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.
"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.
"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.'
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
"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.
"The thunderclap of battle shakes the foundations!
The Hammer has been hammered, smashed and splintered, Babylon pummeled beyond recognition.
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.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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: God-of-the-Angel-Armies. Yes, I will take their side, I'll come to their rescue. I'll soothe their land, but rough up the people of Babylon.
"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.
"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.
"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."
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.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)