The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
After the predictions of judgment to be inflicted on other nations by Babylon, follows this one against Babylon itself, the longest prophecy, consisting of 100 verses. The date of its utterance was the 4th year of Zedekiah, when Seraiah, to whom it was committed, was sent to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:59-60). The repetitions in it make it likely that it consists of prophecies uttered at different times, now collected by Jeremiah to console the Jews in exile, and to vindicate God's ways, by exhibiting the final doom of Babylon, the enemy of the people of God, after her long prosperity. The style, imagery, and dialogues prove its genuineness, in opposition to those who deny this. It shows his faithfulness; though under obligation to the King of Babylon, he owed a higher one to God, who directed him to prophesy against Babylon.
The word that the Lord spake against Babylon - (cf. Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15, wherein Isaiah had already foretold the downfall of Babylon). But as the time of fulfillment drew nearer, the prophecies are now proportionally more distinct than then.
Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
Declare ye among the nations - who would rejoice at the fall of Babylon their oppressor.
Set up a standard - to indicate the place of meeting to the nations where they were to hear the good news of Babylon's fall (Rosenmuller); or, the signal to summon the nations together against Babylon (Jeremiah 51:12; Jeremiah 51:27). (Maurer.)
Bel is confounded - the tutelary god of Babylon; the same idol as the Phoenician Baal - i:e., lord, the sun (Isaiah 46:1).
Is confounded - because unable to defend the city under their protection.
Merodach is broken in pieces - another Babylonian idol, meaning in Syria little lord; from which Merodach-baladan took his name.
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.
Out of the north there cometh up a nation against her - namely, the Medes, north of Babylon (Jeremiah 51:48). The devastation of Babylon here foretold includes not only that by Cyrus, but also that more utter one by Darius, who took Babylon by artifice, when it had revolted from Persia, and mercilessly slaughtered the inhabitants, hanging 4,000 of the nobles; also the final desertion of Babylon, owing to Seleucia, having been built close by, under Seleucus Nicator.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
In those days ... the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping. Fulfilled only in part when some few of the ten tribes of "Israel" joined Judah in a "covenant" with God, at the restoration of Judah to its land (Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:29). The full event is yet to come (Jeremiah 31:9; Hos God, at the restoration of Judah to its land (Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:29). The full event is yet to come (Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 1:11; Zechariah 12:10).
Weeping - with joy at their restoration, beyond all hope; and with sorrow at the remembrance of their sins and sufferings. An earnest of this future weeping was given at the restoration from Babylon, when "the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people;" for "the fathers ... ancient men that had seen the first temple, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice," while "many shouted aloud for joy" (Ezra 3:12-13; Psalms 126:5-6).
And seek the Lord - (Hosea 3:5, "Afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days").
They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thereward - rather, hitherward, Jeremiah's prophetic standpoint being at Zion. 'Their faces hitherward' implies their stedfastness of purpose, not to be turned aside by any difficulties on the way.
Let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant - in contrast to the old covenant, "which they brake" (Jeremiah 31:31, etc.; Jeremiah 32:40). They shall return to their God first, then to their own land.
My people hath been lost sheep: 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 restingplace.
My people hath been lost sheep - (Isaiah 53:6, "All we like sheep have gone astray").
They have turned them away on the mountains - whereon they sacrificed to idols (Jeremiah 2:20; Jeremiah 3:6; Jeremiah 3:23).
They have forgotten their resting-place - the resting-place for the "sheep;" continuing the image, Yahweh Jesus is the resting-place of His sheep (Matthew 11:28). They rest in His "bosom," wherein He "carries" them (Isaiah 40:11). Also His temple at Zion is their "rest," because it is His (Psalms 132:8; Psalms 132:14).
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.
All that have found them have devoured them - (Psalms 79:7, "They (the pagan) have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling-place"). "Found them" implies that they were exposed to the attacks of those whoever happened to meet them.
Their adversaries said - for instance, Nebuzar-adan said so (Jeremiah 40:2-3; cf. Zechariah 11:5).
We offend not, because they have sinned against the Lord. The Gentiles acknowledged some supreme divinity. The Jews' guilt was so palpable that they were condemned even in the judgment of pagans. Some knowledge of God's special relation to Judea reached its pagan invaders from the prophets (Jeremiah 2:3; Daniel 9:16); hence, the strong language they use of Yahweh here, not as worshippers of Him themselves, but as believing Him to be the tutelary God of Judah ("the hope of their fathers," Psalms 22:4; they do not say our hope), as each country was thought to have its local god, whose power extended no further than the locality under its tutelage.
The habitation - (Psalms 90:1; Psalms 91:1). Alluding to the tabernacle, or else, as in Ezekiel 34:14, fold, which carries out the image in Jeremiah 50:6, "resting-place" of the "sheep." But it can only mean habitation (Jeremiah 31:23), which confirms the English version here.
The hope of their fathers. This especially condemned the Jews, that their apostasy was from that God whose faithfulness their fathers had experienced. At the same time these "adversaries" unconsciously use language which corrects their own notions. The covenant with the Jews' "fathers" is not utterly set aside by their sin, as their adversaries thought; there is still "a habitation" or refuge for them with the God 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.
Remove out of the midst of Babylon - (Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45; Isaiah 48:20; Zechariah 2:6-7; Revelation 18:4) Immediately avail yourselves of the opportunity of escape.
Be as the he-goats before the flocks. Let each try to be foremost in returning, animating the weak, as he-goats lead the flock; such were the companions of Ezra (Ezra 1:5-6).
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.
From thence she shall be taken - i:e., from the north country.
Their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man - "expert" is literally prosperous. Besides "might," "expertness" is needed, that an arrow may do execution. The margin has a different Hebrew reading [ mashkiyl (Hebrew #7919), instead of maskiyl (Hebrew #4905)], destroying-literally, bereaving, childless-making (Jeremiah 15:7). Septuagint and Syriac support the English version.
In vain - without killing him at whom it was aimed (2 Samuel 1:22).
And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;
Because ye were glad ... ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage - (Isaiah 47:6, "I was wroth with my people, I have polluted mine inheritance, and given them into thine hand; thou didst show them no mercy").
Because ye are grown fat - and so skip wantonly.
As the heifer at grass - fat and frisky. [But there is a disagreement of gender in the Hebrew reading, thus daashaa' (Hebrew #1876), grazing, or 'at grass,' does not agree with k
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.
Your mother - Babylon, the metropolis of the empire.
The hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness. Marvellous change, that Babylon, once the queen of the world, should be now the hindermost of nations, and at last, becoming "a desert," cease to be a nation!
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.
It shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate - (Isaiah 13:20, "It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there").
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.
Put yourselves in array against Babylon. Summons to the Median army to attack Babylon.
For she hath sinned against the Lord - by oppressing His people: their cause is His cause. Also by profaning His sacred vessels (Daniel 5:2).
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 unto her.
Shout against her round about - inspirit one another to the onset with the battle-cry.
She hath given her hand - an idiom for submitted to the conquerors (1 Chronicles 29:24, margin; Lamentations 5:6).
As she hath done, do unto her - just retribution in kind. She had destroyed many, so must she be destroyed (Psalms 137:8). So as to spiritual Babylon (Revelation 18:6). This is right, because "it is the vengeance of the Lord;" but this will not justify private revenge in kind (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:19-21); even the Old Testament law forbade this, though breathing a sterner spirit than the New Testament (Exodus 23:4-5; Proverbs 25:21-22).
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.
Cut off the sower from Babylon. Babylon had the extent rather of a nation than of a city. Therefore grain was grown within the city wall sufficient to last for a long siege (Aristotle, 'Polemics,' 3: 2; Pliny, 18: 17). Conquerors usually spare agriculturists, but in this case all alike were to be "cut off."
For fear of the oppressing sword - because of the sword of the oppressor.
They shall turn every one to his people - from which they had been removed to Babylon from all quarters by the Chaldean conquerors (Jeremiah 51:9; Isaiah 13:14).
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.
Israel is a scattered sheep ... lions have driven him away - "lions" - i:e., hostile kings (Jeremiah 4:7; Jeremiah 49:19).
First the king of Assyria hath devoured him - (2 Kings 17:6; 2 Kings 18:9, Shalmaneser; Ezra 4:2, Esarhaddon). And last this Nebuchadnezzar - (2 Kings 24:10; 2 Kings 24:14).
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.
I will punish the king of Babylon - Nabonidus or Labynitus.
As I have punished the king of Assyria - Sennacherib and other kings (Grotius). (2 Kings 19:35; 2 Kings 19:37).
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.
I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel - (Isaiah 65:10; Ezekiel 34:13-14, "I will bring them out from the people ... and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers ... I will feed them in a good pasture ... there shall they lie in a good fold").
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.
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. The specification of "Israel" as well as Judah shows the reference is to times yet to come.
Iniquity ... none - not merely idolatry, which ceased among the Jews ever since the Babylonian captivity, but chiefly their rejection of Messiah. As in a cancelled debt, it shall be as if it had never been; God, for Christ's sake, shall treat them as innocent (Jeremiah 31:34). Without cleansing away of sin, remission of punishment would be neither to the honour of God nor to the highest interests of the elect.
For I will pardon them whom I reserve - the elect "remnant" (Isaiah 1:9) The "residue of the people" (Zech For I will pardon them whom I reserve - the elect "remnant" (Isaiah 1:9). The "residue of the people" (Zechariah 13:8-9; Zechariah 14:2).
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.
The land of Merathaim - a symbolical name for Babylon, the doubly rebellious, namely, against God. Compare the description of Babylon in Jeremiah 50:24, "Thou hast striven against the Lord;" and Jeremiah 50:29, "proud against the Lord." The 'doubly' refers to, first, the Assyrian's oppression of Israel, next, the kindred Chaldean's oppression of Judah (cf. Jeremiah 50:17-20; Jeremiah 50:33; especially Jeremiah 50:18).
Against the inhabitants of Pekod - (Ezekiel 23:23) a chief province of Assyria, in which Nineveh, now overthrown, once lay. But, as in Merathaim, the name is used symbolically in allusion to its meaning, so the allusion is to the meaning of Pekod, namely, visitation; the inhabitants whose time of deserved visitation in punishment is come; not, however, without reference to the now Babylonian province Pekod. The visitation on Babylon was a following up of that on Assyria.
Utterly destroy after them - even their posterity, and all that is still left of Babylon, until the very name is extinct (Grotius). Devastate the city, after its inhabitants have deserted it.
Do according to all that I have commanded - by Isaiah, (Isaiah 13:1, etc.)
A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! The hammer of the whole earth - i:e., Babylon, so called because of its ponderous destructive power; just as 'Martel,' i:e., a little hammer, was the surname of a king of the Franks (Isaiah 14:6).
I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.
I have laid a snare for thee. Thou hast to do with God, not merely with men.
Thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware. Herodotus relates that one-half of the city was taken before those in the other were "aware" of it. Cyrus turned the waters of Euphrates, where it was defended, into a different channel, and so entered the city by the dried-up channel at night, by the upper and lower gates (Daniel 5:30-31).
The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
The Lord ... hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation - the Medes and Persians (Isaiah 13:5).
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.
Come against her from the utmost border - namely, of the earth; or from all sides (Ludovicus de Dieu).
Open her storehouses - or, 'her houses filled with men and goods' (Michaelis). When Cyrus took it, the provisions found there were enough to have lasted for many years.
Cast her up as heaps - make of the once glorious city heaps of ruins. Vast mounds of rubbish now mark the site of ancient Babylon. Or else (margin), 'Tread her as heaps of grain which are wont to be trodden down in the threshing-floor' (Grotius). [ Caaluwhaa (Hebrew #5549) may be either from caalal (Hebrew #5549), to heap up in a mound, as Jeremiah 50:9 takes it; or from caalaah (Hebrew #5541), to tread, as margin translates.]
Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.
