Jeremiah Chapter 50: Fall of Babylon, literal and MysticOct 30th, 2009 | By admin | Category: Jeremiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)
Jeremiah Chapter 50: Fall of Babylon, literal and Mystic
Jer. 50:1 The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet.
The “word that the LORD spake” came to Jeremiah during the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah. Jeremiah was to declare this word “against Babylon [the capital, the chief city] and against the land of the Chaldeans [and its inhabitants].” Babylon was a city, a province, and an empire, and this judgment message was against the capital and the country of Babylon excluding its satellite or auxiliary powers. In other words, the message was against the chief culprits: the city of Babylon, from which the governmental control emanated, and the land of the Chaldeans, who were known as a strong, harsh people (Hab. 1:6).
Jer. 50:2 Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces.
At the time Jeremiah gave this message, Babylon was still an empire, but Jehovah was saying through the prophet that the judgment on Babylon was irrevocable. The judgment could not be changed, and it was just a matter of time until it was executed. For instance, after hearing all of the testimony in a trial and the verdict of the jury, the judge gives the sentence and sets the date for any execution. Here God was giving the sentence, and nothing could change it, even though the execution was still some years future. Thinking of these ramifications helps us to remember the details of Scripture.
Notice that this message was to be published, and the instructions could not be more emphatically stated: “Declare … publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not.” The Prophet Jeremiah was so concerned for this warning message to get out that he felt a personal responsibility, and God gave him the words to speak. Being emotional and indignant over wrongs, Jeremiah was chosen as a prophet in the first place because he was wholly in sympathy with the message. Hence God used him as a mouthpiece.
Bel and Merodach were chief gods of Babylon, representing Catholicism and Protestantism, respectively. Babylon was sometimes addressed as a male and at other times as a female, and the choice of pronoun was significant. “Her [Babylon’s] idols are [to be] confounded, her images … broken in pieces.” With the feminine pronoun, the focus or emphasis is on Babylon ecclesiastical. The Book of Revelation similarly uses a feminine designation in referring to the Roman Catholic Church as the “mother of harlots,” the harlot daughters being Protestantism (Rev. 17:5). In regard to the end-time experience, the “mother” is Babylon ecclesiastical Catholic, and the “daughters” are sometimes lumped together as Babylon ecclesiastical Protestant.
At one time, Babylon was a golden cup in the hand of the Lord, but that is no longer the case.
In the denunciation of mystic Babylon, attention is first centered on the religious aspect, symbolically or spiritually speaking. Jeremiah 50 and 51 have two prophetic fulfillments. (1)The natural fulfillment, which was future from the time of Jeremiah’s writing, was fulfilled in 536 BC, when Media-Persia overthrew literal Babylon. (2) The antitypical fulfillment has two aspects: spiritual (ecclesiastical) and civil.
Jer. 50:3 For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.
Babylon is the present-day Iraq. “Out of the north” would come the judgment on Babylon.
Russia and Turkey (Asia Minor) are north of Babylon (Iraq). Therefore, out of the north would come a power to destroy Babylon.
Q: Since Media-Persia was east of Babylon, does this description of the enemy’s coming “out of the north” apply only to the future destruction of mystic Babylon?
A: That may ostensibly seem to be the case, but at the time of Jeremiah’s preaching, General Cyrus was conquering supposedly unconquerable places in Asia Minor (such as Sardis) in the north. In the Book of Isaiah, God prophesied of Cyrus as His agent. (In the spiritual application, Cyrus represents Jesus.) “That saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid. Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron: And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel” (Isa. 44:28–45:3).
After conquering Sardis and other places to the north, Cyrus, a relatively young man and a very successful general, marched down (or south) to Babylon. (Incidentally, the empire of Media-Persia was formed through the marriage of the son of Media and the daughter of Persia.) Cyrus was more or less the right-hand man of Darius the Mede, the king.
“Out of the north there cometh up a nation [a people, an army] against her [Babylon as a woman], which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.” Imagine being in Jeremiah’s shoes and prophesying utter defeat to the strongest nation or empire! Although Jeremiah did not personally go to Babylon and publish this message in the streets of the capital city, he sent a representative from Judah named Seraiah, who was a very meek and peaceful man. Jeremiah gave Seraiah a scroll containing this strong judgment message and told him to go to Babylon and read it publicly.
To prophesy that the land of Babylon would be made “desolate” meant it would be without inhabitant. Imagine giving that message to powerful Babylon with its strong, high walls! At the time of the fulfillment more than 70 years later, the king and his cohorts were so confident and felt so impregnable that they were having a feast while under siege. The diverting of the river Euphrates by Cyrus and his army radically affected the city of Babylon, and Babylon (that part of Iraq) is still in ruins today, even though Saddam Hussein, an admirer of Nebuchadnezzar, wanted to rebuild the city as a tourist attraction.
When Seraiah uttered this prophecy in the fourth year of Zedekiah, some of the Jews who were captive in Babylon heard it. More than 70 years later, when the fulfillment was imminent, the Jews with faith remembered that Jeremiah had accurately predicted the destruction of Jerusalem. Therefore, upon recalling this new message, they got out of the city of Babylon in advance—not necessarily immediately but when they heard a large army was approaching Babylon from the north, threatening the world’s leading power. Daniel interpreted the handwriting on the wall the very night that Cyrus and his army entered Babylon and the city fell (Dan. 5:25-28,30).
During his First Advent, Jesus used a similar method of warning his disciples to leave Jerusalem before the trouble of AD 69-70. He said, “When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed [surrounded] with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out…. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled” (Luke 21:20-22). Some of the disciples delayed and thus did not have time to get out when the city was put under siege by the Roman army. But then the emperor in Rome died, and General Vespasian, who was in charge of the siege, left the Jerusalem area and returned to Rome because he was a leading contender to become emperor. Vespasian left his son Titus in charge. In the resulting confusion of the change of leadership, the siege was relaxed for a week or so, and those who believed Jesus’ words left everything and got out of Jerusalem as fast as possible. When Titus reestablished control, he renewed the siege with strength. Down through history, the Lord has repeatedly used this principle of operation, informing His people in advance. Those Jews who had faith got out of the city and, generally speaking, escaped the catastrophe.
When the Medes were victorious, Babylon received just retribution for what Nebuchadnezzar had done years earlier to Egypt. He left Egypt desolate and without inhabitant. (Information on this period of history is furnished in the Bible, not in history books.) Israel and Judah were also besieged by Nebuchadnezzar and made desolate. Jeremiah chapters 46-49 tell of the defeat and destruction that he caused to Moab, Ammon, Edom, Elam, and other peoples. The very one who had inflicted such treatment on others would now receive the same experience, with his land being left desolate.
Another principle was illustrated with John the Baptist. His good news was that Israel’s Messiah was coming, but he also said that a fire of trouble would come upon the nation. An evil person would not want to hear that Messiah was coming, for the implication was judgment. However, one who had been longing for God’s will to be done would rejoice. Being frightened, the soldiers and the people asked, “What shall we do?” Then John the Baptist gave advice. The Prophet Malachi, in the last book of the Old Testament, had said, “Behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch” (Mal. 4:1). John the Baptist advised the people to square their debts and not provoke enemies, and he told the soldiers to be satisfied with their wages (Luke 3:10-14). He suggested meekness and docility just like Zephaniah: “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph. 2:3). This advice applied back there as well as in the future. Those not thoroughly consecrated who obey these principles are in a better position to survive the trouble, for the trouble will fall chiefly on the heads of the wicked. The Apostle James wrote that retribution, a swinging of the pendulum, will come and cause suffering on many who now are wealthy with earth’s goods (James 5:1-5).
Comment: The judgment pronounced against Babylon here in the end of the Book of Jeremiah is a reminder of a statement made to the prophet in the first chapter: “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jer. 1:9,10).
Reply: Yes, the words of the Lord had that effect when they came from the mouth, or instrumentality, of Jeremiah.
In the destruction of Babylon, in both type and antitype, all inhabitants were (and are to be) removed, “both man and beast.” Literal Babylon was not to be restored (at least not until the Kingdom). The complete destruction in the type pictures the utter destruction of the beast and the false prophet in the antitype—there will be no restoration. Thus far the verses covered provide just an introduction to Jeremiah 50. Now we will come to more personalized experiences.
Jer. 50:4 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God.
Jer. 50:5 They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.
When the judgment mentioned in the first three verses actually occurred, the Jews who were in the precincts of the city of Babylon and its suburbs had a double uprooting. Of course those Jews who lived outside the metropolis of Babylon did not have to move at the time the Medes were attacking. The “weeping” was of two kinds: (1) While still in Israel years earlier, the Jews were told to go to Babylon and build houses and have children because they would be there for a while. The desolation of the land was to last for 70 years. (2) Now, at the end of the 70 years, a new generation was on the scene and settled in their homes in Babylon. The question
was, What would they do? In verse 6, Jeremiah gave the reason for their dislocation in returning to Israel as being their parents’ fault. Aside from a few centenarians, the Jews who returned at the end of the 70 years were the children of those who had been taken captive. From the literal standpoint, two years after Babylon fell, Cyrus said that the Jews could return to their homeland and establish a modest temple (he specified half the dimensions of Solomon’s Temple). Each of the Jews then had to decide whether or not to return to Israel. Realizing that Babylon’s power had been broken, the Jews had to ask, “Should we return to Israel, or should we settle under the empire of Media-Persia?” Most of those who went back were from Judah, but some from the ten tribes returned as well. However, the vast majority of both the ten tribes and the two tribes remained in Media-Persia. Those who did return to Israel went back weeping and desiring to seek the Lord.
Comment: We know a few Jews returned to the homeland in their old age because they mourned when they saw Zerubbabel’s Temple, knowing its glory was so inferior to that of the former Temple of Solomon (Hag. 2:3). As children, these Jews had seen Solomon’s Temple and then returned as old men.
The “going and weeping” occurred for several reasons: (1) The Jews had moral compunctions that as a nation, they were guilty in being taken captive to Babylon in the first place. (2) They wept from the standpoint of having to leave their possessions in Babylon, taking only what they could carry on their backs or on a donkey. (3) Those Jews who took heathen (non-Jewish) wives had to separate and leave them behind. Thus the weeping and mourning were very humbling. Those who obeyed by journeying back to a homeland they had heard about but had never seen and by separating themselves from foreign wives comprised a remnant from among the captives that was relatively holy. Only approximately 50,000 Jews returned to Israel.
The returning Jews “shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward.” Did the Jews who were raised in captivity know anything about geography? No, they had to ask directions. They only knew they had to get back to Israel. Cyrus not only gave permission to return but also helped the Jews with money and goods. He even offered to have soldiers accompany them for protection, but Ezra declined, saying the Lord God was their protection. The Jews who returned to Israel were blessed. The instruction was stern, but it was for their own good. God raised up two prophets who encouraged them, and the people began to prosper.
Comment: Daniel prayed three times a day with his face toward Jerusalem. His actions show that the faith element tried to keep their eyes toward Israel and Jerusalem.
Reply: Their roots were the God of Israel. The prayer life of Daniel illustrates the value of daily prayer and meditation and searching the Scriptures, as it were.
What happened naturally has a spiritual counterpart, and the spiritual counterpart helps us to see the natural. For instance, the call to come out of Babylon and to return to Israel was natural, as was the destruction of Babylon. When we go to the antitype, the call for God’s people to come out of mystic Babylon is a call to come out to the Lord. Let us consider those who are married. A husband who hears the truth and the call to come out of Babylon may have a Catholic wife, or vice versa. What will the called individual do in such a situation? The Apostle Paul gave advice on that principle. For instance, if an unconsecrated husband is content to let his consecrated wife worship as she will, even though she is not in the orthodox religion, and is willing to keep the marriage intact, the wife should not seek to be loosed (1 Cor. 7:12-14).
However, the consecrated one has to preserve his or her freedom. If separation becomes necessary, that situation is permissible depending on whether or not the spouse was agreeable.
