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the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 50

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 50

AN ORACLE CONCERNING BABYLON

The roots of Babylon reach all the way back to "Babel", the city of confusion (Genesis 11:1-9), where men, in opposition to (or an ignoring of) God, set out to make a name for themselves.

"Babylon" involves more than city, or even an empire - though both are sometimes involved. In biblical symbolism It Is the very ESSENCE of a highly-organized, humanistic world system (religious, political and commercial) that Is in total rebellion against God and His order for the universe. Unceasingly antagonistic toward God; proud in her accomplishments, and daring in her evil innovations; there is, nevertheless, abundant evidence in the scriptures that the restraint of a sovereign hand has constantly held her recklessness inside divinely-established boundaries.

Just as the Intended mischief at Babel was blocked by divine Intervention (in the confusion of tongues), so, close observation will discover, within the far-reaching ramification of her master-plan, abundant evidence of a self-destructive antagonism and division among her leading proponents. Her ultimate end is destruction - as is the end of all who succumb to the allurements of her deceptive devices.

Vs. 1-3: BABYLON IS FALLEN

1. Though Babylon has been used as an instrument of divine discipline on other nations, including Israel and Judah, she will not escape judgment upon her own sin! (Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:12); nor is finite man in any position to charge God (or Jeremiah) with inconsistency concerning Babylon, (comp. Isaiah 10:5-27; Isaiah 37:22-29; Jeremiah 51:56).

a. Jeremiah counselled Judah to submit to Babylon because He knew that God had chosen her to discipline His rebellious children to repentance!

b. He has already revealed that Judah’s captivity is to be of 70 years duration (Jeremiah 25:12); now, the king of Sheshach (Babylon) will be numbered with those appointed to drink the cup of divine fury, (Jeremiah 25:15 -­16, 26).

2. Jeremiah is now commanded to publicize the certainty of Babylon’s fall, (vs. 2; Jeremiah 51:28-32).

a. BEL ("lord", a title of Merodach, or Marduk, her chief god) is shamed and dismayed! (Jeremiah 21:9; Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 51:44).

b. Her "idol-blocks" (images) are broken down - unable to save themselves, much less those who trusted in them!

3. Out of the north arises a nation that will make her such a perpetual desolation that man and beast will flee away, (vs. 3; Isaiah 13:17-19; Isaiah 14:21-23).

Verses 4-8

Vs. 4-8: ISRAEL AND JUDAH SEEK JEHOVAH

1. After God’s judgment falls upon Babylon the children of Israel (who were taken captive to Assyria), and the children of Judah (who will have been captive of Babylon for 70 years), will, with weeping (comp. Jeremiah 31:9; Ezra 3:12-13), seek the Lord their God, (vs. 4; comp. Jeremiah 3:17-18; Jeremiah 31:31; Jeremiah 33:7-8; Isaiah 11:12-13).

2. They will set their faces toward Zion - encouraging each other to join themselves to the Lord with an everlasting covenant, (vs. 5; Jeremiah 6:16; Isaiah 35:8; Isaiah 55:3; Jeremiah 32:40; comp. Hebrews 8:6-10).

3. In verse 6 the Lord likens His people to "lost sheep" -whose shepherds (leaders) have caused them to go astray, (Isaiah 53:6; Ezekiel 34:1-16; comp. Matthew 9:36; Matthew 10:6-7).

a. They have turned them aside to idols which have not profited them at all, (Jeremiah 23:11-14).

b. Thus have they forgotten their true resting place - which is in Jehovah their God, (Isaiah 40:11; Matthew 11:28).

c. Their enemies felt that they could abuse them without incurring any guilt because of their sin:

1) Against the Lord, (comp. Jeremiah 22:8-9; 40:2-3).

2) Against the habitation of righteousness, (Jeremiah 31:23; comp. Isaiah 1:23; Isaiah 32:1; Isaiah 32:18).

3) Against the Lord who was the hope of their fathers, (Jeremiah 14:8; Jeremiah 17:13).

4. Thus, Judah is urged (at the time of judgment upon Babylon) to avail herself of the opportunity to escape - leading the way back to the land of promise "as he-goats before the flock", (vs. 8; Jeremiah 51:6; comp. Ezra 1:5-6; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Revelation 18:4-8).

Verses 9-13

Vs. 9-13: SPOILERS SUMMONED AGAINST BABYLON

1. The Lord is here pictured as stirring up a confederation of northern nations who will defeat Babylon, (vs. 9, 3, Jeremiah 51:1-2).

a. How marvelous the sovereignty of Jehovah in moving people who do not even know Him to discipline other nations - even Israel!

b. Their warriors do not draw the bow carelessly, or in vain; each arrow finds it mark!

2. She who has plundered many nations will now, herself, be plundered, (vs. 10-12).

a. Her plunder of the heritage of Jehovah (Jeremiah 12:14) was with such light-hearted exultation that it is likened unto the wantonness of an unmuzzled heifer that is used for threshing (thus, becoming fat), and the neighing of stallions.

b. Now she is utterly disgraced, bankrupted and destroyed, (vs. 12).

3. Because of the Lord’s insatiable anger against her, Babylon (who once reigned as queen of the nations) is so utterly desolated as to be uninhabited, (Jeremiah 25:12; Jeremiah 34:22; Jeremiah 51:26); those who pass by will be appalled, and will hiss at her plagues, (vs. 13; Jeremiah 18:16; Jeremiah 49:17).

