Jeremiah 50

Thursday Evening Bible Study

June 16, 2005


We are now in a section of prophecies given to the Gentile nations that surround Israel.  We’ve looked at prophecies against Moab, Ammon, Edom, Damascus, and now a word comes concerning Babylon.

Jeremiah 50

:1-3 Babylon taken

:1 The word that the LORD spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.

Some people might have thought that Jeremiah was nothing but a spy for Babylon.  His usual message to the kings of Judah was to warn them about how they were going to be conquered by the Babylonians.

Yet here we see that Jeremiah was an equal opportunity prophet.

Babylon would one day be destroyed.  The prophecy was given at least 65 years before Babylon would be conquered by the Persians.

:2 "Declare among the nations, Proclaim, and set up a standard; Proclaim; do not conceal it; Say, 'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; Her idols are humiliated, Her images are broken in pieces.'

Bel – means “Lord”, it is applied to the name “Merodach”

Merodach – also called “Marduk”, the chief god of Babylon, supposedly the creator of the world.

:3 For out of the north a nation comes up against her, Which shall make her land desolate, And no one shall dwell therein. They shall move, they shall depart, Both man and beast.

The strangeness of prophecy

Babylon would be conquered by the Persians in 539 BC.

But there are going to be parts of this prophecy that don’t seem to fit.
For example, the city wasn’t wiped out in 539 BC.  It was fought over many times over the centuries, and conquered by many, including Alexander the Great.  There was still a city there in Jesus’ day.

There are parts of this prophecy that have not been fulfilled?

Does that mean it’s defective?
No, it means that it hasn’t happened yet.  Revelation 17-18 speaks about another “Babylon” that will be wiped out.

It seems that some of this prophecy is yet future, referring to the time of the Second Coming.

:4-10 Lost Sheep

:4 "In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The children of Israel shall come, They and the children of Judah together; With continual weeping they shall come, And seek the LORD their God.

:5 They shall ask the way to Zion, With their faces toward it, saying, 'Come and let us join ourselves to the LORD In a perpetual covenant That will not be forgotten.'

The judgment of the children of Judah had come because they had forgotten their covenant with God.  They had turned their back on God.

Yet after the Babylonian captivity, there was something different in Judah.

Idolatry among the Jews was virtually wiped out while they were in captivity in Babylon.

They would in the future seek a “perpetual covenant” with God.  They would come back.



Sometimes God allows us to go through difficult times because we’ve gone astray from Him and difficulty is the only thing left to get our attention.
You see an example of this in the parable of the Prodigal Son:
(Luke 15:11-24 NKJV)  Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. {12} "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood.

The son was asking for his part of the inheritance before his father even died.  He was already going astray.  The father let him go.

{13} "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. {14} "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. {15} "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. {16} "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. {17} "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! {18} 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, {19} "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."'

It was the hunger that brought him “to himself”.  Difficulties brought him “to his senses”.

{20} "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. {21} "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' {22} "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. {23} 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; {24} 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry.

He came back to where he belonged.

The writer of Hebrews teaches that God sometimes disciplines us like a father disciplines his children.
(Heb 12:5-11 NKJV)  And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; {6} For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." {7} If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? {8} But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. {9} Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? {10} For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. {11} Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
God uses chastisement, “spanking” to get our attention.  It produces “righteousness” in us, causing us to do the right things.
Not all difficult times are a result of being “chastised”.  We don’t always know why we go through difficult times.
But if you’ve gone astray, and you’re in trouble now, I’ve got a message for you.  God wants you to come home.  He wants to produce good things in your life instead of the garbage you’re used to.

:6 "My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; They have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; They have forgotten their resting place.

God blames the lostness of the sheep on the shepherds.

Bad shepherds – a pastor I met (Roger Jahn) at the Pastors’ Conference was sharing with me about his mother-in-law being caught up in a cult.  A woman leads the group and demands absolute obedience.  This pastor’s father-in-law had to divorce her because she was told to give all their money, including all their retirement, to this gal.  A daughter of the gal was also in the cult and recently came out of it with the help of a “deprogrammer”.

Bad shepherds are focused on what they get from the flock instead of what they give.

(Ezek 34:2-4 NKJV)  "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: "Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? {3} "You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. {4} "The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them.

Are you a shepherd over a flock?  Do you have people that you care for?

Good shepherds care for the flock.

(Jer 3:15 NKJV)  "And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.

(John 21:15-17 NKJV)  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Feed My lambs." {16} He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You." He said to him, "Tend My sheep." {17} He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?" And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

:7 All who found them have devoured them; And their adversaries said, 'We have not offended, Because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, The LORD, the hope of their fathers.'

The enemies of God’s people felt like they were just helping God out by being mean to these backsliders.

I’m not sure it’s our place to be “mean” to backsliders.

:8 "Move from the midst of Babylon, Go out of the land of the Chaldeans; And be like the rams before the flocks.

The rams (or, “he-goats”) were the first to leave the sheepfold when the flock was taken out to pasture.

:9 For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon An assembly of great nations from the north country, And they shall array themselves against her; From there she shall be captured. Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; None shall return in vain.

Sounds like a coalition of nations that has “smart weapons”.

:10 And Chaldea shall become plunder; All who plunder her shall be satisfied," says the LORD.

:11-13 Message to Babylon

:11 "Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, You destroyers of My heritage, Because you have grown fat like a heifer threshing grain, And you bellow like bulls,

Here’s one of the reasons why God is bringing judgment to Babylon – they were glad to have brought such pain to God’s people.

:12 Your mother shall be deeply ashamed; She who bore you shall be ashamed. Behold, the least of the nations shall be a wilderness, A dry land and a desert.

:13 Because of the wrath of the LORD She shall not be inhabited, But she shall be wholly desolate. Everyone who goes by Babylon shall be horrified And hiss at all her plagues.

Ryrie:  The Persians captured Babylon in 539 B.C. (Dan. 5:30-31). In 514 Darius Hystaspes put down a revolt and partially destroyed the walls. Xerxes demolished the walls and temples of Babylon in 478. Subsequent attempts to restore the city had been unsuccessful.

Saddam Hussein had been working on restoring the city of Babylon.  The archaeologists didn’t like what he was doing because he was building on top of the actual ruins themselves.  He used to say that he was a reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar.

(Show slides of pictures of Babylon found on the Web)

It doesn’t look like anyone lives there at this present time.

:14-16 Message to invading armies

:14 "Put yourselves in array against Babylon all around, All you who bend the bow; Shoot at her, spare no arrows, For she has sinned against the LORD.

:15 Shout against her all around; She has given her hand, Her foundations have fallen, Her walls are thrown down; For it is the vengeance of the LORD. Take vengeance on her. As she has done, so do to her.

given her hand – this is a phrase in the Hebrew that expresses surrender or submission.  The Babylonians will surrender.


Reaping and sowing

It’s a principle in life that we will reap what we sow.
(Gal 6:7-8 NKJV)  Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. {8} For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
If you plant seeds of meanness in the world, guess what kind of crop you’re going to reap at harvest time?
Jesus said that we ought to use this principle to govern how we are going to treat others.
(Mat 7:12 KJV)  Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
An example took place in the period of the Judges.
(Judg 1:1-7 NKJV)  Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, "Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?" {2} And the LORD said, "Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand." {3} So Judah said to Simeon his brother, "Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory." And Simeon went with him. {4} Then Judah went up, and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. {5} And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. {6} Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. {7} And Adoni-Bezek said, "Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me." Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.
If you want others to treat you with mercy rather than judgment, then be merciful.
(Mat 5:7 KJV)  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.


God’s vengeance

God makes us a promise concerning the topic of “getting even”
(Rom 12:19 NKJV)  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
What’s the promise?  He will take care of it.
Here we see that God will do just that.

:16 Cut off the sower from Babylon, And him who handles the sickle at harvest time. For fear of the oppressing sword Everyone shall turn to his own people, And everyone shall flee to his own land.

:17-20 God speaks to the Jews

:17 "Israel is like scattered sheep; The lions have driven him away. First the king of Assyria devoured him; Now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones."

:18 Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, As I have punished the king of Assyria.

The northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC while the southern kingdom was conquered by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.