And of course there are individuals, both male and female, who were not married at the time they consecrated.
The call to come out of Babylon is an individual call. For the truth’s sake, one may have to leave his father, mother, sister, brother, friend, or anyone else who stays behind and obey as an individual. Christians get rooted in spiritual Babylon; they are comfortable there with their social friendships that are enjoyable, good, and wholesome for the most part. For one to come out of Babylon means to leave friendships and thus to suffer a loss. Taking a stand and leaving mystic Babylon is very searching. The call is to come out so “that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Rev. 18:4). To spiritually come out of Babylon is to move from one condition to another. Sometimes very tender ties have to be broken. Then comes the Christian walk, the journeying to “Jerusalem which is above” (Gal. 4:26).
“Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten.” The Jews had misgivings, and they knew their judgment experience in Babylon had come upon them as a nation because they had forsaken God.
This was now 70 years later. The returning Jews asked for directions for the route back to Israel (Zion). Ezra was a strong, outstanding leader who got the Hebrews to cut off wrong practices (to put away foreign wives, for example); moreover, he got them to renew their covenant and consecration to the Lord. In the antitype, when mystic Babylon falls, the Great Company class must renew their consecration in order to get life. Their roots will be gone, and a decision will await them. If rightly exercised, they will realize they have been remiss with the Lord and will renew their covenant. In this setting, Israel pictures Catholicism and Judah represents Protestantism. The majority of those who are consecrated (and thus those who will be the Great Company) will come from Protestantism at that time. The tares will cease their profession as Babylon falls, and this consecrated class will be left.
Jer. 50:6 My people hath 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 restingplace.
The Israelites had “turned away … on the mountains.” Groves with heathen idols were on the mountains. In the days of Solomon, the northern boundary of Israel was the river Euphrates, and what is now the Lebanon area was especially noted for heathen worship.
Comment: These verses are not in sequence. The time setting of verse 5 is the Israelites’ return to the homeland after Babylonian captivity, and verse 6 goes back to conditions in Israel prior to Babylonian captivity.
Reply: Yes, it is important to have the time setting in mind. Verse 6 is discussing Israel’s previous history and saying that the reason the nation was taken to Babylon in the first place was because of their leaders. In the Gospel Age, the Lord warns, “Be not many masters [teachers—RSV], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1). The reward for faithfulness may be better, but the judgment is more severe.
“They have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.” A mountain, an elevated position, is compared to a hill, a small mountain. From a natural standpoint, the cedars of Lebanon were renowned. In that country were two different mountain ranges, luxurious with big trees at the lower levels, called Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon. The hills in Judah were not as high, but there were groves, nevertheless. In the Jerusalem area, the site of groves was the Mount of Evil Counsel, which was the southern end of the Mount of Olives.
The point is that the Israelites looked for higher places for their groves. Their forgotten “restingplace” was Jehovah.
From the antitypical or spiritual standpoint, “mountains” are individual religious systems or denominations. The people (professing Christians) forget their “restingplace” (the Lord) and instead trust in their denominations. The Great Company will have to refocus their attention on God. In the type with literal Israel back in Jeremiah’s day, the people forgot their homeland.
The “shepherds,” the leaders, were primarily responsible for the Lord’s flock going astray. The people gradually lost their chief love and lowered their standard, going “from mountain to hill.” The spiritual counterpart is obvious. In this fiftieth chapter of Jeremiah, we will be going back and forth between the natural and the spiritual fulfillments.
Jer. 50:7 All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers.
Enemies devoured the Israelites, saying sarcastically, “We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD.” How ironic that the heathen people should blame Israel for sinning against God! The Israelites needed to have their noses rubbed in the dirt, as it were. It was good for the Israelites to be reminded by their enemies that they were suffering because of previous disobedience to their God. A similar excuse was used in the persecution of the Jews; that is, their enemies in the so-called Christian nations blamed them for crucifying Christ and thus justified the persecution during the Diaspora. The Jews were labeled as “Christ killers.”
Many have testified that if they did something in the workplace that was discordant with their profession as a Christian, others remarked, “And you call yourself a Christian?” We are observed by others. For example, we say grace or may read the Bible at lunchtime or witness to a coworker. Truly we are a spectacle to men as well as to angels (1 Cor. 4:9).
Comment: Many Christians have thought there is no hope for the Jews because they crucified Christ.
Reply: Yes, that has been the case for many centuries. However, with the circulation of Bibles increasing by the millions since the French Revolution, most Catholics and Protestants have Bibles and a smattering of information that was not available previously. As a result, they are generally more forgiving toward the Jewish people. Even the pope tried to ask for forgiveness for Catholic persecution of the Jews. The increase of knowledge, coupled with the trickle-down effect of the gospel, has changed some thinking.
After the Little Flock is complete, trouble will come on the remaining consecrated of the Gospel Age because they were not faithful enough. The Great Company will have to die eventually.
The scapegoat picture shows that they will be searched out by the Adversary.
Jer. 50:8 Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks.
“Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans” is something like “Come out of her, my people.”
“Be as the he goats before the flocks” is a reference to leaders. At the slaughterhouses in Chicago, the cattle have to go up ramps and into bins that keep narrowing and narrowing. An animal is selected to be a leader. It is not slaughtered but is trained to lead the other animals to slaughter. When the animals smell blood, they become frightened, and in this fearful condition, they resist going into a claustrophobic-type area. However, the animal with leadership qualities leads the other animals to the area of slaughter. At the last minute, the leading animal goes off the chute into a bypass, which is then closed. The animals keep moving forward, being pushed from behind and having no place else to go. That leadership exists with goats, sheep, and cattle.
And so Jeremiah was saying, “If you flee out of Babylon with your family, you can help others by setting an example. If your neighbor sees you pull up stakes and go like a he goat, it is likely that he will follow your lead.” Normally, a goat is considered from the unfavorable standpoint of obstinacy, but in this case, its movement in a leadership role is favorable. The he goats go “before the flocks” in a good sense.
Comment: We think of the Lord’s goat in a favorable sense. A spiritual application in an earlier study of the Book of Jeremiah was as follows: “Verse 8 is advice, a warning, that is inserted. There are two exits from mystic Babylon: a voluntary departure and a forced departure. Those who leave in advance—those who come out of Babylon before it falls—can be of the Little Flock (the “he goat” class). The rest of the consecrated, who are called the “flocks,” will have the spirit of Babylon whether they are in present truth or whether they are still literally in the denominations. In other words, the end of verse 8 is saying, “Be as the he goats [the Little Flock] before the flocks [the remainder of the consecrated, the Great Company].”
Reply: Yes, there is a spiritual counterpart. Those who set the example from God’s standpoint, not man’s standpoint, can be misconstrued. Today a Christian is considered to be one who is very careful, gentle, and polite. It is true that goodness, kindness, and tenderness should be one aspect of the Christian, but these qualities are not what identify a Christian. To think otherwise is to put the cart before the horse. Consider Jesus’ words to the scribes and the Pharisees: “Ye generation of vipers! Ye whited sepulchers!” He talked tough to the classes that needed it. The human concept sees only the soft and gentle side, but there is a time to be silent and a time to speak—a time to express righteous indignation (Eccl. 3:7).
Jer. 50:9 For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her [Babylon]; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.
Verse 9 continues the thought in verse 3 about a people coming out of the north against Babylon. People from Mount Ararat and other indigenous areas to the north were confederate with the Medes and the Persians.
“Their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.” In other words, Cyrus obtained victories because the Lord blessed him. Prophecies about Cyrus were recorded in the Book of Isaiah years before he was born, yet God spoke to him as if he already existed, asking, “Why do you think you have been so successful in doing the impossible—in conquering Sardis, for instance? It is because I went and opened the gates of the enemy for you to go in” (Isa. 45:1,2 paraphrase). When Cyrus came on the scene years later, no doubt Daniel brought this information to his attention, pointing out what the God of Israel had told Isaiah about Cyrus 200 years earlier. (Incidentally, Daniel lived a long, long time—at least to the second year of Cyrus.) No wonder Cyrus encouraged the Jews to go back to their homeland and sent temporal goods with them. Although Cyrus also allowed other nations to return to their homelands, he would not have shown the same enthusiasm. With them, his attitude would have been good riddance.
The Bible contains other prophecies of personages who would appear on the scene many years later. About 300 years before King Josiah was born, it was prophesied that a man named Josiah would defile and burn down the rival altar at Bethel in the northern kingdom and that he would kill the idolatrous priests and put their bodies on the altar and dig up graves to take the bones of the dead and heap them on the altar (1 Kings 13:1-3 is the prophecy; 2 Kings 23:15-18 is the fulfillment). The account shows that Josiah personally accompanied his men and supervised the burning of the altar at Bethel and the high places. He was intent on removing idolatry from the whole nation of Israel.
When Josiah saw a particular sepulcher at Bethel, he asked, “Whose grave is this?” It was the sepulcher of a man of God from Judah who had prophesied to Jeroboam years earlier, according to God’s instruction, of the later destruction of the altar. Upon hearing the prophecy, Jeroboam had put forth his hand against the man of God. Immediately Jeroboam’s arm froze. Then he entreated the man of God to pray that the arm would be healed. When Jeroboam’s arm returned to normal, he let the man of God return in peace. However, the man of God subsequently disobeyed. He had been told to deliver the harsh message to Jeroboam and then return home directly, not letting anyone deter him for any reason. But when an old prophet of the Lord not far away intercepted him with the message that an angel had said the man of God should eat with him, the man of God did so. As a result of disobedience, the man of God died and was buried there. The prophet of the Lord told his own family that when he died, his body should be put in the same grave with the man of God, for he felt that grave would be left alone (see 1 Kings 13:4-32). And that is what happened when Josiah came—he emptied all of the other graves but left the grave of the man of God alone.
Although Alexander’s name is not mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures, he had an experience similar to that of Cyrus. When Alexander the Great reached Jerusalem with his armies, the high priest, Jaddus, opened the city gates; came out in all of his regalia; and called attention to Daniel’s prophecy about the “king of Grecia.” As a result, Alexander did not destroy Jerusalem but entered peaceably and then left to go down to Egypt (Dan. 8:20,21).
One third of Scripture is history, and we cannot discard it. Another third of Scripture is moral doctrine—what is right and what is not right, and what our responsibilities are. The last third of Scripture is prophecy, which is future history.
Back to verse 9 of the Jeremiah account. “Their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain.” In other words, God would prosper the destruction of Babylon by the enemy. In the natural application, Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Persian came from the north about 538 BC to destroy Babylon along with confederate nations. While diverting the waters of the Euphrates River, this foe ostensibly used arrows to fight against Babylon.
From the spiritual standpoint, the Lord will make use of the antireligious element to pull down spiritual Babylon. An element foreign to mystic Babylon will come in and destroy it. God will prosper the anarchy and the trouble to accomplish His purpose. In fact, that time period is called “the day of the LORD’S wrath” (Zeph. 1:18). Just as the Lord directed the sling stone of David to go through the chink in Goliath’s armor and sink into his forehead, so God will use an unconsecrated element and give them providential assistance in pulling down mighty mystic Babylon from its throne.
Jer. 50:10 And Chaldea shall be a spoil: all that spoil her shall be satisfied, saith the LORD.
Chaldea was in Babylon, and the Chaldeans were the more radical element. In the antitype, foes from the north at the end of the age will be the radical element. Cyrus is a symbol of Christ, and “north” indicates divine judgment.
Jeremiah prophesied that in defeating the Chaldeans, the conquerors would be satisfied with the spoil and with destroying the enemy whom they hated. The wrath of the Medes would be appeased. The booty of natural Babylon was great, and the multitude of merchandise, gold, and wealth would become the property of the enemy. The same will be true of mystic Babylon.
Jer. 50:11 Because ye were glad, because ye rejoiced, O ye destroyers of mine heritage, because ye are grown fat as the heifer at grass, and bellow as bulls;
Jeremiah was speaking of the Babylonians, who got rich on “mine [God’s] heritage,” that is, on Israel from both a natural and a spiritual standpoint. Mystic Babylon has gotten fat and rich on the goods of this world.
