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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Jeremiah 25

Verses 1-7

Israel Rejects Prophetic Service

In this chapter we go back to the reign of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 25:1), for the previous chapter is about the time of Zedekiah. The prophecies of Jeremiah 1-12 take place during the reign of Josiah. After that, no special time is mentioned and we must see if it is the time of Jehoiakim, Zedekiah or Gedaliah. Here we are in the fourth year of Jehoiakim which is at the same time the first year of Nebuchadnezzar (cf. Jeremiah 36:1; Jeremiah 45:1Jeremiah 46:2). With the first year of Nebuchadnezzar begin “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). He is given world domination. This is followed by three other empires with world dominion, the description of which is found in Daniel 2 and Daniel 7.

Since the time Jeremiah began prophesying, the political situation has changed greatly. When he begins, Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, has been destroyed by the attacks of Babylon. Babylon then increases in power, but Egypt still has dominion over Israel. This did not last long. At the battle of Carchemish, Babylon defeated Egypt (Jeremiah 46:2) and took over world power and with it power over Israel. This is the battle in which Josiah interfered, a battle that did not concern him and in which he lost his life (2 Chronicles 35:20-Jeremiah :).

Jeremiah can then still move freely among the people and call them to submission to the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:2). However, the people do not want that. He delivers his message because the LORD speaks to him (Jeremiah 25:3). From the thirteenth year of Josiah until now, his message has sounded. That is a period of twenty-three years: nineteen years under Josiah and four years under Jehoiakim. He is here about at or just past the halfway point of his service as a prophet. In addition to Jeremiah, the LORD has sent other prophets, such as Zephaniah (Zephaniah 1:1), but the people do not listen. In fact, they are averse and do not heed the calls of the prophets at all, they ignore them (Jeremiah 25:4).

The message is clear. They must repent, each one personally, of their evil ways and evil deeds (Jeremiah 25:5). The promises are also clear. They will live forever in the land that the LORD has given them and their fathers. We see here the patience of God. God does not like to punish. He will do anything to bring a person to repentance. He is working “again and again [literally: rising early and sending]” to reach them, that is, not slowly and not mundanely, but from early in the morning till late in the evening, as long as a person can be reached. In this way, He devotes Himself to seeking the salvation of a person – and in this case of His people. Only when it appears that a person – or His people – absolutely does not want to, He brings the judgment, because He cannot do otherwise.

The call has constantly sounded to not go after other gods to serve them and to bow down to them (Jeremiah 25:6). He has let them know that they will provoke Him to wrath if they bow down to the work of their hands. He will not harm them if they stop to do so. The conclusion, unfortunately, must be that they have not listened to Him and, on the contrary, have provoked Him to anger by the work of their hands (Jeremiah 25:7). In so doing, they have done themselves harm.

Verses 8-11

Prediction of Exile

The LORD has no choice but to bring judgment on them. It is because they have not listened to His words (Jeremiah 25:8). Through His servant Nebuchadnezzar, He will execute judgment (Jeremiah 25:9). He calls Nebuchadnezzar “My servant” (cf. Jeremiah 27:6; Jeremiah 43:10; Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:11) because he will do what He has set out to do to His people and also to the surrounding nations. It is a disgrace to Israel – who should be the LORD’s servant – that He gives this name to a heathen ruler and that He must use him to discipline His own people.

Through Nebuchadnezzar, the LORD will take away everything from His people that gives a person joy (Jeremiah 25:10). No more joyful events will take place and no more expressions of joy will be heard; nothing will come from the land that can be ground to make bread; there will be no more oil to give light. In a spiritual sense, it means that love and joy will disappear and spiritual food and the light of the Spirit will be absent. God’s people will end up in famine and spiritual darkness. It is always a sad experience when we see homes or families where there used to be joy have been destroyed by the sin that has gained entrance into one or more members of that family.

The judgment will last for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:11). Then the land will receive its sabbaths, which the people out of greed did not give the land for so long. As a result, the people have disobeyed the word of the LORD concerning this (Leviticus 25:3-Numbers :; Leviticus 26:33-Habakkuk :; 2 Chronicles 36:20-Ecclesiastes :). During that time the people will be in exile, taken away to Babylon. It is the first announcement about the length of the period of exile. Seventy years is the period of a human life (Psalms 90:10; Isaiah 23:15).

Verses 12-14

Judgment on Babylon

The judgment is limited to seventy years. After those seventy years, the time has come when God will also judge His disciplinary rod, Babylon (Jeremiah 25:12). He will do so because Nebuchadnezzar has gone beyond the LORD’s will in carrying out his mission. The LORD is using Babylon not because of any excellence of that people, but because of the sins of His own people. The nations also reap what they sow. That is a generally valid rule for every person and every nation (Galatians 6:7).

God will bring His judgment on Babylon – and also on other nations – according to all that is written in this book of Jeremiah and what Jeremiah has spoken (Jeremiah 25:13). Jeremiah was also appointed a prophet to all the nations (Jeremiah 1:10). God also expressed Himself toward the nations. He will repay all deeds and all the work of man’s hands (Jeremiah 25:14).

