This is the message the Lord spoke to Baby- lon and the Babylonian people through Jeremiah the prophet.
"Announce this to the nations. Lift up a banner and tell them. Speak the whole message and say: 'Babylon will be captured. The god Bel will be put to shame, and the god Marduk will be afraid. Babylon's gods will be put to shame, and her idols will be afraid!'
A nation from the north will attack Babylon and make it like an empty desert. No one will live there; both people and animals will run away."
The Lord says, "At that time the people of Israel and Judah will come together. They will cry and look for the Lord their God.
Those people will ask how to go to Jerusalem and will start in that direction. They will come and join themselves to the Lord. They will make an agreement with him that will last forever, an agreement that will never be forgotten.
"My people have been like lost sheep. Their leaders have led them in the wrong way and made them wander around in the mountains and hills. They forgot where their resting place was.
Whoever saw my people hurt them. And those enemies said, 'We did nothing wrong. Those people sinned against the Lord, their true resting place, the God their fathers trusted.'
"Run away from Babylon, and leave the land of the Babylonians. Be like the goats that lead the flock.
I will soon bring against Babylon many great nations from the north. They will take their places for war against it, and it will be captured by people from the north. Their arrows are like trained soldiers who do not return from war with empty hands.
The enemy will take all the wealth from the Babylonians. Those enemy soldiers will get all they want," says the Lord.
"Babylon, you are excited and happy, because you took my land. You dance around like a young cow in the grain. Your laughter is like the neighing of male horses.
Your mother will be very ashamed; the woman who gave birth to you will be disgraced. Soon Babylonia will be the least important of all the nations. She will be an empty, dry desert.
Because of the Lord's anger, no one will live there. She will be completely empty. Everyone who passes by Babylon will be shocked. They will shake their heads when they see all her injuries.
"Take your positions for war against Babylon, all you soldiers with bows. Shoot your arrows at Babylon! Do not save any of them, because Babylon has sinned against the Lord.
Soldiers around Babylon, shout the war cry! Babylon has surrendered, her towers have fallen, and her walls have been torn down. The Lord is giving her people the punishment they deserve. You nations should give her what she deserves; do to her what she has done to others.
Don't let the people from Babylon plant their crops or gather the harvest. The soldiers treated their captives cruelly. Now, let everyone go back home. Let everyone run to his own country.
"The people of Israel are like a flock of sheep that are scattered from being chased by lions. The first lion to eat them up was the king of Assyria. The last lion to crush their bones was Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon."
So this is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: "I will punish the king of Babylon and his country as I punished the king of Assyria.
But I will bring the people of Israel back to their own pasture. They will eat on Mount Carmel and in Bashan. They will eat and be full on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead."
The Lord says, "At that time people will try to find Israel's guilt, but there will be no guilt. People will try to find Judah's sins, but no sins will be found, because I will leave a few people alive from Israel and Judah, and I will forgive their sins.
"Attack the land of Merathaim. Attack the people who live in Pekod. Chase them, kill them, and completely destroy them. Do everything I commanded you!" says the Lord.
"The noise of battle can be heard all over the country; it is the noise of much destruction.
Babylon was the hammer of the whole earth, but how broken and shattered that hammer is now. It is truly the most ruined of all the nations.
Babylon, I set a trap for you, and you were caught before you knew it. You fought against the Lord, so you were found and taken prisoner.
The Lord has opened up his storeroom and brought out the weapons of his anger, because the Lord God All-Powerful has work to do in the land of the Babylonians.
Come against Babylon from far away. Break open her storehouses of grain. Pile up her dead bodies like heaps of grain. and do not leave anyone alive.
Kill all the young men in Babylon; let them be killed like animals. How terrible it will be for them, because the time has come for their defeat; it is time for them to be punished.
Listen to the people running to escape the country of Babylon! how the Lord our God is punishing Babylon as it deserves for destroying his Temple.
"Call for the archers to come against Babylon. Tell them to surround the city, and let no one escape. Pay her back for what she has done; do to her what she has done to other nations. Babylon acted with pride against the Lord, the Holy One of Israel.
So her young men will be killed in her streets. All her soldiers will die on that day," says the Lord.
"Babylon, you are too proud, and I am against you," says the Lord God All-Powerful. "The time has come for you to be punished.
Proud Babylon will stumble and fall, and no one will help her get up. I will start a fire in her towns, and it will burn up everything around her."
This is what the Lord All-Powerful says: "The people of Israel and Judah are slaves. The enemy took them as prisoners and won't let them go.
But God is strong and will buy them back. His name is the Lord All-Powerful. He will surely defend them with power so he can give rest to their land. But he will not give rest to those living in Babylon."
The Lord says, "Let a sword kill the people living in Babylon and her officers and wise men!
Let a sword kill her false prophets, and they will become fools. Let a sword kill her warriors, and they will be full of terror.
Let a sword kill her horses and chariots and all the soldiers hired from other countries! Then they will be like frightened women. Let a sword attack her treasures, so they will be taken away.
Let a sword attack her waters so they will be dried up. She is a land of idols, and the people go crazy with fear over them.
"Desert animals and hyenas will live there, and owls will live there, but no people will ever live there again. She will never be filled with people again.
God completely destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them," says the Lord. "In the same way no people will live in Babylon, and no human being will stay there.
"Look! An army is coming from the north. A powerful nation and many kings are coming together from all around the world.
Their armies have bows and spears. The soldiers are cruel and have no mercy. As the soldiers come riding on their horses, the sound is loud like the roaring sea. They stand in their places, ready for battle. They are ready to attack you, city of Babylon.
The king of Babylon heard about those armies, and he became helpless with fear. Distress has gripped him. His pain is like that of a woman giving birth to a baby.
"Like a lion coming up from the thick bushes near the Jordan River to attack a strong pen for sheep, I will suddenly chase the people of Babylon from their land. Who is the one I have chosen to do this? There is no one like me, no one who can take me to court. None of their leaders can stand up against me."
So listen to what the Lord has planned to do against Babylon. Listen to what he has decided to do to the people in the city of Babylon. He will surely drag away the young ones of Babylon. Their hometowns will surely be shocked at what happens to them.
At the sound of Babylon's capture, the earth will shake. cry of distress.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version. Copyright © 1987, 1988, 1991 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.