweat with terror, thus changing his odor. Moab had never known attack like this, so it was complacent, confident, proud, and self-satisfied. Moab therefore is a picture of the flesh in its confidence, its cocksureness. "Everything is well, nothing is going to go wrong." This pictures for us that attitude within us. But God says,

"Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I shall send to him tilters who will tilt him, and empty his vessels, and break his jars in pieces. Then Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh[their god], as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel, their confidence." (Jeremiah 48:12-13 RSV)

Bethel was the place where Israel had worshipped two golden calves. God says he is going to disturb the confidence of Moab, is going to tilt him by the power of another nation. The reason is given in Verses 29-30:

  "We have heard of the pride of Moab --
    he is very proud
  of his loftiness, his pride, and his arrogance,
    and the haughtiness of his heart.
  I know his insolence, says the Lord;
    his boasts are false,
    his deeds are false." (Jeremiah 48:29-30 RSV)

Whenever you feel that way about yourself, it is Moab attacking you, just as the Moabites constantly attacked Israel. You are contending with this continual enemy of God -- the arrogance and insolence of the flesh. But eventual judgment is to fall upon them, nevertheless, as a nation, and finally there is this promise, Verse 47:

  "Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab
    in the latter days, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 48:47a RSV)

Thus we have seen Jordan emerge as a nation in our own time.

Connected with Moab is Ammon, to the north. The present capital of Jordan is Amman. Typologically, Ammon stands for the same as Moab, but with one addition: it is more aggressive, more warlike than Moab. It represents that insolence and arrogance which preys upon the spirit within us. Yet the promise to this nation, along with Moab, is this: Chapter 49, Verse 6:

"But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 49:6 RSV)

Therefore as a people and a nation they still exist in the world.

In Verses 7-22 we have the prophecy against Edom, which occupied the land south of the Dead Sea. For many centuries its capital was Petra, that beautiful city carved out of red rock. Edom was a descendant of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. In Scripture, Esau is always a picture of the man of the flesh, especially as the flesh opposes and is contrary to the Spirit. "Jacob have I loved," God said, "Esau have I hated," (Malachi 1:2-3). And in the book of Galatians, Paul contrasts these two: "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh; for these are opposed to each other," (Galatians 5:17 RSV). In Chapter 49, God promises to eliminate this nation completely. Look at Verses 8-10:

  "Flee, turn back, dwell in the depths,
    O inhabitants of Dedan!
  For I will bring the calamity of Esau upon him,
    the time when I punish him.
  If grape-gatherers came to you,
    would they not leave gleanings?
  If thieves came by night,
    would they not destroy only enough for themselves?
  But I have stripped Esau bare,
    I have uncovered his hiding places,
    and he is not able to conceal himself.
  His children are destroyed, and his brothers,
    and his neighbors; and he is no more." (Jeremiah 49:8-10 RSV)

True to this word, the nation of Edom passed from the stage of history long before the time of our Lord. It lost its national standing and disappeared in the dust of the centuries, never to emerge again.

The last two nations in this group are given from Verse 23 on: first Damascus, and then Kedar, which is another name for Arabia -- the Bedouin tribes who inhabited the desert areas of what is now called Saudi Arabia. Nothing is said of ultimate promise to these nations, although they are permitted to continue. But judgment is visited upon them -- Damascus first, and then the Arabian nations, who were descended from Ishmael, the half-brother of Isaac, son of Abraham. Thus they too are related to Israel. In vivid language the prophet describes the destruction as the armies of Babylon come up to Damascus, Verses 25-26:

  "How the famous city is forsaken,
    the joyful city!
  Therefore her young men shall fall in her squares,
    and all her soldiers shall be destroyed in that day, says the Lord of hosts." (Jeremiah 49:25-26 RSV)

The Arabian tribes also are afflicted, Verse 29:

  "Their tents and their flocks shall be taken,
    their curtains and all their goods;
  their camels shall be borne away from them,
    and men shall cry to them, 'Terror on every side!'" (Jeremiah 49:29 RSV)

Thus these nations are judged by God. Typologically, they represent the restlessness of the flesh. These were nomads who lived in tents and moved about from place to place, so they typify the restlessness of our natures, and the power to upset and disarrange us which that restlessness creates within us. Wherever these nations appear in Scripture, that is what they stand for. One of the clues to understanding the Word of God is to see yourself whenever you read about these nations. We can understand how we operate, as we see it in the national lives of these people. Thus the marks of the flesh are judged.

The last two nations are associated -- Elam and Babylon. Elam is given to us in the closing words of Chapter 49, beginning at Verse 34. At this time it was one of the provinces of Babylon, and yet it is singled out here by Jeremiah as meriting a very significant word from God. The reason is given in Verses 34-35:

The word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: "Behold, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might;" (Jeremiah 49:34-35a RSV)

Elam is characterized by a bow, which is called the "mainstay" of Elam. A bow, of course, is a symbol of the ability to strike and injure at a distance. Typologically, it stands for what Paul calls "the fiery darts of the wicked one" (Ephesians 6:16) which are hurled at us, the evil thoughts and imaginations which come unbidden into our hearts and minds -- sometimes when we least expect them. You kneel to pray, and you are appalled at the evil thought which suddenly possesses your mind. What is that? One of the fiery darts of the wicked one. Just when you are rejoicing in the blessing of God, some stupid, silly doubt suddenly possesses your heart, and you wonder whether you are really a Christian or not. What is that? Another of the fiery darts of the wicked one, the bow and arrows of Elam which are the mainstay of this enemy of God. But God pronounces judgment upon this. Nevertheless, on the national level, note Verse 39:

"But in the latter days I will restore the fortunes of Elam, says the Lord." (Jeremiah 49:39 RSV)

Elam today is the land of Iran, or Persia, and has emerged again as a sovereign nation, according with this word.

Chapters 50 and 51, two of the longest in the book, are devoted to the destruction and overthrow of Babylon. I hardly need comment on what Babylon stands for. Everywhere in Scripture it is a symbol of the great enemy of God, called in Revelation "that old serpent the devil" Revelation 12:9), especially as the devil uses false religious authority to claim earthly standing, prestige, and power. That is Babylonianism.

Do you remember where Babylon began? In the tower of Babel, after the Flood. And why did men erect the tower of Babel? The Genesis account says, " order that they might make a name for themselves," (Genesis 11:4). Babylonianism is the attempt to gain some prestige or status in the eyes of the world by the use of religious authority. You can see that it has permeated every religious group, every denomination, every church. Every religion in the world seeks that. We struggle with Babylonianism right here at Peninsula Bible Church. Any time we long to be known around the world, to exercise particular prestige in our community, that is Babylonianism at work. It has seized whole systems of religion so that these systems seek to gain great authority, to be known as princes and kings and powers in the world today. It all began with the tower of Babel.

Babel was where they erected a tower in order to ascend into the heavens and become like God. And under Nimrod it became the mother of harlots and the abominations of the earth. That is, it became the fountainhead of idolatry and began to export these ideas all throughout the world. If you want to study this more fully, I suggest you read Alexander Hisslop's book, The Two Babylons, tracing how these foul ideas began in Babylon and spread throughout the whole earth.

The prophet predicts the historical overthrow of the city by the Medes and the Persians, beginning at Verse 2 of Chapter 50:

  "Declare among the nations and proclaim,
    set up a banner and proclaim,
    conceal it not, and say:
  'Babylon is taken,
    Bel[Baal] is put to shame,
    Merodach[Marduk, another name for Baal] is dismayed.
  Her images are put to shame,
    her idols are dismayed.'

"For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her a land of desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away." (Jeremiah 50:2-3 RSV)

Just as Babylon itself was the great destructive power against Judah, so Babylon's turn must come. Out of the north, the Medes and the Persians will come against Babylon and overthrow this great kingdom. Despite its tremendous walls, its vast palaces, its ornate hanging gardens, its huge size, and its great armies -- the greatest power of the world of that day -- at the very height of its power God declares that it shall be totally lost to sight. Even its site would be lost to men. It would be "a desolation, and none shall dwell in it."

In Verses 4-5 we read of the return of the Jews to the land of Judah:

"In those days and in that time, says the Lord, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come; and they shall seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, 'Come, let us join ourselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant which will never be forgotten.'" (Jeremiah 50:4-5 RSV)

Thus they came back from exile, into the land. But Babylon's overthrow is going to be total. Look at Verses 12-13:

  "...your mother[i.e., the mother of all harlotry] shall be utterly shamed,
    and she who bore you shall be disgraced.
  Lo, and shall be the last of the nations,
    a wilderness dry and desert.
  Because of the wrath of the Lord she shall not be inhabited,
    but shall be an utter desolation;
  every one who passes by Babylon shall be appalled,
    and hiss[or whistle] because of all her wounds." (Jeremiah 50:12-13 RSV)

Verses 39-40:

"Therefore wild beasts shall dwell with hyenas in Babylon, and ostriches shall dwell in her; she shall be peopled no more for ever, nor inhabited for all generations. As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbor cities, says the Lord, so no man shall dwell there, and no son of man shall sojourn in her." (Jeremiah 50:39-40 RSV)

