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The judgment of Babylon

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CHAPTER 50 Aug. 28 
The Fall of Babylon and Israel's Return
The word that Yahweh spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet. 2Declare among the nations and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and don’t conceal: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is disappointed, Merodach is dismayed; her images are disappointed, her idols are dismayed. 3For out of the north there comes up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they are fled, they are gone, both man and animal. 4In those days, and in that time, says Yahweh, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together; they shall go on their way weeping, and shall seek Yahweh their God. 5They shall inquire concerning Zion with their faces turned towards it saying, Come, and join yourselves to Yahweh in an everlasting covenant that shall not be forgotten. 6My people have been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray; they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. 7All who found them have devoured them; and their adversaries said, We are not guilty, because they have sinned against Yahweh, the habitation of righteousness, even Yahweh, the hope of their fathers. 8Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the male goats before the flocks. 9For behold, I will stir up and cause to come up against Babylon a company of great nations from the north country; and they shall set themselves in array against her; from there she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of an expert mighty man; none shall return in vain. 10Chaldea shall be a prey: all who prey on her shall be satisfied, says Yahweh. 11Because you are glad, because you rejoice, O you who plunder My inheritance, because you are wanton as a heifer that treads out the grain, and neigh as strong horses; 12your mother shall be utterly disappointed; she who bore you shall be confounded: behold, she shall be the least of the nations, a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert. 13Because of the wrath of Yahweh she shall not be inhabited, but she shall be wholly desolate: everyone who goes by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. 14Set yourselves in array against Babylon all around, all you who bend the bow; shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she has sinned against Yahweh. 15Shout against her all around: she has submitted herself; her bulwarks are fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of Yahweh: take vengeance on her; as she has done, do to her. 16Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him who handles the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn each one to his people, and they shall flee each one to his own land. 17Israel is a hunted sheep; the lions have driven him away: first, the king of Assyria devoured him; and now at the last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones. 18Therefore thus says Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel: Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. 19I will bring Israel again to his pasture, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and in Gilead. 20In those days and in that time, says Yahweh, 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 leave as a remnant.
The Destruction of Babylon 
21Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: kill and utterly destroy after them, says Yahweh, and do according to all that I have commanded you. 22A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. 23How is the hammer of the whole earth cut apart and broken! How is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! 24I have laid a snare for you, and you are also caught, Babylon, and you weren’t aware: you are found, and also caught, because you have struggled against Yahweh. 25Yahweh has opened His armoury and has brought forth the weapons of His indignation; for the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, has a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans. 26Come against her from the utmost border; open her storehouses; cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly; let nothing of her be left. 27Kill all her bulls; let them go down to the slaughter: woe to them! For their day has come, the time of their visitation. 28The voice of those who flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of Yahweh our God, the vengeance of His temple. 29Call together the archers against Babylon, all those who bend the bow; encamp against her all around; let none of it escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she has done, do to her; for she has been proud against Yahweh, against the Holy One of Israel. 30Therefore her young men will fall in her streets, and all her men of war will be brought to silence in that day, says Yahweh. 31Behold, I am against you, you proud one, says the Lord, Yahweh of Armies; for your day has come, the time that I will visit you. 32The proud one shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up; and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all who are around him. 33Thus says Yahweh of Armies: The children of Israel and the children of Judah are oppressed together; and all who took them captive hold them fast; they refuse to let them go. 34Their Redeemer is strong; Yahweh of Armies is His name: He will thoroughly plead their cause, that He may give rest to the earth, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon. 35A sword is on the Chaldeans, says Yahweh, and on the inhabitants of Babylon, on her princes and on her wise men. 36A sword is on the boasters, and they shall become fools; a sword is on her mighty men, and they shall be dismayed. 37A sword is on their horses, and on their chariots, and on all the mixed people who are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is on her treasures, and they shall be robbed. 38A drought is on her waters, and they shall be dried up; for it is a land of engraved images, and they are mad over idols. 39Therefore the wild animals of the desert with the wolves shall dwell there, and the ostriches shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited forever; neither shall it be lived in from generation to generation. 40As when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbouring cities, says Yahweh, so shall no man dwell there, neither shall any son of man live therein. 41Behold, a people comes from the north; and a great nation and many kings shall be stirred up from the uttermost parts of the earth. 42They lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and have no mercy; their voice roars like the sea; and they ride on horses, each one set in array as a man to the battle, against you, daughter of Babylon. 43The king of Babylon has heard the news of them, and his hands wax feeble: anguish has taken hold of him, pains as of a woman in labour. 44Behold, the enemy shall come up like a lion from the pride of the Jordan against the strong habitation: for I will suddenly make them run away from it; and whoever is chosen, him will I appoint over it: for who is like Me? And who will appoint Me a time? And who is the shepherd who can stand before Me? 45Therefore hear the counsel of Yahweh that He has taken against Babylon; and His purposes, that He has purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely they shall drag them away, even the little ones of the flock; surely he shall make their habitation desolate over them. 46At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth trembles, and the cry is heard among the nations.


