This is what the LORD says: "See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.
I will send foreigners to Babylon to winnow her and to devastate her land; they will oppose her on every side in the day of her disaster.
Let not the archer string his bow, nor let him put on his armor. Do not spare her young men; completely destroy her army.
They will fall down slain in Babylon, fatally wounded in her streets.
For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.
"Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.
Babylon was a gold cup in the LORD's hand; she made the whole earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; therefore they have now gone mad.
Babylon will suddenly fall and be broken. Wail over her! Get balm for her pain; perhaps she can be healed.
" 'We would have healed Babylon, but she cannot be healed; let us leave her and each go to his own land, for her judgment reaches to the skies, it rises as high as the clouds.'
" 'The LORD has vindicated us; come, let us tell in Zion what the LORD our God has done.'
"Sharpen the arrows, take up the shields! The LORD has stirred up the kings of the Medes, because his purpose is to destroy Babylon. The LORD will take vengeance, vengeance for his temple.
Lift up a banner against the walls of Babylon! Reinforce the guard, station the watchmen, prepare an ambush! The LORD will carry out his purpose, his decree against the people of Babylon.
You who live by many waters and are rich in treasures, your end has come, the time for you to be cut off.
The LORD Almighty has sworn by himself: I will surely fill you with men, as with a swarm of locusts, and they will shout in triumph over you.
"He made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar; he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth. He sends lightning with the rain and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
"Every man is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. His images are a fraud; they have no breath in them.
They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.
He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the Maker of all things, including the tribe of his inheritance-- the LORD Almighty is his name.
"You are my war club, my weapon for battle-- with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms,
with you I shatter horse and rider, with you I shatter chariot and driver,
with you I shatter man and woman, with you I shatter old man and youth, with you I shatter young man and maiden,
with you I shatter shepherd and flock, with you I shatter farmer and oxen, with you I shatter governors and officials.
"Before your eyes I will repay Babylon and all who live in Babylonia for all the wrong they have done in Zion," declares the LORD.
"I am against you, O destroying mountain, you who destroy the whole earth," declares the LORD. "I will stretch out my hand against you, roll you off the cliffs, and make you a burned-out mountain.
No rock will be taken from you for a cornerstone, nor any stone for a foundation, for you will be desolate forever," declares the LORD.
"Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her; summon against her these kingdoms: Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander against her; send up horses like a swarm of locusts.
Prepare the nations for battle against her-- the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their officials, and all the countries they rule.
The land trembles and writhes, for the LORD's purposes against Babylon stand-- to lay waste the land of Babylon so that no one will live there.
Babylon's warriors have stopped fighting; they remain in their strongholds. Their strength is exhausted; they have become like women. Her dwellings are set on fire; the bars of her gates are broken.
One courier follows another and messenger follows messenger to announce to the king of Babylon that his entire city is captured,
the river crossings seized, the marshes set on fire, and the soldiers terrified."
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "The Daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trampled; the time to harvest her will soon come."
"Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has devoured us, he has thrown us into confusion, he has made us an empty jar. Like a serpent he has swallowed us and filled his stomach with our delicacies, and then has spewed us out.
May the violence done to our flesh be upon Babylon," say the inhabitants of Zion. "May our blood be on those who live in Babylonia," says Jerusalem.
Therefore, this is what the LORD says: "See, I will defend your cause and avenge you; I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry.
Babylon will be a heap of ruins, a haunt of jackals, an object of horror and scorn, a place where no one lives.
Her people all roar like young lions, they growl like lion cubs.
But while they are aroused, I will set out a feast for them and make them drunk, so that they shout with laughter-- then sleep forever and not awake," declares the LORD.
"I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams and goats.
"How Sheshach will be captured, the boast of the whole earth seized! What a horror Babylon will be among the nations!
The sea will rise over Babylon; its roaring waves will cover her.
Her towns will be desolate, a dry and desert land, a land where no one lives, through which no man travels.
I will punish Bel in Babylon and make him spew out what he has swallowed. The nations will no longer stream to him. And the wall of Babylon will fall.
"Come out of her, my people! Run for your lives! Run from the fierce anger of the LORD.
Do not lose heart or be afraid when rumors are heard in the land; one rumor comes this year, another the next, rumors of violence in the land and of ruler against ruler.
For the time will surely come when I will punish the idols of Babylon; her whole land will be disgraced and her slain will all lie fallen within her.
Then heaven and earth and all that is in them will shout for joy over Babylon, for out of the north destroyers will attack her," declares the LORD.
"Babylon must fall because of Israel's slain, just as the slain in all the earth have fallen because of Babylon.
You who have escaped the sword, leave and do not linger! Remember the LORD in a distant land, and think on Jerusalem."
"We are disgraced, for we have been insulted and shame covers our faces, because foreigners have entered the holy places of the LORD's house."
"But days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will punish her idols, and throughout her land the wounded will groan.
Even if Babylon reaches the sky and fortifies her lofty stronghold, I will send destroyers against her," declares the LORD.
"The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, the sound of great destruction from the land of the Babylonians.
The LORD will destroy Babylon; he will silence her noisy din. Waves [of enemies] will rage like great waters; the roar of their voices will resound.
A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.
I will make her officials and wise men drunk, her governors, officers and warriors as well; they will sleep forever and not awake," declares the King, whose name is the LORD Almighty.
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire; the peoples exhaust themselves for nothing, the nations' labor is only fuel for the flames."
This is the message Jeremiah gave to the staff officer Seraiah son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went to Babylon with Zedekiah king of Judah in the fourth year of his reign.
Jeremiah had written on a scroll about all the disasters that would come upon Babylon--all that had been recorded concerning Babylon.
He said to Seraiah, "When you get to Babylon, see that you read all these words aloud.
Then say, 'O LORD, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither man nor animal will live in it; it will be desolate forever.'
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. And her people will fall.' " The words of Jeremiah end here.
Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.
For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.
Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who does these things will live by them."
But the righteousness that is by faith says: "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down)
"or 'Who will descend into the deep?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).
But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming:
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame."
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him,
for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed our message?"
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."
Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding."
And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me."
But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."
I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel:
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" ?
And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,
as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day."
And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever."
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."
As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs,
for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience,
so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you.
For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
"Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?"
"Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother's name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah.
He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as Jehoiakim had done.
It was because of the LORD's anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence. Now Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. They camped outside the city and built siege works all around it.
The city was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
By the ninth day of the fourth month the famine in the city had become so severe that there was no food for the people to eat.
Then the city wall was broken through, and the whole army fled. They left the city at night through the gate between the two walls near the king's garden, though the Babylonians were surrounding the city. They fled toward the Arabah,
but the Babylonian army pursued King Zedekiah and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from him and scattered,
and he was captured. He was taken to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he pronounced sentence on him.
There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes; he also killed all the officials of Judah.
Then he put out Zedekiah's eyes, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon, where he put him in prison till the day of his death.
On the tenth day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
He set fire to the temple of the LORD, the royal palace and all the houses of Jerusalem. Every important building he burned down.
The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down all the walls around Jerusalem.
Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon.
But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.
The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the LORD and they carried all the bronze to Babylon.
They also took away the pots, shovels, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and all the bronze articles used in the temple service.
The commander of the imperial guard took away the basins, censers, sprinkling bowls, pots, lampstands, dishes and bowls used for drink offerings--all that were made of pure gold or silver.
The bronze from the two pillars, the Sea and the twelve bronze bulls under it, and the movable stands, which King Solomon had made for the temple of the LORD, was more than could be weighed.
Each of the pillars was eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference; each was four fingers thick, and hollow.
The bronze capital on top of the one pillar was five cubits high and was decorated with a network and pomegranates of bronze all around. The other pillar, with its pomegranates, was similar.
There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; the total number of pomegranates above the surrounding network was a hundred.
The commander of the guard took as prisoners Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the priest next in rank and the three doorkeepers.
Of those still in the city, he took the officer in charge of the fighting men, and seven royal advisers. He also took the secretary who was chief officer in charge of conscripting the people of the land and sixty of his men who were found in the city.
Nebuzaradan the commander took them all and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.
There at Riblah, in the land of Hamath, the king had them executed. So Judah went into captivity, away from her land.
This is the number of the people Nebuchadnezzar carried into exile: in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews;
in Nebuchadnezzar's eighteenth year, 832 people from Jerusalem;
in his twenty-third year, 745 Jews taken into exile by Nebuzaradan the commander of the imperial guard. There were 4,600 people in all.
In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he released Jehoiachin king of Judah and freed him from prison on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month.
He spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon.
So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes and for the rest of his life ate regularly at the king's table.
Day by day the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.