Jeremiah 50



A Message About Babylon (50:1–46)

1 Throughout the book of Jeremiah, the agent of God’s judgment against His disobedient people has been Babylon; and indeed, the prophecies in this book were fulfilled in 586 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Judah and drove its people into exile. Now in these next two chapters, the tables are turned: Babylon itself is to be judged for its idolatry and its mistreatment of God’s people.131 Yes, God did use Babylon to punish Judah; but the Babylonians have their own sins to answer for: their godlessness, their cruelty, and their desecration of God’s temple (verses 11,28,33).

These next two chapters further confirm the truth we have already learned in Chapters 46–49: namely, that God judges the nations primarily on the basis of their behavior toward His chosen people (Matthew 25:31–46), a people who were chosen to bring salvation to the world (John 4:22).

2–3 Babylon will be captured.132 Babylon’s chief god Marduk (also called Bel) and all its idols will also be “captured” and put to shame (verse 2). This will be done by a nation from the north—namely, Persia133 (verse 3).

4–5 In those days—after the fall of Babylon—the people of Israel and Judah will go in tears of repentance to seek the Lord in Zion (Jerusalem). They will bind themselves to the Lord in an everlasting covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31–34; 32:40). These words received a partial fulfillment when the Jewish exiles returned to their land; their ultimate fulfillment would come later, at the coming of Christ.

6–7 The Lord calls His people lost sheep. They have forgotten their resting place (verse 6), which is the Lord Himself, their true pasture (verse 7).

8–10 The Lord urges the exiles to flee from Babylon, because it is about to fall. An alliance of great nations (Persia and its allies) is about to invade Babylonia134 (verses 9–10).

11–13 The Babylonians had already invaded Judah on at least one occasion before this prophecy was uttered; they had already pillaged the Lord’s inheritance (verse 11) that is, His land. And, of course, they were soon to pillage it totally.

14–16 The Lord calls upon the “nation from the north” to attack Babylon (verse 14). Let every exile living in Babylonia flee to his own land (verse 16).

17–20 In these verses, the Lord summarizes Israel’s punishment and restoration. Israel (the northern kingdom) was conquered by Assyria in 722 B.C., and Judah (the southern kingdom) was conquered by Babylon in 586 B.C. (verse 17)—all under the Lord’s direction. But because of their hatred and cruelty toward the Lord’s people, the Lord is going to punish the kings of Babylon and Assyria,135 and then bring His people back to their land (verses 18–19). And God will find no sins in His people (verse 20), for He will have forgiven the remnant of Israel that survives136 (see Jeremiah 31:34; 33:8).

21–28 The Lord commands Cyrus and his allies to attack Babylon; “Do everything I have commanded you,” says the Lord (verse 21). Jeremiah envisions the hammer of Babylon being shattered (verse 22); the same “hammer” that had “shattered” so many other nations was itself to be shattered. Babylon will be caught before she knows it (verse 24). Indeed, when the Persians invaded the city of Babylon, they caught it completely by surprise.

29–32 The Lord further describes the judgment soon to fall upon Babylon.

33–34 Yet the Lord, the Redeemer, will defend the cause of His people (see Jeremiah 31:11); and after the Exile He will bring rest to their land (see Jeremiah 31:2).

35–40 The Lord calls for judgment—a sword—against the people, the animals, the treasures, and even the waters of Babylon. Let Babylon remain uninhabited (verse 39); let it be overthrown, as Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown (Jeremiah 49:18).

41–43 These verses are repeated from Jeremiah 6:22–24. The earlier prophecy referred to Jerusalem; here it has been applied to Babylon.

44–46 These verses are repeated from Jeremiah 49:19–21. The earlier prophecy referred to Edom; here too it has been applied to Babylon.