It was just so absurd. The message was too ridicules to be taken seriously. “Babylon the Great is going to fall? Not only fall but become uninhabited? A haunt for jackals? You’re saying the most power nation on earth is going to be completely, utterly, and definitively destroyed? It will be no more? Says who?” When the answer came, “Jeremiah the prophet of God” no doubt some responded, “Crazy Jerry is at it again.” Sometimes it is hard for us to understand how absurd Jeremiah sounded. After all we are “this” side of the story. History has vindicated him. But at the time of his ministry he seemed like a nut! Babylon was the super power of its day. Economically, militarily, culturally and religiously they dominated the world. They seemed unstoppable. Yet God’s prophet boldly declared Babylon would fall. God’s instrument in bringing judgment on Judah and the surrounding nations would herself be judged.
Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon takes up two full chapters totaling 110 verses. In fact it is longer than his oracles against the other nations combined. If you read chapters 50 and 51 together you find yourself saying, “This is redundant. He keeps saying the same thing over and over. Why doesn’t he just say it and be done with it?” You might even being thinking of Jeremiah what you think of me on occasion – “Is he ever going to find a place to land this turkey? He just keeps circling and every time he comes in for a landing – he takes off again.” But there is a reason to his madness. He is repeating himself for just cause – he is seeking to show that God is going to completely and finally destroy Babylon. Second, he is driving it into the ground because he knows people aren’t going to believe it. By his adamantly stating it again and again he is hoping to convince them that this is really going to happen.
In typical Jeremiah fashion he provides his last object lesson to drive the message home. Do you remember what he did back in 13:1-11? He took his new linen belt and buried it near the Euphrates. He went back a year later and dug it up to drive home the truth that God will save a remnant. Or how about 19:1-15 when he bought that nice clay jar and invited everyone out to the garbage dump to watch his break it? Do you remember? This is what God is going to do to Jerusalem. Then there was 32:1-44 when he bought a field in enemy territory to show that God would bring his people home. Well here in chapter 51 we find another of his object lessons.
The word that 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. Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster 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, and say, O LORD, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever. When you finish reading this book, , tie 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 disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
(Jeremiah 51:59-64, ESV)
The message was pretty clear – Babylon is sunk! Which would have been a ridiculous message at the time.
Chapter 51 describes in very dramatic language the fall of Babylon.
- It is clear the attack on her will be carefully orchestrated – (12-13)
- The attack will be overwhelming – (14, 33)
- The city would be pounded and then stripped – (3-4, 29-30)
- Babylon will be like an extinct volcano – (22-26)
- She will be like a desert waste – (36-37)
I love the picture given in 51:31-32. This is a little insight into Babylon’s war room:
One runner runs to meet another,
and one messenger to meet another,
to tell the king of Babylon
that his city is taken on every side;
the fords have been seized,
the marshes are burned with fire,
and the soldiers are in panic.
God is moving against Babylon. The hunter becomes the hunted. The oppressor is now the oppressed. God’s judgment is to be swift, thorough, terrifying and final.
Text: Jeremiah 51:1-64
As we reflect on this chapter considering its message for us today I want us to note that…
Thesis: God’s sovereign judgment of Babylon provides some important lessons and a sober warning.
- God’s judgment reminds us that He is just, and powerful and that He graciously responds to the prayers of His people.
- God’s judgment of Babylon and her wicked ways serves as a sober warning to those who would stand against Him.