This post continues with the prophecy of God’s coming judgment against Babylon. Because of the length and repetitive nature of the prophecies declared against Babylon and the fact that it is addressed in both Old and New Testament scripture, I think speaks to the importance of these prophecies. Every prophecy of God is important, but some obviously stand out in more significance than others.
Jeremiah 51:1–4 “Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, and against them that dwell in the midst of them that rise up against me, a destroying wind; And will send unto Babylon fanners, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land: for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about. Against him that bendeth let the archer bend his bow, and against him that lifteth himself up in his brigandine: and spare ye not her young men; destroy ye utterly all her host. Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and they that are thrust through in her streets.”
Babylon is known as the birthplace of false religion and of the first organized rebellion against God after the flood. That fact alone makes her accountable for the influence of all false religions and for all organized rebellion against God, which would include the mistreatment of His people.
I have heard scripture described as a tale of two cities—Jerusalem and Babylon—and I believe a case can be made to support that description. Jerusalem represents true religion before God, and Babylon represents all false religions. Sadly, Jerusalem’s testimony also reveals the consequences of choosing to act in disobedience to God.
This section of verses continues with the theme of the future complete destruction of Babylon. The picture this time is that of a destroying wind, like the hot and powerful desert sirocco. Babylon is pictured being emptied like the chaff that is blown away when winnowing the harvest. This reminds me of a verse in the Psalms.
Psalms 1:4 “The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away.”
No one is to be spared. The picture is that of so many killed that they fill the streets.
I hate to keep repeating myself, but this was not the case when Cyrus took control of Babylon. I believe the main thrust of this prophecy is yet future.
Jeremiah 51:5 “For Israel hath not been forsaken, nor Judah of his God, of the LORD of hosts; though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”
The point is being emphasized that though God is judging Israel and Judah for their sins, He is not breaking covenant with them. In fact, He is acting according to the conditional covenant made with them through Moses that works in conjunction with the covenant made with Abraham. In the covenant made through Moses the people were promised blessing for obedience and cursing for choosing to disobey and break covenant.
Deuteronomy 30:15–19 “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:”
Jeremiah 51:6–7 “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 recompence. 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.”
These verses immediately brought to mind other verses from my study of Revelation.
Revelation 17:4–6 “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: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.”
Revelation 18:3–5 “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. 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. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.”
The context indicates that the call is for God’s people to flee for their life from Babylon because the time of God’s vengeance against her has come. “Recompence” is a reference to getting what she deserves.
It is interesting to note that Babylon is identified as a “golden cup in the LORD’s hand.” The golden cup is a reference to her influence. That she has made the nations drunk is a reference to the effectiveness of her influence.
It is always hard to understand God’s use of the wicked in judging and purifying His people—both Israel and the church. I am reminded that it is through adversity that the faith of God’s people grows stronger and impostors are identified.
Zechariah 13:7–9 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
Luke 22:31–32 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Acts 15:8–9 “And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Zechariah is speaking of the effect that the 70th week of Daniel will have on Israel. He is declaring that a full third of the Jewish people will emerge from that refining fire in righteousness and faith.
Luke is recording the words of Jesus to Peter regarding his coming trial of faith when confronted as being one of Jesus’ followers during the time that he is on trial. Peter denied his Lord, but his faith emerged stronger than ever. His experience produced repentance and a unique reference through which he could strengthen the faith of others.
The strength of Peter’s faith was in great evidence as he uttered the words recorded in Acts. He had personally experienced the power of the Holy Spirit as a purifying force of his faith.
(to be continued…)