The Scriptorium

Judgment on Babylon (1)

At last, Babylon. Jeremiah 50.1-3, 45, 46

Pray Psalm 137.4-6.
How shall we sing the LORD’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.

Sing Psalm 137.4-6.
(Gift of Love: Though I May Speak)
How can we sing, exalt Your Name,
or praises bring amid our shame?
If we forget Your Church's fame,
O Lord, then let our hands grow lame.

If ever praise forsake my tongue,
if Zion's ways no more be sung,
if greater joy by me be found,
my lips destroy, no more to sound.

Read and meditate on Jeremiah 50.1-3, 45, 46.

1. What was the focus of God’s judgment against Babylon?

2. How thorough would this judgment be?

Our approach to chapters 50 and 51 of Jeremiah will differ a bit from what we’ve done throughout. Instead of working straight through the chapters, verse by verse, we’ll take a more thematic look at these two chapters (chapter 51 in our next installment). This will allow us to group themes and get a more complete picture of the utter devastation Jeremiah prophesied against Babylon.

We recall that Nebuchadnezzar was declared to be the “servant” of God (Jer. 25.9). God would use the Babylonian king to bring judgment against the people of Judah and Jerusalem, as well as all the nations surrounding His people. Daniel reports how Nebuchadnezzar came to faith in God after the Lord humbled him (Dan. 4). Thus, by publishing his trust in the Lord throughout the Babylonian empire, Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled his service to God.

Subsequent rulers of Babylon, and all the people of that great empire, would come under the judgment of God for their part in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple of God. But not just for that. As verses 1-3 make clear, God intended to bring to an end the worship of the Babylonian gods – Bel, Merodach, and all the other idols of the Babylonian religion. The destruction of Babylon was thus both a spiritual and a temporal act on God’s part.

God would call a nation from the north – the Medes and Persians and their allies (Jer. 51.28) – to sweep down over Babylon and bring complete destruction to a formerly great empire. Babylon would be made desolate. Her fall would be so startling that the very earth would tremble, and all the nations would cry out in alarm (v. 46). This prophesy against Babylon would be read to the people in captivity there (51.59-64), and we can imagine that it would bring hope and encouragement to them, as they awaited the judgment of the Lord.

The fall of Babylon rang out throughout the ancient world and lingered as a terrifying memory even into Jesus’ day. John used Babylon’s fall to talk about the state of the world before the coming of Christ in the book of Revelation. As it was then – destruction total, complete, and without mercy – so it will be when the Lord returns to bring home His people to Himself.

1. Which aspects of the Babylonian Empire was God going to judge?

2. How would God judge the Babylonians?

3. Why was it appropriate for God to judge Babylon as He had judged all the other nations?

…this prophecy is given as the conclusion of the book, to mitigate the sorrow of the miserable exiles; for it was no small relief to them to hear that the tyranny by which they were oppressed, and under which they did live as it were a lifeless life, would not be perpetual. We now then understand why the Prophet spoke of the Babylonians and of their destruction. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Jeremiah 40.1

Lord, as long as You leave me here, let me be faithful to proclaim You to…

Pray Psalm 137.1-3, 7-9.
Pray for believers who are being persecuted in other lands. Pray for their strength and safety, for repentance on the part of their tormentors, and for the Gospel to spread in spite of persecution.

Sing Psalm 137.1-4, 7-9.
Psalm 137.1-4, 7-9 (Gift of Love: Though I May Speak
We sit beside the waters deep
in broken pride, to mourn and weep
for Zion's woes and all our sin:
How great our foes, without, within!

No songs have we of joy to sing.
Our enemy, to taunt and sting,
bids us rejoice, as they oppress:
We have no voice to praise or bless.

Remember, Lord Your boasting foes,
who hate Your Word and visit woes
on your dear sheep that they may die:
Cause them to weep and mourn and sigh.

How blessed are You, our sovereign Lord,
Who judgment true shall soon accord
to all who seek Your sheep to kill.
Preserve the meek who serve You still.

T. M. Moore

You can also now listen to a weekly summary of our daily Scriptorium study. Click here for Jeremiah 49. You can also download for free all the weekly studies in this series on the book of Jeremiah by clicking here.

Check out the special offer on our book The Church Captive. Are churches today captive like the people of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s day? Order your copy of The Church Captive and decide for yourself (click here).

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All quotations from Church Fathers from
Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore