What will become of Babylon after her fall?
What do the following six verses from Jeremiah chapter 50 tell us about the fate of Babylon?
Verse 3: For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.
Verse 10: And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.
Verse 13: Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: everyone that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.
Verse 23: How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
Verse 39: Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell [there], and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.
Verse 40: As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour [cities] thereof, saith the LORD; [so] shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.
What happened to Babylon?
At the time when the physical city of Babylon was defeated, the prophecy in Isaiah 13,20 said: It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. However, when Cyrus had seized power, he restored the city after the fighting that ended Babylon’s era. Then the city was inhabited. A few years later, the Babylonians revolted against the Medo-Persian government and, as punishment, the Persian king tore down the city, but it was still inhabited. When Alexander the Great had conquered the whole world, he settled in Babylon and started to rebuild the city. He died! In the time of Jesus, Babylon was finally desolated and deserted, and only wild animals lived there, and so it was until well into the 19th century, when archaeologists began digging out the city. But there was no settlement there. This is also the case today, even though Saddam Hussain twice tried to rebuild the proud city of Babylon. He died too!
God has said that the city will be desolate and uninhabited like Sodom and Gomorrah, and so it has become.
We saw above that the judgment on the figurative Babylon, the type, and the counter-image, the antitype, of modern-day Babylon is identical. Both challenge God and they arouse God’s wrath by inflicting on God´s faithful remnant torments and trials that the Lord did not want His people to go through. So the question now is how will it go with modern Babylon in the end times.
To get the answer to this, we should read chapter 18 of Revelation. Some key verses are:
Verse 2: And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Verse 5: For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
Verse 8: Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong [is] the Lord God who judgeth her.
Verse 10: Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.
Verse 18: And cried when they saw the smoke of her burning, saying, What [city is] like unto this great city!
Verse 19: And they cast dust on their heads, and cried, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great city, wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! for in one hour is she made desolate.
Verse 21: And a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast [it] into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be found no more at all.
Let us see if we find any parallels between the judgment and fall of the real Babylon, and the judgment and fall of the end-time Babylon? Compare Isaiah 21,9 and Revelation 18,2; Jeremiah 51,9 and Revelation 18,5; Isaiah 47,9 and Revelation 18,8; Jeremiah 50,23 and Revelation 18,10; Isaiah 34,10 and Revelation 18,18; Jeremiah 50,13 and Revelation 18,19; Jeremiah 50,46 and Revelation 18,21.
Verses 4, 5 and 20 in Jeremiah 50 should be read together as these are one of many such double prophecies. This is both a contemporary prophecy and a typical end-time prophecy.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, [saying], Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant [that] shall not be forgotten, Jeremiah 50,4-5.
In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and [there shall be] none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found for I will pardon them whom I reserve. Jeremiah 50,20
What is the common denominator here, and what does the common denominator refer to? The common denominator is the expression in those days, and in that time. This refers to a very special event that lies in the future of Jeremiah. If we read this in the contemporary context, we clearly see that this is about physical Israel and Judea. But this can also be read in the end-time contextual sense and used about Abraham’s spiritual descendants. Just look at what verse 20 really says: In the end time … … then the world will look for the iniquity of Israel and the sin of Judah … … but it is gone … … for Jesus Christ has removed our sin and paid our debt.
I clearly see a double fulfilment of these verses. If we look at the common denominator in those days, and in that time, we find a clear parallel to this statement in Revelation 9,15, where it says: Åp 9,15 And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay the third part of men.. What this verse in Revelation 9,15 is about is undoubtedly an end-time event, for the four angels are holding back the four winds of war that are to be unleashed in the absolute end-time. The expression for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year points to a specific point on the timeline of history, and just at the moment when a series of events has been fulfilled, God will implement this part of His plan.
It is the same way we both can and may have to understand in those days, and in that time. This also refers to a specific point on the timeline. If this is about the end times, then Israel and Judah cannot be the literal nations, but the spiritual Israel and the spiritual Judah. That it is about the end times, I think is beyond any doubt when the prophecy says that the iniquity of Israel and the sins of Judah, shall not be found. The question that arises is: When will it happen that the iniquity of Israel and the sin of Judah no longer shall be found? We can certainly agree on that it is at least after the cross.
There are at least two things we need to look at.
When was it that Israel was literally forgiven of its sins in Old Testament times?
When were the sins removed from Israel at this time?
The children of Israel were forgiven of their sins when they offered the sin offering in the tabernacle / temple, but the sin was not removed until the great day of atonement, Yom Kippur. This had to be done every year, over and over again until Jesus came and died on the cross. The Old Testament sacrificial service is the type of an end-time event.
Perhaps we can now see more clearly that this is an end-time prophecy. After Jesus died on the cross, we do not have to offer sin offerings, because Jesus is our sacrifice. He forgives us when we ask for forgiveness of sins, but the sins are still not blotted out. The antitype will be the real Yom Kippur, who started in 1844 and who will be an ongoing act until Jesus leaves the heavenly temple.
The author of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31,34 which uses the expression that God will never remember the sins of his people: And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more, Hebrews 10,17. God the Father cannot forget, but He says He will not remember. Why will God the Father not remember the transgressions, iniquities, and sins of his people? For Jesus’ sake alone, because He shed His blood on Calvary when He died for our sins.
Both in Old Testament times, to the carnal descendants of Abraham, and in New Testament times to the spiritual descendants of Abraham, an invitation has been given to leave Babylon. To the physical Babylon, as in Jeremiah 51,9 where the prophet says: 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, (NIV 1984). To the spiritual Babylon, as in Revelation 18,4 where the prophet says: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues..
Now the text in Jeremiah 51,9 can be taken as income for both a contemporary fulfilment and an end-time fulfilment, but primarily it concerns the contemporary fulfilment here.
When King Nebuchadnezzar took the credit for making Babylon the kingdom it was, God took the wisdom from him for 7 years. He came to his senses again, he was reinstated as king, see Daniel 4: 34-37. In this lies that God would heal Babylon. Babylon, by Nebuchadnezzar was healed and turned to God and both Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon regained their greatness. But his descendants, Nabonidus and Belshazzar, did not learn the story of Nebuchadnezzar, and in this lies the fact that she could not be healed. She faced her doom.
Babylon is destroyed.
Jeremiah chapter 51:
Verses 6-8; Flee out of Babylon:
Verse 6: Flee out of the midst of Babylon and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this [is] the time of the LORD’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompense.
Verse 7: Babylon [hath been] a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Verse 8: Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
We know from history that the physical city of Babylon perished when Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. but: 1) how did the conquest of the physical city of Babylon take place in the year 539 BC? and 2) do we have other verses that are parallels to these three verses in the New Testament?
1) When Cyrus conquered Babylon, it happened without the great clashes, and it affected to a very small extent the people who were captives in Babylon. King Cyrus ordered the soldiers to dig a canal to divert the waters of the Euphrates River away from the riverbed that passed through Babylon, under the city walls. In this way, the soldiers could get dry-shod into the city by using the dry riverbed without the Babylonians discovering it before it was too late. The Medo-Persian soldiers entered the city at night and surprised everyone and quickly defeated the soldiers of the arrogant Belshazzar who were not on standby. This is exactly according to the prophecy in Isaiah 44,24- 45,2.
So there was no reason to flee Babylon when Cyrus took the city.
2) For each of the three verses above we find parallel verses in the NT.
