Here is the message the LORD spoke through me about the city of Babylon and the land of Babylonia. He said,
"Announce this message among the nations. Lift up a banner. Let the nations hear the message. Do not keep anything back. Say, 'Babylon will be captured. The god Bel will be put to shame. Marduk will be filled with terror. Babylon's gods will be put to shame. The gods its people made will be filled with terror.'
A nation from the north will attack it. That nation will destroy Babylonia. No one will live there. People and animals alike will run away.
"A new day is coming," announces the Lord. "At that time the people of Israel and Judah will gather together. They will come in tears to me. I am the LORD their God.
They will ask how to get to Zion. Then they will turn their faces toward it. They will come and join themselves to me. They will enter into the covenant I make with them. It will last forever. It will never be forgotten.
"My people have been like lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them down the wrong path. They have caused them to wander in the mountains. They have wandered over mountains and hills. They have forgotten that I am their true resting place.
Everyone who found them destroyed them. Their enemies said, 'We aren't guilty. They sinned against the Lord. He gave them everything they needed. He has always been Israel's hope.'
"People of Judah, run away from Babylon. Leave the land of Babylonia. Be like the goats that lead the flock.
I will stir up great nations that will join forces against Babylon. I will bring them from the land of the north. They will take up their battle positions against Babylon. They will come from the north and capture it. Their arrows will be like skilled soldiers. They will not miss their mark.
So the riches of Babylonia will be taken away. All those who steal from it will have more than enough," announces the Lord.
"People of Babylonia, you have stolen what belongs to me. That has made you glad and full of joy. You dance around like a young cow on a threshing floor. You neigh like stallions.
Because of that, you will bring great shame on your land. Your whole nation will be dishonored. It will become the least important of the nations. It will become a dry and empty desert.
Because I am angry with it, no one will live there. It will be completely deserted. All those who pass by it will be shocked. They will make fun of it because of all of its wounds.
"All you who draw the bow, take up your battle positions around Babylon. Shoot at it! Do not spare any arrows! Its people have sinned against me.
Shout against them on every side! They are giving up. The towers of the city are falling. Its walls are being pulled down. I am paying its people back. So pay them back yourselves. Do to them what they have done to others.
Do not leave anyone in Babylonia to plant the fields. Do not leave anyone to harvest the grain. Let each of them return to his own people. Let him run away to his own land. If he doesn't, his enemy's sword will bring him great harm.
"Israel is like a scattered flock that lions have chased away. The first lion that ate them up was the king of Assyria. The last one that broke their bones was Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia."
The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "I punished the king of Assyria. In the same way, I will punish the king of Babylonia and his land.
But I will bring Israel back to their own grasslands. I will feed them on Mount Carmel and in Bashan. I will satisfy their hunger on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
A new day is coming," announces the Lord. "At that time people will search for Israel's guilt. But they will not find any. They will search for Judah's sins. But they will not find any. That is because I will forgive the people I have spared.
"Enemies of Babylonia, attack their land of Merathaim. Make war against those who live in Pekod. Chase them and kill them. Destroy them completely," announces the Lord. "Do everything I have commanded you to do.
The noise of battle is heard in the land. It is the noise of a great city being destroyed!
It has been broken to pieces. It was the hammer that broke the whole earth. How empty Babylonia is among the nations!
Babylonia, I set a trap for you. And you were caught before you knew it. You were found and captured. That is because you opposed me.
I have opened up my storeroom. I have brought out the weapons I use when I am angry. I am the LORD and King who rules over all. I have work to do in the land of the Babylonians.
So come against it from far away. Open up its storerooms. Stack everything up like piles of grain. Completely destroy that country. Do not leave anyone alive there.
Kill all of its people. Let them die in battle. How terrible it will be for them! Their time to be judged has come. Now they will be punished.
Listen to those who have escaped. Listen to those who have returned from Babylonia. They are announcing in Zion how I have paid Babylonia back. I have paid it back for destroying my temple.
"Send for men who are armed with bows and arrows. Send them against Babylon. Set up camp all around it. Do not let anyone escape. Pay it back for what its people have done. Do to them what they have done to others. They have dared to disobey me. I am the Holy One of Israel.
You can be sure its young men will fall dead in the streets. All of its soldiers will be put to death at that time," announces the Lord.
"Proud Babylonians, I am against you," announces the Lord. The LORD who rules over all says, "Your day to be judged has come. It is time for you to be punished.
You proud people will trip and fall. No one will help you up. I will start a fire in your towns. It will burn up everyone who is around you."
The LORD who rules over all says, "The people of Israel are being treated badly. So are the people of Judah. Those who have captured them are holding them. They refuse to let them go.
But I am strong and will save them. My name is The LORD Who Rules Over All. I will stand up for them. I will bring peace and rest to their land. But I will bring trouble to those who live in Babylonia.
"A sword is coming against the Babylonians!" announces the Lord. "It is coming against those who live in Babylonia. It is coming against their officials and wise men.
A sword is coming against their prophets. But they are not really prophets at all! So they will look foolish. A sword is coming against their soldiers! They will be filled with terror.
A sword is coming against their horses and chariots! It is coming against all of the hired soldiers in their armies. They will become like weak women. A sword is coming against their treasures! They will be stolen.
There will not be any rain for their rivers. So they will dry up. Those things will happen because their land is full of statues of gods. Those gods will go crazy with terror.
"Desert creatures and hyenas will live in Babylon. And so will owls. People will never live there again. It will not be lived in for all time to come.
I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. I also destroyed the towns that were near them," announces the Lord. "Babylonia will be just like them. No one will live there. No one will stay there even for a short time.
"Look! An army is coming from the north. I am stirring up a great nation and many kings. They are coming from a land that is very far away.
Their soldiers are armed with bows and spears. They are mean. They do not show any mercy at all. They come riding in on their horses. They sound like the roaring ocean. They are lined up for battle. They are coming to attack you, city of Babylon.
The king of Babylonia has heard reports about them. His hands can't help him. He is in great pain. It is like the pain of a woman having a baby.
I will be like a lion coming up from the bushes by the Jordan River. I will hunt in rich grasslands. I will chase the people of Babylon from their land in an instant. What nation will I choose to do it? Which one will I appoint? Is anyone like me? Who would dare to argue with me? What leader can stand against me?"
So listen to what the LORD has planned against Babylon. Hear what he has planned against the land of the Babylonians. Their young people will be dragged away. The LORD will completely destroy their grasslands because of them.
When the earth hears that Babylonia has been captured, it will shake. The people's cries will be heard among the nations.