50:2 Babylon is taken, Bel is disappointed, Merodach is dismayed- Note how Babylon is so identified with her gods; see on 48:13; 49:1.
50:3 Time and again the prophets describe the judgments to fall upon Israel in the same terms as they speak of the condemnations of the surrounding nations (compare :3 and :13). The message was clear: rejected Israel would be treated as Gentiles. Even if we are separated from this world externally, we can still act in a worldly way, and share the world's condemnation (1 Cor. 11:29,32).
50:4 God’s intention was that when Babylon fell, the exiles would repent and return to rebuild Zion and enter the new covenant (:5). Babylon fell, the new king, Cyrus of Persia, commanded them to return and rebuild the temple; but the Jews didn’t repent and therefore many of them remained in Babylon, where they had a good life. The fall of Babylon is spoken of in Revelation as happening at Christ’s return; the prophecy will be reapplied and fulfilled at that time. The return of the Jews to Israel over the last few generations is surely a preparation for this.
 50:8 There was an urgency to flee from Babylon, even though at the time the Jews were prosperous there; there were Jews in leadership positions, as the Biblical record makes clear in Daniel; and archaeological research shows that the Jews were in senior business and administrative positions. But there was an urgency to flee from there and return to Judah and rebuild the Kingdom. The call to leave Babylon is interpreted in the New Testament as representing the call of the Gospel, to leave this present system of things at least mentally (Rev. 18:4). But will the new Israel respond better than historical Israel?
50:14 She has sinned against Yahweh- Gentile unbelievers are still counted as sinning against God. His sensitivity to sin must make it so hard to be God... perceiving and feeling the sin of every person amongst the billions of this world. We should be therefore the more sensitive to His sensitivity. This also means that He must be thrilled with the genuine efforts of His people to be righteous, as He observes so much rebellion against Him.
50:20 The iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none- An encouragement to us as to the totality and depth of God’s ability to forgive.
50:29 For she has been proud- For all the millions of sins of Babylon, not least her idolatry, it is her pride which is seen as her main sin; for pride is the essence of all sin (see too :31,32,36).
50:33 They refuse to let them go- The Babylonians ‘refused’ to let Judah return in the same way as Egypt did under Pharaoh. However, there’s no hint that the Jews actually asked to return. Babylon ‘refused’ to respond to the Angels’ attempts to encourage Babylon to send the Jews back; this may be referred to in Dan. 10:13. From the viewpoint of a Jewish person in Babylon, all this Angelic activity was quite invisible. We too can think God is inactive when in fact He is working powerfully for us behind the scenes. 
50:39 It shall be no more inhabited forever; neither shall it be lived in from generation to generation- The fact Babylon has been rebuilt at times and didn’t cease to be inhabited after the Medes captured it and overthrew the Babylonian empire means that this prophecy must have a future fulfilment. It’s not impossible that literal Babylon may be rebuilt, and the latter-day equivalent of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires be re-established in the form of some superpower which will likewise persecute Israel and meet their final end at Christ’s return.