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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 50

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-46

Shall we turn now to Jeremiah chapter 50.

Chapter 50 begins with the words,

The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet ( Jeremiah 50:1 ).

The end of chapter 51 declares, "And thou shalt say, 'Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her, and they shall be weary.' Thus far are the words of Jeremiah." In other words, this is the completion of the words of Jeremiah. Now I only bring that up to show you the idiocy of what is known as "higher criticism" because this is one of the passages of scripture of whose authorship is questioned by these men who call themselves the higher critics. They challenge the authorship of Jeremiah of these particular two chapters. The reason, of course, for the challenge is that Jeremiah gives some pretty interesting facts concerning the destruction of Babylon and the fall of Babylon, and this is sixty-five years before the fall of Babylon. How could he know that that's the way it was going to happen? So surely Jeremiah could not have written it. And though Jeremiah declares it at the beginning of chapter 50 there, "by Jeremiah the prophet," and he concludes it by saying, "Thus far the words of Jeremiah." These men who declare themselves to be Bible scholars of great intellectual prowess challenge the authorship of Jeremiah of this particular passage. Well, I have little or no respect, (and that's putting it in a very positive way), for these men who claim to have such great understanding and all of the Bible, who take as their chief concern the challenging of everything in the Bible. It's a stupid waste of time.

Now the problem is if you go to seminary, or most seminaries today, to study the Bible, when you study in Jeremiah, you will spend more time in their stupid speculations of why Jeremiah did not write these last two chapters than you will the study of the book of Jeremiah. And that's what the study of Jeremiah amounts to in so many seminaries today of how that it really wasn't Jeremiah that wrote it. And that is just, again, a waste of time and a waste of money. It's just I get so upset with these things that I just... and these fellows. I like to just do what Jeremiah told Seraiah to do with the book. Tie a rock around it and throw it in the river Euphrates and say, "Thus shall Babylon sink." And I'd like to tie a millstone about their necks and toss them in with the book. Of course, Jesus would be there cheering me on, for He said concerning those that would turn away the faith of a child, "It were better for them that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be tossed in the Sea of Galilee than to offend the faith or one of these little ones who believe in Me" ( Luke 17:2 ). These men who have destroyed the faith of so many young students who have gone to seminary to study the Word of God only to find that their faith in God has been destroyed through their seminary experience. I would like to take each one of those Ph.D.'s and follow the advice of the Lord.

So, "The word that the Lord spake against Babylon." Now these are not really the words of Jeremiah. These are the words that the Lord has spoken, but Jeremiah was the instrument through which God spoke the word. We so often make the statement, "Well, Jeremiah said," and that's probably a wrong way to put it. In the New Testament, we find that when David was quoting the Psalms, so often rather than... beg your pardon. Peter was quoting this Psalms of David. Peter would usually say, "And the Holy Spirit spake by the mouth of David saying," attributing the true authorship to the Holy Spirit. Recognizing that David was only the instrument through which the Spirit spoke. So that Jeremiah was the instrument through which the Spirit gave forth the word. So, "The word of the Lord against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet." The Lord said to Jeremiah,

Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal it not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded ( Jeremiah 50:2 ),

The Lord, the word means Lord. It's the chief God.

and Merodach [another God of the Babylonians, Marduk] is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast ( Jeremiah 50:2-3 ).

Now as Jeremiah prophesies the destruction of Babylon, this is one of those interesting areas of scripture where there is a twofold fulfillment. There is the actual destruction of Babylon as is prophesied here in these passages of scripture, but then there is that looking forward into the yet future. In Revelation chapter 17 and 18, where the Lord takes up again the destruction of Babylon, but he is talking in Revelation 17:0 and 18 of spiritual Babylon, the false religious system of the last days and the great commercial system of the last days. So in Revelation 17 , the fall of the religious Babylon system; in chapter 18 the fall of the commercial system which are titled Babylon in a spiritual sense, which means confusion. And so it is interesting that as you read Jeremiah 50-51, where he tells of the destruction and the fall of Babylon, that some of these passages are parallel passages to Revelation 17:0 and 18. No doubt John in his writing, of course, familiar with Jeremiah and the Lord speaking again through John of the destruction of the religious system of Babylon and the commercial Babylon, uses some of the same phrases that are used here as God here predicts the judgment of God that is coming upon this great nation, the first world-governing empire and perhaps the greatest of all world-governing empires.

Now you remember when Nebuchadnezzar had his dream and he saw the image. It had the head of gold and he said, "Thou, O Nebuchadnezzar, are the head of gold in that your kingdom is superior to all kingdoms. But your kingdom is going to be replaced by an inferior kingdom inasmuch as silver is inferior to gold, and you saw the chest of silver. Your kingdom will be replaced by an inferior kingdom." And so the Babylon kingdom, the greatest kingdom in the history of the world and yet so thoroughly destroyed according to the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah that I dare say none of you have met a Babylonian. And if you did you wouldn't know, because as a race of people they do not exist anymore. As God's Word said they would be completely wiped out, they were. It said the city of Babylon would be left to ruins. It would be a place for jackals and owls and so forth. And if you go there today you'll find it's just a place of ruins. Wild animals dwelling among the ruins of a once great city, perhaps one of the greatest cities in the world. Twelve miles square surrounded by walls that were three hundred feet high and eighty feet thick and a city of beautiful gardens and just glory, the glory of Babylon. But God declares He's going to bring destruction upon them.

Now in those days when God brings His destruction against Babylon, God also declares that He is going to bring again His people from their captivity. Now again there is a twofold fulfillment. The prophecy has both its near and yet its yet future fulfillment. Because when the religious Babylon system is destroyed and the commercial Babylon system destroyed and the Lord comes again, He is going to gather together His people from all over the world and they're going to come and dwell there in Jerusalem. And so there is a twofold fulfillment of these prophecies that deal with Babylon and the regathering of God's people. And what took place in history is only sort of a type of what will yet take place in the future, as there is a twofold fulfillment to these prophecies.

So when Babylon is destroyed,

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together ( Jeremiah 50:4 ),

Now Israel was the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom; Judah was the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom. And the Lord said that when Babylon is destroyed they were going to come together.

There are those today who try to identify the Anglo-Saxon race of people with the tribes of Israel, and they have a phrase which they call the ten lost tribes. That is not really a scriptural phrase. Actually, the Bible speaks of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but not lost tribes. They're not lost; they never have been lost. God's always known where they were, and it would be wrong for God to talk of them as lost tribes, so He doesn't. But they try to identify the Anglo-Saxon. So the Danish people, they say, are the tribe of Dan. Settled in Danmark. And of course, it's close to Denmark, and so they say that the word ish in Hebrew is man, so Danish people are Dan's men. And then, of course, they tried to identify Sweden and England and all as other tribes. Of course, Joseph Smith had an interesting... whatever he had. Nephi and so forth, you know, came across the Pacific in these reed rafts and sailed in South America and so the Indians and so forth are the lost tribes.

Yet at this time they were brought together, both Israel and Judah. It is prophesied that they would come together.

going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God ( Jeremiah 50:4 ).

So this marvelous restoration was promised that though they have been driven away from the land, held and taken captive by Babylon, the day would come when with weeping they would return to seek the Lord.

They shall ask the way to Zion ( Jeremiah 50:5 )

Actually, most of them were born in Babylon. Had never seen Zion before, so really had no way to get there. So as they were journeying they would be asking people directions in how to get there. "They shall ask the way to Zion."

with their faces thitherward [or turned towards Zion], saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten ( Jeremiah 50:5 ).

The reason for their being exiled was they had forgotten the covenant of God. They had forsaken the covenant of God and turned and worshipped other gods. But now the commitment to go back and to worship God in this perpetual covenant.

My people [God declares] have been lost sheep ( Jeremiah 50:6 ):

Still owning them as His people. Even though they have failed, even though they have been taken captive, God still recognizes as, "My people have been lost sheep." But their problem was,

their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place ( Jeremiah 50:6 ).

So God places the blame upon the shepherds. James said, "Be not many masters, knowing that you will receive a greater condemnation" ( James 3:1 ). God has some very unkind things to say about false prophets and false shepherds. And people who pretend or presume to speak in the name of the Lord but whose real motive is only their own well-being and enrichment, who seek not the welfare of the flock of God but really seek their own welfare above everything else. God has some very heavy indictments against those kinds of shepherds--shepherds causing them to go astray, causing them to distrust the Word of God, causing them to distrust God Himself.

All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers. Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain. All of Chaldea shall be spoiled: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD. Because they were glad, and they rejoiced in the destruction of God's heritage, because you have grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls; Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert ( Jeremiah 50:7-12 ).

This nation that was once the glory of the earth is going to become barren.

Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD. Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do it unto her ( Jeremiah 50:13-15 ).

Now that's a phrase that also comes up in Revelation 18:0 as God speaks of the destruction of that commercial system of Babylon, "As she has done, do double," He declares, "unto her" ( Revelation 18:6 ). And so here the destruction of Babylon is predicted. The walls are to be destroyed. Walls, again, as we made mention, were three hundred feet high and eighty feet thick. Yet the prophet Jeremiah had the audacity to say they're going to tear down the walls. They did.

Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land. Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead ( Jeremiah 50:16-19 ).

Now that's Israel, that's the Northern Kingdom. That is not Judah, the Southern Kingdom.

In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve ( Jeremiah 50:20 ).

That, to me, is a beautiful passage of scripture. In that day you'll look for their sins but you can't find them. Not because they don't exist, but because God has pardoned them. David said, "O how happy is the man whose transgressions are forgiven. How happy is the man whose sins are covered. How happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity" ( Psalms 32:1-2 ). Paul, in quoting from the words of the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David, in Romans chapter 2 picks up that same refrain, "O how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity" ( Romans 4:8 ). Who is that happy man? It is the man who is believing and trusting in Jesus Christ. It's glorious to realize that as I walk in the light as He is in the light, as I believe and trust in Him, the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son is continually cleansing me from all of my sin. I have no sin. Why? Because God has pardoned me through Jesus Christ. And there is that continual work of God's love being wrought in me as there is that continual cleansing from my sins. So with Judah and Israel, God said they'll search but they can't find their sins because I pardoned them.

Now the interesting thing, of course, is that Satan is called the accuser of the brethren. It is declared in the scripture that he seeks to accuse them before God day and night. But he must have a wild time when he's trying to accuse us before the Lord, because the Lord says, "What sins? I don't know of any sins, you know." "Yeah, but didn't you see them last week. They really blew it, you know." "Didn't see a thing." "Oh, come on now, you know." "I pardoned them." Because of your belief and trust in Jesus Christ. Oh, if we only realize the marvelous grace of God towards us.

Now it is wrong, absolutely wrong, for us to then presume against that grace, or to use the grace of God as a cloak for our lasciviousness. That is not what the scripture is referring to at all. "Shall we sin freely that grace may abound? God forbid. How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?" ( Romans 6:1-2 ) I am not to take advantage. I really can't take advantage. God won't let me take advantage of His grace. If I'm just going out and sinning with the anticipation, "Well, God will forgive me," then I've got this whole thing totally wrong and I'm in serious trouble. For whosoever is born of God does not live in the practice of sin. And the very fact that I can go out and deliberately and willfully practice sin would bring into question whether or not I am truly born again. The grace of God is not there for me to presume upon and just to make a covering so that I can sin with impunity and just say, "Well, God's going to cover with His grace." Never. But it's good to know that as I'm seeking the Lord and I'm trying to follow after Him, through the weakness of my flesh I may fail or I may fall, but as I am loving and serving the Lord, God doesn't impute iniquity against me. He's not a Santa Claus in the sky who's making out a list, checking it twice, finding out who's naughty and nice. He has no list on me. He's thrown the record away. "O how happy is the man to whom God does not impute iniquity." That man who is seeking to serve the Lord with his whole heart. Who has denied himself to take up the cross to follow Him. "I will pardon them whom I reserve." I love that.

Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the LORD, and do according to all that I have commanded thee. A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. How is the hammer of the whole eaRuth ( Jeremiah 50:21-23 )

And, of course, Babylon was the hammer that have bludgeoned the whole earth.

How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! For I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and you've been caught, because you have striven against the LORD ( Jeremiah 50:23-24 ).