The book of Daniel tells us that King Belshazzar made a great feast, inviting all the lords of Babylon to the palace. As they were reveling in drunken debauchery, a hand appeared and wrote on the wall. Do you remember that dramatic incident? The king trembled, and Daniel was called in to interpret the writing. And Daniel told him that that night the kingdom would be taken from him. And that night Darius the Mede led his armies into Babylon, and the kingdom was overthrown. There is a reference to that in Verse 43 here:

  "The king of Babylon heard the report of them,
    and his hands fell helpless;
  anguish seized him,
    pain as of a woman in travail." (Jeremiah 50:43 RSV)

So the great city was overthrown, and was so completely demolished that the site was abandoned and never rebuilt. The dust of the ages covered it over, and for centuries the actual site of this great city was lost, so that men did not even know where it was. It was only at the beginning of the present century that its site was unearthed, and once again the walls and vestigial remains of the city are coming into the light of day. But as God said, it had become a desert and a desolate place. The empty mounds beside the Euphrates River bore eloquent testimony to the truth of the Scriptures. Verses 31-32:

  "Behold, I am against you, O proud one,
    says the Lord God of hosts;
  for your day has come,
    the time when I will punish you.
  The proud one shall stumble and fall,
    with none to raise him up,
  and I will kindle a fire in his cities,
    and it will devour all that is round about him." (Jeremiah 50:31-32 RSV)

There are many who say that Babylon must be built again -- you can read this in some of the books which are in circulation today -- because of the prophecies in the book of Revelation that refer to Babylon. But you need to note that the reference there is to "Mystery Babylon the great," (Revelation 17:5 KJV). So this is not the actual, literal city, but that for which Babylon stands -- the idolatrous practices and the blasphemous assumption of power by religious authority. That is what is going to be destroyed, as the book of Revelation says. Yet here in Chapter 51, we are given a description of the destruction of this actual city, and this is picked up and used again in the book of Revelation. You can see that John borrows these words, beginning at Verse 6:

  "Flee from the midst of Babylon,
    let every man save his life!
  Be not cut off in her punishment,
    for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance,
    the requital he is rendering her.
  Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand,
    making all the earth drunken;
  the nations drank of her wine,
    therefore the nations went mad.
  Suddenly Babylon has fallen and been broken;
    wail for her!" (Jeremiah 51:6-8a RSV)

And so the great city perished. But God has this final word to say, beginning at Verse 59:

The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon, in the fourth year of his reign. Seraiah was the quartermaster.[That is, Seraiah went down to Babylon as an ambassador from Judah.] Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that should come upon Babylon, all these words that are written concerning Babylon. And Jeremiah said to Seraiah: "When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words[You see, Babylon has heard this.] and say, 'O Lord, thou hast said concerning this place that thou wilt cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate for ever.' When you finish reading this book, bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, and say, 'Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the evil that I am bringing upon her.'" (Jeremiah 51:59-64a RSV)

This is the end of the words of Jeremiah. The final chapter is an historical summary appended by another hand, recounting the fall of Jerusalem and the ultimate restoration of King Jehoiachin in the city of Babylon.

What is the message of this book to us? We have gone through it, and have watched this prophet in his struggles with the ways and the workings of God, and have seen our own struggles reflected there. What is the great message which abides in this book? Surely it is contained in these messages to the nations. Here are groups of nations which symbolize the enemy arrayed against us -- the devil -- and the two channels through which he attacks us -- the world, and the flesh. And God's Word says that God is adequate for all of them. Faith in a living God can overcome the world, can beat back the deceitfulness of the flesh, and can overcome the roaring, lion-like qualities of the devil in our life, so that we can stand -- God's man, God's woman -- free in the midst of the bondage of this age.

Babylon shall sink and never rise again. In the closing chapter of Romans, Paul promises that God shall come and crush Satan under our feet (Romans 16:20).

May that be our experience now -- in these days!

These are forces with great power, bringing to pass all the terrible things recorded in our daily newspapers. But by faith we can walk in the midst of them.

That is God's message in the book of Jeremiah.


Thank you, Father, for the faithfulness of your word. Forgive us the many times we have doubted it to the point of acting upon our doubts instead of our faith. Deliver us from that. Teach us to stand, to be Jeremiahemiahs -- faithful to you in this day of declension and moral dissolution. Forgive us, Lord, of all the evil in our own lives and hearts. Help us to walk before you, knowing that you are tender and compassionate, forgiving and loving, able to make us to stand. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Title: Now Hear This! Author: Ray C. Stedman
   Date:June 30, 1974
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