The Assyrians were conquered by Babylon in 609 BC, and Babylon would fall to the Persians in 539 BC.

:19 But I will bring back Israel to his home, And he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan; His soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead.

Israel – referring to the northern kingdom.  Carmel, Bashan, Mount Ephraim, Gilead are all places in the northern kingdom.

:20 In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve.



It’s a great thing to have your sins forgiven.
(Psa 32:1-5 NKJV)  Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. {2} Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. {3} When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. {4} For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Selah {5} I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
I was talking to another pastor a week ago and he was sharing his testimony with me – how he came to Jesus.
He shared how he was listening to a Christian station, and the teacher on the radio was talking about how your sins could be forgiven.

This thought never really occurred to him, that he could actually be forgiven.

He grew up in the Catholic church, and had been made to go to “confession”, but he didn’t understand any of what he was doing.  He just hated going and having to talk to the priest through the little screen in the confessional.  He never knew what to say and would just make up sins in order to have something to say.

Yet it’s really true.  We can be completely forgiven.
I have to admit that I had kind of forgotten what it was like to wonder if you could ever be forgiven.
This last week one of the big news items was about the acquittal of Michael Jackson of charges of child molestation.
We’ve been immersed in legal terms and the working of the justice system.  And just like with many other celebrity trials, now that it’s over there are two basic opinions:  There’s the side that says that Michael was innocent all along and it’s good that he was proven so. There’s also the side that says that Michael was guilty, but he just had enough money for the best lawyers who got him declared not guilty.
We can get the mistaken idea that with God’s system of justice that it might be a matter of just having the right lawyers or being able to talk your way out of a situation.
Yet in God’s court, there is no jury.  God already knows the truth about what you’ve done.  You can’t talk your way out of it.  There are no excuses with God.  And even when you’re guilty, it’s not a matter of paying your debt to society with a couple of years in jail.  In God’s system, the consequences of our disobedience is death.
Guilt is one of the world’s great plagues.  Some people may say that guilt is simply a left-over of some old, antiquated, religion.  They say it’s a result of your upbringing.  But the truth is that guilt is a result of our sin.  The Holy Spirit brings conviction on our lives, showing us that we are wrong, that we are guilty.
How do I handle my guilt?
Aren’t you grateful that Jesus came to die on a cross and pay for your sins?
The Bible says,

(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you will turn from your sin and admit your guilt to God, He will forgive you and even “cleanse” you from your sin.

Do you remember how wonderful it is to be declared “forgiven”?

:21-30 The attack on Babylon

:21 "Go up against the land of Merathaim, against it, And against the inhabitants of Pekod. Waste and utterly destroy them," says the LORD, "And do according to all that I have commanded you.

Merathaim – meaning “double rebellion”

Pekod – meaning “visitation”

These were sarcastic wordplays to describe parts of Babylon.

The instructions are now given to the conquerors of Babylon.

:22 A sound of battle is in the land, And of great destruction.

:23 How the hammer of the whole earth has been cut apart and broken! How Babylon has become a desolation among the nations! I have laid a snare for you;

:24 You have indeed been trapped, O Babylon, And you were not aware; You have been found and also caught, Because you have contended against the Lord.

:25 The LORD has opened His armory, And has brought out the weapons of His indignation; For this is the work of the Lord God of hosts In the land of the Chaldeans.

:26 Come against her from the farthest border; Open her storehouses; Cast her up as heaps of ruins, And destroy her utterly; Let nothing of her be left.

:27 Slay all her bulls, Let them go down to the slaughter. Woe to them! For their day has come, the time of their punishment.

:28 The voice of those who flee and escape from the land of Babylon Declares in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, The vengeance of His temple.

The Babylonians had committed at least two great sins against God’s Temple.

First, they had destroyed it!

Second, they later couldn’t keep from defiling even the instruments of the holy Temple long after the Temple was destroyed.

(Dan 5:1-4 NKJV)  Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand. {2} While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them. {3} Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. {4} They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
It was this same night that Belshazzar was having his party using the holy vessels of the Temple, that God had Babylon overthrown by Cyrus of Persia.

