The Utter Destruction of Babylon
51 Thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer
against the inhabitants of Leb-kamai,
and I will send to Babylon winnowers,
and they shall winnow her,
and they shall empty her land,
when they come against her from every side
on the day of trouble.
Let not the archer bend his bow,
and let him not stand up in his armor.
Spare not her young men;
devote to destruction all her army.
They shall fall down slain in the land of the Chaldeans,
and wounded in her streets.
For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken
by their God, the LORD of hosts,
but the land of the Chaldeans is full of guilt
against the Holy One of Israel.
“Flee from the midst of Babylon;
let every one save his life!
Be not cut off in her punishment,
for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance,
the repayment 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!
Take balm for her pain;
perhaps she may be healed.
We would have healed Babylon,
but she was not healed.
Forsake her, and let us go
each to his own country,
for her judgment has reached up to heaven
and has been lifted up even to the skies.
The LORD has brought about our vindication;
come, let us declare in Zion
the work of the LORD our God.
“Sharpen the arrows!
Take up the shields!
The LORD has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because his purpose concerning Babylon is to destroy it, for that is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for his temple.
“Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon;
make the watch strong;
set up watchmen;
prepare the ambushes;
for the LORD has both planned and done
what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon.
O you who dwell by many waters,
rich in treasures,
your end has come;
the thread of your life is cut.
The LORD of hosts has sworn by himself:
Surely I will fill you with men, as many as locusts,
and they shall raise the shout of victory over you.
“It is he who made the earth by his power,
who established the world by his wisdom,
and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.
When he utters his voice there is a tumult of waters in the heavens,
and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth.
He makes lightning for the rain,
and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses.
Every man is stupid and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols,
for his images are false,
and there is no breath in them.
They are worthless, a work of delusion;
at the time of their punishment they shall perish.
Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob,
for he is the one who formed all things,
and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance;
the LORD of hosts is his name.
“You are my hammer and weapon of war:
with you I break nations in pieces;
with you I destroy kingdoms;
with you I break in pieces the horse and his rider;
with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer;
with you I break in pieces man and woman;
with you I break in pieces the old man and the youth;
with you I break in pieces the young man and the young woman;
with you I break in pieces the shepherd and his flock;
with you I break in pieces the farmer and his team;
with you I break in pieces governors and commanders.
“I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done in Zion, declares the LORD.
“Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,
declares the LORD,
which destroys the whole earth;
I will stretch out my hand against you,
and roll you down from the crags,
and make you a burnt mountain.
No stone shall be taken from you for a corner
and no stone for a foundation,
but you shall be a perpetual waste,
declares the LORD.
“Set up a standard on the earth;
blow the trumpet among the nations;
prepare the nations for war against her;
summon against her the kingdoms,
Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz;
appoint a marshal against her;
bring up horses like bristling locusts.
Prepare the nations for war against her,
the kings of the Medes, with their governors and deputies,
and every land under their dominion.
The land trembles and writhes in pain,
for the LORD’s purposes against Babylon stand,
to make the land of Babylon a desolation,
The warriors of Babylon have ceased fighting;
they remain in their strongholds;
their strength has failed;
they have become women;
her dwellings are on fire;
her bars are broken.
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.
For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor
at the time when it is trodden;
yet a little while
and the time of her harvest will come.”
“Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me;
he has crushed me;
he has made me an empty vessel;
he has swallowed me like a monster;
he has filled his stomach with my delicacies;
he has rinsed me out.
The violence done to me and to my kinsmen be upon Babylon,”
let the inhabitant of Zion say.
“My blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,”
let Jerusalem say.
Therefore thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will plead your cause
and take vengeance for you.
I will dry up her sea
and make her fountain dry,
and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins,
the haunt of jackals,
a horror and a hissing,
“They shall roar together like lions;
they shall growl like lions’ cubs.
While they are inflamed I will prepare them a feast
and make them drunk, that they may become merry,
then sleep a perpetual sleep
and not wake, declares the LORD.
I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter,
like rams and male goats.
“How Babylon is taken,
the praise of the whole earth seized!
How Babylon has become
a horror among the nations!
The sea has come up on Babylon;
she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
Her cities have become a horror,
a land of drought and a desert,
a land in which no one dwells,
and through which no son of man passes.
And I will punish Bel in Babylon,
and take out of his mouth what he has swallowed.
The nations shall no longer flow to him;
the wall of Babylon has fallen.
“Go out of the midst of her, my people!