Jeremiah 51,6 has its parallel in Revelation 18,4 that says: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
Jeremiah 51,7 has its parallel in Revelation 17,4 that says: And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
Jeremiah 51,8 has its parallel in Revelation 14,8 that says: And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication … and in Revelation 18,2 that says: And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
As we see, we have the same wording in Revelation as in Jeremiah. Revelation clearly refers to end-time Babylon, so then it is conceivable that Jeremiah also deals with the end-time events and the end-time Babylon. But why is it important to flee Babylon in the end times when it was not strictly necessary in Daniel’s time? The answer to this question can be found in several places. We can begin with Revelation 18,4, which we saw right over here, which says that God’s people must flee Babylon in order not to take part of her sins and of her judgment. God loves all people, but there is only a small portion of people that love God. Many of those who love God are now in Babylon, that is, in one of the many fallen denominations, and our job is to call them out of there. Other places that say the same thing are; Isaiah 48,20; 52,11; Jeremiah 50,8; 51,45; Ezekiel 20,34; 20,41; Zechariah 2,11.
The Fallen Church:
This chapter, Isaiah chapter 47, tells us first and foremost about the fall of the Babylonian Empire, but there is an expression there that can be confusing if we fail to have two thoughts in our heads at once. Verse 1 says … O virgin daughter of Babylon … // … O daughter of the Chaldeans. Once again we find a double prophecy. This chapter applies to both the physical Babylon and the spiritual Babylon.
Isaiah chapter 47;
Verses 1-15; Babylon must fall.
The first 6 verses of this chapter can be said to apply explicitly to contemporary Babylon. From verses 7 to 15 we can clearly see both the contemporary fulfilment and the end-time fulfilment. As for the physical Babylon, the Prophet uses virgin about Babylon. It is not because she is pure or innocent, on the contrary, here virgin is used as a sarcasm. By this the Prophet means that she, the Babylonian Empire, has lived in lavish luxury, which will now come to an abrupt end. We see in verse 2 that she must take the millstones and grind flour, which implies that she should be humbled from the position she, Babylon, had. Babylon is going into captivity itself.
The spiritual Babylon:
When Isaiah uses the term Babylon’s daughter on the fallen church, it is to show where the paganism comes from that has led the church to fall. It was this church that exalted itself above the people of the earth, and that had taken power to ordain and depose kings. There is a big problem associated with this, the church should serve, not dominate. The Catholic Church has persecuted people who thought differently from church leaders and will again persecute all those who still do not want to submit to the laws of the beast. This eventually leads to the final fall, which according to E. G. White happens when her sins have reached unto to heaven. She says in Early Writings under the heading The sins of Babylon the following: I was shown the pride of the nominal churches. God is not in their thoughts; their carnal minds dwell upon themselves; they decorate their poor mortal bodies, and then look upon themselves with satisfaction and pleasure. Jesus and the angels look upon them in anger. Said the angel, Their sins and pride have reached unto heaven. Their portion is prepared. Justice and judgment have slumbered long but will soon awake. Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.
We can be sure that the judgment on Babylon is coming. It has already been pronounced, but the implementation is delayed. Not because God hesitates, but it is the same with Babylon as with the Jews in Daniel 9. They were given 490 years to repent all their sins and turn to God. Jonah prophesied the destruction of Nineveh, and he said: Yet 40 days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown, (Jonah 3,4). The judgment was pronounced, but the king of Nineveh and all the people turned to the Lord and the city was saved. God told Abraham that his descendants would not return to the Promised Land until the iniquity of the Amorites was full (Genesis 15,16). There is nothing more God wants end-time Babylon to do, repent and turn to Him, but if she does not repent, the judgment pronounced will be carried out.
Babylon has got plenty of warnings about what will happen, and the Bible is full of them as the warning here in Isaiah 47. In addition, people have preached this to Babylon since she gained the power she has today. But still she lives a life of luxury and infidelity to God. She says about herself:
– I will continue forever – the eternal queen! … (verse 7 NIV 1984)
– I am, and there is none besides me … (verses 8 and 10)
– I will never be a widow or suffer loss of children … (verse 8)
In Revelation 18,7, John says the following about her, and here there is no doubt that it is end-time Babylon we are talking about: How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow. Exactly the same as Isaiah 47 says about Babylon.
God himself says this about Babylon:
— Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame shall be seen I will take vengeance, and I will not meet [thee as] a man, (verse 3).
— Sit thou silent, and get thee into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called, The lady of kingdoms, (verse 5).
— But these two [things] shall come to thee in a moment in one day*, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, [and] for the great abundance of thine enchantments, (verse 9).
— For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I [am], and none else beside me, (verse 10).
— Therefore shall evil come upon thee; thou shalt not know from whence it riseth: and mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off: and desolation shall come upon thee suddenly, [which] thou shalt not know, (verse 11).
— Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail, (verse 12).
— Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from [these things] that shall come upon thee, (verse 13).
* See Revelation 18,8; 18,10; 18,17; 18,19.
Now there are probably many who will disagree with me that there is a double fulfilment of these scriptures, but there is support for such a view also in the Old Testament. Isaiah says of Babylon in chapter 47 and verse 14: Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: [there shall] not [be] a coal to warm at, [nor] fire to sit before it. Many would argue that this is explicit for the great and proud Babylonian empire. But is it really that?
Malachi who lived 100 years after the conquest of Babylon comes with the same prophecy. Although he uses words that are different from Isaiah, they are identical prophecies. Malaki puts it this way: For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch, Malachi 4,1. We find many such parallels in the Bible. Another is this, Isaiah 47,15: Thus shall they be unto thee with whom thou hast laboured, [even] thy merchants, from thy youth: they shall wander everyone to his quarter; none shall save thee. Revelation 18,15: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing.
The Lord loves and saves:
Isaiah chapter 43.
Verses 1-7; God’s word to his remnant in the hour of trouble.
But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called [thee] by thy name; thou [art] mine. When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I [am] the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt [for] thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not: for I [am] with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east and gather thee from the west; I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth; [Even] every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.
It is very interesting that Isaiah uses the word redeem. What and who are we associating with redemption? Usually the word redeem is associated with to set free – to set free from something that binds you. And who can redeem us? Christ. Only He can set us free from what keeps us trapped in the snares of sin. God loves all people, but when it comes to a crossroads we can see that God separates people. In Egypt, God told Pharaoh before He unleashed the fourth plague so that the Egyptians would see that the God of Israel is stronger than all the Egyptian gods and have the opportunity to turn to the Lord: And I will put a division between my people and thy people: tomorrow shall this sign be, (Exodus 8,23; 9,4; 11,7).
What is also interesting is that when God says I will put a division between, then the literal translation is I will put a ransom between … … Can we not then put it this way? I have sent One to redeem you instead of ransom. In any case, we see what God will do for those He has redeemed.
The God of promises gives us these promises:
When thou passest through the waters, I [will be] with thee
and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee
when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned
neither shall the flame kindle upon thee
Thou wast precious in my sight
Fear not, for I am with thee
It is wrong to just to take a few examples of the promises the Lord gives us in the Bible, but the main point is that God will provide for His. In the end time, this must be the end time church of God, those who keep the commandments of God, the faith of Jesus and have the testimony of Jesus Christ which is the spirit of prophecy, (Revelation 12,7; 14,12; 19,10). I’m sure this is very important, and that we cannot put this under a chair. But it does not stop there. As I said, God loves all people, and this becomes clear in the next verse.
Honest seekers but seduced.
Verse 8; Bring forth the people that are blind, yet have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.
Who are these who are blind but who have eyes, and who are deaf but have ears? I think we should go to Revelation 18,4 and see what it says: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
These are indeed those whom God in Revelation 18,4 calls my people, and who are in Babylon in the end times, and who for a long time have been both blind and deaf to the truth because of seduction, but who have nevertheless been sincerely seeking , and as finally, when the loud cry is preached with anointing and power, sees the truth and comes out of Babylon, and / or hears the truth and understands that they have made a mistake, and then comes out of Babylon.
We will return to the warning and the call to leave the fallen church a little later. Let us now look at some parallels to the call to leave her.
