16 Jeremiah 50:1-20 Will the bad guys get what’s coming to them? | WednesdayintheWord.com

Does it ever seem to you like the good guys get left behind while the bad guys flourish?   In Jeremiah 38, we talked about how doing the right thing sometimes leads to punishment.  That raises a question:  What about the people doing the punishing?  When Babylon destroys our city or we get thrown into a cistern of mud, what happens to the guys doing the destroying or throwing?  Will the bad guys get what’s coming to them?  And, is it okay to want that to happen?

Historical Setting

Jeremiah began his ministry as the dominant world power, the Assyrians, descended into civil war.  As the Assyrians began to lose their power,  Babylon and Egypt sought to occupy the power vacuum that the Assyrians would leave.  In the midst of this political turmoil the Lord calls Jeremiah.  His job is to predict and warn of the coming Babylonian invasion and the restoration that would follow the exile.

If you are living in Jerusalem during the seige, you might ask, are Babylonians going to destroy the holy city of God and then just go their merry way? Jeremiah 46-51 deal with the enemies of Israel and what’s going to happen to them, with Jeremiah 50-51 focusing on Babylon.

Themes

  1. The Lord will judge Babylon.
  2. The Lord will restore Israel.

Passage

1The word which the LORD spoke concerning Babylon, the land of the Chaldeans, through Jeremiah the prophet:  2″Declare and proclaim among the nations. Proclaim it and lift up a standard. Do not conceal it but say, ‘Babylon has been captured, Bel has been put to shame, Marduk has been shattered; Her images have been put to shame, her idols have been shattered.’  3″For a nation has come up against her out of the north; it will make her land an object of horror, and there will be no inhabitant in it. Both man and beast have wandered off, they have gone away!  4″In those days and at that time,” declares the LORD, “the sons of Israel will come, both they and the sons of Judah as well; they will go along weeping as they go, and it will be the LORD their God they will seek.  5″They will ask for the way to Zion, turning their faces in its direction; they will come that they may join themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.  6″My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; They have gone along from mountain to hill And have forgotten their resting place.  7″All who came upon them have devoured them; And their adversaries have said, ‘We are not guilty, Inasmuch as they have sinned against the LORD who is the habitation of righteousness, Even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.’  8″Wander away from the midst of Babylon And go forth from the land of the Chaldeans; Be also like male goats at the head of the flock.  9″For behold, I am going to arouse and bring up against Babylon A horde of great nations from the land of the north, And they will draw up their battle lines against her; From there she will be taken captive. Their arrows will be like an expert warrior Who does not return empty-handed.  10″Chaldea will become plunder; All who plunder her will have enough,” declares the LORD. 11″Because you are glad, because you are jubilant, O you who pillage My heritage, Because you skip about like a threshing heifer And neigh like stallions,  12Your mother will be greatly ashamed, She who gave you birth will be humiliated. Behold, she will be the least of the nations, A wilderness, a parched land and a desert.  13″Because of the indignation of the LORD she will not be inhabited, But she will be completely desolate; Everyone who passes by Babylon will be horrified And will hiss because of all her wounds.  14″Draw up your battle lines against Babylon on every side, All you who bend the bow; Shoot at her, do not be sparing with your arrows, For she has sinned against the LORD.  15″Raise your battle cry against her on every side! She has given herself up, her pillars have fallen, Her walls have been torn down. For this is the vengeance of the LORD: Take vengeance on her; As she has done to others, so do to her.  16″Cut off the sower from Babylon And the one who wields the sickle at the time of harvest; From before the sword of the oppressor They will each turn back to his own people And they will each flee to his own land.  17″Israel is a scattered flock, the lions have driven them away. The first one who devoured him was the king of Assyria, and this last one who has broken his bones is Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon.  18″Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I am going to punish the king of Babylon and his land, just as I punished the king of Assyria.  19’And I will bring Israel back to his pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan, and his desire will be satisfied in the hill country of Ephraim and Gilead.  20’In those days and at that time,’ declares the LORD, ‘search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.’  – Jeremiah 50:1-20

Passage Notes

  • Biblical prophecy is often in the past tense to express the certainty of the events predicted.  Because the Lord said it, it is so certain that it will happen, it’s as if it is in the past.
  • 50:2 – Bel and Marduk are gods of Babylon.
  • 50:4 – “in those days” is a very vague and general time reference.  Specifics are determined by context.
  • 50:12 – “Mother” is a metaphor for their capital city.

Historical Problem

Jeremiah 50:9, 13-14 predict that Babylon will fall in a great battle and its inhabitants flee.  Yet we know from history that Cyrus entered the city as a liberator and took the city without a fight.  “In 539 B.C., the Persian Cyrus II (the Great) entered Babylon without a fight. Thus ended Babylon’s dominant role in Near Eastern politics (Holman Bible Dictionary).”

In Jeremiah 18, when the Lord sends Jeremiah to the potter’s house, we learned that God will change His plans when and if His people change their behavior.

“If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.”  – Jeremiah 18:7-8

Daniel 4 records the story of Babylon’s greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar, repenting.

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. – Daniel 4:37

It is quite likely that the Lord was merciful in His judgment of Babylon because of Nebuchadnezzar’s change of heart.

Will the bad guys get punished?  And is it okay to want that to happen?

  • We are asking for a vengeance when we want the bad guys to get punished.  Jeremiah 50:15; 51:24; 52:35
  • Vengeance is a measured response that fits the crime (e.g. an eye for any eye, a tooth for a tooth).
  • Leviticus 18:18 tells us not to TAKE vengeance and Deuteronomy 32:35 tells us that vengeance belongs to the Lord.
  • Establishing justice or taking vengeance needs to be left to a just, fair and wise judge who is outside of the conflict.
  • It is right to ask the Lord for justice, but wrong to take matters into our own hands.
  • Babylon is still guilty (50:7) even though their were instruments of God’s judgment on Israel.
  • Sin always has consequences and evil is always judged.

But I’m one of the bad guys…

  • The Lord will not forsake His people even though they are guilty (51:5).
  • Judgment is a means to bring about restoration (50:4-5; 50:20).
  • The Lord can both judge and forgive because of the cross.
  • At the cross of Jesus Christ, the Lord judged the bad guys once and for all, but His judgment fell on Jesus rather than on us, who deserved it.
  • Jesus was forsaken on the cross so that you and I — the bad guys — might not be forsaken.

The bad guys will not get what’s coming to them, if they believe in the blood of Jesus Christ.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” – John 3:16-17

For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.

Previous: 15 Jeremiah 38:1-13 Why do I get punished for doing the right thing?

Series: Questions Jeremiah Answered

Resources: Jeremiah Resources

Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Version of the Bible.

 Photo used here under Flickr Creative Commons.

(This article has been read 962 times plus 8 today.)