Slay all her bullocks - i:e., princes and strong warriors (Jeremiah 46:21; Psalms 22:12; Isaiah 34:7).
Go down to the slaughter. The slaughter-houses lay low beside the river; therefore it is said, "go down;" appropriate to Babylon on the Euphrates, the avenue through which the slaughterers entered the city.
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.
The voice of them that flee and escape out of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the Lord ... the vengeance of his temple. Some Jews 'fleeing' from Babylon at its fall shall tell in Judea how God avenged the cause of Zion and her temple, with its sacred vessels, that had been so daringly profaned (Jeremiah 52:13; Daniel 1:2; Jeremiah 50:2).
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 hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.
Call together the archers - literally, very many and powerful; hence, the Hebrew word [ rabiym (Hebrew #7227)] is used of archers, Job 16:13, from the multitude and force of their arrows.
According to all that she hath done, do unto her - (note, Jeremiah 50:15).
She hath been proud against the Lord - not merely cruel toward men (Isaiah 47:10).
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.
Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets - (note, Jeremiah 49:26).
In the streets - the Babylonians were so discouraged by having lost some battles, that they retired within their walls, and would not again meet Cyrus in the field.
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.
O thou most proud - literally, pride - i:e., man of pride; the King of Babylon.
The time that I will visit thee - punish (Jeremiah 50:27, "the time of their visitation").
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.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: 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.
Israel and ... Judah were oppressed together. He here, in contrast to Babylon's fall, promises Israel's and Judah's complete restoration, and anticipates an objection, in order to answer it: ye have been, no doubt, "oppressed," as you say, and therefore ye despair of deliverance; but, remember, your "Redeemer is strong," and therefore can and will deliver you.
Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
Their Redeemer is strong - as opposed to the power of Israel's oppressor (Revelation 18:8).
He shall throughly plead their cause - as their advocate. Image from a court of justice: appropriate, as God delivers His people not by mere might, but by righteousness. His plea against Satan and all their enemies is His own everlasting love, reconciling mercy and justice in the Redeemer's work and person (Micah 7:9; Zechariah 3:1-5; 1 John 2:1).
That he may give rest to the land, and disquiet ... Babylon. There is a play on the similarity of sounds in the two Hebrew verbs [ hirgiya` (Hebrew #7280) ... w
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 ... A sword ... A sword. The repetition of "A sword" in the beginning of each verse, by the figure anaphora, heightens the effect; the reiterated judgment is universal; the same sad stroke of the sword is upon each and all connected with guilty Babylon.
Her wise men - (Isaiah 47:13). Babylon boasted that it was the special seat of wisdom and wise men, especially in astronomy and astrology.
Verse 36. The liars - those whom he before termed "wise men," he here calls "liars" (imposters) - namely, the astrologers (cf. Isaiah 44:25; Romans 1:21-25; 1 Corinthians 1:20). Verse 37. They shall become as women - divested of all manliness (Nahum 3:13).
A drought - altering the pointing, this verse will begin as the three previous verses [ chereb (Hebrew #2719). "A sword." However, all the pointed manuscript read choreb (Hebrew #2721)] "A drought," as the English version. Cyrus turned off the waters of the Euphrates into a new channel, and so marched through the dried-up bed into the city (Jeremiah 51:32). Babylonia once was famed for its grain, which often yielded from 100-fold to 200-fold (Herodotus). This was due to its network of water-courses from the Euphrates for irrigation, traces of which (Layard) are seen still on all sides, but dry and barren (Isaiah 44:27).
They are mad upon their idols - literally, terrors. They are crazy after idols that are more calculated to frighten than to attract (Jeremiah 51:44; Jeremiah 51:47; Jeremiah 51:52; Daniel 3:1). Mere bugbears to frighten children with.
A 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.
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands 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.
Wild beasts of the desert - wild cats, remarkable for their howl (Bochart).
Wild beasts of the islands - jackals (note, Isaiah 13:21-22).
Owls - rather, female ostriches; they delight in solitary places. Literally, daughters of crying. (Compare as to spiritual Babylon, Revelation 18:2).
