The ruin of Babylon. (1-3,8-16,21-32,35-46;) The redemption of God's people. (4-7,17-20,33,34)
Verses 1-7 The king of Babylon was kind to Jeremiah, yet the prophet must foretell the ruin of that kingdom. If our friends are God's enemies, we dare not speak peace to them. The destruction of Babylon is spoken of as done thoroughly. Here is a word for the comfort of the Jews. They shall return to their God first, then to their own land; the promise of their conversion and reformation makes way for the other promises. Their tears flow not from the sorrow of the world, as when they went into captivity, but from godly sorrow. They shall seek after the Lord as their God, and have no more to do with idols. They shall think of returning to their own country. This represents the return of poor souls to God. In true converts there are sincere desires to attain the end, and constant cares to keep in the way. Their present case is lamented as very sad. The sins of professing Christians never will excuse those who rejoice in destroying them.
Verses 8-20 The desolation that shall be brought upon Babylon is set forth in a variety of expressions. The cause of this destruction is the wrath of the Lord. Babylon shall be wholly desolated; for she hath sinned against the Lord. Sin makes men a mark for the arrows of God's judgments. The mercy promised to the Israel of God, shall not only accompany, but arise from the destruction of Babylon. These sheep shall be gathered from the deserts, and put again into good pasture. All who return to God and their duty, shall find satisfaction of soul in so doing. Deliverances out of trouble are comforts indeed, when fruits of the forgiveness of sin.
Verses 21-32 The forces are mustered and empowered to destroy Babylon. Let them do what God demands, and they shall bring to pass what he threatens. The pride of men's hearts sets God against them, and ripens them apace for ruin. Babylon's pride must be her ruin; she has been proud against the Holy One of Israel; who can keep those up whom God will throw down?
Verses 33-46 It is Israel's comfort in distress, that, though they are weak, their Redeemer is strong. This may be applied to believers, who complain of the dominion of sin and corruption, and of their own weakness and manifold infirmities. Their Redeemer is able to keep what they commit to him; and sin shall not have dominion over them. He will give them that rest which remains for the people of God. Also here is Babylon's sin, and their punishment. The sins are, idolatry and persecution. He that will not save his people in their sins, never will countenance the wickedness of his open enemies. The judgments of God for these sins will lay them waste. In the judgments denounced against prosperous Babylon, and the mercies promised to afflicted Israel, we learn to choose to suffer affliction with the people of God, rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
This and the following chapter contain a long prophecy concerning the destruction of Babylon; and which is expressed in such language, that it may be, and is to be, accommodated to the destruction of mystical Babylon; and several passages in the book of the Revelation are borrowed from hence; and it is intermixed with promises and prophecies of the deliverance of God's people from thence, and of the conversion of the Jews, and the restoration of them to their own which will be at that time; see Jer 50:4,5,8,19,20,33,34. The destruction of Babylon in general is proclaimed and declared, and the manner and cause of it, Jer 50:1-13; then the enemies of Babylon are stirred up and animated to proceed against her, and execute the judgments of God upon her, Jer 50:14-30. Next follows the Lord's controversy with her, because of her pride and oppression of his people; and threatens her with the sword, drought, and utter destruction, Jer 50:31-40; and then a description is given of her enemies, that should be the instruments of her destruction, Jer 50:41-44; and the chapter is closed with observing, that this is all according to the counsel and purpose of God, Jer 50:45,46.