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The fall of Babylon
Jeremiah 50-51

Today is going to be our last Sunday in the Book of Jeremiah. In this, our look at Jeremiah for a while, we are going to consider the prophecy that God had Jeremiah speak regarding the fall and destruction of Babylon.

General info on Babylon

-located in modern day Iraq
-a power for 1500 plus years (2000 B.C to 500 B.C)
-situated on the Euphrates River.
-The ruins of the tower of Babel are here.
-home to the famed hanging Gardens (considered by the Greeks to be one of the 7 wonders of the world)
-In its heyday it was the capital city of King Nebuchadnezzar (who conquered Egypt, Judah, and/or subjugated all the surrounding nations)
-A hundred plus years before the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem, the Temple, and took the people into captivity, Isaiah spoke to King Hezekiah of Judah, telling him that because of his pride that one day the Babylonians would come and take the people away ( 2 Kings 20)-home to the false gods Bel and Marduk
-For the entirety of his career, Jeremiah warned the people that unless they repented of their sins and rebellion against God, that the armies of Babylon would come; their city would be destroyed, the Temple razed, they would be killed, and for 70 years they would live in Babylon as captives. Every word of the LORD they spoke came to pass-Was God's agent of wrath (to punish Judah and the surrounding nations for their sins)
-While Babylon was God's agent of wrath, she was given to excess, pride, and great cruelty-- all beyond her mandate
-Considered impenetrable ( double wall, both very thick and high, fortified towers, dry moat in between the walls, gated river)
-Conquered without a fight in one night by Cyrus of Persia in 539 BC (Cyrus spent months slowly diverting the river and then one night while the king at the time was partying, he came in with his armies by the depleted river
-Over the next 4 centuries Babylon was successively reduced so that in the end nothing remained (in accordance with God's Word). By 141 B.C it was no more.

Babylon is featured in the Book of Revelation. In the Book of Revelation, the destruction of 'Babylon', a city which seems to be a symbol of every kind of evil, is foretold (Revelation 17-18). The connection with the actual historical city of Babylon is usually held to be metaphorical. Virtually all New Testament scholars believe that "Babylon" is here used as a metaphor, euphemism, or 'code word' for the power of the Roman Empire, which was oppressing the nascent church much as the Babylonian empire had oppressed the Jewish people in Old Testament times; with the reason given usually being that it was not considered safe or prudent to speak openly against Rome.

Whom or what Babylon refers to in the Book of Revelation has been the subject of much speculation over the centuries.

Read Jeremiah 50:1-40 and Jeremiah 51:59-64-- noting that Jeremiah 50-51 ends a series of judgments announced on the nations around Judah and Israel-- beginning with Egypt and ending with Babylon. Note also that the words of Jeremiah 50-51 were given as words of hope and encouragement to the Jewish exiles in Babylon. These words helped sustain them.

Some principles of our text

1. God does not let sin go unpunished. He repays the wicked.

In Deuteronomy 32:35 God says; "It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."

Similar words are found in Romans 12:17-19 wherein it says; "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

Throughout Jeremiah 50-51, time and time again, God says "I will repay" "The time for judgment has come" "I will punish them" "I will take vengeance" "I will avenge you" (Jeremiah 50:15, 28, 31; 51:6,11, etc)

-In our text God speaks of taking vengeance against the Babylonians for what they did to His Temple, for how they had cruelly treated his people, for their pride, for their idolatry, for their defiance against Him
-further note: In view is retributive judgment (which is all about people getting what they deserve)

This doctrine of God's vengeance- which should frighten those who are not right with God on His terms- is a most comforting one, for we are reminded that God is a God of justice. The wicked will not go unpunished. The wrongs done to His saints will not go unanswered. Judgment day is coming and all will be made right-- the end result being that will rejoice when God acts (note Jeremiah 51:48, Revelation 18:20)

Some implications

a. Make sure that you are in Christ- having him as your Savior and Lord. Otherwise you will die in your sins and face the anger of God that is directed against you for your sins
b. Do not take revenge when wronged. Wait upon the Lord. In His perfect time, He will deal punish the wicked and see that justice is done.

2. Fulfilled prophecy: A great reason to follow God and to believe the Bible is the Word of God.

Repeatedly in Jeremiah 50-51 the phrase "Declares the LORD" is used (4,10,21,30, etc). The point is this. What God says, God does. What God determines, comes to pass.

Some specifics of what God said regarding the judgment of Babylon

a. God said that Babylon was going to be attacked from the North- she was. (first by the Medes and Persians, then by a host of nations over the following decades and centuries)
b. God said that Babylon's waters would dry up (Jeremiah 50:38). They did. The Euphrates river no longer flows through what was once Babylon
c. God said that Babylon would be looted and plundered- she was.
d. God said that Babylon would remain uninhabited (Jeremiah 50:39)- for 2000 years she has not been inhabited (despite Saddam's attempts to rebuild her)

FYI on the rebuilding and re-inhabiting of Babylon

While the whole area is desolate -the ground on the Babylon site is saturated with water (the effect being that the ruins and new construction of Saddam is being destroyed. The ground is saturated just below the surface at sites of the Ishtar Gate, the long gone Hanging Gardens, and the Tower of Babel) (Taken from New York Times article dates March 22, 2010- by John Noble Wilford). All this reminds me of the words of Jeremiah 51:63-64 "When you finish reading this scroll, tie a stone to it and throw it into the Euphrates. then say, "So will Babylon sink to rise no more because of the disaster I will bring upon her."

Application

Judge for yourself: Did the words of the LORD come to pass?

Do you have questions about the Bible and it's truthfulness. Stop doubting it. Every word that pronounces, comes to pass. Every prophecy is fulfilled and is being fulfilled. Trust God.

3. The LORD ALMIGHTY is HIS name! He's got the whole world in His hands. God is sovereign over all nations. He's the one with all the power and might. He is control. None can stand against Him

A particular phrase that is used repeatedly in Jeremiah 50-51, that indicates the power and might of God is "The LORD ALMIGHTY" (Jeremiah 50:18, 25 31,33, 34; 51:5, 14, 19 etc)

The title "The LORD ALMIGHTY" reminds us that the armies of Heaven are at God's beck and call. All the power is in hands. Imagine if one angel could slay 185000 Assyrians, what the armies of Heaven could do. Also imagine the effect of God sending his angels to protect us.

In Jeremiah 50-51 Babylon is pictured as one who is under God's power. She cannot resist his purposes or determined will. Her end is sure. None can stand against Him-- Egypt couldn't (she who had her own desires of ruling the world), the other nations that surrounded Israel couldn't, Babylon wouldn't be able to either.

Application

Do have concerns and fears about the future? Fear not. God is on the throne ruling and reigning. He is sovereign over all things, people, events and nations.

All things are under God's rule and control. Nothing happens in this Universe without His direction or permission. He is sovereign over the universe, nature, angels and Satan, nations, people, animals, "accidents", over free acts of men, over sinful acts of men and Satan. God is in control- working out all things to His perfect ends.

As a reminder of his power recall the words of Isaiah 40:12-31 -read some of it

4. Hear and heed the call to flee the judgment to come

Take note with me the words of

Jeremiah 51:6 "Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins".

Jeremiah 51:45 "Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the LORD"

Jeremiah 51:50 "You who have escaped the sword, leave and do not linger."

While in context, each of these verses refer to the exiles being ready to leave Babylon when the time of exile was over (for some didn't want to go), John Bunyan - author of the Pilgrim's Progress utilized these verses in that famous book.

The Pilgrim's Progress: A book about a man fleeing from the City of Destruction and heading for the Celestial City. Goal of the book: Encourage Christians to live the Christian life faithfully. Further goal: Encourage non Christians to realize that they are in great and eternal danger and that judgment is coming- a judgment they can escape, if only they would heed the call of Christ.

Application: Hear and heed the call to escape the wrath to come. Your escape is found in Christ alone.

5. God is one who forgives and restores. In Christ there is the forgiveness of sins

In Jeremiah 50:20 it says "In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "search will be made for Israel's guilt, but there will be none, and for the sins of Judah, but none will be found, for I will forgive the remnant I spare."

In Psalm 103:8-12 it says; "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

In Isaiah 1:18 God says to His people "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." The condition being that they turned from their sins and repented- doing what is right and seeking the Lord with all their hearts

Explain how to receive and experience God's forgiveness

Humble yourself before God. Confess your sinfullness and rebellion against God. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

I John 1:8-9 says; "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

Acts 16:29-32 says; "The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household." Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house."

Acts 4:12 says; "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

Ephesians 2:8-9 says; "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9not by works, so that no one can boast."


Application

If you died today, would you die in your sins, or would you die as one forgiven?

If you are a follower Christ, ponder all the things that you have been forgiven. Thank the Lord now.

CONCLUSION

1. God does not let sin go unpunished. He repays the wicked.
2. Fulfilled prophecy: A great reason to follow God and to believe the Bible is the Word of God.
3. He's got the whole world in His hands. The LORD ALMIGHTY is His name
4. Hear and heed the call to flee the judgment to come
5. In Christ there is the forgiveness of sins