It shall be no more inhabited forever - the accumulation of phrases is to express the final and utter extinction of Babylon; fulfilled not immediately, but by degrees: Cyrus took away its supremacy. Darius Hystaspes deprived it, when it had rebelled, of its fortifications. Seleucus Nicanor removed its citizens and wealth to Seleucia, which he founded in the neighbourhood; and the Parthians removed all that was left to Ctesiphon. Nothing but its walls was left under the Roman emperor Adrian.
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah - (Isaiah 13:19). Repeated from Jeremiah 49:18.
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.
Behold, a people shall come forth from the north ... They shall hold the bow ... The king of Babylon hath heard the report ... - (Compare Jeremiah 6:22-24, where the same expressions are used of the invasion of Judea by the Babylonian king advancing from the north). The very language used to describe the calamities which Babylon inflicted on Zion, is that here employed to describe Babylon's own calamity inflicted by the Medes. Retribution in kind.
Many kings - the allies and satraps of the various provinces of the Medo-Persian empire-Armenia, Hyrcania, Lydia, etc.
Shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth - i:e., from the remote parts of the earth.
Verse 42. They are cruel - the character of the Persians, and even of Cyrus, notwithstanding his wish to be thought magnanimous (Isaiah 3:18).
They shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man - so orderly and united is their "array" that the whole army moves to battle as one man (Grotius).
Verse 43. His hands waxed feeble - attempted no resistance; immediately was overcome, as Herodotus tells us.
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?
Repeated mainly from Jeremiah 49:19-21. The identity of God's principle in His dealing with Edom, and in that with Babylon, is implied by the similarity of the language used as to both.
Verse 46. The cry is heard among the nations - in Edom's case it is, "at the cry the noise thereof was heard in the Red sea." The change implies the wider extent to which the crash of Babylon's downfall shall be heard than that of Edom's.
(1) The prophet, though he had been treated with respect and kindness by the Babylonian king and the captain of his guard, yet does not shrink from declaring, without reserve, the coming doom of Babylon, revealed to him by God. Just as before he had not shrunk from the painful duty of announcing the ruin of his nation by Babylon, at the cost of provoking the bitter persecution of his countrymen, so with equal faithfulness he announces also Babylon's own destruction, at the risk of provoking the wrath of the great king who, he foresaw, was so soon to have him entirely in his power. The faithful servant of God is sure to stir up the ill-will of the most opposite classes: still, he has a duty to his God to fulfil, which is paramount to all other considerations. If even those to whom we owe a debt of kindness be enemies of God, we must not speak peace to them, but tell them the whole truth, however unwelcome.
(2) When Babylon falls then Israel rises. When God inflicts the long-deferred judgment on the enemy of His people, there is rich mercy in store for His people. Though Babylon was then in the full swelling tide of her prosperity and pride, and Judah was in captivity to her, yet ere long their relative conditions would be reversed: Babylon, after her long course of unsanctified prosperity, was doomed to fall utterly and forever: Israel, after her long period of affliction, which shall in the end be sanctified to her, shall rise to fall no more. Let us hence learn to "choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season" (Hebrews 11:25).
(3) The steps of Israel's coming restoration are most instructive to trace. Heretofore they have turned their back, and not their face, to God, but at the time appointed by God "they shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thereward" (Jeremiah 50:4-5). So the believing elect once were "without God in the world," and "strangers from the covenants of promise" (Ephesians 2:12), but God has turned them to Himself by His Spirit, moving them to "ask" that it may be given them. The desire after God, embodied in prayer for direction as to "the way" to Him and to the heavenly "Zion," is the first sure mark of a work of grace begun in the soul. Not only do such awakened souls desire salvation as the end, but they desire also to be taught by the Spirit the right way, in order that they may walk in it continually. Then, too, there is a thirst after communion with their fellow-believers. They do not wish to go to heaven alone; but as Judah is represented as stirring up Israel, and Israel Judah, to go "together" to "seek the Lord" as "their God," so Christians stir up one another, "Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten."
(4) "Weeping" shall be a marked feature in the Jews at the time of their future turning to the Lord. "They shall look upon Messiah whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn" (Zechariah 12:10) as "one mourneth for his only son." They shall first return to their God with weeping for their sins, and then they shall return to their own land weeping with joy at their restoration beyond all hope. So believers "who sow in tears" the seed of repentance "shall reap in joy" (Psalms 126:5). They not only "weep," but they "go" to Him who will "give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness" (Isaiah 61:3).
(5) Israel heretofore had been as "lost sheep" which "have forgotten their resting-place" (Jeremiah 50:6). They had "sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice, the hope of their fathers" (Jeremiah 50:7). It was this that gave the enemy all his power against Israel. So long as they rested in God, in whom their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had hoped, so long their adversaries could not do them the least hurt. But once they forsook the God of their salvation, they were the rightful prey of every aggressor. So believers, as long as they are faithful to their God, have in Him a perfect security against every fear. But once that they make compromises with the world, and forget Christ, their true and only "resting-place," they give an advantage to Satan and the world over them. The very agents and instruments of their sin are made the agents and instruments of their punishment, and are the first to triumph over their fall.
(6) But the enemies of Israel, in their triumph over her, unconsciously utter words which suggest sure ground of hope to her. God was the "hope of her fathers," the enemy admits; and just because of the everlasting covenant made by God with her fathers, God has mercy in store for her, and vengeance for her adversaries. Their very "joy" and 'gladness in having destroyed the Lord's heritage' (Jeremiah 50:11) shall move the Lord to avenge her cause on Babylon, and to confound with shame (Jeremiah 50:12) her proud destroyer (Jeremiah 50:15): while, on the contrary, Israel's "iniquities" and "sins" shall be as completely forgiven and forgotten as if they had never had any existence at all (Jeremiah 50:20): she and Judah shall, as the Lord's own sheep, "feed" and "be satisfied" with the rich pastures supplied by the good Shepherd in their own land (Jeremiah 50:19). Spiritually, this most comforting promise belongs to the believing elect also, the remnant whom God reserves (Jeremiah 50:20) for mercy, while the rest are given up to condign punishment. Their debt of sin is completely cancelled, because their atoning Surety has paid it for them with His life-blood. "Their soul shall be satisfied," as with marrow and fatness, in the heavenly land which God has appointed as their own land of "habitation" forever (Jeremiah 50:19).
(7) In the judgment on Babylon God vindicates His own righteousness in "recompensing the proud" (Jeremiah 50:31-32) rebel "against the Lord," "according to her work" (Jeremiah 50:29). It is an eternal principle in God's moral government of the world, to visit the proud and cruel oppressor with retribution in kind sooner or later. The people of God are at times tempted to despair when they see "continually every day the fury of the oppressor, as if ready to destroy" (Isaiah 51:13). But let them remember the comforting consideration suggested by the prophet both to the literal and to the spiritual Israel, "Their Redeemer is strong; The Lord of hosts is His name: He shall throughly plead their cause, that He may give rest" to them, "and disgust" their enemies (Jeremiah 50:34).
(8) When God had used Babylon as His "hammer" (Jeremiah 50:23), in executing judgment on the nations of the earth, He then visited herself with judgment. Of the Babylonian king it may be said:
While he his own arm trusted, God wrought His purpose high; Then, like a sword-blade rusted, Cast him dishonoured by.'
We are not to look merely to the present temporary appearances of the people of God and of the people of the world respectively: the end of both is the true test. The elect of God, however weak they seem now, have the strong Redeemer on their side, with whom it is a righteous thing to recompense tribulation to them that trouble His people; and to the latter, who are troubled, rest when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (Jeremiah 50:34; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7). Who of the spiritual Babylon, in that great day of His wrath, shall be able to stand before Him? (Jeremiah 50:44; Revelation 6:17 :) for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they that are with Him are called, and "chosen" (Jeremiah 50:44), and faithful (Jeremiah 17:14). Let us see that we be among the latter, owned as His, and forming part of His glorious retinue, in the day when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to take vengeance on them that know not God (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 50". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany