A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
God Does Not Need to be Diplomatic
Jeremiah 51 SCC 9/17/17
LEAVE VENGEANCE, AN EYE FOR AN EYE, WITH GOD WHO WILL PURSUE IT
Verses 1-14: Thus says the Lord: Behold, I am going to arouse against Babylon ... the spirit of a destroyer. Neither Israel nor Judah has been forsaken by his God, ... although their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel v 5. God’s people need to flee from the midst of Babylon, and each of you save his life v 6. In Jeremiah’s time, they were to flee Jerusalem to Babylon, but in the end, they need to flee Babylon, because God would destroy it (like the message to Lot in Genesis 19). God’s people will come and let us recount in Zion the work of the Lord our God v 10. The Lord has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes [Medo-Persian Empire], because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it; for it is the vengeance of the Lord, vengeance for His Temple v 11. For the Lord has both purposed and performed what He spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon ... Your end has come v 13.
Application: This is the side of God people ignore. Most people believe God will be merciful to them when it comes down to their own lives. Actually, Gods purpose is to avenge v 11. Gods vengeance is also global in scope. We can affirm Gods vengeance when we see its need and cannot deliver it. But we should never pursue it personally. The Christ ethic is to love our enemies assured God will avenge.
WHILE GOD IS SOVEREIGN OVER ALL WE ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY RESPONSIBLE
Verses 15-26: Jeremiah stressed the sovereignty and power of the God who guaranteed Babylon’s fall. God’s power and wisdom are demonstrated in His creation, His control over a thunderstorm v 16. In contrast all mankind is stupid, devoid of knowledge v 17…his molten images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery v 18 in the time of their punishment they will perish. The portion of Jacob is not like these; for the Maker of all is He…the Lord of hosts is His name v 19. He says, you [Babylon] are My war-club, my weapon of war; with you I shatter nations, and with you I destroy kingdoms v 20…I will repay Babylon ... for all the evil that they have done in Zion v 24.
Application: Again we see the sovereignty of God in that Babylon is His war-club to shatter other nations. Then we see the free will of man because God will judge Babylon and repay them for all the evil they have one in Zion. Both things are 100% true.
GOD MUSTERS THE SPECIFIC MEANS BY WHICH HE DELIVERS VENGEANCE
Verses 27-33: For the second time (50:2), God summons the nations against her [Babylon] v 27-28. In addition to the Medes, already mentioned, this invasion force will include the kingdoms of Ararat [Turkey area], Minni [western Iran] and Ashkenaz [between other two areas]. The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting v 30, they stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted. Their houses were burned, the gates broken. The men of war are terrified v 32. God says, Babylon is like a threshing floor v 33. When soldiers stop fighting because they are terrified, well, then you have a big problem. It forecasts defeat. The war is lost. The people captured, the nation seized.
Application: The means God uses to deliver vengeance will include implements useful for that purpose. God uses nations against nations for such outcomes. He will also use the final judgment at the Great White Throne (Rev 20) to deliver judgment against the Beast, false prophet, Satan and unbelievers.
GOD WILL AVENGE THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE FOR JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT
Verses 34-44: The Jews’ complaint against Babylon: Babylon has devoured me ... crushed me ... set me down like an empty vessel ... swallowed me like a monster ... has washed me away v 34. Their prayer to God: May the violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon ... and may my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea v 35. God replied, I am going to ... exact full vengeance for you v 36. Babylon will be a land engulfed with its tumultuous waves v 42 [like a tsunami overflowed it] and like a parched land and a desert, a land in which no man lives v 43. And God will make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth v 44, that is, the Jewish captives will be released. The wall of Babylon has fallen down! This is a huge work of God. Nebuchadnezzar believed the city to be impenetrable.
Application: Here we can see God answered their prayer, which is God keeping His promise to Abraham, the one who curses you I will curse (Genesis 12:3). So their prayer was in keeping with God’s will for Israel. This is similar to the martyrs cry to God for judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth (Rev 6:10). For us in the church age, we’re told, never pay back evil for evil to anyone ... Never take your own revenge ... ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink ... do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:19-21). So for us, pray that we can be obedient and overcome evil with good. Don’t worry. God is the judge, and if there is to be vengeance someday, He’ll take care of it.
ITS INCUMBENT UPON US TO WARN OF IMPENDING FINAL JUDGMENT TO COME
Verses 45-53: God told the Jews living in Babylon Come forth from her midst, my people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the Lord v 45. They are not to be afraid of reports of victory or violence in the land v 46 but be confident that God will judge Babylon v 47. Then heaven and earth ... will shout for joy over Babylon, for the destroyers will come to her v 48.
Application: A Rapture is not unusual. We have many examples of God removing His people before He acts in judgment: Noah, Lot, those with blood on the doorposts in Egypt, Rahab, Jews taken captive to Babylon, the Jews told to leave before God destroys Babylon, and those at the beginning of the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:16-18). The next event in Gods prophetic plan is the imminent rapture.
Babylon is to fall for the slain of Israel v 49. Those escaping Babylon are to hurry, they are to remember the Lord from afar, and let Jerusalem come to your mind v 50. For aliens have entered the holy places of the Lord’s house v 51 and God will punish her idols v 52. Reminiscent of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:4), though Babylon should ascend to the heavens, and though she should fortify her lofty stronghold ... From Me destroyers will come to her, declares the Lord v 53.
Application: From the beginning in the Garden of Eden, when the serpent told Eve, indeed, has God said ...and You surely shall not die! (Genesis 3:1-4), Satan and his world system are convincing people that they are in control and stronger than God. Don’t believe their lie! From God, destroyers will come some day. And evil will be destroyed. God will be the victor! Babylon was destroyed. Its walls gone. Today they are rebuilding Babylon, it will be the center of commerce during the Tribulation and the antichrist’s reign, but God will destroy it again (Revelation 17–18), for the final time.
ONCE GOD DELIVERS VENGEANCE IT WILL BE THE FINAL VINDICATION
Verses 54-64: Repeating again the promised destruction of Babylon the Lord is going to destroy Babylon v 55. For the destroyer is coming against her, against Babylon v 56. For God is a God of recompense, He will fully repay.
Application: It’s interesting that today people seem to want a God of love. Here God is described as a God of recompense (to reward or punish someone appropriately for an action). Their idea of love is to tolerate and not hold accountable. Do not have consequences for bad behavior. But love to God is to hold people accountable for what they do. Today we are to do good to our enemies, because of our obedience to God who said to do that. But we are promised that He will one day judge our enemy [and us, by the way] appropriately.
Finally, Jeremiah commands Seraiah (the brother of Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch, see 32:12), when he went to Babylon with King Zedekiah in the fourth year of his reign (594-593 B.C.) v 59. Zedekiah was forced to make an official trip to Babylon, and he brought with him Baruch’s brother Seraiah. Jeremiah wrote in a single scroll all the calamity which would come upon Babylon (most likely a copy of chapters 50-51) v 60. He gave the scroll to Seraiah and told him to read all these words aloud when he got to Babylon, thus declaring that Babylon would be cut off, so that there will be nothing dwelling it, whether man or beast v 61-62. Then as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates, and say, “Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again v 63-64. This will be finally fulfilled at the Second Coming of Christ (Revelation 17–18).
Application: Most expositors who take these prophecies literally look for a future fulfillment in an even more violent and permanent destruction of Babylon, sometime in the future. Many expositors believe Rev 17-18 gives further revelation about that fall. Some look for a rebuilding of the ancient city and its subsequent destruction, some modern form—of what Babylon represented in ancient times—is in view.
1. Justice is a component of Gods rule that is destined to be accomplished. Societies hope for this shows.
2. Our longing for, desire of, prayer about justice prevailing is a godly hope consistent with Gods plans.
3. Be merciful. Turn your cheek. Love your enemy. Let God pursue vengeance and he will fully.