Jeremiah Chapter 50
Lessons from the text
No One Is Immune from Judgment
God elevated Babylon over all the nations of the earth. He gave Nebuchadnezzar great power and authority over many peoples. God even used him to pass judgment on Israel for its idolatry. Yet, after completing its task, God passed judgment on Babylon.
People may believe that they are immune to God’s judgment because they are doing His work. The pastors, evangelists, deacons, Sunday School teachers, musicians, and so forth from every church office imaginable to the members of the congregation may feel like since they are doing what God has asked of them, God will not judge them. Yet Jesus warns of such thinking. In Matthew, He says that:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Good works themselves will not stop God’s judgment on you. Instead, it is whether or not you work righteousness or iniquity. At this point, you may be thinking that doing good works automatically means that you are working righteousness. Not so. You may be doing the right thing but with the wrong intention.
To work righteousness means that your heart is seeking righteousness, and righteousness is Jesus Christ Himself. Therefore, to be righteous means that you are seeking Christ.
God is interested in the condition of your heart and not the outward functions you perform. You are a worker of righteousness or iniquity depending on the desires of your heart. What office you hold in church or the world makes no difference on this front. You may be doing the outward works of God (preaching, praying, witnessing) but still be working iniquity (having jealously, hatred, envy, strive).
Your heart must be right before God to make it into heaven. So, please, examine your heart and not your works. Like King David, ask God to search your heart and purge you of any unrighteousness (Ps. 139:23-24). Otherwise, you may stand in judgment from God despite your good works.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1-3 Even though Babylon is God’s instrument for judgment on sinful nations (Jer. 27:6), it is not immune to judgment from God. It is guilty of the same sin of idolatry. Therefore, God will also send judgment against Babylon through a northern kingdom, Persia.
4-5 When Babylon is overthrown, the Jews will turn their hearts back to Jerusalem and God. They will once again be willing to enter into a covenant relationship with Him. Noteworthy is that they will be approaching God with a contrite, or broken, spirit.
6-7 Without righteous leaders, the Jews have been led into dangerous places where they have been victimized. Those who oppress them believe they are innocent in God’s eyes because the Jews are in sin. The thought is the same as saying that since someone is already a thief, it is not wrong to steal from them. However, stealing is still wrong. Even so, killing God’s people and taking their land is wrong. Whether or not the Jews are sinless is irrelevant. God will punish those who do wickedly.
8-16 God warns the Jews to come out from Babylon because He will send destruction against the idolatrous nation. It is important to understand that while Babylon serves God’s purpose under Nebuchadnezzar, the next king of Babylon will completely disrespect God. Given to pride, he will defile the holy utensils and bring destruction on his nation (Dan. 5:1-31).
17-20 Assyria took the northern kingdom into captivity (II Ki. 17:1-5), and Nebuchadnezzar has taken the southern kingdom captive (II Ki. 25:8-12). God’s ultimate goal is to forgive Israel for its sins. These captivities are one step towards that goal, and when God is ready to restore Israel, all the unrighteous (the other nations) will perish. When God chastises His people, the wicked prosper, but when God exalts His people, the wicked are diminished. As good increases, evil decreases.
21 Merathaim means “land of two rebellions.” Jeremiah is substituting this for the real name of the land, Mesopatamia, which means “two rivers.” That is, instead of being a land of two rivers, rebellions against God have been found in the land. Pekod is a name for a people in the region, and Jeremiah uses it for its meaning, “visitation” (Eze. 23:23). For their rebellion, God will visit them with judgment.
22-32 This prophecy ties in directly to the account of Belshazzar’s sin against the Lord by using His holy vessels to bless idols (Dan. 5:1-31). As a result, God gives all the gold and riches of Babylon to another nation. Despite their pride, Babylon fell in one day.
33-34 The separation between Israel and Judah reflects the southern and northern kingdom. Assyria took Israel captive, and Babylon took Judah captive. Both nations sternly oppressed any Jewish rebellion. Nonetheless, God is mightier than these nations and will redeem His people from their grasps. Noteworthy is that the land will have peace when the evil-doers are disquieted.
35-43 Because the Babylonians and Chaldeans have worshipped their idols to the point of mad, or unreasonable, devotion, God will overturn all that is deemed good in their eyes; their mighty men will too shocked to fight, the soldiers of the chariots and weapons of war will become cowardly, all their riches will be stolen, and their waters will cease. Noteworthy is that water symbolizes life, and in the siege against Babylon, the Persians won by cutting off the river and entering the city through the water channels.
44 God concludes this prophecy by calling to Babylon to find a man to put in charge of their armies to challenge the Lord. They have chosen to go madly after idols, and now it is time to battle with God to see which god is supreme. Since no man can be found of equal stature and might as God, there is no way for the Babylonians to fight against His sovereign will. Even their rulers, or shepherds, have no sway over God.
45 Compare to Jeremiah 49:20.
46 Babylon’s fall will be so great that the earth will feel it and all the nations will mourn. See Matthew 27:7 and Revelation 18:1-20.
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