The LORD says, "I will stir up the spirits of destroyers. They will march out against Babylonia and its people.
I will send other nations against it to separate the straw from the grain. I will send them to destroy Babylonia completely. They will oppose it on every side. At that time it will be destroyed.
Do not let its soldiers get their bows ready to use. Do not let them put on their armor. Do not spare their young men. Destroy their armies completely.
They will fall down dead in Babylon. They will receive deadly wounds in its streets.
The land of Israel and Judah is full of guilt. Its people have sinned against me. But I have not deserted them. I am their God. I am the LORD who rules over all. I am the Holy One of Israel.
"People of Judah, run away from Babylonia! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of the sins of its people. It is time for me to pay them back. I will punish them for what they have done.
Babylon was like a gold cup in my hand. That city made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank its wine. So now they have gone crazy.
Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Sob over it! Get healing lotion for its pain. Perhaps it can be healed.
"The nations say, 'We would have healed Babylon. But it can't be healed. So let's leave it. Let's each go to our own land. Babylon's sins reach all the way to the skies. They rise up as high as the clouds.'
"The people of Judah say, 'The LORD has made things right for us again. So come. Let's tell in Zion what the LORD our God has done.'
"I have stirred up you kings of the Medes. So sharpen your arrows! Get your shields! I plan to destroy Babylon. I will pay the Babylonians back. They have destroyed my temple.
Lift up a banner! Attack Babylon's walls! Put more guards on duty! Station more of them to watch over you! Hide and wait to attack them! I will do what I have planned. I will do what I have decided to do against the people of Babylon.
You who live by the rivers of Babylon, your end has come. You who are rich in treasures, it is time for you to be destroyed.
I am the LORD who rules over all. I have made a promise with an oath in my own name. I have said, 'I will certainly fill your land with soldiers. They will be as many as a huge number of locusts. They will win the battle over you. They will shout for joy.'
"I used my power to make the earth. I used my wisdom to set the world in place. I used my understanding to spread the heavens out.
When I thunder, the waters in the heavens roar. I make clouds rise from one end of the earth to the other. I send lightning with the rain. I bring out the wind from my storerooms.
"No one has any sense. No one knows anything. Everyone who works with gold is put to shame by his wooden gods. His metal gods are fakes. They can't even breathe.
They are worthless. People make fun of them. When I judge them, they will be destroyed.
I am not like them. I am the God of Jacob. I give my people everything they need. I can do it because I made everything, including Israel. It is the nation that belongs to me. My name is The LORD Who Rules Over All.
"Babylonia, you are my war club. You are my weapon for battle. I use you to destroy nations. I use you to wipe out kingdoms.
I use you to destroy horses and their riders. I use you to destroy chariots and their drivers.
I use you to destroy men and women. I use you to destroy old people and young people. I use you to destroy young men and young women.
I use you to destroy shepherds and their flocks. I use you to destroy farmers and their oxen. I use you to destroy governors and officials.
"Judah, I will pay Babylon back. You will see it with your own eyes. I will pay back all those who live in Babylonia. I will pay them back for all of the wrong things they have done in Zion," announces the Lord.
"Babylonia, I am against you. Your kingdom is like a destroying mountain. You have destroyed the whole earth," announces the Lord. "I will reach out my hand against you. I will roll you off the cliffs. I will make you like a mountain that has been burned up.
No rock will be taken from you to be used as the most important stone for a building. No stones will be taken from you to be used for a foundation. Your land will be empty forever," announces the Lord.
"Nations, lift up a banner in the land of Babylonia! Blow a trumpet among yourselves! Prepare yourselves for battle against Babylonia. Send the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz against it. Appoint a commander against it. Send many horses against it. Let them be as many as a huge number of locusts.
Prepare yourselves for battle against Babylonia. Prepare the kings of the Medes. Prepare their governors and all of their officials. Prepare all of the countries they rule over.
The Babylonians tremble and shake with fear. My plans against them stand firm. I plan to destroy their land completely. Then no one will live there.
Babylon's soldiers have stopped fighting. They remain in their forts. Their strength is all gone. They have become like weak women. Their buildings are set on fire. The heavy metal bars on their gates are broken.
One messenger after another comes to the king of Babylonia. All of them announce that his entire city is captured.
