In the final chapters of the book of Jeremiah, we see the Lord pronounce judgments on many peoples. The Egyptians, Edomites, Moabites, Philistines, and Assyrians, along with others, will receive the judgment of the Lord for their evil. These nations have opposed and abused the people of Israel and Judah, and the Lord will not let them off the hook. But there is one big one left that the Lord still will speak of.
In chapters 50-51, we finally see what the Lord is going to do regarding Babylon. You must see this as fascinating. The Babylonian Empire was a tool in the hand of God. The Babylonians came into the land of Judah, and they brought the judgment of God on his rebellious people. The Babylonians would be the nation that would subdue the Philistines, Moabites, Egyptians, and even the mighty Assyrians. And, when it is all said and done, the Lord would then turn and bring his judgment on the Babylonians for their actions.
1 The word that the Lord spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet:
2 “Declare among the nations and proclaim,
set up a banner and proclaim,
conceal it not, and say:
‘Babylon is taken,
Bel is put to shame,
Merodach is dismayed.
Her images are put to shame,
her idols are dismayed.’
3 “For out of the north a nation has come up against her, which shall make her land a desolation, and none shall dwell in it; both man and beast shall flee away.
And in case you are curious, the Lord did exactly what he said. The Babylonians came into the land and did damage. They put down enemy nations that never really rose again. They seized power from major players like Egypt and Assyria. And then the Lord brought judgment on the Babylonians just as he promised.
Why think about such ancient history? You should think about this because it tells you something about the Lord our God and how the world around us works. Let’s take a couple of truths from what the Lord did.
First, recognize that no nation is beyond the reach of the power of the Lord. Nobody in 722 BC, when Israel’s northern kingdom was carried away, would have believed that Assyria could fall in around a century, but it did. Nobody would have thought that the powerful Egyptians, the folks who took out King Josiah at the end of the seventh century BC, would fall; but they did. And nobody, after seeing all that, would think that the Babylonians who had firmly established their rule would then lose their own power within a century; but they did.
One lesson for us is to stop thinking that everything we see in our world is unchanging and unchangeable. No nation, no empire, no power structure has ever proved immune to the passing of time or the power of the Lord. The US is not guaranteed to stand. The EU is not guaranteed to stand. No other major nation on the world’s stage is guaranteed to stand. There is no power that can match the might of our Lord. Let us remember that, and let us find our hope in him and not in worldly kingdoms that crumble.
Second, note the sovereignty of God. He used Babylon to judge. Then he punished Babylon for how they did violence. But way, he used them. Yes, and in doing so, the Lord did not sin. He, by his sovereign might and perfect wisdom sent the Babylonians into the land to bring his wrath. And yet the Lord did not cause the Babylonians to do anything that they in their hearts and nature did not already want to do. And so the Lord can also righteously punish the Babylonians for their brutality.
This reminds me of the fact that the Lord God used Judas, the Jews, Herod, and Pilate to accomplish the crucifixion. That was the wickedest action ever taken by humanity. The Lord sovereignly brought it about; however, the Lord did not do wickedness, as he never caused those evil men to do the evil that was in their hearts. And through their actions, their sinful choices, the Lord God accomplished the most wonderful thing we will ever experience, our salvation. God is sovereign, and gloriously so.
When we read a history like the prophecies and then the fulfillments of the end of Jeremiah, we need to remember that God is bigger and greater than we have imagined. And we need to remember that our supposedly strong and invulnerable nations are not nearly so solid as we think. The Lord will do his will. He will even use the free actions of evil men to accomplish that which is most good and glorious. Our best reaction to all this is not to try to figure out exactly how it all works. Our best move is to get on board, to bow to the Lord, and to surrender to the God who made us and who will rule forever. He is holy and his ways are perfect. He is mighty, and no king and no nation and no individual will ever stand in his way.