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Matthew Henry's Commentary – Verses 8–14
Verses 8–14

Here is the sentence grounded upon the foregoing charge: “Because you have not heard my words, I must take another course with you,” Jer. 25:8. Note, When men will not regard the judgments of God’s mouth they may expect to feel the judgments of his hands, to hear the rod, since they would not hear the word; for the sinner must either be parted from his sin or perish in it. Wrath comes without remedy against those only that sin without repentance. It is not so much men’s turning aside that ruins them as their not returning.

I. The ruin of the land of Judah by the king of Babylon’s armies is here decreed, Jer. 25:9. God sent to them his servants the prophets, and they were not heeded, and therefore God will send for his servant the king of Babylon, whom they cannot mock, and despise, and persecute, as they did his servants the prophets. Note, The messengers of God’s wrath will be sent against those that would not receive the messengers of his mercy. One way or other God will be heeded, and will make men know that he is the Lord. Nebuchadrezzar, though a stranger to the true God, the God of Israel, nay, an enemy to him and afterwards a rival with him, was yet, in the descent he made upon his country. God’s servant, accomplished his purpose, was employed by him, and was an instrument in his hand for the correction of his people. He was really serving God’s designs when he thought he was serving his own ends. Justly therefore does God here call himself The Lord of hosts (Jer. 25:8), for here is an instance of his sovereign dominion, not only over the inhabitants, but over the armies of this earth, of which he makes what use he pleases. He has them all at his command. The most potent and absolute monarchs are his servants. Nebuchadrezzar, who is an instrument of his wrath, is as truly his servant as Cyrus, who is an instrument of his mercy. The land of Judah being to be made desolate, God here musters his army that is to make it so, gathers it together, takes all the families of the north, if there be occasion for them, leads them on as their commander-in-chief, brings them against this land, gives them success, not only against Judah and Jerusalem, but against all the nations round about, that there might be no dependence upon them as allies or assistants against that threatening force. The utter destruction of this and all the neighbouring lands is here described, Jer. 25:9-11. It shall be total: The whole land shall be a desolation, not only desolate, but a desolation itself; both city and country shall be laid waste, and all the wealth of both be made a prey of. It shall be lasting, even perpetual desolations; they shall continue so long in ruins, and after long waiting there shall appear so little prospect of relief, that every one shall call it perpetual. This desolation shall be the ruin of their credit among their neighbours; it shall bury their honour in the dust, shall make them an astonishment and a hissing; every one will be amazed at them, and hiss them off the stage of action with just disgrace for deserting a God who would have been their protection for impostors who would certainly be their destruction. It will likewise be the ruin of all their comfort among themselves; it shall be a final period of all their joy: I will take from them the voice of mirth, hang their harps on the willow-trees, and put them out of tune for songs. I will take from them the voice of mirth; they shall neither have cause for it nor hearts for it. They would not hear the voice of God’s word and therefore the voice of mirth shall no more be heard among them. They shall be deprived of food: The sound of the mill-stones shall not be heard; for, when the enemy has seized their stores, the sound of the grinding must needs be low, Eccl. 12:4. An end shall be put to all business; there shall not be seen the light of a candle, for there shall be no work to be done worth candle-light. And, lastly, they shall be deprived of their liberty: Those nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. The fixing of time during which the captivity should last would be of great use, not only for the confirmation of the prophecy, when the event (which in this particular could by no human sagacity be foreseen) should exactly answer the prediction, but for the comfort of the people of God in their calamity and the encouragement of faith and prayer. Daniel, who was himself a prophet, had an eye to it, Dan. 9:2. Nay, God himself had an eye to it (2 Chron. 36:22); for therefore he stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, that the word spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world, which appears by this, that, when he has thought fit, some of them have been made known to his servants the prophets and by them to his church.

II. The ruin of Babylon, at last, is here likewise foretold, as it had been, long before, by Isaiah, Jer. 25:12-14. The destroyers must themselves be destroyed, and the rod thrown into the fire, when the correcting work is done with it. This shall be done when seventy years are accomplished; for the destruction of Babylon must make way for the deliverance of the captives. It is a great doubt when these seventy years commence; some date them from the captivity in the fourth year of Jehoiakim and first of Nebuchadrezzar, others from the captivity of Jehoiachin eight years after. I rather incline to the former, because then these nations began to serve the king of Babylon, and because usually God has taken the earliest time from which to reckon the accomplishment of a promise of mercy, as will appear in computing the 400 years’ servitude in Egypt. And, if so, eighteen or nineteen years of the seventy had run out before Jerusalem and the temple were quite destroyed in the eleventh year of Zedekiah. However that be, when the time, the set time, to favour Zion, has come, the king of Babylon must be visited, and all the instances of his tyranny reckoned for; then that nation shall be punished for their iniquity, as the other nations have been punished for theirs. That land must then be a perpetual desolation, such as they had made other lands; for the Judge of all the earth will both do right and avenge wrong, as King of nations and King of saints. Let proud conquerors and oppressors be moderate in the use of their power and success, for it will come at last to their own turn to suffer; their day will come to fall. In this destruction of Babylon, which was to be brought about by the Medes and Persians, reference shall be had, 1. To what God had said: I will bring upon that land all my words; for all the wealth and honour of Babylon shall be sacrificed to the truth of the divine predictions, and all its power broken, rather than one iota or tittle of God’s word shall fall to the ground. The same Jeremiah that prophesied the destruction of other nations by the Chaldeans foretold also the destruction of the Chaldeans themselves; and this must be brought upon them, Jer. 25:13. It is with reference to this very event that God says, I will confirm the word of my servant, and perform the counsel of my messengers, Isa. 44:26. 2. Two what they had done (Jer. 25:14): I will recompense them according to their deeds, by which they transgressed the law of God, even then when they were made to serve his purposes. They had made many nations to serve them, and trampled upon them with the greatest insolence imaginable; but not that the measure of their iniquity is full many nations and great kings, that are in alliance with and come in to the assistance of Cyrus king of Persia, shall serve themselves of them also, shall make themselves masters of their country, enrich themselves with their spoils, and make them the footstool by which to mount the throne of universal monarchy. They shall make use of them for servants and soldiers. He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity.