Jeremiah 51


God never changes in two senses: he always remains consistent in the principles by which he operates, and he is forever constant in the fulfillment of his promises and decrees. We can have perfect confidence that the promises of God are sure to the believer because they are founded on the same principle of immutability on which the very existence of God is based. He cannot lie (Hebrews 6: 18). He cannot fail (Deuteronomy 31: 6). God is ever the same: the immutable one, and his Word is ever the same: incontrovertible. – John D. Garr, Our Lost Legacy: Christianity’s Hebrew Heritage

Two more days of the Jeremiah’s Prophecies to close out this Book—and the week!

“But I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all their evil that they have done in Zion before your eyes,” declares the Lord. 25 “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys the whole earth,” declares the Lord, “And I will stretch out My hand against you, and roll you down from the crags, and I will make you a burnt out mountain (Jer 51:24-25 NASB).

In Scripture, great empires are addressed as “mountains,” with the phrase, “destroying mountain” referring to all the conquests of the Babylonian Empire. But despite all of its power, the LORD said that He would make it a “burnt out mountain.”

“They will not take from you even a stone for a corner nor a stone for foundations, but you will be desolate forever,” declares the Lord. 27 Lift up a signal in the land, blow a trumpet among the nations! Consecrate the nations against her, summon against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz; appoint a marshal against her, bring up the horses like bristly locusts. 28 Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their prefects, and every land of their dominion. 29 So the land quakes and writhes, for the purposes of the Lord against Babylon stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitants (Jer 51:26-29 NASB).

Jeremiah is giving this Prophecy about 50 years before the fall of Babylon, and yet the LORD proclaims the fact that it will be the “Medes” who will overcome this mighty Empire.

The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they stay in the strongholds; their strength is exhausted, they are becoming like women; their dwelling places are set on fire, the bars of her gates are broken. 31 One courier runs to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to tell the king of Babylon that his city has been captured from end to end; 32 The fords also have been seized, and they have burned the marshes with fire, and the men of war are terrified (Jer 51:30-32 NASB).

Babylon became soft because of her corruption. When the Medes and the Persians laid siege to the city, Babylon was no longer depending on her mighty army but rather on the defenses of the impregnable city.  But the city was only impregnable in their minds.  Its leaders and military had grown lazy and effeminate.

For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is stamped firm; yet in a little while the time of harvest will come for her.” 34 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured me and crushed me, he has set me down like an empty vessel; he has swallowed me like a monster, he has filled his stomach with my delicacies; he has washed me away. 35 “May the violence done to me and to my flesh be upon Babylon,” the inhabitant of Zion will say; and, “May my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea,” Jerusalem will say (Jer 51:33-35 NASB).

Though Nebuchadnezzar was commissioned by God to destroy Judah and Jerusalem, it seems he carried his commission too far, engaging them with great cruelty. So as violence was done to Judah and Jerusalem, likewise violence will be done to Babylon.

Therefore thus says the Lord, “Behold, I am going to plead your case and exact full vengeance for you; and I will dry up her sea and make her fountain dry. 37 “Babylon will become a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and hissing, without inhabitants. 38 “They will roar together like young lions, they will growl like lions’ cubs. 39 “When they become heated up, I will serve them their banquet and make them drunk, that they may become jubilant and may sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake up,” declares the Lord. 40 “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams together with male goats (Jer 51:36-40 NASB).

And Persian King Cyrus would divert the Euphrates, enabling him to take the city of Babylon. And in this, the LORD would “plead the case or cause” of Israel.  However, the total fulfillment of this Prophecy awaits its fulfillment.  At that time, the “roar” of the “lion” Babylon when it is attacked by the invader will be as a little cub.

The drunken and boastful feast of Belshazzar is believed to have been in honor of the great goddess “Shac,” and it was accompanied by obscene rituals and pagan ceremonies that need not be described. The introduction of the Temple vessels into such orgies of idolatry emphasized the bold vileness of the Babylonian monarch.  But as Jerusalem was a “lamb to the slaughter,” likewise was Babylon to be.

“I will punish Bel in Babylon, and I will make what he has swallowed come out of his mouth; and the nations will no longer stream to him. Even the wall of Babylon has fallen down! 45 “Come forth from her midst, My people, and each of you save yourselves from the fierce anger of the Lord. 46 “Now so that your heart does not grow faint, and you are not afraid at the report that will be heard in the land— for the report will come one year, and after that another report in another year, and violence will be in the land with ruler against ruler— 47 Therefore behold, days are coming when I will punish the idols of Babylon; and her whole land will be put to shame and all her slain will fall in her midst (Jer 51:44-47 NASB).

“Bel” was the patron deity of Babylon. Some 50 years before it actually happened, the LORD warned of the coming “judgment” because of Babylon’s continued idol worship.  The LORD would cause even the great wall of Babylon—300 feet high, 90 feet wide, and 60 miles long—to be breached by the Medes and the Persians.  If possible, the captive Jews were to leave the city at the time of the siege by the Medes and the Persians because it was sure to fall and the fall would result in great slaughter.

We are ashamed because we have heard reproach; disgrace has covered our faces, for aliens have entered the holy places of the Lord’s house. 52 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “When I will punish her idols, and the mortally wounded will groan throughout her land. 53 “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. 54 The sound of an outcry from Babylon, and of great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans! (Jer 51:51-54 NASB).

The soldiers of Nebuchadnezzar, when taking Jerusalem, went into the Temple and looted all its treasures before destroying the building. As a result, because of their 70 years of captivity, the Hebrew children had suffered reproach and shame.  But Babylon would be judged.  She would not recognize Jehovah God, and therefore, she would suffer great defeat.

“I will make her princes and her wise men drunk, her governors, her prefects and her mighty men, that they may sleep a perpetual sleep and not wake up,” Declares the King, whose name is the Lord of hosts. 58 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “The broad wall of Babylon will be completely razed and her high gates will be set on fire; so the peoples will toil for nothing, and the nations become exhausted only for fire” (Jer 51:55-58 NASB).

Loud were the boastings of Babylon, but her boastings would be silenced. Immense multitudes of slaves were employed in building the mighty walls and fashioning in the fire the brazen gates of Babylon, but their labor was in vain and only secured weariness.

The message which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the grandson of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. (Now Seraiah was quartermaster.) 60 So Jeremiah wrote in a single scroll all the calamity which would come upon Babylon, that is, all these words which have been written concerning Babylon. 61 Then Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “As soon as you come to Babylon, then see that you read all these words aloud, 62 and say, ‘You, O Lord, have promised concerning this place to cut it off, so that there will be nothing dwelling in it, whether man or beast, but it will be a perpetual desolation.’ 63 And as soon as you finish reading this scroll, you will tie a stone to it and throw it into the middle of the Euphrates, 64 and say, ‘Just so shall Babylon sink down and not rise again because of the calamity that I am going to bring upon her; and they will become exhausted.’” Thus far are the words of Jeremiah (Jer 51:59-64 NASB).

This volume of Prophecies concerning Babylon was dispatched to that city some 6 years before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The exiles were instructed to read the Prophecies carefully, which, no doubt, strengthened them even in the time of their great calamity.  They had to wonder, though, how such could even begin to come to pass.  It would have required Faith beyond circumstances to believe the Word of God.

The sinking of the stone with the Prophecies attached portrayed Babylon’s demise. The world’s system is going to “sink” and will “not rise again because of the calamity” that God will bring upon her.

But and if you suffer for Righteousness’ sake, happy are you; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled. But Sanctify the LORD God in your hearts; and be ready always to give an answer to every man who ask you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.  Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ (I Peter 3:14-16 KJV).