The first to receive such a command was Abram. This is found in Genesis 12,1. Obediently he gathered all his possessions and all the people who were in his service and left his father’s house. This was really unthinkable in the culture of that time, but here we see a man who followed the word of the Lord. The next person to receive this message is Lot, Genesis 19,12, and he immediately passes it on to his sons-in-law, Genesis 19,14. In addition, there are at least 6 verses in Isaiah and Jeremiah that say the same thing. But let’s take a closer look at the case of Lot. When Lot was told to leave his Babylon, Sodom, he immediately went to his sons-in-law to ask them to join him when he left the city. They would not listen to him. Soon after, the Lord’s punishment came upon the world of Lot, and Sodom, Gomorrah, and their sister cities were destroyed by fire from heaven. Even Lot’s wife was annihilated just because she longed for what they had left in Sodom. God said: Do not look back! But she disobeyed and turned around, and lost salvation. Here, too, we find the type and antitype, and we will therefore find the same pattern in the end times. When the message of the three angels in Revelation 14 are preached together with the message of the fourth angel in Revelation 18, it will rise to the loud cry. Then it is only a short time before Jesus returns in glory with the angelic army of heaven. Then those who hear the cry must leave all that they have and get out of the Sodom of our time … …
God´s people are everywhere.
God loves all people unconditionally. No matter what we do to Him, He has forgiveness and give us if we turn from our evil ways, seek Him and ask forgiveness for all our innumerable sins. Ever since the Fall, God has called on us rebellious people to wake us up and to bring us out of the confusion that has plagued mankind since Adam and Eve were seduced by the serpent.
Jeremiah chapter 50.
Israel [is] a scattered sheep; the lions have driven [him] away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and [there shall be] none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found for I will pardon them whom I reserve.
In this passage we see what Assyria and Babylon have done to God’s people Israel. God’s people have been driven away they are no longer in their own land. First it was Assyria and King Sennacherib who conquered Samaria, and the survivors of the ten tribes of Israel (the ten-tribe kingdom) have gradually been assimilated into the peoples across the river, east of the Euphrates. There is a wonderful description Jeremiah gives of this in verse 17: … First he (Israel) was devoured by the king of Assyria. I think this is a precise description of what happened. More than a hundred years later, Nebuchadnezzar came and took care of the rest of the children of Israel, and the description is as apt as it is picturesque here: … Finally, this Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, gnawed his (Israel) bones.
In verse 20 we encounter once again the expression in those days, and in that time. As we mentioned earlier, where I refer to this verse, this expression refers to a specific point on the timeline.
The ones in question here are those Isaiah in chapter 43 verse 1 calls the redeemed. These are the ones the Lord has saved through His death on the cross. So no matter how we are treated and scattered by the dominant church power, God will always have us in mind and when the time is right, in those days, and in that time, He will lead us home. What matters in this context is that God’s people are found all over the world both within and outside the countless denominations that exist today. Even if Babylon falls, the Lord will provide for His people. As He led them out of Egypt and to the Promised Land, or from Babylon and back to Judea and Jerusalem, in the end times, even though it goes through trials and tribulations, He will eventually lead His people out of Babylon, over Jordan and into in the promised land – the heavenly Canaan.
God redeems His people from captivity in Babylon:
Isaiah chapter 48:
Verses 12-22; Come out of her, (the fallen church).
First to verse 16 which is remarkable. There are many who say that we cannot see the triune God in the Old Testament, but here is a real example that this is exactly what we do. Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there [am] I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, hath sent me.
The section begins with Jesus Christ introducing Himself: Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I [am] he; I [am] the first, I also [am] the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: [when] I call unto them, they stand up together. Then follows a stern rebuke because Israel did not listen to Him in the verses 18 and 19: O that thou hadst hearkened to my commandments! then had thy peace been as a river, and thy righteousness as the waves of the sea: Thy seed also had been as the sand, and the offspring of thy bowels like the gravel thereof; his name should not have been cut off nor destroyed from before me.