Verses 14-16

Vs. 14-16: DIVINE VENGEANCE EXECUTED

1. The attackers of Babylon are encouraged to press the battle upon her who has grievously sinned against Jehovah, (vs. 14). 2. One can almost hear the Median battle-cry (vs. 15a) before which Babylon surrenders.

a. Now she will reap what she has sown, (comp. vs. 29; Jer Psalms 137:8; Galatians 6:7-8).

b. And it is clear that this retribution is the very vengeance of the Lord upon the oppressor of His people, (comp. Jeremiah 46:10).

3. Though conquerors usually spared those engaged in agriculture, it was not to be so with Babylon, (vs. 16a).

4. Fearing the sword of the new oppressor, the captives of Babylon flee to their own lands, (vs. 16b; comp. Isaiah 13:14; Jeremiah 51:9).

Verses 17-20

Vs. 17-20: GRACE TOWARD ISRAEL

1. "Israel", in this verse, stands for the whole nation, which, as hunted (scattered) sheep, has been driven away from his own land by lions, (vs. 17; comp. vs. 6; Jeremiah 2:15; Jeremiah 4:7).

a. The king of Assyria first devoured him, (comp. vs. 7; 2 Kings 15:29; 2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:9-13).

b. Now the king of Babylon has "ground his bones" (Berkeley; comp. 2 Kings 24:1; 2 Kings 24:10-16; 2 Kings 25:1-7).

2. Now the Lord will punish the king of Babylon, and his land, as He has already punished the Assyrians, (vs. 18; Isaiah 10:12; Ezekiel 31:3; Ezekiel 31:11-12).

3. The Lord will so establish Israel in his own land that he may feed on Carmel and Bashan - his soul finding satisfaction on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead, (vs. 19; Jeremiah 31:10-12; Jeremiah 33:12-16; Jeremiah 31:5).

4. In that day God will cleanse and abundantly pardon the iniquity of the remnant of His people, (vs. 20; Jeremiah 31:34; Jeremiah 33:8; Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:19; Romans 9:27-29).

Verses 21-27

Vs. 21-27: THE HAMMER OF THE WHOLE EARTH IS BROKEN

1. Jeremiah uses the names of two Babylonian settlements, "Merathaim" ("double rebellion°) and "Pekod" ("visitation’s, in a sarcastic word-play; because of her rebellion against Jehovah, Babylon will be visited with divine judgment! (vs. 21).

2. With the sound of battle comes great destruction, (vs. 22; comp. Jeremiah 48:3; Jeremiah 51:54); the "hammer of the whole earth" (Babylon) is so broken as to be an astonishment to all nations, (vs. 23).

3. Since she had provoked the Holy One of Israel, he laid a snare for Babylon, and took her unawares, (vs. 24).

4. Pictured as opening His armory, He unleashes the weapons of His indignation (the nations who, unconsciously, perform His word) against her, (vs. 25-27)

a. They are commanded to. come against her from every quarter, (vs. 26a; Isaiah 13:5).

b. She is to be utterly destroyed, (vs. 26b; Isaiah 14:23). c. Her young princes and warriors (bullocks) will be slaughtered in the woeful day of the Lord’s vengeance upon Babylon, (vs. 27; Isaiah 34:7; Jeremiah 48:15)

5. Then there is a call to attention: "LISTEN!" and the voice of escaped Jews are heard declaring in Zion how the Lord has brought retribution upon Babylon for what she did to His temple, (vs. 28; Isaiah 48:20-21;Jeremiah 52:13; Daniel 1:1-2; Daniel 5:1-2).

Verses 28-40

VS. 28-40: BABYLON’S FALL AND DESOLATION

1. Because she has proudly defied the Holy One of Israel, Babylon will stumble and fall - to rise no more, (vs. 28-32).

a. Her enemies are commanded to encircle her so that none may escape, (vs. 29a).

b. They are to recompense her according to her own ways, (vs. 29b).

c. Because the Lord God of hosts is against Babylon, her young men will fall in her streets -her men of war will be forever silenced, (vs. 30-31 a).

d. The fire of His vengeance will bring perpetual desolation upon her cities, (vs. 32).

2. By way of contrast, the Redeemer of Israel will show Himself strong in her behalf - restoring her fortunes, and giving her peaceful rest, while the inhabitants of Babylon are disquieted, (vs. 33-34).

3. An irresistible sword is set against Babylon, her princes and wise men, her boastful prophets and diviners, her warriors, her horses and chariots, her foreign mercenaries and her treasures; before that sword terror grips the hearts of all! (vs. 35-37).

4. A drought being upon her waters, the sources of her refreshment and replenishment are dried up, (vs. 38a); and it should be remembered that Cyrus re-channeled the waters of the Euphrates -marching into Babylon on the dried-up river bed, (Jeremiah 51:32).

5. Having become self-demented, through is abandonment to idolatry, Babylon is to become a perpetual desolation - its overthrow likened to that of Sodom and Gomorrah; men will not again dwell there, (vs. 39-40).

Verses 41-46

Vs. 41-46: LOOK! A NORTHERN CONFEDERACY! A LION!

1. Verses 41-43 are repeated. from Jeremiah 6:22-24, except that the language is appropriately adapted to Babylon instead of Judah.

2. Verses 44-46 are repeated from Jeremiah 49:19-21 - - being appropriately adapted to Babylon instead of Edom.

3. When it is voiced abroad that "Babylon is TAKEN I" the earth (involving those who have upheld her) will tremble; their cry will be heard among the nations, (vs. 46). Surely, in this, men will recognize the SOVEREIGN INTERVENTION OF JEHOVAHI

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 50". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-50.html. 1985.
 
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