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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 25

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-11

Jer 25:1-11

Jeremiah 25:1-3

The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (the same was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon,) which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying: From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even unto this day, these three and twenty years, the word of Jehovah hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising up early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

The fourth year of Jehoiachim...

(Jeremiah 25:1). Daniel gives this date as the third year of Jehoiachim (Jeremiah 1:1); but this is not a conflict. There were two methods of reckoning ’the year’ of kings of the Near East during that period, as proved by archeology. The year of accession to the throne was not counted in one of the methods. (See my discussion of this alleged contradiction in Vol. 4 of the Major Prophets Series of my commentaries, pp. 17,18.) By the Babylonian method of calculating, it was the third year of Jehoiachim, and this reckoning was followed by Daniel. The Jewish calculation gave the year as the fourth of Jehoiachim. Both statements are correct.

The duration of twenty-three years up to this point in Jeremiah’s ministry was made up of nineteen years of the reign of Josiah and four years of the reign of Jehoiachim, including the three-months reign of Jehoahaz.

Jeremiah 25:4-7

And Jehovah hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them, (but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear,) saying, Return ye now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that Jehovah hath given unto you and to your fathers, from of old and even for evermore; and go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the work of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith Jehovah; that ye may provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own hurt.

Jehovah hath sent. all his servants the prophets .....

(Jeremiah 25:4). Not merely the words of Jeremiah, but those of all of God’s true prophets had been ignored and disregarded by apostate Judah. All these servants included Daniel, Ezekiel, Uriah (who was murdered) and Jeremiah.

And go not after other gods...

(Jeremiah 25:6). The unwavering passion of the Israelites for the licentious worship of the pagan idols proved to be the eventual destruction of the people.

Ye have not hearkened unto me...

(Jeremiah 25:7). The people simply would not receive correction. They stubbornly determined to Walk in their own way, regardless of the consequences; and that attitude resulted in the sentence that Jeremiah would announce in the next four verses.

Jeremiah 25:8-11

Therefore thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Because ye have not heard my words, behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith Jehovah, and [I will send] unto Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and a hissing, and perpetual desolations. Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp. And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

All the families of the north. Nebuchadrezzar .....

(Jeremiah 25:9). The meaning of this is that the king of Babylon and all of his allies would come against Judah. The north was the direction from which all of the military operations against Jerusalem were to come, due to geographical considerations; and this does not mean that all of the enemies mentioned here lived in areas north of Jerusalem, for, in fact, many of them came from the east.

The voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, and the sound of the millstones, and the light of the lamp...

(Jeremiah 25:10). The destruction about to come upon the last vestiges of the Old Israel was a very significant and historical event, because the Old Israel was a type of the New Israel, which would eventually be the Church in Christ Jesus. Sadly enough, the scriptures teach that just as the Old Israel finally and completely rejected God, so will it be also with the New Israel when the fourth and final judicial hardening of the human race occurs, as fully prophesied in Revelation 16, at which time, God’s New Israel, at that time, having become the shameless Whore of Revelation 17, and corresponding exactly to the final apostasy of Judah, then God will destroy them in the same manner that he destroyed Judah, many of these very expressions being woven into the prophecy that concludes with the last portion of Revelation 18. Those who are interested in a further study of this may wish to read our discussion of Rev. 9--11 in my commentary (Volume 12 in the New Testament Series).

These nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years...

(Jeremiah 25:11). See the chapter introduction for a full discussion of this prophecy.

Perpetual desolations. a desolation .....

(Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:11). A well known fact of history is that the majority of those nations which became slaves of Babylon did indeed become perpetual desolations, whereas, the mention of a desolation in Jeremiah 25:11 seems to avoid such a prophecy regarding Jerusalem; for that city would indeed be rebuilt, and God’s servant Cyrus would significantly aid the restoration. Yes, Jerusalem would indeed become a desolation; but it would continue as a city until the Son of God should appear in her midst.

Nebuchadrezzar, my servant...

(Jeremiah 25:9). This glorious title was first given by God to Moses; and, in the Bible, it is usually reserved to the noblest and most faithful worshippers of the True God; but here it is thrice applied to Nebuchadrezzar, and also to Cyrus (in Isaiah). Such men were not servants of God in the highest sense of the word; but they were, nevertheless, very important servants, being, in truth, the instruments by which God punished his own rebellious children. Significantly, such persons did not consciously serve God but yet they executed his divine judgment upon others. As a rule, such servants became in time God’s enemies and were in turn judged and punished by the will of God. As in Zechariah (Zechariah 1:18 ff), the same nations might be either horns or smiths depending upon the circumstances.

A characteristic of human power is seen in the punishment that Babylon executed upon Judah. That punishment was aggravated by human lust and sadistic cruelty, greatly increasing sorrow and suffering; and the arrogant conceit and boastfulness indulged by such "instruments" of God inevitably led to their own destruction. It is this principle that led to the judgment announced in the next paragraph.

GOD AND THE WORLD RULER Jeremiah 25:1-38

Chapter 25 is one of the most important chapters in the entire book. A great deal can be learned about the message of Jeremiah from this single chapter. After a brief introduction (Jeremiah 25:1-3) Jeremiah speaks of God’s judgment on Judah (Jeremiah 25:4-11), Babylon (Jeremiah 25:12-14), surrounding nations (Jeremiah 25:15-29) and finally the whole world (Jeremiah 25:30-38).

Chronologically chapter 25 precedes the last four chapters. The precision in dating the events of this chapter indicates that Jeremiah was aware of the tremendous importance of the year 605 B.C., the fourth year of Jehoiakim and first year of Nebuchadnezzar (Jeremiah 25:1). The battle of Carchemish was certainly one of the most important battles in ancient history and perhaps in all history. Control of the world was at stake. Jeremiah had been speaking in somewhat vague terms about the approach of an enemy from the north. He now sees his prophecies fulfilled. This was to be the year in which the first of four recorded deportations to Babylonia took place. Just before the armies of Nebuchadnezzar arrived, Jeremiah is bidden to make one last appeal to his countrymen for repentance (Jeremiah 25:2). Even though God knew that His call for repentance would be unheeded yet His love for Judah constrained Him to issue the appeal through the mouth of His prophet.

Judgment on Judah Jeremiah 25:1-11

For some twenty-three years Jeremiah had been preaching the word of God to the people of Judah but they had not hearkened. His ministry had begun in the thirteenth year of Josiah. Since Josiah reigned a total of thirty-one years (2 Kings 22:1) Jeremiah prophesied for eighteen or nineteen years in the reign of that good king. Then followed three months of the reign of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31) and three years of the reign of Jehoiakim. Throughout this period Jeremiah had been receiving divine revelations and had been communicating them to the people. He emphasizes the earnestness of his proclamation by using a Hebrew idiom which if translated literally would be “rising early and speaking.” But in spite of the earnestness of Jeremiah throughout his ministry the people had not been receptive.

God had sent other prophets besides Jeremiah to plead with the people of Judah. It is not certain whether Jeremiah is referring to prophets who preceded him or prophets who were contemporary with him. Since most of the prophets who were contemporary with Jeremiah were unfaithful, he probably is referring to his prophetic predecessors. In either case Jeremiah 25:4 indicates that the people of Judah had more than one opportunity to hear the message of the Lord. It was not merely a dislike for the personality of Jeremiah which had caused the people to reject his message, for they had rejected others before him (Jeremiah 25:4). one by one those prophets had come before the nation to urge the people to abandon then- evil practices in order that they might continue to dwell in the land which God had given to their fathers (Jeremiah 25:5). God’s gift of the promised land to the descendants of Abraham was conditional and the prophets of God repeatedly set forth the conditions upon which the promised land could be retained. One of the foremost conditions was that the people cease to worship and serve other gods, idols, the work of their hands. If they would but cease this deliberate provocation of God, He would not harm them (Jeremiah 25:6). But the people would not hearken to the earnest appeals of God’s messengers. They continued to provoke God with their idolatry to their own hurt (Jeremiah 25:7). When one disobeys God he courts disaster! All of God’s commandments are for the benefit and well-being of man.

In view of the fact that the people of Judah had not listened to and obeyed the word of the Lord (Jeremiah 25:8), God was about to execute judgment upon them. As he had done so many times before, Jeremiah makes mention of the powerful enemy from the north which was about to descend upon Judah. But here for the first time in his ministry Jeremiah positively identifies that ominous foe. The enemy from the north is Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon whose forces even at that very moment were poised for the strike against Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar is about to sweep down upon Judah and her neighbors and utterly destroy them all. The tiny nations of Syria-Palestine would be so completely destroyed that travelers would hiss or whistle in astonishment at the desolate condition of the lands. These desolations are not of brief duration but are perpetual i.e., they would last for a very long time (Jeremiah 25:9). Silence will reign supreme in these lands. All joyous sounds as, for example, the voice of bridegroom and bride will cease. Even the sound of the millstones will cease because no one will be left to grind the grain. The routine business of everyday life will cease. No light from oil lamps will illuminate the darkness of the night. There is absolutely no sign of life throughout the lands (Jeremiah 25:10). The land of Judah will become such a desolation that men will be astonished at what has taken place there. For seventy years Judah and the neighboring nations of Syria-Palestine will serve the king of Babylon. Commentators are divided as to whether the seventy years are to be interpreted literally or figuratively. Cheyne, for example, believes the figure is to be taken as an indefinite or round number as in Isaiah 23:17. In this case “seventy years” would simply mean a very long time. Other commentators insist that the figures are to be taken literally but they disagree as to when the seventy years commenced. For a detailed discussion of the seventy years prophecy see the special study at the end of this chapter.

Nebuchadnezzar is called by God in Jeremiah 25:9 “My servant.” Cyrus the Persian is called in prophecy “My shepherd” and “My anointed” (Isaiah 44:28; Isaiah 45:1). But no foreigner is ever accorded the title “My servant” except Nebuchadnezzar. Generally to be a servant of a deity is to be a worshiper of that deity (cf. Daniel 6:20). The chosen people are called “My servant” (Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27-28; Ezekiel 37:25) and Isaiah describes the Suffering Messiah as God’s servant. But certainly Nebuchadnezzar was no worshiper of the Lord. He was a polytheist and an idolater. The Chaldean king is called the servant of God because he was the unconscious agent of the Lord. It is interesting to note that in each case where the title “My servant” is applied to Nebuchadnezzar the Septuagint translation omits the title.

Verses 12-14

Jer 25:12-14

Jeremiah 25:12-14

And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith Jehovah, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it desolate for ever. And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. For many nations and great kings shall make bondmen of them, even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.

What an impossible prophecy this appeared to be as viewed by the people of Jeremiah’s generation! No great power of human history had ever been terminated so quickly after reaching their zenith; but it came to pass exactly as the prophet foretold.

Many nations and great kings shall make bondmen of them...

(Jeremiah 25:14). These were the Medes and Persians who subjugated Babylonia under Cyrus in 539 B.C.

Judgment on Babylon Jeremiah 25:12-14

The Ruler of all nations will not allow Babylon to go unpunished for her crimes against humanity. Babylon is merely a tool used of God for a time and then discarded. Jeremiah was not pro-Babylonian. Here he makes a specific prediction that after seventy years of Babylonian world rule that nation too would be visited by the God of judgment. To visit someone’s sins upon them is to punish them for their wrong doings. The land of the Chaldeans would become a perpetual desolation (Jeremiah 25:12). Every word which God had spoken and which Jeremiah had preached and written about Babylon would be fulfilled (Jeremiah 25:13). God would recompense the Chaldeans for their wicked works. Many kings and great nations would again and again enslave the Chaldeans (Jeremiah 25:14). Babylon fell first to the Medes and Persians, and then to the Greeks and Parthians.

Verses 15-16

Jer 25:15-16

Jeremiah 25:15-16

For thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel, unto me: take this cup of the wine of wrath at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it. And they shall drink, and reel to and fro, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.

The cup of the wine of wrath...

(Jeremiah 25:15). This was no literal cup, but a symbol of God’s wrath against many nations, a number of which would be named in this very chapter. Significantly, even the apostate church was made to drink of the cup of the wine of God’s wrath in Revelation 18:6. It is also of very great significance that at the very time when God’s people were to drink of the wine of God’s wrath, the nations of mankind who knew not the Lord were also summoned to drink of the same cup! So will it be at the end of the age. When the final apostasy of mankind has taken place, and even the church has disappeared, or nearly so, from the face of the earth, as foretold by the Saviour in Luke 18:8, at that very moment the destruction of all the world shall immediately follow upon the occasion of the final Judgment, the redeemed in Christ Jesus being the sole exceptions!

The metaphor of God’s giving the nations a cup of wrath that caused them to be mad and drunken ascribes "all that happens," whether good or evil, to God. This is hard for moderns to understand; but all of the prophets stressed this. "Shall there be evil in a city, and Jehovah hath not done it" (Amos 3:6)? How is God the author of evil? He has created the laws of control, not merely for the universe, but for men as well; and when men violate God’s laws of control, evil is sure to result. In that sense, God does the evil. This was a necessary point of view on the part of God’s prophets, because the pagans ascribed all evil to members of their pagan pantheon. The Great Truth proclaimed by the prophets was that God is the First Cause, and the Last Cause, and the Only Cause. As Cheyne stated it: "The faith of the Prophets compared to ours was as an oak tree to a sapling; and therefore they could express the truth of the Universal Causation of Jehovah with perfect tranquillity."

The sword that I will send among them...

(Jeremiah 25:16). This could mean the actual sword of human warfare, or God’s own sword, as mentioned in Genesis 3:24. God is not dependent upon the swords of men for the accomplishment of his will. Many other instruments are available to the Eternal God.

Verses 15-29

Jer 25:15-29

Judgment on Surrounding Nations Jeremiah 25:15-29

The figure of drinking from the wine cup of God’s wrath is not one which is uncommon in prophetic literature. See Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22 : Ezekiel 23:31-34; Habakkuk 2:16; Psalms 60:3; Jeremiah 49:12; Jeremiah 51:7, etc. The origin of the figure is uncertain. Some relate it to the practice recorded in Numbers 5:11-31 where a woman suspected of adultery was required to drink a loathsome potion with disastrous results to her if guilty. Bright suggests that the figure may go back to the practice of giving those who were marked for execution some brew to tranquillize them and render them incapable of struggle. Be that as it may, Jeremiah is here commanded to take the cup of wrath from the hand of God and cause the nations of the world to drink of it (Jeremiah 25:15). The nations after drinking of that brew will become as intoxicated men, like raving lunatics. Their incoherence and utter confusion is brought about by news of the approach of the sword of the Lord, the armies which He will use to execute His judgment (Jeremiah 25:16). Jeremiah relates that he complied with the commandment of the Lord and caused the nations of the world to drink of God’s deadly cup (Jeremiah 25:17).

The real problem is to determine the nature of the episode recorded here. If the student of Jeremiah will take the time to locate all the countries named in Jeremiah 25:18-26 he will immediately see that it would have been impossible for Jeremiah to literally visit all the nations. What then took place in this passage? Is this a vision or a symbolic act or merely rhetoric? Some think that Jeremiah in a visionary experience took a wine cup from the hand of God and passed it among the nations. In this case Jeremiah is here describing what he saw in a vision. Yet no positive indication of a vision is present in the passage. Others think that a symbolic act was performed by the prophet. He actually took a cup of wine, explained its significance, and passed it around among the ambassadors of these various lands who were present in Jerusalem. It’s difficult, however, to imagine that ambassadors from distant Media and Elam would have been present in Jerusalem. Other commentators think that the cup which Jeremiah is told to pass among the nations is metaphorical. The prophet passes the cup by preaching his message of God’s wrath against the nations. However the account seems to bear all the earmarks of an actual experience. God told Jeremiah to pass a wine cup among the nations (Jeremiah 25:15) and he carried out the command (Jeremiah 25:17). The nations to whom he carried the cup apparently could reject it (Jeremiah 25:28). Although none of the explanations of this episode are without their difficulties it seems to this writer that a symbolic act was performed most likely involving the ambassadors of the various lands mentioned in Jeremiah 25:18-26.

In Jeremiah 25:18-26 Jeremiah enumerates the nations to whom he carried the cup of God’s wrath. First, of course, stands Jerusalem and the cities of Judah. The kings (Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah) and princes of Judah shall drink of that cup of judgment and their land will become a desolation, a horrible and shocking sight “as at this day” (Jeremiah 25:18). The last phrase of Jeremiah 25:18 implies that in the view of Jeremiah the desolation of Jerusalem had already begun in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. This episode of the wine cup of wrath must have occurred not long after the invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C. In the view of Jeremiah the desolations of Judah and Jerusalem began with that invasion, not with the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. The foreign nations which were required to drink the cup of God’s judgment are fourteen in number.

1. Egypt is the southernmost country named. The oracles against Egypt also stand first in the collection of foreign nation oracles at the end of the Book of Jeremiah. The mixed multitudes or mingled people mentioned in Jeremiah 25:20 were probably foreigners who dwelled within the borders of Egypt. Some of these mingled people joined the Israelites during their exodus from Egypt many years earlier (Numbers 11:4).

2. The location of the land of Uz is uncertain. It seems to have been in close proximity to Edom (cf. Lamentations 4:21). Job was a citizen of this land (Job 1:1). No kingdom by this name is found in the historical records of antiquity.

3. Philistia to the southwest of Judah would next taste the cup. Four of the major Philistine cities, Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod are named specifically. Gath, the fifth city of the Philistine pentapolis, is omitted here as in Amos 1:6-8. Of Ashdod only a remnant remained after the siege and capture by Pharaoh Psammetichus I (663–609 B.C.).

4. 5, 6. The transjordan kingdoms of Edom, Moab and Ammon are next named. These kingdoms are named in order from south to north.

7. Phoenicia with her two major cities of Tyre and Sidon and her overseas colonies would also drink from the cup.

8, 9, 10. Three tribes of northern Arabia, Dedan, Tema, and Buz are next named. The Dedanites were descended from Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3) and had a reputation for being traders (Ezekiel 27:15; Ezekiel 27:20; Ezekiel 38:13). Tema was a tribe related to Abraham through his son Ishmael (Genesis 25:15). Buz was a tribe de scended from Nahor, Abraham’s brother (Genesis 22:21). All of these tribes are identified as those who clip the corners of the hair. The custom of cutting away the hair from the temples is forbidden to the Israelites in Leviticus 19:27. No doubt the custom had some pagan religious significance.

11. The kings of Arabia and the mingled people who are associated with them will also taste of the judgment of God. These tribes dwelled almost due east of the populated region of Transjordan.

12. Zimri as the name of a people is not found else where. Some relate this people to the desert tribes just mentioned while others associate them with the two kingdoms named along with Zimri in Jeremiah 25:25.

13. Elam, east of Babylon, had already begun to fade as an independent people and was shortly to be absorbed by the Medes and later by Persia.

14. The Medes were one of the most powerful nations of Jeremiah’s day. They were located east of Assyria and north of Elam. They had been instrumental in the overthrow of Nineveh in 612 B.C. Media eventually merged with Persia under the leadership of Cyrus the Great. The Medo-Persian empire fell before the armies of Alexander the Great.

In addition to the nations specifically named, the Lord indicates that many other nations must also drink of the cup of destruction. Kings of the north, some near and some distant, indeed all kingdoms of the civilized world would drink. But last of all the king of Sheshach would drink of that deadly cup. Sheshach is a cipher, a cryptic way of writing the name Babylon. In this system of writing, the alphabet is written along a line and then on another line is written again in reverse order. The first letter corresponds to the last, the second letter corresponds to the last but one, etc. When this system is followed in Hebrew, Babylon comes out being spelled Sheshech. The same device is used again in Jeremiah 51:41. It is not clear why Jeremiah chose to use this code name for Babylon. Certainly he was not afraid to speak out plainly concerning the fate of Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 25:12). Perhaps Jeremiah changed the name Babylon to Sheshach in one of the later editions of his book after this cipher came into common use among the captives in Babylon. Then too, the word Sheshach sounds in Hebrew very like a word that means “humiliation.” A play on words might be intended.

As Jeremiah hands his symbolic cup to each nation he is to instruct them to drink its contents. They will, he predicts, begin to act as intoxicated men, staggering, vomiting, falling. But that is one stupor from which they would never awake. Thus does Jeremiah picture in figurative language the irrational, incoherent, and helpless behavior as Nebuchadnezzar marches against these lands (Jeremiah 25:27). If the representatives to whom he offers the symbolic cup refuse to receive it from his hand, Jeremiah is to assure them that they must indeed drink of the cup of divine destruction whether or not they cooperate in sipping from the symbolic cup (Jeremiah 25:28). The rationale for the impending destruction of the nations is very simple. God had already begun to bring judgmental calamity upon the beloved city of Jerusalem, the city where His Temple stood, the city where some of His faithful worshipers lived. Jerusalem is called by the name of God i.e., it belonged to Him, it was His special city. If Jerusalem must taste of divine wrath, do the nations think that they shall escape scot-free? They too will suffer at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, the divinely appointed sword (Jeremiah 25:29).

Verses 17-19

Jer 25:17-19

Jeremiah 25:17-19

Then took I the cup at Jehovah’s hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom Jehovah had sent me: [to wit], Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day; Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;

The cup at Jehovah’s hand...

(Jeremiah 25:17). Although Jeremiah is here represented as giving the cup to the nations, it is actually God who requires men to drink of it. As Green said, This is a cup from which all men have to drink, i.e., the consequences of our wrong choices. Life places it to our lips, and its contents can be very bitter, whether the recipient be a nation or an individual.

To wit, Jerusalem, etc...

(Jeremiah 25:18). The expression to wit means namely. It is used in legal documents to introduce a list or an explanation; and it is so used here. Significantly, it is Jerusalem that leads the list. Why? Judgment begins at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17). When any civilization has become so corrupt that even the people of God must be judged, that civilization in its entirety will most certainly suffer summary judgment. Notice here how all the nations of that whole era are severely judged, condemned, and punished in connection with the judgment against Jerusalem.

In this whole list of the nations scheduled to drink of the cup of the wrath of God, Smith pointed out that the arrangement here is remarkable.

"Jeremiah begins with the extreme south, Egypt; next, he takes Uz on the south-east, and Philistia on the south-west; next, Edom, Moab, and Ammon on the east; and Tyre, Sidon, and the Isles of the Mediterranean on the west; next in the far east, various Arabian nations; and then northward to Media and Elam; and finally to the kings of the north, far and near!"

We shall not attempt a nation by nation analysis of what is written here, because, very obviously, what the prophet reveals here is that "all earthly nations" were to fall under the punitive judgment of Almighty God. That is the simple meaning of this list, which cites nations sprawled all over the world in all directions. "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God" (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Verses 20-26

Jer 25:20-26

Jeremiah 25:20-26

and all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of the Uz, and all the kings of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Gaza, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod; Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon; and all the kings of Tyre, and all the kings of Sidon, and the kings of the isle which is beyond the sea; Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that have the corners [of their hair] cut off; and all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the wilderness; and all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes; and all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

Jeremiah 25:26 leaves no doubt that every nation under the sun of heaven was included in this promise of the punitive judgment of God.

And the king of Sheshach shall drink after them...

(Jeremiah 25:26). Sheshach here stands for Babylon, indicating that the judgment of Babylon will come chronologically after the judgment of the other nations, the reason for that being that Babylon would be the instrument of punishment to the others before the punishment was executed upon themselves.

Sheshach in this passage is identified as an Atbasch, a form of writing in which the last letter of the alphabet is used for the first, and the letter next to the last is used for the second, etc. Here the word stands for Babylon.

It is surprising that the singular word "isle" is used instead of the plural in Jeremiah 25:22. "The word means any coastland; but as it is here distinguished from Tyre and Sidon, it probably refers to Cyprus.

Verses 27-29

Jer 25:27-29

Jeremiah 25:27-29

And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you. And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thy hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts: Ye shall surely drink. For, lo, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished; for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith Jehovah of hosts.

If they shall refuse to take the cup...

(Jeremiah 25:28). Of course, no person or no nation can refuse to drink the cup of the wine of the wrath of God; and what this signifies here is the surfacing of any complaint against God’s judgment that might be raised by sufferers of the consequences of their sins.

The judgment of God against the whole world derives from the fact that when the world has become so wicked that God’s people themselves are swept into the near-universal rebellion against God, then the whole world at that time does indeed deserve destruction. It happened once upon the occasion of the destruction of the Old Israel; and it will occur again in the destruction of the New Israel at the end of the age in the events culminating in the Final Judgment of the Great Day. When will that happen? When the cities of the Gentiles have fallen, when the Great Whore, when oppressive anti-theistic government, and Satan himself shall all three have been cast into the lake of fire that burneth with brimstone. See the last three chapters of Revelation.

Verses 30-38

Jer 25:30-38

Jeremiah 25:30-31

Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, Jehovah will roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he will mightily roar against his fold; he will give a shout, as they that tread [the grapes], against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise shall come even to the end of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy with the nations; he will enter into judgment with all flesh: as for the wicked, he will give them to the sword, saith Jehovah.

Notice how repeatedly the message is emphasized: (1) that all nations shall suffer judgment and destruction; (2) that death shall overtake the wicked; and (3) that there shall be no national exceptions to God’s wrath.

Jeremiah 25:32-38

Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the uttermost parts of the earth. And the slain of Jehovah shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the face of the ground. Wail, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow [in ashes], ye principal of the flock; for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are fully come, and ye shall fall like a goodly vessel. And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape. A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and the wailing of the principal of the flock! for Jehovah layeth waste their pasture. And the peaceable folds are brought to silence because of the fierce anger of Jehovah. He hath left his covert, as the lion; for their land is become an astonishment because of the fierceness of the oppressing [sword], and because of his fierce anger.

This graphic description has a double application, referring at once to the forthcoming destruction of the Old Israel and remotely to the Eternal Judgment of the Last Day. Some of the radical critics prefer to assign this passage to some other author than to Jeremiah, but, as Feinberg stated, "Such a denial of Jeremiah’s authorship is based, not upon any evidence at all, but the subjective opinions of certain critics." "The prophecy is certainly not later than the mid-sixth century B.C., and we may credit it to Jeremiah."

Judgment on the World Jeremiah 25:30-38

Jeremiah 25:30-38 contain a poetic description of the world-wide judgment of the Lord. In the first two verses of this section the prophet presents four pictures of the Lord in the act of executing judgment upon the wicked. (1) Like a lion about to pounce upon the prey the God of holiness roars from His heavenly habitation against His pasture or sheepfold. The tender Shepherd of Israel has turned into a roaring lion because of the wickedness of His people. (2) As those who tread the grapes shout while they press the grapes, so the Lord will raise the victorious shout as the wicked of the earth fall beneath His feet. (3) As a prosecutor reads his indictment against the accused, so the Lord enters into a controversy i.e., a court case, with the nations of the world. (4) He not only prosecutes the nations but He also pronounces judgment against them. It is as righteous judge pronouncing sentence against the guilty that God decrees desolation and war for the whole earth. The “noise” in Jeremiah 25:31 refers to the tumult of warfare.