By the way, we see the same pattern here as elsewhere in the prophecies, double fulfilment of the prophecy. Verses 18 and 19 undoubtedly refer to the history of Israel. Israel did not listen to God’s commandments therefore they were sent into captivity to Babylon, but their names will never be blotted out or erased before God. He wants more than anything that those who are left of Abraham’s carnal descendants should turn to Him and receive the Messiah as their Saviour and not least as their King.
But here is also a warning to us to hold fast to God’s word, and to keep God’s commandments high. If not, we will end up as captives in modern-day Babylon. But to all men at all times, the Lord says in Isaiah 48,20: Go ye forth of Babylon, flee ye from the Chaldeans … and to the end-time church He adds: with a voice of singing declare ye, tell this, utter it [even] to the end of the earth; say ye The LORD hath redeemed his servant Jacob.
God uses Babylon:
The picture of how God will use Babylon is given in Jeremiah 25,9. But first we include Jeremiah 1,14 which prophesies about the fall of Judah and the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the year 605 BC: Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
It is more than interesting that the evil will break out of the north. If we go to the book of Daniel, we see that Daniel is very concerned about the king of the north as we find described in chapter 11, and we also find the throne of God in the north, and that was the place Lucifer wanted when he rebelled against God The Creator. Despite the fact that Babylon lies east of Judea, Nebuchadnezzar came from the north because the safest way to travel at that time was through the so-called fertile crescent (al-hilāl al-chasīb), first north-west along the Euphrates and then south, (out of the north an evil shall break forth) to Jerusalem.
In chapter 25, Jeremiah tells us that Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon will conquer Judea and Jerusalem. In other words, God’s people will be subdued by the power behind Babylon. And this is where we find one of the greatest paradoxes in the Bible – at least in the human sense. God uses a pagan king to punish his people, and even calls Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, my servant. And say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid; and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them, Jeremiah 43,10.
Jeremiah chapter 51:
Verses 20-24; Babylon, the battle axe of the Lord.
Thou [art] my battle axe [and] weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms; And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider; With thee also will I break in pieces man and woman; and with thee will I break in pieces old and young; and with thee will I break in pieces the young man and the maid; I will also break in pieces with thee the shepherd and his flock; and with thee will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen; and with thee will I break in pieces captains and rulers. And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD.
God chose Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judea for their idolatry and infidelity to God, and to bring them back to Him. We can say that Babylon was in a way used to bring the Jews back to the true faith. But Babylon abused her privilege and did evil to Zion, and for that God will punish Babylon. In this context, Zion stands for Jerusalem. It was probably not the intention that Jerusalem and the temple should be destroyed by the Babylonians, but at the third siege in the year 586 BC. the temple was plundered, and Jerusalem destroyed. In the first four verses of this sequence, the Prophet shows how God uses Babylon to punish a disobedient people. So what was Jeremiah’s first prophecy about Judea? And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof [is] toward the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set everyone his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands. Jeremiah 1,13-16
Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and conquered Judea in the year 605 BC. and led some of the people into captivity to Babylon. That such a thing could happen had already been prophesied by Moses almost 840 years before it happened: See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, [and that] ye shall not prolong [your] days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, [and] that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he [is] thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them, Deuteronomy 30,15-20.
But as we know, the Jews made the wrong choice, and then they were hit by the evil that came from the north. It is striking that the calamity that befell Judea should break loose from the north! Who said this about themselves? For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north, Isaiah 14,13.
And it is Satan who incited Babylon to go beyond what God meant by the captivity in Babylon. But when Babylon went beyond its authority, God could not let this go unnoticed. Babylon did harm to Zion, and this is the type of the end-time punishment inflicted on end-time Babylon, the antitype.
When the church in Rome was founded, perhaps as early as between year 31 and 35, it was God’s will for the church to reach out to people with the gospel, but eventually the leaders of the Roman Church abused the trust God showed them and instead of doing good they began to do evil to Zion, Jeremiah 51,24. Here is Zion an image of God’s faithful people. And what God said to Babylon in the time of Daniel, God says to Babylon of our time: Behold, I [am] against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain, Jeremiah 51,25.