Verses 15-29

The Cup of God’s Wrath

The nations around Israel will not escape God’s wrath either. Jeremiah must give “this cup of the wine of wrath” from God’s hand and cause all the nations to drink it (Jeremiah 25:15). The cup is a familiar picture in Scripture to denote the wrath of God (Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7; Job 21:20; Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22; Ezekiel 23:31; Mark 10:39; Mark 14:36; John 18:11; Revelation 14:8; Revelation 14:10Revelation 16:19; Revelation 18:6). Also against the nations God will send His servant, the king of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is His sword that He sends among them (Jeremiah 25:16). This will strike them in such a way that they will stagger and go mad, they will lose control of their way and of their minds.

As a faithful prophet, Jeremiah does what the LORD says to him. It is not a pleasant task, but he takes the cup from the LORD’s hand and gives it to all the nations to whom the LORD has sent him to drink it (Jeremiah 25:17). The disasters that come upon the nations are carried out by Satan, for evil rulers conquer and exterminate the nations. They are not guided by God, but by Satan. Yet even Satan is ultimately nothing more than a tool in God’s hand to bring the nations to the acknowledgment that He, the LORD, is God.

The LORD begins this judgment on the nations (Jeremiah 25:18-Ezekiel :) with the judgment on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its princes (Jeremiah 25:18; Jeremiah 25:29). Jerusalem and Judah have learned nothing from God’s judgment on the ten tribes, who have already been carried away at this point. Then follow the judgments on the other nations. The judgments on many nations mentioned here, Jeremiah will describe in more detail later in this book, in Jeremiah 46-51.

By Sesach (Jeremiah 25:26) is meant, so several interpreters assume, Babylon, which is plausible after the enumeration of the previous empires. After the judgments that Babylon, as the disciplinary rod of the LORD, carried out on the various nations, that people themselves will have to drink the cup of God’s wrath. They deserve that judgment because they too have been guilty of many offences. They have learned nothing from the judgments they have carried out, but have done so in pride.

We will be wise to use what little knowledge we possess with wisdom. Wisdom we can gain through experience, through life lessons from our own lives, but also through what we see in the lives of others. What we see in others we should take to heart. That will save us from much personal suffering.

Jeremiah is to speak to the nations on behalf of “the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel” (Jeremiah 25:27). On His behalf he must say that God is sending His sword among them through Babylon, so that they will turn back to Him. If they do not, they will not rise again. Refusal to undergo God’s discipline calls for its even more forceful exercise of it (Jeremiah 25:28). The LORD points out that He does not spare His own city, but begins His judgment right there (Jeremiah 25:29; cf. 1 Peter 4:17; Ezekiel 9:6). Then the nations must not think that they will escape equally righteous judgment that will come on them because of their many and persistent sins (Proverbs 11:31).

Verses 30-38

The Whole World Is Judged

Jeremiah is urged to deliver his message (Jeremiah 25:30). He is to prophesy all the previous words, pointing, not to Babylon, but to the LORD. The LORD roars “from on high … from His holy habitation”, that is from heaven. His roaring is “against His fold” on earth, because of all their iniquity. It is also against the enemies. His roar is at the same time a shout of joy, because the judgment on all the inhabitants of the earth means at the same time the salvation of the faithful remnant.

The judgment, the sword, which He brings upon the nations, the wicked, all flesh, will be in the form of a controversy (Jeremiah 25:31). He will demonstrate conclusively the lawfulness of the judgment. The sword He brings is the evil that goes forth from nation to nation (Jeremiah 25:32). The nations are killing each other. He causes the nations to fall into their own sword. The army of Babylon is the great storm that passes over the earth, subduing the nations and killing many.

At the same time, they are “those slain by the LORD” (Jeremiah 25:33). He does it by the hand of Babylon. The earth is full of corpses. This is the direct result of the domination and subjugation of nations. We can apply this to domination in personal relationships and also in the church. That also causes many victims.

A major cause of the world’s misery is the behavior of those who should be caring, the shepherds (Jeremiah 25:34). Shepherds have become “masters”, rulers. They have grazed themselves instead of the flock. But their days are numbered. It is not the sheep that will be slaughtered, but they. Others will be scattered. There will be no way for them to flee or escape (Jeremiah 25:35). Zedekiah experienced this firsthand.

They will cry and wail because their sources of profit have been destroyed by the LORD (Jeremiah 25:36). In places where they first thought they were at peace, the fierce anger of the LORD causes destruction (Jeremiah 25:37). The LORD is exercising judgment. He has hidden Himself for a long time, as if in a hiding place (Jeremiah 25:38). But the time is coming when He will come forth as a lion in great power and will judge. The land will become a horror. This will happen in short order through the oppressor Nebuchadnezzar as an instrument of the fierce anger of the LORD.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Jeremiah 25". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/jeremiah-25.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.