A calf is the young and tender stage; a heifer, which is a cow that has not produced a calf, is like the intermediate (teenage) stage; and a bull is a mature male animal. Calves grow quickly into heifers, which develop to about the size of a mature animal, but heifers are not fully mature.
They eat and eat grass and get fatter and fatter.
The heifers “bellow as bulls.” A bull is penned separately from the heifers, and it is used for breeding purposes. Despite the great size and power of a bull, it can be easily led by a nose ring. The bellow of a bull, a huge and mature animal, is loud and powerful.
Jer. 50:12 Your mother shall be sore confounded; she that bare you shall be ashamed: behold, the hindermost of the nations shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.
The Revised Standard Version reads, “Your mother shall be utterly shamed, and she who bore you shall be disgraced. Lo, she shall be the last of the nations, a wilderness dry and desert.” Literal Babylon was the “mother” back in Jeremiah’s day, and the Roman Catholic Church is the “mother” of mystic Babylon.
The nominal Church, Roman Catholicism, has been Satan’s instrument during the Gospel Age.
As stated earlier, the pronouns referring to Babylon go back and forth between female and male. Here Babylon is likened to a mother. When mystic Babylon is disgraced in the future, many will desert her to try to avoid the dishonor, persecutions, and problems.
“The hindermost of the nations” means that Babylon, who was the foremost of the nations, will become the hindermost. The spiritual fulfillment is still future. Many people admire the pope as the greatest man alive today. He is considered an example of influence and leadership along international lines, but the question is, What kind of influence and leadership? Of course the pope and Papacy are the male standpoint, but from the religious or female standpoint, the Roman Catholic Church is considered the mother church. The ecumenical movement continues, and the mother church wants to join with the Protestants—oh, yes—but wants recognition as the leader. The Roman Catholic Church wants to welcome back the Protestants with open arms, and the Church of England is amenable to that approach, wanting to go back to “mom,” as it were. A strange psychology exists.
Comment: Jezebel’s own eunuchs threw her out the window. This type shows that some of Catholicism’s own people will see the light and help with the destruction.
Reply: Up until relatively recent times, some dreadful evils occurred in the nunneries and monasteries. Today we are not hearing such reports and testimonies. Vows are taken before God to support the institution, but afterwards some who have a tender conscience ask, “What have I gotten into?” Also, it takes time for an individual to grow and become aware of what is happening. Similarly, it takes time for a Christian to grow before he realizes the error that is around him. Consider the circumstance of a nun. If her conscience is awakened in later years, it is hard for her to leave because she has no profession, is unmarried, has shaved her head, etc.
However, in the near future, when it is openly seen that the evil conditions and violations of principle are not the error of individual priests but that the very institution itself is the Antichrist, then the conscientious element that has taken vows to support the church will be shocked into action and will participate in the destruction of the false system. The point is that some inside the church, as well as some on the outside, will be instrumental in tearing down the system.
Martin Luther had difficult experiences as a monk and had to reason on whether he could break his vows to the Catholic Church. Fortunately, he took a correct stand.
Comment: Just as the Apostle Paul turned his zeal and energy in an opposite direction once his eyes were opened, so it will be with the eunuch class.
Reply: Yes, and that is where the Jehu picture is very informative (2 Kings 9:1–10:28). That type is probably the most detailed in Scripture about the fall of mystic Babylon. When Jehu on the outside calls to the eunuchs on the inside to throw Jezebel out the window, the eunuchs will respond to the opportunity and cooperate with the destruction. Only her skull, palms, and feet will remain. In another picture, just “the smoke her burning” will be perpetuated (Rev. 18:9,18; 19:3). The Bible is such a wonderful book, and it is pathetic how little understanding there is. Babylon “shall be a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.” Babylon has no future.
Jer. 50:13 Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues.
Jeremiah prophesied that Babylon would become wholly desolate without survivors—a leveled city without inhabitants. Moreover, the city would not be rebuilt. The complete destruction in the antitype is shown by two pictures: (1) the casting alive of the beast and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20) and (2) the smiting of the image (Dan. 2:34,35). Retribution had to come upon literal Babylon. As Babylon had caused other nations to become “wholly desolate” and without inhabitants, so the same experience would befall her. The spiritual counterpart of retribution with mystic Babylon is obvious.
Jer. 50:14 Put yourselves in array against Babylon round about: all ye that bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrows: for she hath sinned against the LORD.
Comment: A discourse on the history of what happened in the captivity of Babylon mentioned that the city was taken from the inside out. We know that Cyrus and his army diverted the river Euphrates and entered the city on the riverbed, going under the iron bars or gates.
Reply: Yes. The besieging of the city from the outside was a diversionary tactic. Presumably Cyrus had the city under siege, but meanwhile he and his army were quietly preparing to divert the river into another channel. When ready, they diverted the river at nighttime. Thus the Babylonians were completely unaware of what was happening. However, even from the outside, while the city was under siege, the arrows were finding their mark, yet the inhabitants of Babylon felt secure behind their high, broad walls, thinking the enemy would never be able to scale them. As already stated, the siege was merely a distraction while the real work of digging a new channel for the river was going on. Bars extended down into the river, and the Babylonians never dreamed that the waters would dry up so that the enemy could just march in under the bars. In the final analysis, the bars meant nothing. The Bible is the best source of information on the fall of Babylon, for very little of the history has been recorded in books.
The continued use of the feminine pronouns “she” and “her” apply to Catholicism. As we proceed, masculine pronouns will be used, which have another connotation. The pronouns indicate that this prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah has a different intent than the prophecies in chapters 46-49 in regard to Edom, Egypt, Elam, Hazor, Damascus, and so forth. Those chapters were not as much of a type, whereas with chapters 50 and 51, the emphasis is on the antitype.
As gruesome and meaningful as the type of Babylon was, the important part is the antitype.
What did Papacy and the Roman Catholic Church do in the Inquisition? They tortured true Christians, burned them at the stake, etc.
