Thursday, December 23, 2021

Doom of Babylon

Week 51 – Book of Jeremiah

Read: Jeremiah Chapter 51


Sometimes called the prophet of the new covenant, Jeremiah’s text bears great significance in the New Testament, strategically linking the Old and New Testaments. As Jesus uses the Last Supper to commission the New Covenant with, “This cup which is poured our for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:20) In reading Hebrews 8, Scripture concerning the new covenant quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34. “Clearly, the New Testament writers conclude that Jeremiah 31:31-34 looks forward to Christ’s work on the cross and to the creation of a faithful people of God.”[1]

Regarding the covenant between God and Israel, Jeremiah recognizes “the covenant bound Israel to God in a special relationship of love, faithfulness, and hope. But the covenant had two sides.”[2] Disobedience brings punishment and exile, while obedience brings blessing is found in various places in the OT. The new covenant would be different, would be everlasting forgiveness. In Jeremiah, the Messiah is referred to as “the coming Shepherd, righteous Branch, and a King that “shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. The God who fulfills His promises (covenants) with Abraham and Moses, and His people will make a new covenant.”[3] This new covenant would remain a constant hope for the centuries after Jeremiah. Christ fulfills this promise, and that hope continues to be the hope of humanity until the end of time. The old covenant never promised final forgiveness, as a series of sacrifices continued to be required, each year on the Day of Atonement the High Priest would make a blood sacrifice on the altar of the Holy of Holies. Christ, the Lamb of God, becomes the last and permanent blood sacrifice, rending the veil of the Holy of Holies ushering in the New Covenant.

This new covenant, a new way to be in relationship with God, comes with an internal power when the law is written on the heart, not stone tablets. The individual is transformed by God Himself. In Christianity, Christ becomes this New Covenant, this new way to have a relationship with God. What is the difference? Placing our faith in Christ is all about Grace, recognizing none will ever be able to be sin-free but anyone can be eternally forgiven. The Grace side of the covenant can never change. As for humanity, we can choose this or reject it, choose to ask Christ to come into our hearts or ignore God. This restoration truly becomes a matter of the heart, as the Holy Spirit dwells in each Believer. Grace is penned on the heart of every Believer. Foretold by Isaiah and Jeremiah, the New Covenant, initiated with Christ’s death and resurrection, becomes the Good News!!


Babylon, land of idols, is refers to in chapter 51:1 as “Leb-kamai” which cryptically translates to “the heart of those rising up against Me.”[4] The agricultural process of winnowing (v2) suggests Babylon will be blown away as the worthless chaff from wheat is discarded. “Despite all the judgements that God has sent on Judah and Israel, He has not… forsaken them and will invite them to the new covenant. (31:31-34)[5] In another image, a golden cup,  Babylon is compared to a “vessel in the hand of God.”[6]

The Lord’s vengeance will stand. There will be no healing in Babylon. Wiersbe says “They had been weaving the luxurious tapestry of their power and wealth on the loom,”[7] and now God says the end is coming. Babylon will now be God’s weapon of destruction. (v 20) Again, in these verses the imagery predicts retribution for the crimes of arrogance and cruelty. Bel, Babylon’s chief idol, will be punished. Remember the dimensions of the wall surrounding Babylon? So wide several chariots side by side could race around it, prophecy says, “Even the wall of Babylon has fallen down.” (v 44) The wall is breached by Cyrus from underneath and literally falls when Alexander the Great captures the city.

These two chapters (50-51) are “copied in a separate [scroll] and sent to Babylon in a deputation headed by King Zedekiah, seven years before Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem. (51:59-64) The [scroll] was to be read publicly and then, in solemn ceremony, sunk in the Euphrates, with the words, ‘so will Babylon sink to rise not more’.”[8] In the last verses we meet Seraiah the son of Neriah the scribe who is to take the scroll and read it. A royal quartermaster means that likely Seraiah accompanied the king on official duties. “A seal acquired on the antiquities market reads Belonging to Seraiah (son of) Neriah. His lineage is given as son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah (Jer 51:59). This is the same lineage as that of Baruch, Jeremiah’s secretary (32:12), indicating that Seraiah was Baruch’s brother.”[9] The ending of Babylon is specifically defined and will be fulfilled.


Reflection ~ Christmas is here!

When I discovered Your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear Your name. Jeremiah 15:16

The expectant waiting in Advent leads us to celebrate Christ as the Messiah, to seek Christ more every day, to know Jesus as our source of joy. In Philippians 4:4, Paul reminds, Rejoice in The Lord always, again, I will say rejoice! The world continually bombards us with crisis and chaos, disappointment and doubt, fear and fatigue. The contrast between Paul's words and our realities appear to clash. How can we rejoice when difficult circumstances prevail, when constant hardship lingers? God's word provides His wisdom, reveals His promises, offers His hope. Reading and studying the Bible teach us how to love, when to pray, and where to serve. We can only find real joy in Jesus.

In the Nativity, hope comes quietly, love comes small, joy comes easily, but with the Crucifixion, hope faints, love chooses, and joy weeps. These two events cannot be separated, the sweet and the bittersweet. The emotions born with Jesus crash into the harsh realities of the cross; the Messiah comes because the world needs Grace. With His Resurrection, Hope shouts, Love lives, and Joy reigns! Through Grace, Christ brings us abundant life. God's word instructs us, "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you." [Colossians 3:16] Discover and devour God's word. Then, and only then, can we celebrate God all day, every day. 

Celebrate the Season of Giving... 

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

As Christ is reborn in you and in me, let us ask ourselves who else needs this Grace? Will you share the Gospel message of Jesus with others here or throughout the world? What can you give to honor the Prince of Peace? 


At the time this prophecy comes, no one could even begin to imagine that this could happen to the Babylonian Empire, that its reign as a Supreme Power could end.

Thinking about our own country, the United States of America, we hold a similar view. Certainly, we think, nothing could end the reign of our country as a Superpower, for our political, military, economic, humanitarian, and environmental strategies exceed most any standard in the world. What do you think? Could we fall? And if so, what would likely be our downfall? How can we stay focused and not fall prey to arrogance and idolatry? Or are we closer than we know?

Donna Oswalt

[1] Shepherd’s Notes: Jeremiah and Lamentations Introduction

[2] NKJV Study Bible Jeremiah notes

[3] Ibid

[4] Walking. The Ancient Paths, Kaiser, Walter C, p 565

[5] ESV Global Study Bible Jeremiah chapter 51

[6] Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary Jeremiah chapter 51

[7] Be Decisive, Wiersbe Warren, p179

[8] Halleys Bible Handbook

[9] Archeological Study Bible, Seraiah son of Neriah,

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