The places where people go across the Euphrates River have been captured. The swamps have been set on fire. And the soldiers are terrified."
The LORD who rules over all is the God of Israel. He says, "The city of Babylon is like a threshing floor when cattle are walking on it. The time to destroy it will soon come."
The people of Jerusalem say, "Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylonia, has destroyed us. He has thrown us into a panic. He has emptied us out like a jar. Like a snake he has swallowed us up. He has filled his stomach with our rich food. Then he has spit us out of his mouth."
The people continue, "May the people of Babylon pay for the harmful things they have done to us. May those who live in Babylonia pay for spilling the blood of our people." That's what the people who live in Zion say.
So the LORD says, "I will stand up for you. I will pay the Babylonians back for what they did to you. I will dry up their water supply. I will make their springs run dry.
Babylon will have all of its buildings knocked down. It will be a home for wild dogs. No one will live there. People will be shocked at it. They will make fun of it.
All of its people roar like young lions. They growl like lion cubs.
They are stirred up. So I will set a big dinner in front of them. I will make them drunk. And they will shout and laugh. But then they will lie down and die. They will never wake up," announces the Lord.
"I will lead them down like lambs to be put to death. They will be like rams and goats that have been killed.
"Babylon will be captured! The whole earth was very proud of it. But it will be taken over by others! The nations will be shocked when it falls.
Babylon's enemies will sweep over it like an ocean. Like roaring waves they will cover it.
The towns of Babylonia will be empty. It will become a dry and desert land. No one will live there. No one will even travel through it.
I will punish the god Bel in Babylon. I will make Bel spit out what it has swallowed. The nations will not come and worship it anymore. And Babylon's walls will fall down.
"Come out of there, my people! Run for your lives! Run away from my burning anger.
You will hear about terrible things that are happening in Babylonia. But do not lose hope. Do not be afraid. You will hear one thing this year. And you will hear something else next year. You will hear about awful things in the land. You will hear about one ruler fighting against another.
I will punish the gods of Babylon. That time will certainly come. Then the whole land will be full of shame. Its people will lie down and die there.
So heaven and earth and everything in them will shout for joy. They will be glad because of what will happen to Babylon. Armies will attack it from the north. And they will destroy it," announces the Lord.
"Babylon's people have killed my people Israel. They have also killed people all over the earth. So now Babylon itself must fall.
You who have not been killed in the war against Babylon, leave! Do not wait! In a land far away remember me. And think about Jerusalem."
The people of Judah reply, "No one honors us anymore. People make fun of us. Our faces are covered with shame. People from other lands have entered the holy places of the LORD's house."
"But a new day is coming," announces the Lord. "At that time I will punish the gods of Babylon. And all through its land wounded people will groan.
What if Babylon reached all the way to the sky? What if it made its high walls even stronger? I would still send destroyers against it," announces the Lord.
"The noise of people screaming comes from Babylon. A terrible sound comes from its land. It is the sound of a mighty city being destroyed.
I will destroy Babylon. I will put an end to all of its noise. Waves of enemies will sweep through it like great waters. The roar of their voices will fill the air.
A destroying army will come against Babylon. The soldiers in the city will be captured. Their bows will be broken. I am the LORD God who pays people back. I will pay them back in full.
I will make Babylon's officials and wise men drunk. I will do the same thing to its governors, officers and soldiers. They will lie down and die. They will never wake up," announces the King. His name is The LORD Who Rules Over All.
The LORD who rules over all says, "Babylon's thick walls will fall down flat. Its high gates will be set on fire. The nations wear themselves out for no reason at all. Their hard work will only be burned up in the flames."
I gave a message to the staff officer Seraiah, the son of Neriah. I told him to take it with him to Babylon. He went there with Zedekiah, the king of Judah. He left in the fourth year of Zedekiah's rule. Neriah was the son of Mahseiah.
I had written about all of the trouble that would come on Babylon. I had written it down on a scroll. It included everything that had been recorded about Babylon.
I said to Seraiah, "When you get to Babylon, here's what I want you to do. Make sure that you read all of these words out loud.
Then say, 'Lord, you have said you will destroy this place. You have said that no people or animals will live here. It will be empty forever.'
"Finish reading the scroll. Tie a stone to it. Throw it into the Euphrates River.
Then say, 'In the same way, Babylon will sink down. It will never rise again. That is because I will bring such horrible trouble on it. And its people will fall along with it.' " The words of Jeremiah end here.
Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king. He ruled in Jerusalem for 11 years. His mother's name was Hamutal. She was the daughter of Jeremiah. She was from Libnah.
Zedekiah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did just as Jehoiakim had done.
The enemies of Jerusalem and Judah attacked them because the LORD was angry. In the end he threw them out of his land. Zedekiah refused to obey the king of Babylonia.
Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia. He marched out against Jerusalem. All of his armies went with him. It was in the ninth year of the rule of Zedekiah. It was on the tenth day of the tenth month. The armies set up camp outside the city. They set up ladders and built ramps and towers all around it.
It was surrounded until the 11th year of King Zedekiah's rule.
By the ninth day of the fourth month, there wasn't any food left in the city. So the people didn't have anything to eat.
Then the Babylonians broke through the city wall. Judah's whole army ran away. They left the city at night. They went out through the gate between the two walls that were near the king's garden. They escaped even though the Babylonians surrounded the city. Judah's army ran toward the Arabah Valley.
But the armies of Babylonia chased King Zedekiah. They caught up with him in the flatlands near Jericho. All of his soldiers were separated from him. They had scattered in every direction.
The king was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylonia at Riblah. Riblah was in the land of Hamath. That's where Nebuchadnezzar decided how he would be punished.
At Riblah the king of Babylonia killed the sons of Zedekiah. He forced him to watch it with his own eyes. Nebuchadnezzar also killed all of the officials of Judah.
Then he poked out Zedekiah's eyes. He put him in bronze chains. And he took him to Babylon. There he put Zedekiah in prison until the day he died.
Nebuzaradan served the king of Babylonia. In fact, he was commander of the royal guard. He came to Jerusalem. It was in the 19th year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia. It was on the tenth day of the fifth month.
Nebuzaradan set the LORD's temple on fire. He also set fire to the royal palace and all of the houses in Jerusalem. He burned down every important building.
The armies of Babylonia broke down all of the walls around Jerusalem. That's what the commander told them to do.
Some of the poorest people still remained in the city along with the others. But the commander Nebuzaradan took them away as prisoners. He also took the rest of the skilled workers. That included the people who had joined the king of Babylonia.
But Nebuzaradan left the rest of the poorest people of the land behind. He told them to work in the vineyards and fields.
The armies of Babylonia destroyed the LORD's temple. They broke the bronze pillars into pieces. They broke up the bronze stands that could be moved around. And they broke up the huge bronze bowl. Then they carried all of the bronze away to Babylon.
They also took away the pots, shovels, wick cutters, sprinkling bowls and dishes. They took away all of the bronze articles that were used for any purpose in the temple.
The commander of the royal guard took away the bowls and the shallow cups for burning incense. He took away the sprinkling bowls, the pots, the lampstands and the dishes. He took away the bowls that were used for drink offerings. So he took away everything that was made out of pure gold or silver.
The bronze was more than anyone could weigh. It included the bronze from the two pillars. It included the bronze from the huge bowl and the 12 bronze bulls that were under it. It also included the stands. King Solomon had made all of those things for the LORD's temple.
Each of the pillars was 27 feet high and 18 feet around. The pillars were hollow. The metal in each of them was three inches thick.
The bronze top of one pillar was seven and a half feet high. It was decorated with a set of bronze chains and pomegranates all around it. The other pillar was just like it. It also had pomegranates.
There were 96 pomegranates on the sides of each of the two tops. The total number of pomegranates above the bronze chains around each top was 100.
The commander of the guard took many prisoners. They included the chief priest Seraiah and the priest Zephaniah who was under him. They also included the three men who guarded the temple doors.
Some people were still left in the city. The commander took as a prisoner the officer who was in charge of the fighting men. He took the seven men who gave advice to the king. He also took the secretary who was the chief officer in charge of getting the people of the land to serve in the army. And he took 60 of the secretary's men who were still in the city.
The commander Nebuzaradan took all of them away. He brought them to the king of Babylonia at Riblah.
There the king had them put to death. Riblah was in the land of Hamath. So the people of Judah were taken as prisoners. They were taken far away from their own land.
Here is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar took to Babylon as prisoners. In the seventh year of his rule, he took 3,023 Jews.
In his 18th year, he took 832 people from Jerusalem.
In Nebuchadnezzar's 23rd year, Nebuzaradan, the commander of the royal guard, took 745 Jews to Babylon. The total number of people who were taken to Babylon was 4,600.
Evil-Merodach set Jehoiachin, the king of Judah, free from prison. It was in the 37th year after Jehoiachin had been taken away to Babylon. It was also the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylonia. It was on the 25th day of the 12th month.
Evil-Merodach spoke kindly to Jehoiachin. He gave him a place of honor. Other kings were with Jehoiachin in Babylon. But his place was more important than theirs.
So Jehoiachin put his prison clothes away. For the rest of Jehoiachin's life the king of Babylonia provided what he needed.
The king did that for Jehoiachin day by day as long as he lived. He did it until the day Jehoiachin died.
The first covenant had rules for worship. It also had a sacred tent on earth.
A holy tent was set up. The lampstand was in the first room. So were the table and the holy bread. That was called the Holy Room.
Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Room.
It had the golden altar for incense. It also had the wooden chest called the ark of the covenant. The ark was covered with gold. It held the gold jar of manna. It held Aaron's wooden staff that had budded. It also held the stone tablets. The words of the covenant were written on them.
The cherubim were above the ark. God showed his glory there. The cherubim spread their wings over the place where sin was paid for. But we can't deal with those things more completely now.
That's how everything was arranged in the holy tent. The priests entered it at regular times. They went into the outer room to do their work for God and others.
But only the high priest went into the inner room. He went in only once a year. He never entered without taking blood with him. He offered the blood for himself. He also offered it for the sins the people had committed because they didn't know any better.
Here is what the Holy Spirit was showing us. He was telling us that God had not yet clearly shown the way into the Most Holy Room. It would not be clearly shown as long as the first holy tent was still standing.
That's an example for the present time. It shows us that the gifts and sacrifices they offered were not enough. They were not able to remove the worshiper's feelings of guilt.
They deal only with food and drink and different kinds of special washings. They are rules that deal with things outside our bodies. People had to obey them only until the new covenant came.
Christ came to be the high priest of the good things that are already here. When he came, he went through the greater and more perfect holy tent. The tent was not made by people. In other words, it is not a part of this creation.
He did not enter by spilling the blood of goats and calves. He entered the Most Holy Room by spilling his own blood. He did it once and for all time. He paid the price to set us free from sin forever.
The blood of goats and bulls is sprinkled on people. So are the ashes of a young cow. They are sprinkled on people the Law called unclean. The people are sprinkled to make them holy. That makes them clean on the outside.
But Christ offered himself to God without any flaw. He did this through the power of the eternal Holy Spirit. So how much more will his blood wash from our minds our feelings of guilt for committing sin! Sin always leads to death. But now we can serve the living God.
That's why Christ is the go-between of a new covenant. Now those God calls to himself will receive the eternal gift he promised. They will receive it now that Christ has died to save them. He died to set them free from the sins they committed under the first covenant.
What happens in the case of a will? It is necessary to prove that the person who made the will has died.
A will is in effect only when somebody has died. It never takes effect while the one who made it is still living.
That's why even the first covenant was not put into effect without the spilling of blood.
Moses first announced every commandment of the law to all the people. Then he took the blood of calves. He also took water, bright red wool and branches of a hyssop plant. He sprinkled the scroll. He also sprinkled all of the people.
He said, "This is the blood of the covenant God has commanded you to keep."#1(Exodus 24:8)#2
In the same way, he sprinkled the holy tent with blood. He also sprinkled everything that was used in worship there.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be made clean with blood. Without the spilling of blood, no one can be forgiven.
So the copies of the heavenly things had to be made pure with those sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be made pure with better sacrifices.
Christ did not enter a sacred tent made by people. That tent was only a copy of the true one. He entered heaven itself. He did it to stand in front of God for us. He is there right now.
The high priest enters the Most Holy Room every year. He enters with blood that is not his own. But Christ did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again.
If he had, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now he has appeared once and for all time. He has come at the end of the ages to do away with sin. He has done that by offering himself.
People have to die once. After that, God will judge them.
In the same way, Christ was offered up once. He took away the sins of many people. He will also come a second time. At that time he will not suffer for sin. Instead, he will come to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.