:29 "Call together the archers against Babylon. All you who bend the bow, encamp against it all around; Let none of them escape. Repay her according to her work; According to all she has done, do to her; For she has been proud against the LORD, Against the Holy One of Israel.

:30 Therefore her young men shall fall in the streets, And all her men of war shall be cut off in that day," says the LORD.

:31- God speaks to Babylon

:31 "Behold, I am against you, O most haughty one!" says the Lord GOD of hosts; "For your day has come, The time that I will punish you.

:32 The most proud shall stumble and fall, And no one will raise him up; I will kindle a fire in his cities, And it will devour all around him."

Pride was also the downfall of Moab and the reason for it’s judgment:

(Jer 48:29 NKJV)  "We have heard the pride of Moab (He is exceedingly proud), Of his loftiness and arrogance and pride, And of the haughtiness of his heart."

Pride was the downfall of an angel named Lucifer (Satan).

(Isa 14:12-15 NKJV)  "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! {13} For you have said in your heart: 'I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; {14} I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.' {15} Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

This was  how Satan fell, through pride.

Pride will be our downfall as well if we don’t guard against it:

(1 Pet 5:5-6 NKJV)  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." {6} Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,

:33 Thus says the LORD of hosts: "The children of Israel were oppressed, Along with the children of Judah; All who took them captive have held them fast; They have refused to let them go.

:34 Their Redeemer is strong; The LORD of hosts is His name. He will thoroughly plead their case, That He may give rest to the land, And disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.


:35 "A sword is against the Chaldeans," says the LORD, "Against the inhabitants of Babylon, And against her princes and her wise men.

:36 A sword is against the soothsayers, and they will be fools. A sword is against her mighty men, and they will be dismayed.

The Babylonians were famous for their divining, soothsaying, astrology, etc.

:37 A sword is against their horses, Against their chariots, And against all the mixed peoples who are in her midst; And they will become like women. A sword is against her treasures, and they will be robbed.

:38 A drought is against her waters, and they will be dried up. For it is the land of carved images, And they are insane with their idols.

Insane with their idols.

:39 "Therefore the wild desert beasts shall dwell there with the jackals, And the ostriches shall dwell in it. It shall be inhabited no more forever, Nor shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.

Isaiah prophesied something very similar, even long before Babylon was a major player on the world scene:

(Isa 13:19-22 KJV)  And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. {20} It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. {21} But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. {22} And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged.

Again, the decline of Babylon occurred in stages. By 20 B.C. Strabo described it as a "vast desolation."  There were still little communities living at Babylon in 200 A.D.

:40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah And their neighbors," says the LORD, "So no one shall reside there, Nor son of man dwell in it.

The question is, does this refer to the way that Babylon would be destroyed, or does it refer to the kind of lasting uninhabitability of the place?

Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed suddenly.  That sounds more like the events of Revelation 17-18 than what happened with the Persians.

(Rev 18:17 KJV)  For in one hour so great riches is come to nought. And every shipmaster, and all the company in ships, and sailors, and as many as trade by sea, stood afar off,


:41 "Behold, a people shall come from the north, And a great nation and many kings Shall be raised up from the ends of the earth.

:42 They shall hold the bow and the lance; They are cruel and shall not show mercy. Their voice shall roar like the sea; They shall ride on horses, Set in array, like a man for the battle, Against you, O daughter of Babylon.

The Babylonians showed no mercy.  They will be shown no mercy.

:43 "The king of Babylon has heard the report about them, And his hands grow feeble; Anguish has taken hold of him, Pangs as of a woman in childbirth.

:44 "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the floodplain of the Jordan Against the dwelling place of the strong; But I will make them suddenly run away from her. And who is a chosen man that I may appoint over her? For who is like Me? Who will arraign Me? And who is that shepherd Who will withstand Me?"

This is describing Cyrus, who would conquer Babylon, as a lion coming out of the flood plain to attack it’s prey.

Or could it be describing someone else?  If there is a future aspect of this, could this be talking about Jesus?

:45 Therefore hear the counsel of the LORD that He has taken against Babylon, And His purposes that He has proposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out; Surely He will make their dwelling place desolate with them.

:46 At the noise of the taking of Babylon The earth trembles, And the cry is heard among the nations.