Let every one save his life
from the fierce anger of the LORD!
Let not your heart faint, and be not fearful
at the report heard in the land,
when a report comes in one year
and afterward a report in another year,
and violence is in the land,
and ruler is against ruler.
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming
when I will punish the images of Babylon;
her whole land shall be put to shame,
and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her.
Then the heavens and the earth,
and all that is in them,
shall sing for joy over Babylon,
for the destroyers shall come against them out of the north,
declares the LORD.
Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel,
just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth.
“You who have escaped from the sword,
go, do not stand still!
Remember the LORD from far away,
and let Jerusalem come into your mind:
‘We are put to shame, for we have heard reproach;
dishonor has covered our face,
for foreigners have come
into the holy places of the LORD’s house.’
“Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD,
when I will execute judgment upon her images,
and through all her land
the wounded shall groan.
Though Babylon should mount up to heaven,
and though she should fortify her strong height,
yet destroyers would come from me against her,
declares the LORD.
“A voice! A cry from Babylon!
The noise of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans!
For the LORD is laying Babylon waste
and stilling her mighty voice.
Their waves roar like many waters;
the noise of their voice is raised,
for a destroyer has come upon her,
her warriors are taken;
their bows are broken in pieces,
for the LORD is a God of recompense;
he will surely repay.
I will make drunk her officials and her wise men,
her governors, her commanders, and her warriors;
they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake,
declares the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts:
The broad wall of Babylon
shall be leveled to the ground,
and her high gates
shall be burned with fire.
The peoples labor for nothing,
and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”
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 Commentary
by Hank Workman
It’s a dramatic end to the prophecies of Jeremiah. His final words spoken are against Babylon with great detail of what God will do this nation. Like the scroll of which these words were written are tied with a stone and thrown into the depths of the Euphrates so will the kingdom of Babylon sink and rise no more.
The reality of these words sink deep. God’s sovereignty is over all. Nations rise and fall by His command. He deals with the oppressors of His people. He has the final say. He acts in justice. Although Babylon had been used by God to bring about His judgments on Israel they too would be held in the same place. There is no doubt God allows evil to inundate this world, simply look at the headlines every single hour even, we must not forget He is over all and at some point will rise up and show the majesty of who He is. Oh, don’t forget He gets the last word.
The rub in all of this is we often are held by an oppressor. Evil from others affects us. We also endure many times our own discipline from the Lord by our choices. This was true of Israel and Judah. This is true of us. Our lack of obedience and follow through with the things God’s call does indeed have a price. But the beauty that stands out in this passage is a word given to His people who are in the current of such oppression.
“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.”Jeremiah 51:5 NIV
God’s form of discipline on His people would cost them everything. Their blatant sin was a stench to His nostrils. Yet because He loved them, which is part the reason the discipline came, He had not forgotten them. Even though their land, as the passage states was filled with guilt, His intention was to lead them back to Him through their hardship.
This is the unending mercy of God. This is the grace He gives even in our hardship from our own foolish and terrible choices. He still loves His people. He will hand them over for discipline but also relent when the truth of repentance takes place.
None of us deserve this. Absolutely none of us deserve a second or for that matter one-hundredth chance. He will go to whatever length to reach us. He will use whatever means necessary to break our will and stubborn pride. But He doesn’t forget us. He has not forsaken.
What is God attempting to do in your current situation? What hardship are you enduring because of your own choices that were completely opposite to what He had for you? The discipline of the Lord is hard to bear. But it is with a tremendous goal of His in bringing you back by such a relentless love.
Jeremiah 51 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As I look over the book of Jeremiah and see now how the final judgment of Babylon is going down, it’s pretty amazing to think about all that Jeremiah has been through. God has provided for him and kept him alive through the whole thing. From the beginning when He asked him to run with the horses, God stayed true to His Word.
Now we see Jeremiah give a final prophecy to Babylon in dramatic fashion as he asks to have a scroll read and then tossed to the bottom of the Euphrates river with a stone tied to it. The symbolism, of course, is that Babylon will be no more. It would be shocking.
At its pinnacle in 560 BC, Babylon had conquered the Assyrian Empire along with Judah and Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar ruled the entire fertile crescent of land including Arabia. Though it seemed impossible by human standards, it would all come crashing down by the hand of God.
But what I really want to stress today is that God is always faithful. He was faithful to Jeremiah, and He was faithful to bringing his people back to Zion and restoring them again. He was faithful in bringing judgment to their enemies. We so quickly forget of His faithfulness!