John T. Willis

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Yahweh will overthrow Babylon and Restore his Faithful People--Part I--Jeremiah 50

The final set or oracles concerning foreign nations, which began in Jeremiah 46-51, consists of Jeremiah 50-51, which contain oracles concerning Babylon. The oracles concerning foreign nations begin with Egypt and conclude with Babylon, following the same pattern as Jeremiah 25:15-29. Jeremiah 50 and 51 are very long, so we will discuss these two chapters in two parts.

The primary theme of Jeremiah 50 is that Yahweh will soon overthrow Babylon, the very nation that Yahweh used to punish his sinful people at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile--see Jeremiah 39, which occurred in 587 BCE. Yahweh declares that he will overthrow Babylon and bring his faithful people back from Babylon to rebuild the Jerusalem temple and restore the city wall. Historically, this happened in 539 BCE, when Cyrus king of Persia overthrew Babylon and soon commissioned the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. See Ezra 1-6; Haggai 1-2; Zechariah 1-8.

As we briefly work through Jeremiah 50, note the familiar metaphors Jeremiah uses to describe the destruction of Babylon.

I. Yahweh declares that Babylon and her gods will fall, and God's people will come out of captivity to return to Jerusalem. Jeremiah 50:1-7.
a. 50:1 explicitly states that this oracle pertains to Babylon spoken by the prophet Jeremiah. 50:1.
b. Yahweh declares that Babylon "is taken" [by the Medo-Persians under Cyrus the Great], and her gods Bel and Merodach [Marduk] are put to shame. 50:2.
c. "A nation from the north" will come against Babylon. That nation is Medo-Persia. 50:3.
d. In those days, North Israel and South Judah will come together and return to Zion to join themselves to Yahweh "by an everlasting covenant." See Jeremiah
31:31-34. 50:4-5.
e. In Babylonian exile, Yahweh's people had been "lost sheep," and their "shepherds" [false leaders under Jehoiakim and Zedekiah and their associates] had led them astray. 50:6-7.

II. Yahweh declares he is about to overthrow Babylon. Jeremiah 50:8-16.
a. Yahweh cries out: "Flee from Babylon," because a company of great nations will come against Babylon from the land of the north, which is Medo-Persia. 50:8-12.
b. Yahweh will bring his wrath upon Babylon by his destroying sword because she has sinned against Yahweh. 50:13-16.

III. Yahweh will overthrow Babylon and bring back his faithful people because Assyria and Babylon have oppressed Yahweh's people. Jeremiah 50:17-28.
a. Jeremiah uses this metaphor: "Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions." First, the king of Assyria devoured this sheep, and now the king of Babylon, Nebuchadrezzar II, devoured this sheep. So Yahweh will punish Babylon as he had punished Assyria. 50:17-18.
b. Then Yahweh declares through Jeremiah that Yahweh will restore Israel to the land of Canaan and pardon the sins of his people. 50:19-20.
c. Yahweh declares he will overthrow Babylon because of his wrath since she oppressed Yahweh's people. 50:21-28.

IV. Yahweh declares he will punish Babylon because of her arrogance. Jeremiah
a. Yahweh proclaims he will punish Babylon because "she has arrogantly defied Yahweh." 50:29-32.
b. Babylon had oppressed Israel and Judah, but now Yahweh of hosts is the great Redeemer who will deliver his people. 50:33-34.
c. Repeatedly, Yahweh declares that he will send a SWORD against Babylon: her officials, sages, diviners, warriors, horses, chariots, and foreign troops. 50:35-38
d. Yahweh will overthrow Babylon like he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and their neighbors. 50:39-40.

V. Yahweh will bring a nation from the north to overthrow Babylon. Jeremiah 50:41-46
a. 50:41 again declares the enemy against Babylon will come from the north, thus Medo-Persia. 50:41-42.
b. Before Medo-Persia, Babylon will be in pain "like that of a woman in labor," a term which recurs often throughout the Book of Jeremiah. See 4:31; 6:24; 13:21;
22:23; 30:6; 48:41. 50:43.
c. Yahweh's "plan" and "purpose" is to punish Babylon because she oppressed Yahweh's people. 50:44-46.

Our God is a just God. When a person or a nation oppresses others, Yahweh's wrath will move against them and punish them for their sins. This is not pleasant, but important and necessary.

Share YOUR thoughts and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, August 15, 2011

Simple Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

In 1985, Robert Lyle adapted a simple prayer from the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. God's people need to dwell on this prayer often. Here it is:

It is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Make me an instrument of Your peace.
I want to know what it's like to follow YOU.
When people look at me, I want them to see, the light of the world inside.

Self-denial is central to Godly Living. Humility is the first letter in the alphabet of Christianity. Have God help us be humble, self-denial people.

Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis