Saturday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 51-52 (NKJV)
51:1 Thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon, against those who dwell in Leb Kamai, a destroying wind. 2 And I will send winnowers to Babylon, who shall winnow her and empty her land. For in the day of doom they shall be against her all around. 3 Against her let the archer bend his bow, and lift himself up against her in his armor. Do not spare her young men; Utterly destroy all her army. 4 Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans, and those thrust through in her streets. 5 For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by his God, the LORD of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”
6 Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life! Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; He shall recompense her. 7 Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged. 8 Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her! Take balm for her pain; Perhaps she may be healed.
9 We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country; For her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies.
10 The LORD has revealed our righteousness. Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.
11 Make the arrows bright! Gather the shields! The LORD has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes. For His plan is against Babylon to destroy it, because it is the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance for His temple. 12 Set up the standard on the walls of Babylon; Make the guard strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes. For the LORD has both devised and done what He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon. 13 O you who dwell by many waters, abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your covetousness. 14 The LORD of hosts has sworn by Himself: “Surely I will fill you with men, as with locusts, and they shall lift up a shout against you.”
15 He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom, and stretched out the heaven by His understanding. 16 When He utters His voice—there is a multitude of waters in the heavens: “He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He makes lightnings for the rain; He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”
17 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge; Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image; For his molded image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them. 18 They are futile, a work of errors; In the time of their punishment they shall perish. 19 The Portion of Jacob is not like them, for He is the Maker of all things; And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance. The LORD of hosts is His name.
20 “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war: For with you I will break the nation in pieces; With you I will destroy kingdoms; 21 With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider; With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider; 22 With you also I will break in pieces man and woman; With you I will break in pieces old and young; With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden; 23 With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock; With you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen; And with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers.
24 “And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all the evil they have done In Zion in your sight,” says the LORD.
25 “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain, who destroys all the earth,” says the LORD. “And I will stretch out My hand against you, roll you down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain. 26 They shall not take from you a stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever,” says the LORD.
27 Set up a banner in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations against her, call the kingdoms together against her: Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her; Cause the horses to come up like the bristling locusts. 28 Prepare against her the nations, with the kings of the Medes, its governors and all its rulers, all the land of his dominion. 29 And the land will tremble and sorrow; For every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant. 30 The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting, they have remained in their strongholds; Their might has failed, they became like women; They have burned her dwelling places, the bars of her gate are broken. 31 One runner will run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken on all sides; 32 The passages are blocked, the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are terrified.
33 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel:
“The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor when it is time to thresh her; Yet a little while and the time of her harvest will come.”
34 “Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me, he has crushed me; He has made me an empty vessel, he has swallowed me up like a monster; He has filled his stomach with my delicacies, he has spit me out. 35 Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon,” The inhabitant of Zion will say; “And my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea!” Jerusalem will say.
36 Therefore thus says the LORD:
“Behold, I will plead your case and take vengeance for you. I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry. 37 Babylon shall become a heap, a dwelling place for jackals, an astonishment and a hissing, without an inhabitant. 38 They shall roar together like lions, they shall growl like lions’ whelps. 39 In their excitement I will prepare their feasts; I will make them drunk, that they may rejoice, and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,” says the LORD. 40 “I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with male goats.
41 “Oh, how Sheshach is taken! Oh, how the praise of the whole earth is seized! How Babylon has become desolate among the nations! 42 The sea has come up over Babylon; She is covered with the multitude of its waves. 43 Her cities are a desolation, a dry land and a wilderness, a land where no one dwells, through which no son of man passes. 44 I will punish Bel in Babylon, And I will bring out of his mouth what he has swallowed; And the nations shall not stream to him anymore. Yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall.
45 “My people, go out of the midst of her! And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the LORD. 46 And lest your heart faint, and you fear for the rumor that will be heard in the land (a rumor will come one year, and after that, in another year a rumor will come, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler), 47 therefore behold, the days are coming that I will bring judgment on the carved images of Babylon; Her whole land shall be ashamed, and all her slain shall fall in her midst. 48 Then the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall sing joyously over Babylon; For the plunderers shall come to her from the north,” says the LORD.
49 As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, so at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall. 50 You who have escaped the sword, get away! Do not stand still! Remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.
51 We are ashamed because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the LORD’s house.
52 “Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will bring judgment on her carved images, and throughout all her land the wounded shall groan. 53 Though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength, yet from Me plunderers would come to her,” says the LORD.
54 The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans, 55 because the LORD is plundering Babylon and silencing her loud voice, though her waves roar like great waters, and the noise of their voice is uttered, 56 Because the plunderer comes against her, against Babylon, and her mighty men are taken. Every one of their bows is broken; For the LORD is the God of recompense, He will surely repay. 57 “And I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her governors, her deputies, and her mighty men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake,” says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.
58 Thus says the LORD of hosts:
“The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; The people will labor in vain, and the nations, because of the fire; And they shall be weary.”
59 The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And Seraiah was the quartermaster. 60 So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. 61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, 62 then you shall say, ‘O LORD, You have spoken against this place to cut it off, so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but it shall be desolate forever.’ 63 Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. 64 Then you shall say, ‘Thus Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her. And they shall be weary.'”
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 2 He also did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 3 For because of the anger of the LORD this happened in Jerusalem and Judah, till He finally cast them out from His presence.
Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
4 Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. 5 So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
6 By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. 7 Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king’s garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around. And they went by way of the plain. 8 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him.
9 So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him. 10 Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. 11 He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.
12 Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. 13 He burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. 14 And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. 15 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poor people, the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers.
17 The bronze pillars that were in the house of the LORD, and the carts and the bronze Sea that were in the house of the LORD, the Chaldeans broke in pieces, and carried all their bronze to Babylon. 18 They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the bowls, the spoons, and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. 19 The basins, the firepans, the bowls, the pots, the lampstands, the spoons, and the cups, whatever was solid gold and whatever was solid silver, the captain of the guard took away.
20 The two pillars, one Sea, the twelve bronze bulls which were under it, and the carts, which King Solomon had made for the house of the LORD—the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. 21 Now concerning the pillars: the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, a measuring line of twelve cubits could measure its circumference, and its thickness was four fingers; it was hollow. 22 A capital of bronze was on it; and the height of one capital was five cubits, with a network and pomegranates all around the capital, all of bronze. The second pillar, with pomegranates was the same. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates, all around on the network, were one hundred.
24 The captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. 25 He also took out of the city an officer who had charge of the men of war, seven men of the king’s close associates who were found in the city, the principal scribe of the army who mustered the people of the land, and sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the midst of the city. 26 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took these and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah.
27 Then the king of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath.
Thus Judah was carried away captive from its own land. 28 These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive:
in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews;
29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar
he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred and thirty-two persons;
30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar,
Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred and forty-five persons.
All the persons were four thousand six hundred.
31 Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. 34 And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king of Babylon, a portion for each day until the day of his death, all the days of his life.
The destruction of Babylon was prophesied by Jeremiah, even at the height of her power. She had persecuted the Church of God, not acknowledging her role in God’s plan to discipline His people, but seeking to exalt herself above God. So God prophesied her destruction, even as He called His people to come out of her captivity and return to the Promised Land.
The Apostle Peter applies the term Babylon to the city of Rome, which, at that time, was beginning to persecute the Christians who were living under her authority. The Apostle John applies it to the false church, the home of the Antichrist (which is still Rome!), as John predicts her demise, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication” (Rev. 14:8). And just as God called Israel to come out of Babylon, so Jesus calls His New Testament Israel, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4).
“Come out of her” is still God’s call to His people in these last days as He prepares to bring destruction on the false church and final salvation to His penitent people. So as Christians recognize error and false teaching anywhere within the visible Christian Church, they are to “Come out of her!” or, in the words of St. Paul, “Note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).
Defend Thy truth, O God, and stay
This evil generation;
And from the error of its way
Keep Thine own congregation.
The wicked everywhere abound
And would Thy little flock confound;
But Thou art our Salvation. (TLH, 260, st. 6)
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.