God will raise up against the nations of the world a tempest or whirlwind from the uttermost parts of the earth. In Jeremiah 6:22 the phrase “uttermost part of the earth” refers to the north country and therefore it is obvious that the prophet has in mind Babylon. This whirlwind of divine wrath will sweep from nation to nation (Jeremiah 25:32). Those slain by this agent of God will fill the earth. So many will die that customary funeral rites will have to be abandoned. Unburied and unlamented corpses will lie upon the face of the earth. (Jeremiah 25:33). Neither shepherds (rulers) nor lords of the flock (rich and influential people) will escape. Their days of slaughtering other nations, deporting and scattering captive peoples, are ended. The nations of the world in all their glory shall fall and be broken like a precious vessel which has fallen to the ground (Jeremiah 25:34). Sometimes high ranking officials escape the fate of the common people in times of warfare. But from the divine judgment coming upon the world there will be no escape for anyone (Jeremiah 25:35). The proud and pompous world leaders will howl in agony and cry out in distress as they see their pasture, the land which they rule, devastated (Jeremiah 25:36). The peaceful pastoral regions (“peaceful folds”) will be reduced to silence because neither man nor flock will be there any more. Their land has become an appalling waste because the lion, the Lord of hosts, has left His lair. An alternative interpretation: The Lord forsakes His desolate land just as a young lion forsakes his lair when it has been destroyed. God has become a fierce destroyer to the peoples of the earth.

Seventy Years of Captivity - Jeremiah 25:1-38

Open It

1. What are your thoughts whenever you meet someone with a "holier-than-thou" attitude?

2. What are five situations that, in your opinion, must make God very angry?

Explore It

3. When did Jeremiah’s next message fall in relation to the kings of Judah and Babylon? (Jeremiah 25:1)

4. How long had Jeremiah been speaking the word of God to the people of Judah and Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 25:2-3)

5. How did the people of Judah respond to God’s servants? (Jeremiah 25:4)

6. What was the message of the prophets? (Jeremiah 25:5-6)

7. How did the people bring God’s judgment on themselves? (Jeremiah 25:7)

8. Whom did God specify as His instrument of judgment, and how long would Judah remain in captivity? (Jeremiah 25:8-11)

9. How would Babylon eventually pay for her guilt before God? (Jeremiah 25:12-14)

10. What was the cup that God ordered Jeremiah to deliver to many nations? (Jeremiah 25:15-16)

11. What nations were named in Jeremiah’s prophecy as being in line to be judged by God? (Jeremiah 25:17-26)

12. What was God’s answer to any nation that refused the cup from Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 25:27-29)

13. What images did Jeremiah use to convey the coming of God’s great wrath? (Jeremiah 25:30-31)

14. How did Jeremiah describe the magnitude of the destruction he foresaw? (Jeremiah 25:32-33)

15. What would become of all the leaders who did not fear God? (Jeremiah 25:34-38)

Get It

16. Why did it anger God that the people worshiped things they had created?

17. What could the people of Judah have done to avert God’s punishment?

18. Why was it significant that Jeremiah’s prophecy of judgment included the most powerful nations on earth?

19. Why did God refer to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, as his servant?

20. How bad do conditions have to be in order to prevent people from burying and mourning their dead?

21. What was God saying about the supposed "exemption" of the leaders when He used many of the same words to describe their plight as He had used with the sheep?

22. In what ways do people who love and serve God need to acknowledge their own inherent sinfulness?

Apply It

23. How can you avoid making gods out of your own accomplishments?

24. How can you avoid becoming complacent about your own sinfulness and need for God?

Questions On Jeremiah Chapter Twenty-Five

By Brent Kercheville

1 What is God’s frst declaration (Jeremiah 25:1-7)?

2 What will God do because of the people’s disobedience (Jeremiah 25:8-14)? When will the punishment end?

3 What is the good news of God’s message (Jeremiah 25:15-26)?

4 What is the bad news to Israel of God’s message (Jeremiah 25:27-29)?

5 Why must the people drink from the cup?

6 What is God’s message in Jeremiah 25:30-33?

7 What is the message to the shepherds (Jeremiah 25:34-38)? Who are the shepherds?

TRANSFORMATION:

How does this relationship change your relationship with God?

What did you learn about him?

What will you do differently in your life?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jeremiah 25". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/jeremiah-25.html.
 
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