Isaiah said, "Woe unto the man who strives with his Maker!" ( Isaiah 45:9 ) How foolish it is for a person to strive with God, and yet how many people are guilty of that folly. But what a wonderful day when I quit striving with God and I just surrender and say, "O God, I don't want to fight You anymore. I don't want to run from You anymore. God, I'm on Your side. I surrender." Now what's so bad or difficult or hard about that? And yet look how hard people fight from doing that. Look how hard they resist God. But when you're resisting God, you're really resisting your own good, because God's plan and purpose for you is the best that could ever happen to your life. And thus, to strive with God you're really striving against your own welfare, your own good. And that's sort of dumb. But people do it. And why, I don't know. Because it is always such a glorious day when you quit striving with God and you just surrender and say, "O God, not going to fight You anymore. I just want to walk with You. I just want to live in fellowship with You. I just want to love You and know You more." Oh, what a beautiful day. There's got to be something, I would say diabolical but that's very obvious, with anyone who would fight with God.

But here is Babylon being destroyed because they have striven against the Lord.

The LORD hath opened his armory, he has brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans ( Jeremiah 50:25 ).

Watch out. God is gotten out His armory now against Babylon.

Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left. Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation. The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple. Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she has done, do unto her ( Jeremiah 50:25-29 ):

The same phrase sort of repeated, "Do unto her as she has done." She destroyed the temple of God in Jerusalem. They took away all of the vessels from the temple of God and carried them to Babylon. Well, not necessarily all, but many of them, the cups and so forth that were used.

for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel ( Jeremiah 50:29 ).

Now in the time that Babylon was destroyed, in the evening that Babylon was destroyed, Belshazzar, who was a co-regent with his father, was in the city of Babylon in a great feast unto the Lord which lasted several days. And finally during the midst of this drunken party, he ordered that they bring the gold and silver vessels that they had taken from the temple of Jerusalem and poured their wine into these gold and silver vessels that they might drink their wine out of these vessels that had been consecrated unto God. In order that they might exalt themselves against the God of Israel. As they were drinking out of these golden vessels and praising the gods of gold and silver, suddenly there came the appearance of a hand upon the wall and writing upon the plaster. And oh, Belshazzar began to shake. And he called his wise men to tell him what the word said. None of them were able to do it until Daniel was finally brought in. The old man probably in his nineties now. He gave this young king a real lecture. He said, "You praised the gods of gold and silver, but the very God in whose hand your breath is you've not glorified. You didn't learn the lesson of your father Nebuchadnezzar who was lifted up with pride. And because of his pride he was driven from the kingdom until he knew that it was God who ruled over the earth. And though you knew of his experiences yet you've exalted yourself against the Lord of heaven. Therefore has this writing come and its interpretation is, 'Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting. And this night, your kingdom will be divided between the Medes and the Persians.'" Solemn declaration of God which was fulfilled that night. Jeremiah's prophecies fulfilled because they were proud against the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.

Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD. Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. But their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall thoroughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men. A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed. A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed. A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up ( Jeremiah 50:30-38 ):

Of course, the interesting thing is that Cyrus was conquering the city of Babylon. His method of conquest was to divert the river Euphrates into canals around the city of Babylon, and in thus diverting the river Euphrates, the soldiers were able to come through on the riverbed under the walls of the city and then on up into the city and destroyed it. But here even, "The drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up."

for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols. Therefore the wild beasts of the deserts with the wild beasts of the coasts shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation ( Jeremiah 50:38-39 ).

Now the interesting thing is that last year the Iraqi government allocated eighty million dollars to a team of Japanese engineers to draw up the plans for the rebuilding of the city of Babylon, intending to make it one of the most glorious cities of the world, intending to use all of the revenue from the vast oil reserves in Iraq to build this tremendous, glorious monument for the whole world to see. Of course, that was before Iraq got involved with the war with Iran and lost a great portion of her oil revenue. And it's still bogged down in this conflict with Iran, and of course, is in financial difficulty as the result of the whole thing. And so there has been a postponement on the rebuilding of the city of Babylon. And I would like to suggest to you that it will never be rebuilt. As the Lord declares here, "It shall not be dwelt in from generation to generation."

As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth. They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice will roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon. The king of Babylon hath heard the report of them, and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail. Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them. At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations ( Jeremiah 50:40-46 ).


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 50". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-50.html. 2014.
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