Here Babylon, who had been the scourge of so many nations, now comes to be reckoned with herself. Her judgments are described. There are many sweet promises interspersed in this Chapter to Israel.
The Chapter opens with God's denunciation against Babylon: Israel at this time was in captivity in Babylon. But the hour is now hastening when Babylon is to be destroyed, and Israel delivered. Bel and Merodach, their two great idols, shall be destroyed.
What a beautiful description is here given of the people's return to their beloved home! Reader! there is such a thing as tears of joy, as well as tears of sorrow. Holy mourners in Christ, come within the blessing, Matthew 5:4. And observe the beautiful order in the people's return. They are said first to seek the Lord their God; God in covenant. This is the first work of grace. And the second is like to it; they shall ask the way to God's Church, to Zion. And what is the object of both, but that the Covenant may never more be broken on their part, for the Lord hath never broken it on his. Reader! was there ever a more lovely representation than this? And how exactly it describes your heart, my heart, yea every heart, of a poor returning Prodigal, who by sin hath ran away from God, and is brought back by sovereign grace, to seek the Lord's face sorrowing. And oh! what grace in God to dispose the heart to all this, without which no heart would ever be disposed! What grace to receive the poor returning Prodigal when he hath nothing to bring, and nothing to offer; and when every enemy concluded that they sinned not in wounding them, because they had sinned against the Lord. Luke 15:17-24.
Let not the Reader overlook still further testimonies of divine favor to his poor outcasts, in that the Lord sends enemies to destroy Babylon, because Babylon had wasted his people. Ye rejoiced, said the Lord, and were glad, ye destroyers of mine heritage! Oh! how full of grace this is! And do observe, Reader, moreover, that in the worst of times, Israel was still the Lord's heritage, and the Lord de lights to own Israel. Oh! the blessedness of such unspeakable mercy! Deuteronomy 33:29. And observe once more, the Lord in this passage calls Babylon's oppression of his people sinning against him: agree ably to that sweet expression, whoso toucheth you, toucheth the apple of his eye. Zechariah 2:8.
Every verse in this passage is peculiarly striking and gracious. Observe how the Lord speaks tenderly in behalf of his people, and contemptuously of their enemies. A scattered sheep fallen into the jaws of lions. This king of Babylon, as if to point to his impotence. And do not overlook, or forget, from this representation, how plain it is, that the Lord is everlastingly watching over his people, and takes particular notice of everyone that hurts them. Oh! that every child of God would keep this in remembrance. And, Reader, do not forget to mark down also in the tablet of thine heart; yea, beg of God the Holy Ghost to write it there for thee, that such is the perpetual, unceasing, and soul cleansing efficacy of Christ's blood, that when the iniquity of Israel, and sin of Judah, are sought for, they shall not be found. The Church of Jesus, in the eye of God the Father, by virtue of her union, and oneness with him, is altogether beautiful and lovely. He beholds no iniquity in Jacob, neither perverseness in Israel. Jesus declares himself of his spouse, that she is all fair, and that there is no spot in her. And he will present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she may be forever unblameable and irreproveable in his sight. Numbers 23:21; Song of Solomon 4:7; Ephesians 5:27.
I only detain the Reader, to make one remark on this passage, though it furnisheth out many; and the one I beg the Reader particularly to observe is, in my view, a most important one; namely, that Babylon's sin, in the cruelty manifested to Israel, was directed against the Lord. She hath been proud against the Lord. Yes! The hatred manifested against the Lord's people, is on the Lord's account. So saith Jesus, and blessed be his dear name, that it is so. Turn to that scripture, and you will find it. John 15:18-19. I know not what the Reader's feelings are at this discovery; but in mine it forms a sweet and precious consideration. I find a holy boldness sometimes to faith, in telling my Lord, that since he hath called me by his grace, and the enemy hates me but the more on his account, surely my Lord will feel constrained to keep me the nearer to himself for this reason, that the foe may not triumph.
And doth not those sweet consolations belong to God's people at all times, and under all exercises. God's Israel, and Judah, are oppressed together. Every hand is against the household of faith. Men may detain them for a while; but they are God's property, and therefore God's care. Their Goel kinsmen owns them, and will plead their cause. And when he ariseth, woe to the enemies of his people. He will give rest to his people, and their land shall be in quiet. Isaiah 65:19-25.
I must not detain the Reader, by entering upon the many interesting particulars here enumerated of God's judgments upon Babylon. I only briefly observe, that the history of that kingdom hath fully shown the truth of the divine predictions. For where is that once great city, whose magnificence and glory was so highly spoken of? It is, as the Lord said it should be, now a desert for beasts and the reptiles of the earth. Thus Isaiah prophesied of it, and so it came to pass, and is fulfilled even to this day. Isaiah 13:19-22. Cyrus the Persian, in concert with Darius the Mede, as had been predicted of him, opened a passage through the great river Euphrates, and entered Babylon by night, while the king and his nobles were reveling in their security. See Isaiah 45:1-4 and Daniel 5:30. But though I must not detain the Reader any longer with the mere history of the event, I should lose the chief object of this commentary, did I not humbly follow the steps of the Prophet, explained by the Evangelist, and call the Reader to the spiritual illustration of the history of Babylon. All oppressors of God's people act as instruments for the promotion of God's glory. And the final destruction of them is therefore set forth in the scriptures, as the one great design of God. Hence in the book of the Revelations, the Apostle John had it in commission to tell the Church, that this was the spiritual object all along intended. God's love and attention to his Church in Christ, was thus all along shadowed out in all the sacred scriptures; so that as this Chapter concludes the whole history confirms, at the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations. Re 18 throughout.
READER! contemplate in this Chapter, what all Scripture proclaims, and all experience in the history of men and things confirm; God's people must ultimately triumph, and all the enemies of God, and of his Christ, must be destroyed. How little did proud Babylon calculate the dreadful purchase they made when leading Israel into captivity! How little did Egypt suppose, for the deliverance of their poor brick making slaves, Egypt should be destroyed! And how little now, in the present hour, doth mystic Babylon frame an idea, that in one day her ruin will be accomplished. Oh! that the people of God, when racking under chastisement and oppression, would hear the rod, and who hath appointed it: and in their transgressions and unbelief, trace the source of the Lord's displeasure. But let them not forget, amidst all, that though like lost sheep, as this scripture beautifully describes them, their shepherds have caused them to go astray, yet they are still the sheep of Christ. And in the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale, and both in Jerusalem and Judah, the flocks must pass again under the hands of him that telleth them. Oh! the blessedness, when grace inclines the heart, of doing as the poor Captives from Babylon are described, going and weeping, they shall seek the Lord, and shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, to join themselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be broken. And as in grace, so in glory, what blessedness will break in upon the soul of all the Lord's outcasts, which here dwell with Moab, and are constrained to have their habitation in the Babylon of the world, when finally and fully they shall return, and come to the Zion which is above, with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads, when they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 50". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
Second Sunday after Epiphany