Week 50 – Book of Jeremiah
Read: Jeremiah Chapter 50; Revelation Chapters 17-18
In 539 BC when Cyrus of Persia arrives, the Babylonian Empire falls, and 70 years of captivity comes to an end for the people of Judah. Remembering Jeremiah’s prophecy for the coming captives in chapter 29, the people had settled in and tried to establish themselves as God said, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”(29:7) Prophets in Babylon, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, attempt to bring God’s messages and discredit the false prophets. Now, Cyrus comes as a liberator, allowing them to return to Jerusalem, but Babylon will suffer its own destruction in time.
After Nebuchadnezzar dies in 562 BC, there are several leaders that are assassinated, but eventually Nabonidus “assumes power appointing his son Belshazzar as co-ruler” who is responsible for the “ungodly feast” that included gold and silver vessels taken from the Temple in Jerusalem. (Daniel 5) Belshazzar perishes during the Mede-Persian takeover!
Babylon, recognized as a formidable city mostly because of Nebuchadnezzar, is secured by “2 sets of walls, inner and outer, 350 feet high, 87 feet thick” with “150 gates of solid brass” at entrances with “250 watch towers, 100 feet higher than the wall itself.” Essentially, there is little vulnerability. In Ezekiel 17:12-24, “Ezekiel echoes the prophecies of Jeremiah relating to Babylonian captivity. It’s obvious from these many passages in the prophets that Babylon occupies a large place in the prophetical program of the Old Testament for the nations surrounding Israel.”
The Medes, one of the many nations, will be punished by God (Jeremiah 25:25), and in chapter 51:11, 28, the Medes will be used to destroy Babylon. Remember, Babylon steals all the Temple treasures, and God’s righteous anger rests on Babylon. “Long before Babylon fell, it was predicted that the Medes would be God’s avenging instrument.” Old Testament prophets Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi give their prophecies during the reign of the Mede-Persian Empire. In this era, the Jewish exiles are allowed to return to Jerusalem and restore the city and the Temple. Cyrus promotes religious freedom. With the fall of the Babylonian Empire, a symbol of moral and religious depravity, these Gentiles and their culture with its pagan ideas continue to pass through the centuries to come.
The expansive new power of the Medes and Persians has been underestimated. The rise of the Medes comes after the Assyrian Empire falls. Persia is also a rising power, and together, Media and Persia form a common government which lasts until Alexander the Great conquers them in 331 BC, some two hundred years later.
Babylon, referenced in Revelation 17-18, may or may not be referring to the Babylonian Empire of the Old Testament. Certainly, it represents “an influence for evil politically and religiously” and will “not be terminated until Jesus Christ comes in power and glory to reign.”
With many parallels between Jeremiah 50-51 and Revelation 17-18, we read about God’s judgment on Babylon and its destruction. Together chapters 50-51 reveal this prophecy by Jeremiah. “Babylon is taken” (v 2). “God declares war on both Babylon and the gods of Babylon.” Again, the conquer comes from the north. Referring to the people of Judah as lost sheep, Wiersbe says, “While the immediate application is to the return of the exiles from Babylon, the ultimate reference includes the gathering of the Jews in the latter days.”
Babylon will be captured, and the Chaldeans will become their conqueror’s “plunder”. (v10) Why would God destroy Babylon after he gave them the ability to conquer Judah? They “rejoiced” far too much, taking advantage of the circumstances. (v11-13) God’s vengeance on Babylon comes with Cyrus (Medes-Persians), and later Alexander the Great with his Greek army. God’s plan is specific and final. Clearly, God intends to put an end to Babylon.
The Divine Plan comes in three parts: God declaring war with Babylon (50:1-28), God gathering armies against Babylon (50:29-51:26, and God arranging the victory over Babylon (51:27-28). In verse 29 the order is given, “Call together the archers against Babylon” and let no one escape. God reminds the children of Israel, their “Redeemer is strong.” (v34) We read of disruptions of war, distress and disaster follow. “For it is the land of carved images, and they are insane with their idols.” (v38b) These armies will be “cruel and shall not show mercy.” (v42)
Historically, records show Cyrus and later Alexander the Great will invade and conquer Babylon. God will “make their dwelling place desolate.” (v45) In His sovereignty, God’s will prevails. “At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth trembles, and the cry is heard among the nations.” (v46) There is no earthly power, no matter how great, can last forever.
Today, the nations of the world all stand in defiance, ignoring God, committing sins agains His laws and against each other. Along with terrorism, genocide, injustice, abuse, sex trafficking, and a myriad of crimes and wars, the list must also include our new, improved, 21st century idols – wealth, power, social status, technology, beauty, and on it goes. Israel (Northern Kingdom), Judah (Southern Kingdom), other nations, Babylon discover God’s righteous judgment. At some point, after all is recorded on history’s ledger, God’s most sovereign act will end this earthly confusion. For now, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near… I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelation 22:10-13)
Reflection – Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Anticipation
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
Psalm 104:1 NASB
In ancient Roman times, emblems of evergreens mean peace and joy and victory, while early Christians use these symbols to reflect that "Christ had entered the home." Now days, decorations of evergreen branches trim porches, mantles, and banisters; evergreen wreaths hang on windows, over fireplaces, outside doors. While these symbols reflect the celebration of the Advent season, this time of longing for the Messiah, the evergreens give continuous, unspoken reminders of God's endless mercy, everlasting life, eternal Hope. Since the first sin of mankind, throughout thousands of years, century after century, darkness waits for redemption, waits for the light that only Christ can reveal. Jesus' birth, rich with prophecy and promise, only unfolds part of God's Grace story. There is more, much more! This forgiven heart eagerly anticipates the conclusion of His story, the Second Advent of Christ, when Faithful and True returns for me.
At Jesus' birth, Mary wraps Him in cloths and lays Him in an animal’s trough. After Jesus' death, with permission from Pilate, a man called Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish Sanhedrin, takes the body of Jesus from the cross and wraps it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. Coming from a virgin womb and wrapped in cloths, Immanuel becomes grace to harsh world, and when calloused people crucify Him, the Lamb of God, wrapped in linen cloths, lay in a virgin tomb. Politics and power, greed and guilt, denial and death will never define the immutable life of Jesus; instead, the Messiah's victory over death and promise to return for His people enlarge God's never-ending story of Grace. The promise of Christ's Second Advent fills the mind seeking wonder and hope, stills the heart living grief and fear, and thrills the soul knowing grace and peace. Earthly wrappings can never tell the whole story of Advent!
and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, ...
He is clothed with robe dipped in blood,
and His names is called The Word of God...
And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written,
"KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."
Revelation 19:11-16 NASB
Clothed with splendor and majesty, Christ will come again. Surrounded by angels, His glory will illumine space; there will be no more darkness. LORD OF LORDS, the title declaring Him Lord over all, reigns forever. Jesus Christ - the Light of the World, the Messiah, KING OF KINGS - now waits in Heaven until the holy appointed time. Jesus waits for us to call on His name, waits for us to cry out in need, waits for us to share His Love, waits for us to speak His name. Listen! Every day the Word of God quills the story of everlasting love and unfailing grace. Believe! Every day, find Immanuel, God with us. Wait! Anticipate Advent every moment of your everyday. THIS is the Christmas Story!
There is so much to contemplate regarding Babylon’s destruction, and in the last days when Christ returns, there will be stark contrast between evil and good, between darkness and light. Prophecies fulfilled and still to come.
What influences your faith – for bad and good? Where does your faith rest?
Do you anticipate the Christmas story’s final chapter?
 Wiersbe Study Bible notes Jeremiah chapter 50