Comment: At Belshazzar’s feast, Daniel reminded the king of the humiliating experiences his grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, had had at the hand of the Lord and said, “Thou … O Belshazzar, hast not humbled thine heart, though thou knewest all this” (Dan. 5:22). Similarly, the leaders of the Catholic Church have had the Bible in their hand and have known certain truths but have kept them hidden. The principle is the same; namely, they raised themselves up instead of humbling themselves.
Comment: In regard to the clause “She hath sinned against the LORD,” God used King Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah, but Babylon overextended itself with cruelty.
Reply: The divine judgment upon Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple were necessary, but King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed from another standpoint and manifested great cruelty. The situation became a very complex mix of not tampering with the free moral agency of the king, who acted with a vicious purpose. For instance, the Babylonian army killed babies by holding their heels and bashing their heads against stone walls. Of course God did not justify such barbaric behavior, but He allowed Nebuchadnezzar to come down and prosper because it was necessary for Jerusalem to be leveled and vacated. Nevertheless, retribution on Judah did not justify the cruelty.
Jer. 50:15 Shout against her round about: she hath given her hand: her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down: for it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.
Those who had been victimized by Babylon were told to “shout against her round about.” Babylon was like a prison house of the captives taken from the nations that were made desolate. The captives had been warned by Jeremiah to get out of the capital city, for it would be destroyed. Those who obeyed shouted as they witnessed the destruction from outside the city.
This verse is a reminder of Joshua and the walls of Jericho, which fell when the people shouted.
The blowing of the trumpets in unison by the priests (picturing the feet members) will sound the keynote for the destruction of mystic Babylon. Although with literal Babylon, it took some time for the walls to come down, the capital became a completely deserted ghost city. In the type, the city was desolate for a long, long time. Of course in the antitype, the desolation will be forever.
“Her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down.” With no mention of an earthquake, the falling of the walls is probably figurative. The point is that the walled city, which was a fortress, a shield, and a foundation to keep out the enemy, became a hollow shell with no one inside. The walls became meaningless.
Q: Weren’t the walls at least 75 feet thick? Therefore, it would have taken time for them to come down.
A: Yes, they were approximately 330 feet high and 80 feet thick. The width was so great that two large chariots could pass each other on the top of the wall.
“For it is the vengeance of the LORD: take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her.” The retribution of Babylon was the vengeance of JEHOVAH. Again notice the pronouns “she” and “her.” Of the Roman Catholic Church, mystic Babylon, Revelation 18:6 says, “Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” What went out of her mouth as boasting will come back as ridicule and scorn.
The Babylonians had a system of irrigation that made the empire very prosperous, but after Babylon was destroyed, the desert took control. Over the centuries, many cities of the empire were covered over.
Jer. 50:16 Cut off the sower from Babylon, and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest: for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.
To understand the antitype more precisely, we must go back to the type. Usually the type is not considered in depth, but here is an example where such understanding helps.
The cutting off of the sower from Babylon and “him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest” refers to the workers, the laborers, who were the captives from other nations. The captives did the work in the fields, the sowing and the harvesting. The Babylonians, that is, the normal indigenous residents of Babylon, were privileged, and the captives did the servile and laborious work. When the captives left the city in obedience to Jeremiah’s message, the leadership and the Babylonians still in the city had a supply of stored food for an emergency.
Similarly, and unbeknownst to most people, our government has not only gasoline and oil reserves but also food packed away in warehouses. Recently, for instance, 12 to 15 boats were on the Hudson River up near West Point just loaded with food, but now the boats are gone. Tons of grain—perhaps a million tons—were part of the cargo for future exigencies that might arise in time of war. Where that food is now the public does not know, but we can be sure it is stored somewhere else.
Babylon felt secure because its citizens had food stored up for an emergency, and the siege of Cyrus and his army was an emergency. Thus the Babylonians felt they could outlast Cyrus in the siege. Earlier Israel withstood a siege for a year and a half, and Babylon could easily withstand a siege of three or four years. Meanwhile, where would the army get its food for such an extended period of time? However, when the city of Babylon was gutted and the food was taken away, the Babylonians inside the city walls had nothing. And the captives on the outside, who were slave labor, were unemployed, so what would they do? The resulting situation made many of the captives want to return to their homeland—whether they were Jews or Moabites or Ammonites or of another nationality. Judah experienced more difficult conditions than the ten tribes of Israel because the latter were scattered in Assyria, Elam, and other areas. Therefore, when the Babylonian Empire fell and Cyrus issued his decree permitting the Jews to return to Israel, the vast majority of the ten tribes had deep roots in foreign lands and did not go back. Those of Judah reacted differently, however. It was as if they were trained to go back. The 50,000 who returned to Israel from Babylon were almost all from Judah, not the northern kingdom.
“For fear of the oppressing sword they [the captives] shall turn every one to his people [to where their roots were originally, that is, to Judah].” If we put ourselves in the place of those who obeyed Jeremiah and left the city of Babylon, we would see the city being destroyed and only a limited supply of food remaining. We would think, “It might be worth returning to the homeland.” And we would fear that the enemy who was destroying Babylon might subsequently turn on us. The situation called for a lot of decision making as to what to do. Jews who were rightly exercised saw the decree of Cyrus as a providence, and they (mostly from Judah) returned to Israel. “They shall flee every one to his own land.”
In the antitype, the call to come out of mystic Babylon began in 1878, early in the Harvest period. Many obeyed and accepted present truth. Millions of Volumes were sold; they were not given away free. In fact, Bro. Russell advised selling the Volumes and not being too generous.
When people pay for something, they are more apt to read it, whereas a gift is easily put away and ignored.
Those who obeyed the call to leave Babylon came out into present truth, a different type of arrangement. In the final analysis, two sets of people leave Babylon: (1) Those who respond to the invitation and obey the call come out on their own initiative. (2) The Great Company, however, will be driven or pulled out at the time of mystic Babylon’s fall. Of that time Matthew 24:20 says, “Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day [that is, pray that your flight is not in the winter time of the antitypical Sabbath Day].”
Back in the type, there were two returns to Israel. When Cyrus issued the decree, Zerubbabel, Joshua (the high priest), Zechariah, and others returned to the homeland. In addition, another list is given of later returnees. The time gap between the two returns was not that great. The whole time period, from the decree of Cyrus allowing the Jews to go back to the homeland through the return with Ezra and then the return under Nehemiah, covered about 82 years. Reading the Bible helps us to see some of these distinctions. In fact, there is no history of this period except that which is in the Bible.
Those who left mystic Babylon in the early part of the Harvest period were richly rewarded. The subtleties of today make separation and attaining the reward of the high calling difficult to attain. We are breathing the tobacco smoke of Christendom, as it were, and it is in our lungs and clothing. To separate now, spiritually speaking, is far more difficult than it was in the time of the Pastor, when many very zealous individuals went out as colporteurs selling Volumes— and they stayed out until all of the Volumes were sold! To go door to door today even for just tracting, we have to obtain permission from the town hall, so we are living in a harder time in some respects than even in the period of persecution. Decision making was very positive during the Dark and Middle Ages. Christians knew that they would be deprived of their homes, that there could be a knock on the door and they would be taken off to a dungeon.
That distinction is no longer true. Today if we say we are a Christian, the reaction of others is, “So what? I am a Christian too.” As a result, the Christians who are left are becoming more and more Great Company and not Little Flock. As John the Baptist said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). At the time of mystic Babylon’s actual fall, the consecrated still in the nominal systems will be pulled out, as shown by the two angels who pulled Lot, his daughters, and his wife out of Sodom at the last minute.
The Jeremiah account we are considering here is just a general picture showing that those who had been used of Babylon for her support were now on the outside viewing her demise. The Jews in that circumstance were beginning to wonder what to do, and their hearts were turned to go back to their own land. In the first return of Jews to the homeland with Zerubbabel, there was the fear of being waylaid and robbed en route. However, Ezra’s courage and complete reliance on the Lord were outstanding. When the king offered to send centurions along to protect the returning Jews, Ezra was embarrassed to accept the help, and thus declined, because he had been bragging about the Lord. In this period of history, both Jeremiah and Ezra stand out.
Jer. 50:17 Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones.
“Israel [Jews from both the northern and the southern kingdoms who were away from the homeland] is a scattered sheep; … Nebuchadrezzar … hath broken his [Israel’s] bones.” The populace and the wealth of the ten tribes were more abundant, but the real backbone or skeletal framework of the nation was Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon. First, “the king of Assyria” (two Assyrian kings at two different times) took away the ten-tribe kingdom, but when the king of Babylon took away Judah, the two-tribe kingdom, the nation was broken
and destroyed, flesh and bones. Most of the Jews were killed; only a pitifully small minority were taken captive.
Jer. 50:18 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.
“The God of Israel” was the God of both the ten-tribe and the two-tribe kingdoms. God said, “I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria.” How did God punish the king of Assyria? He accomplished the punishment through the instrumentality of Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar. At one time, Babylon was more or less a satellite kingdom under Assyrian control, but the satellite became more powerful than the great Assyrian Empire by conquering it. Babylon became the head of gold on the image Daniel saw in a dream (Dan. 2:37,38). In other words, Assyria was a world empire before Babylon, and here in verse 18, God was saying, “As I punished the king of Assyria in the past, so now I will take care of the king of Babylon and his land.” A little more is written in secular history on Assyria than on Babylon.
Jer. 50:19 And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead.
With Carmel being in northern Israel west of Jordan and with Bashan also being in northern Israel but east of Jordan, this verse shows a reuniting of Israel. In the days following the decree of Cyrus, there was a literal going back to the homeland with some restoration along these lines. However, the antitype, which applies to natural Israel, will be more meaningful. In a generalized application, the Great Company will come out of mystic Babylon at the very end of the age, but the going back to Israel in the type changes from a picture of nominal spiritual Christendom to nominal fleshly Israel. And so today we see a regathering back to natural Israel but only on the west side of Jordan. Just above, or north of, Carmel is the border with Lebanon with the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Therefore, this prophecy shows a still future regathering on both sides of the Jordan.
Normally, instead of saying “Bashan,” we say “Gilead.” And today with “mount Ephraim,” we think of the city of Nablus. In the Nablus area are the mount (Gerizim) of blessing and the mount (Ebal) of cursing (Deut. 11:26-29).
Comment: Here is another indication that the land east of Jordan will ultimately belong to Israel.
Jer. 50:20 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, 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 reserve.
The real fulfillment of this verse is still future following Jacob’s Trouble.
Comment: The Revised Standard Version uses the word “remnant” at the end of this verse: “For I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.” In regard to the end time, this term applies to the Holy Remnant of Israel, whose iniquity will be pardoned.
Reply: Yes. The RSV takes a proper liberty in this case. God was saying, “I will pardon them [the Holy Remnant] whom I reserve.” The statement in Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel shall be saved,” sounds as if there will be a mass conversion of the majority, but a number of other Scriptures show that only a small remnant will be brought through Jacob’s Trouble. However, that small remnant will be wholly converted. A time feature is involved, for certainly Israel’s iniquity has not yet been forgiven. When Gog and Magog go down against Israel, the nation will be purged. Only the names of those who are “written in the book” will live through the trouble (Isa. 4:3; Dan. 12:1). The others will decease one way or another—sword, famine, natural death, unnatural death, etc.—so that they are off the scene when the Kingdom is inaugurated.
Comment: The events listed here seem to be sequential.
Reply: Yes, there is a broad sequential picture. First comes the fall of the religious systems of Christendom, which will take a little time. Then comes the fall of civil power, and Jacob’s Trouble will follow. Viewed from above, this period of about three years, or a little longer, will be like a drop in the bucket—sudden, quick, all at once—but there is a time distinction, or time feature, with regard to the closing events of the Gospel Age.
Comment: The following is a related Scripture: “Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. According to the days of thy coming out of the land of Egypt will I show unto him marvellous things” (Micah 7:14,15).
