Eternal One: Watch as I stir up a destroying wind against Babylon and the people of Chaldea.[a] 2 I will send outsiders to sift through this nation, separating the wheat from the chaff, laying waste this land. They will fight her from every side on that fateful day of Babylon’s reckoning. 3 Do not let the archers draw back their bows. Do not let them put on their armor! Do not spare the life of one young soldier. Destroy her army completely. 4 They will all fall dead in the land of the Chaldeans; her streets will be full of the dead and dying.
5 For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Eternal One, Commander of heavenly armies, Even though their land is awash with the guilt of their sins against the Holy One of Israel. 6 Get out of Babylon! Escape with your lives! Do not be caught up in Babylon’s punishment, For this is the time for the Eternal to avenge His people. He will pay Babylon what she deserves. 7 Babylon has been a golden cup in the Eternal’s hand, intoxicating the whole earth. Yes, the nations drank her wine, which is why they went mad. 8 But now Babylon—cup of God’s wrath—has fallen and shattered. Weep for her, if you can! Give her something for her pain; perhaps she may still be healed.
9 Exiles: We would like to have healed Babylon, but she was beyond our help. It is time to leave her and go home before it is too late, before we get caught in her coming judgment. Look, even now it fills the skies, rising up to the clouds. 10 The Eternal has vindicated us; come, we must tell those in Jerusalem What the Eternal our God has done!
11 Enemies of Babylon, sharpen your arrows and fill your quivers. Get ready to attack! For the Eternal has stirred up the spirit of the kings of the Medes to accomplish His purpose against Babylon. He will exact His vengeance for what the Chaldeans did to His temple. 12 Raise up the battle flags around the walls of Babylon! Reinforce the guard. Station watchmen along the way. Prepare to make a surprise attack, for the Eternal will see His plan carried through against the people of Babylon. 13 You who live by the great river with the comforts of your abundant treasure, The end has come, and you will lose it all. Your time has run out. 14 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, has sworn by Himself.
Eternal One: I will cover your land with enemy troops the way a swarm of locusts covers a field. And they will shout victory over you.
15 God alone is powerful enough to create the earth. He alone is wise enough to put the world together. He alone understands enough to stretch out the heavens. 16 His voice thunders through the heavens, and the waters gush from the sky. He summons the clouds to build up over the earth. As the rain falls, the lightning flashes at His command; the wind rushes in from where He alone can store it. 17 All of humanity is stupid and bankrupt of knowledge. Those who make idols are shamed by their creations. What they fashion out of gold are imposters—breathless, lifeless frauds. 18 Their idols are worthless, the work of their hands an embarrassing mockery. They are doomed to perish under God’s judgment. 19 The portion of Jacob is not like any of these. He was not fashioned by human hands. Instead, it was He who made all things and appointed Israel to inherit it all. His name is the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
20 Eternal One: You are My war club—My weapon for battle; with you I shatter nations; with you I destroy kingdoms; 21 With you I shatter the horse and its rider; with you I shatter the chariot and its driver; 22 With you I shatter men and women; with you I shatter both young and old; with you I shatter the young man and the maiden; 23 With you I shatter the shepherd and his flock; with you I shatter the farmer and his oxen; with you I shatter governors and leaders.
24 But now, before your very eyes, I will repay Babylon and the people of Chaldea for all the harm they have done in Zion.
25 I have turned against you, O mountain of destruction, you destroyer of the earth. So now I will raise My hand against you; I will roll you down from the lofty rocks where you offered sacrifices and turn you into a mountain of ashes. 26 When I am finished with you, there will be no stones to salvage— No cornerstones, no foundation stones; you will be desolate forever.
27 Lift up a battle flag; let it wave in the land! Sound the trumpet—call the nations together! Prepare the forces for battle against her; summon the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Assign a commander to lead the troops against her. Send in the war horses, seething like bristly locusts. 28 Prepare the nations for battle against her—the kings of the Medes, their governors and leaders, and the lands they rule. 29 As the battle rages, the land trembles and writhes, for the Eternal is accomplishing His purposes against Babylon. He will lay waste her land and leave it completely empty. 30 Babylon’s mighty warriors have stopped fighting; they stay inside their fortresses, afraid. Their strength is gone; they have become as weak as women. The houses of Babylon are burning, the bars of her city gates broken. 31 The news travels fast—a runner races to meet another; the word goes from messenger to messenger Until it reaches the king of Babylon: His entire city has been captured. 32 The river crossings have been taken, the marshlands have been set ablaze, and the soldiers are terrified.
33 This, then, is what the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies and God of Israel, says:
Eternal One: The people of Babylon are like wheat ready to be threshed, spread out on the floor waiting to be trampled. A little while longer and the time for her harvest will come.
34 Citizens of Jerusalem(crying out to God): Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, has devoured us. He has squeezed the life out of us and left us an empty jar. Like a monster from the sea, he swallowed us and gorged himself on the richness of Israel Only to cough us up and throw us out. 35 “May the violence done to our people be repaid to Babylon,” we the people of Zion pray. “May our blood be upon those who live in Chaldea,” so Jerusalem prays.
36 Eternal One: Watch now as I defend your case and avenge what was done to you. I will expose this monster and dry up her sea. I will deplete her wellsprings. 37 Babylon will be reduced to a heap of rubble, the haunt of jackals, An object of horror and hissing scorn, a place where no one lives. 38 O how this nation roars! Like a pack of young lions, like lion cubs, they growl. 39 And once they are stirred up, I will lay out a feast and make them all drunk until they laugh and feel happy. But when they fall asleep, they will sleep forever. This is what I, the Eternal One, promise you. 40 I will bring these proud lions down like lambs going to their own slaughter. Like rams and goats they will be humbled.
Prophets see things not as they are but as they will be. Babylon is still powerful, but her end is coming. Jeremiah sees her fall as an accomplished fact.
41 How Babylon[b] has been captured! Babylon, the pride of all the earth, has fallen! How mighty Babylon has become an object of horror among all the nations that once feared and admired her. 42 The rising tide of the sea has flooded Babylon. She disappears beneath its raging waves. 43 Her cities have become an object of horror. Her fruitful land has been left parched, like a desert, a wilderness where no one lives, where no wants to go. 44 I will punish Bel, the false god of Babylon; I will make him cough up all he has swallowed. The nations will no longer make their way to worship him because even the great walls of Babylon have fallen.
45 Get out of Babylon, My people, before it is too late! Run! Save yourselves! Run! Do not get caught up in the destruction caused by My fierce anger. 46 Do not lose heart or give in to fear and panic when the rumors start to fly in the land. Year after year, the rumors will come—rumors of violence and reports of one ruler warring against another. 47 So, look! the days are coming when I will punish Babylon’s idols. Her whole land will suffer humiliation, and her dead will lie unburied within her borders. 48 Then the heavens and the earth and all that is within them will shout for joy over the disaster that comes upon Babylon, For the destroying armies will march against Babylon from out of the north.
49 As the slain of Israel fell, so must Babylon fall. As the slain of all the earth fell, so must Babylon fall. 50 You who escape the blade of the sword must get out now. Don’t delay! Remember Me in that distant land; remember the Eternal, and think fondly of Jerusalem. 51 In that bittersweet moment, the remnant of My people will say, “We are ashamed—we have been insulted by invaders, and disgrace covers our faces When we think of foreigners entering the holy places of the Eternal’s temple and defiling it by their presence.”
52 But I, the Eternal One, declare that the day will come when I will punish Babylon’s images and idols; and the groans of her dying will echo through the land. 53 No matter how high she reaches or how strong her defenses, I will send enemies to destroy her.
So says the Eternal.
54 Listen! Hear the cry that comes from Babylon. It is the sound of great destruction in the land of Chaldea. 55 For the Eternal is destroying Babylon; He will drown out the piercing sound of her cries As wave after wave of her enemies roars in, crashing against her, with the deafening sound of battle in the air. 56 A destroyer is coming to attack Babylon; her mighty warriors will be captured. Their weapons will be broken. For the Eternal is a just God who pays accordingly, and He will repay Babylon in full.
57 Eternal One: I will make her leaders and wise men drunk as well as her governors, leaders, and mighty warriors. And when they fall asleep, they will sleep forever,
So says the King, whose name is the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies.
58 Eternal One: The wide and sturdy walls of Babylon will be toppled, and her massive city gates will be set on fire. The people toiled to build those walls, but it was all in vain. Prisoners from other lands exhausted themselves to build this city, but their work went up in flames.
This strongly worded message about Babylon is the last of the oracles against the nations. Such is the message that the prophet Jeremiah is called to give—even while Babylon’s power is at its height. And so in 594 b.c., before the final fall of Jerusalem, the prophet to the nations delivers this prophecy to the exiles already in Babylon and—if they choose to listen—to the Babylonians themselves. Jeremiah instructs an assistant to the king of Judah to take this oracle to Babylon and read it aloud. As if that is not enough, he then instructs the man to perform a symbolic act—the sort of thing Jeremiah himself would do if he were there. His willing accomplice will dramatize the ultimate sinking of the Babylonian Empire by fulfilling the prophet’s strange request.
59 Jeremiah the prophet gave the following order to Seraiah (son of Neriah and grandson of Mahseiah), when Seraiah was accompanying Zedekiah (king of Judah) to Babylon in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Seraiah worked in the king’s administration. 60 Jeremiah had written on a scroll all of the terrible things that would one day happen to Babylon (those things which you have just read). Once this important message had been recorded, 61 he said to Seraiah,
Jeremiah: When you get to Babylon, find a public place and read aloud every single word written on this scroll.62 Then say loud enough for others to hear, “O Eternal One, You have promised that You will destroy this place so that neither man nor beast will live here. Babylon will then be a wasteland forever.” 63 When you have finished reading the scroll and saying these things, tie it to a heavy stone and throw it into the Euphrates River. 64 Then say loud enough for others to hear, “Just as this stone and scroll sink, so will Babylon and her people sink, never to rise again, for they shall be tired after the disaster I, the Lord, am bringing to her.”
The messages of Jeremiah end here.
51:1Hebrew, Leb-kamai, which means “heart of those who rise against,” a cryptic name for Chaldea.
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