Get Out of Babylon as Fast as You Can
50 1-3 The Message of God through the prophet Jeremiah on Babylon, land of the Chaldeans:
“Get the word out to the nations! Preach it!
Go public with this, broadcast it far and wide:
Babylon taken, god-Bel hanging his head in shame,
god-Marduk exposed as a fraud.
All her god-idols shuffling in shame,
all her play-gods exposed as cheap frauds.
For a nation will come out of the north to attack her,
reduce her cities to rubble.
Empty of life—no animals, no people—
not a sound, not a movement, not a breath.
4-5 “In those days, at that time”—God’s Decree—
“the people of Israel will come,
And the people of Judah with them.
Walking and weeping, they’ll seek me, their God.
They’ll ask directions to Zion
and set their faces toward Zion.
They’ll come and hold tight to God,
bound in a covenant eternal they’ll never forget.
6-7 “My people were lost sheep.
Their shepherds led them astray.
They abandoned them in the mountains
where they wandered aimless through the hills.
They lost track of home,
couldn’t remember where they came from.
Everyone who met them took advantage of them.
Their enemies had no qualms:
‘Fair game,’ they said. ‘They walked out on God.
They abandoned the True Pasture, the hope of their parents.’
8-10 “But now, get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
Be rid of that Babylonian country.
On your way. Good sheepdogs lead, but don’t you be led.
Lead the way home!
Do you see what I’m doing?
I’m rallying a host of nations against Babylon.
They’ll come out of the north,
attack and take her.
Oh, they know how to fight, these armies.
They never come home empty-handed.
Babylon is ripe for picking!
All her plunderers will fill their bellies!” God’s Decree.
11-16 “You Babylonians had a good time while it lasted, didn’t you?
You lived it up, exploiting and using my people,
Frisky calves romping in lush pastures,
wild stallions out having a good time!
Well, your mother would hardly be proud of you.
The woman who bore you wouldn’t be pleased.
Look at what’s come of you! A nothing nation!
Rubble and garbage and weeds!
Emptied of life by my holy anger,
a desert of death and emptiness.
Travelers who pass by Babylon will gasp, appalled,
shaking their heads at such a comedown.
Gang up on Babylon! Pin her down!
Throw everything you have against her.
Hold nothing back. Knock her flat.
She’s sinned—oh, how she’s sinned, against me!
Shout battle cries from every direction.
All the fight has gone out of her.
Her defenses have been flattened,
her walls smashed.
‘Operation God’s Vengeance.’
Pile on the vengeance!
Do to her as she has done.
Give her a good dose of her own medicine!
Destroy her farms and farmers,
ravage her fields, empty her barns.
And you captives, while the destruction rages,
get out while the getting’s good,
get out fast and run for home.
* * *
17 “Israel is a scattered flock,
hunted down by lions.
The king of Assyria started the carnage.
The king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar,
Has completed the job,
gnawing the bones clean.”
18-20 And now this is what God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
the God of Israel, has to say:
“Just watch! I’m bringing doom on the king of Babylon and his land,
the same doom I brought on the king of Assyria.
But Israel I’ll bring home to good pastures.
He’ll graze on the hills of Carmel and Bashan,
On the slopes of Ephraim and Gilead.
He will eat to his heart’s content.
In those days and at that time”—God’s Decree—
“they’ll look high and low for a sign of Israel’s guilt—nothing;
Search nook and cranny for a trace of Judah’s sin—nothing.
These people that I’ve saved will start out with a clean slate.
* * *
21 “Attack Merathaim, land of rebels!
Go after Pekod, country of doom!
Hunt them down. Make a clean sweep.” God’s Decree.
“These are my orders. Do what I tell you.
22-24 “The thunderclap of battle
shakes the foundations!
The Hammer has been hammered,
smashed and splintered,
I set out a trap and you were caught in it.
O Babylon, you never knew what hit you,
Caught and held in the steel grip of that trap!
That’s what you get for taking on God.
25-28 “I, God, opened my arsenal.
I brought out my weapons of wrath.
The Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
has a job to do in Babylon.
Come at her from all sides!
Break into her granaries!
Shovel her into piles and burn her up.
Leave nothing! Leave no one!
Kill all her young turks.
Send them to their doom!
Doom to them! Yes, Doomsday!
The clock has finally run out on them.
And here’s a surprise:
Runaways and escapees from Babylon
Show up in Zion reporting the news of God’s vengeance,
taking vengeance for my own Temple.
29-30 “Call in the troops against Babylon,
anyone who can shoot straight!
Tighten the noose!
Leave no loopholes!
Give her back as good as she gave,
a dose of her own medicine!
Her brazen insolence is an outrage
against God, The Holy of Israel.
And now she pays: her young strewn dead in the streets,
her soldiers dead, silent forever.” God’s Decree.
31-32 “Do you get it, Mister Pride? I’m your enemy!”
Decree of the Master, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
“Time’s run out on you:
That’s right: It’s Doomsday.
Mister Pride will fall flat on his face.
No one will offer him a hand.
I’ll set his towns on fire.
The fire will spread wild through the country.”
* * *
33-34 And here’s more from God-of-the-Angel-Armies:
“The people of Israel are beaten down,
the people of Judah along with them.
Their oppressors have them in a grip of steel.
They won’t let go.
But the Rescuer is strong:
Yes, I will take their side,
I’ll come to their rescue.
I’ll soothe their land,
but rough up the people of Babylon.
35-40 “It’s all-out war in Babylon”—God’s Decree—
“total war against people, leaders, and the wise!
War to the death on her boasting pretenders, fools one and all!
War to the death on her soldiers, cowards to a man!
War to the death on her hired killers, gutless wonders!
War to the death on her banks—looted!
War to the death on her water supply—drained dry!
A land of make-believe gods gone crazy—hobgoblins!
The place will be haunted with jackals and scorpions,
night-owls and vampire bats.
No one will ever live there again.
The land will reek with the stench of death.
It will join Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors,
the cities I did away with.” God’s Decree.
“No one will live there again.
No one will again draw breath in that land, ever.
* * *
41-43 “And now, watch this! People pouring
out of the north, hordes of people,
A mob of kings stirred up
from far-off places.
Flourishing deadly weapons,
barbarians they are, cruel and pitiless.
Roaring and relentless, like ocean breakers,
they come riding fierce stallions,
In battle formation, ready to fight
you, Daughter Babylon!
Babylon’s king hears them coming.
He goes white as a ghost, limp as a dishrag.
Terror-stricken, he doubles up in pain, helpless to fight,
like a woman giving birth to a baby.
44 “And now watch this: Like a lion coming up
from the thick jungle of the Jordan,
Looking for prey in the mountain pastures,
I’ll take over and pounce.
I’ll take my pick of the flock—and who’s to stop me?
All the so-called shepherds are helpless before me.”
45-46 So, listen to this plan that God has worked out against Babylon, the blueprint of what he’s prepared for dealing with Chaldea:
Believe it or not, the young,
the vulnerable—mere lambs and kids—will be dragged off.
Believe it or not, the flock
in shock, helpless to help, watches it happen.
When the shout goes up, “Babylon’s down!”
the very earth will shudder at the sound.
The news will be heard all over the world.
51 1-5 There’s more. God says more:
I’m whipping up
A death-dealing hurricane against Babylon—‘Hurricane Persia’—
against all who live in that perverse land.
I’m sending a cleanup crew into Babylon.
They’ll clean the place out from top to bottom.
When they get through there’ll be nothing left of her
worth taking or talking about.
They won’t miss a thing.
A total and final Doomsday!
Fighters will fight with everything they’ve got.
They will spare nothing and no one.
It’s final and wholesale destruction—the end!
Babylon littered with the wounded,
streets piled with corpses.
It turns out that Israel and Judah
are not widowed after all.
As their God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, I am still alive and well,
committed to them even though
They filled their land with sin
against Israel’s most Holy God.
6-8 “Get out of Babylon as fast as you can.
Run for your lives! Save your necks!
Don’t linger and lose your lives to my vengeance on her
as I pay her back for her sins.
Babylon was a fancy gold chalice
held in my hand,
Filled with the wine of my anger
to make the whole world drunk.
The nations drank the wine
and they’ve all gone crazy.
Babylon herself will stagger and crash,
senseless in a drunken stupor—tragic!
Get anointing balm for her wound.
Maybe she can be cured.”
* * *
9 “We did our best, but she can’t be helped.
Babylon is past fixing.
Give her up to her fate.
The judgment on her will be vast,
a skyscraper-memorial of vengeance.
Your Lifeline Is Cut
10 “God has set everything right for us.
Come! Let’s tell the good news
Back home in Zion.
Let’s tell what our God did to set things right.
11-13 “Sharpen the arrows!
Fill the quivers!
God has stirred up the kings of the Medes,
infecting them with war fever: ‘Destroy Babylon!’
God’s on the warpath.
He’s out to avenge his Temple.
Give the signal to attack Babylon’s walls.
Station guards around the clock.
Bring in reinforcements.
Set men in ambush.
God will do what he planned,
what he said he’d do to the people of Babylon.
You have more water than you need,
you have more money than you need—
But your life is over,
your lifeline cut.”
* * *
14 God-of-the-Angel-Armies has solemnly sworn:
“I’ll fill this place with soldiers.
They’ll swarm through here like locusts
chanting victory songs over you.”
* * *
15-19 By his power he made earth.
His wisdom gave shape to the world.
He crafted the cosmos.
He thunders and rain pours down.
He sends the clouds soaring.
He embellishes the storm with lightnings,
launches the wind from his warehouse.
Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish!
god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods!
Their gods are frauds, dead sticks—
deadwood gods, tasteless jokes.
They’re nothing but stale smoke.
When the smoke clears, they’re gone.
But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing;
he put the whole universe together,
With special attention to Israel.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
They’ll Sleep and Never Wake Up
20-23 God says, “You, Babylon, are my hammer,
my weapon of war.
I’ll use you to smash godless nations,
use you to knock kingdoms to bits.
I’ll use you to smash horse and rider,
use you to smash chariot and driver.
I’ll use you to smash man and woman,
use you to smash the old man and the boy.
I’ll use you to smash the young man and young woman,
use you to smash shepherd and sheep.
I’ll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen,
use you to smash governors and senators.
24 “Judeans, you’ll see it with your own eyes. I’ll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion.” God’s Decree.
25-26 “I’m your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer,
you ravager of the whole earth.
I’ll reach out, I’ll take you in my hand,
and I’ll crush you till there’s no mountain left.
I’ll turn you into a gravel pit—
no more cornerstones cut from you,
No more foundation stones quarried from you!
Nothing left of you but gravel.” God’s Decree.
* * *
27-28 “Raise the signal in the land,
blow the shofar-trumpet for the nations.
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her.
Call kingdoms into service against her.
Enlist Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a field marshal against her,
and round up horses, locust hordes of horses!
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her—
the king of the Medes, his leaders and people.
29-33 “The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain,
terrorized by my plans against Babylon,
Plans to turn the country of Babylon
into a lifeless moonscape—a wasteland.
Babylon’s soldiers have quit fighting.
They hide out in ruins and caves—
Cowards who’ve given up without a fight,
exposed as cowering crybabies.
Babylon’s houses are going up in flames,
the city gates torn off their hinges.
Runner after runner comes racing in,
each on the heels of the last,
Bringing reports to the king of Babylon
that his city is a lost cause.
The fords of the rivers are all taken.
Wildfire rages through the swamp grass.
Soldiers desert left and right.
I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, said it would happen:
‘Daughter Babylon is a threshing floor
at threshing time.
Soon, oh very soon, her harvest will come
and then the chaff will fly!’
* * *
34-37 “Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
chewed up my people and spit out the bones.
He wiped his dish clean, pushed back his chair,
and belched—a huge gluttonous belch.
Lady Zion says,
‘The brutality done to me be done to Babylon!’
And Jerusalem says,
‘The blood spilled from me be charged to the Chaldeans!’
Then I, God, step in and say,
‘I’m on your side, taking up your cause.
I’m your Avenger. You’ll get your revenge.
I’ll dry up her rivers, plug up her springs.
Babylon will be a pile of rubble,
scavenged by stray dogs and cats,
A dumping ground for garbage,
a godforsaken ghost town.’
* * *
38-40 “The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs,
ravenous, roaring for food.
I’ll fix them a meal, all right—a banquet, in fact.
They’ll drink themselves falling-down drunk.
Dead drunk, they’ll sleep—and sleep, and sleep . . .
and they’ll never wake up.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll haul these ‘lions’ off to the slaughterhouse
like the lambs, rams, and goats,
never to be heard of again.
* * *
41-48 “Babylon is finished—
the pride of the whole earth is flat on her face.
What a comedown for Babylon,
to end up inglorious in the sewer!
Babylon drowned in chaos,
battered by waves of enemy soldiers.
Her towns stink with decay and rot,
the land empty and bare and sterile.
No one lives in these towns anymore.
Travelers give them a wide berth.
I’ll bring doom on the glutton god-Bel in Babylon.
I’ll make him vomit up all he gulped down.
No more visitors stream into this place,
admiring and gawking at the wonders of Babylon.
The wonders of Babylon are no more.
Run for your lives, my dear people!
Run, and don’t look back!
Get out of this place while you can,
this place torched by God’s raging anger.
Don’t lose hope. Don’t ever give up
when the rumors pour in hot and heavy.
One year it’s this, the next year it’s that—
rumors of violence, rumors of war.
Trust me, the time is coming
when I’ll put the no-gods of Babylon in their place.
I’ll show up the whole country as a sickening fraud,
with dead bodies strewn all over the place.
Heaven and earth, angels and people,
will throw a victory party over Babylon
When the avenging armies from the north
descend on her.” God’s Decree!
Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile
49-50 “Babylon must fall—
compensation for the war dead in Israel.
Babylonians will be killed
because of all that Babylonian killing.
But you exiles who have escaped a Babylonian death,
get out! And fast!
Remember God in your long and distant exile.
Keep Jerusalem alive in your memory.”
51 How we’ve been humiliated, taunted and abused,
kicked around for so long that we hardly know who we are!
And we hardly know what to think—
our old Sanctuary, God’s house, desecrated by strangers.
52-53 “I know, but trust me: The time is coming”
“When I will bring doom on her no-god idols,
and all over this land her wounded will groan.
Even if Babylon climbed a ladder to the moon
and pulled up the ladder so that no one could get to her,
That wouldn’t stop me.
I’d make sure my avengers would reach her.”
54-56 “But now listen! Do you hear it? A cry out of Babylon!
An unearthly wail out of Chaldea!
God is taking his wrecking bar to Babylon.
We’ll be hearing the last of her noise—
Death throes like the crashing of waves,
death rattles like the roar of cataracts.
The avenging destroyer is about to enter Babylon:
Her soldiers are taken, her weapons are trashed.
Indeed, God is a God who evens things out.
All end up with their just deserts.
57 “I’ll get them drunk, the whole lot of them—
princes, sages, governors, soldiers.
Dead drunk, they’ll sleep—and sleep and sleep . . .
and never wake up.” The King’s Decree.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
58 God-of-the-Angel-Armies speaks:
“The city walls of Babylon—those massive walls!—
will be flattened.
And those city gates—huge gates!—
will be set on fire.
The harder you work at this empty life,
the less you are.
Nothing comes of ambition like this
* * *
59 Jeremiah the prophet gave a job to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. It was in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Seraiah was in charge of travel arrangements.
60-62 Jeremiah had written down in a little booklet all the bad things that would come down on Babylon. He told Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read this out in public. Read, ‘You, O God, said that you would destroy this place so that nothing could live here, neither human nor animal—a wasteland to top all wastelands, an eternal nothing.’
63-64 “When you’ve finished reading the page, tie a stone to it, throw it into the River Euphrates, and watch it sink. Then say, ‘That’s how Babylon will sink to the bottom and stay there after the disaster I’m going to bring upon her.’”