Q: Verse 19 reads as follows in the NIV: “But I will bring Israel back to his own pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan; his appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.” Does this verse refer back to Israel’s being a “scattered sheep” who desire grazing and feeding? Verse 6 says, “My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray.” Is there a general antitypical significance with nominal Christians being scattered sheep who do not have the Lord’s pasture because they are not feeding on His Word? Lions will come in and take them away, but in the Kingdom, they will come out of the grave and hear the Lord’s Word and be satisfied with the good food.
A: The peculiar thing is that Christendom with England, France, and the United States is the empire to the west, as contrasted with the Middle East and the Far East. Physical things happened to natural Israel, Babylon, Assyria, Nineveh, etc., which were all centered in the middle belt, in between the Western civilization and the Asiatic world. When the natural regathering takes place in Messiah’s Kingdom in the future, that which is ecclesiastical to the west and that which is in the middle belt will merge together so that the religious and the natural will all come from Jerusalem. The “word of the LORD” will go out from Jerusalem to all people (Isa. 2:3). The religious center will no longer be to the west but will be centralized in the middle belt. Not only is Jerusalem the center of three continents, but as the capital of the world, it will be the dominating center of the Kingdom in the next age.
There will be a natural regathering back to Israel of a class that the Lord has been slowly weaning and bringing to a completion. We call this class the “Holy Remnant.” The fall of mystic Babylon will have a sudden aspect, and then, once the ecclesiastical systems are out of the way, that which has been slowly developing will be accelerated .
Jer. 50:21 Go up against the land of Merathaim, even against it, and against the inhabitants of Pekod: waste and utterly destroy after them, saith the LORD, and do according to all that I have commanded thee.
The enemy of Babylon—i.e., the Medes and confederate people out of the north (see verse 9)— was to “waste and utterly destroy” Babylon. Merathaim, meaning “rebels,” and Pekod, which has the thought of “visitation,” were regions in Babylon. Therefore, the enemy coming down against Babylon was to destroy more than just the capital city; the province surrounding the city was to be destroyed as well. This command served as an instruction to the captives within the city not only to remove themselves from within the walls of Babylon but also to further remove themselves by returning to their homelands.
Merathaim and Pekod were other areas of Babylon that were marked for destruction. Presumably many of the Israelite captives occupied these areas. The warning was that not only the city of Babylon but also the whole area was to be laid waste and made desolate without inhabitant. During the centuries, the city was covered over with sand, and the area became a desert. Only in the last 50 or 75 years were the ruins unearthed, and Saddam Hussein wanted to restore Babylon to its former glory. Incidentally, we believe that earlier the three Hebrew children were over different parts of the province that contained Merathaim and Pekod, and of course Daniel was in the capital city.
Q: With not just the capital city but the entire area being destroyed, what is the antitype? Is the significance that not just the Vatican but every aspect of mystic Babylon will be destroyed?
A: When the church ecclesiastical ceases, there will be no religious representation anywhere. Babylon, the capital, is comparable to Rome in the antitype. The influence of Papacy as a religious government, plus the church ecclesiastical, will disappear forever. Never again will there be a religious deception. In the deception in the Little Season at the end of the Kingdom Age, Satan will win the approval and admiration of many people along another line.
Jer. 50:22 A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction.
Notice, “a sound of battle is in the land.” In the future in the Kingdom when the Bible is reviewed for posterity, there will be sound effects (screams, buildings being smashed, etc.). The actual events have been preserved on film and will be replayed over and over again. Seeing the events will be startling to mankind and will keep the people informed. All of the media will be instructional and edifying. The upbuilding influence will counteract the evil of past ages. Just as in the present life, the people want diversion and relaxation, so they will have a similar desire in the Kingdom, and the replaying of the Bible will fill that desire. In that day, the title will probably be “The Living Bible.” Verse 22 does not mean much now, but in the future, it will be very powerful. Not only will the brutality of the Babylonians be seen and the hardness of the language of the Chaldeans be heard, but the retribution they received will also be on film.
Jer. 50:23 How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations!
The “hammer of the whole earth” was Babylon. The play on tense is interesting. Present, past, and future tenses are all mixed together as part of the enactment of the drama prophesied by Jeremiah before it happened, and in the future, mankind will see the enactment as it actually did happen. When the dramatic details are seen in the Kingdom, the people will marvel that the Bible was a best-seller in the Christian world yet ignored by all but a few individuals here and there. The details will also show how little we know at the present time. The main purpose of the Bible is the calling out of a Church class who are to be kings and priests in the next age.
With the little information that is available now, the Holy Spirit does a cleansing, purifying, and upbuilding work in the lives of the consecrated. The revealment of details of truth in the next age will glorify God and humble mankind. The saints in glory will be joyful to see the accuracy and the fulfillment of the Word in all of its details.
Q: Is Papacy the antitypical “hammer”?
A: Yes. In the time of its great power, Papacy exercised ruthless prerogatives against kings and common people. Christianity was a veneer for cruel rulership on Papacy’s part. Antitypical Babylon beat down its enemies like a hammer. In (and with) great power, it was cruel.
Jer. 50:24 I have laid a snare for thee, and thou art also taken, O Babylon, and thou wast not aware: thou art found, and also caught, because thou hast striven against the LORD.
A snare is a trap. An animal walking in a forest may hit a branch that releases or triggers a device such as a noose which pulls the animal up into a tree. Belshazzar’s feast is an account of revelry on the same night that Babylon was captured and its inhabitants were slaughtered (Daniel 5). During this great feast, King Belshazzar defiled the gold and silver Temple vessels of the Lord by drinking wine from them and ridiculing the God of Israel. The king and his lords were so confident in the high and broad walls of the city and in the food storage facility that they were having a feast and drinking wine on the very night the waters of the river Euphrates were diverted. Thus the unaware inhabitants of Babylon were trapped when Cyrus and his army marched into the city.
While preparations were going on and the channel was being dug to divert the waters, the army of the Medes used a diversionary tactic with archers presumably trying to overcome the city with their arrows. Meanwhile, the Babylonians were completely oblivious to the noise, the digging, and the preparations that took place over a period of time. When the moment came for the waters to be diverted, Babylon was caught in the “snare.”
The suddenly diverted waters flooded and overwhelmed certain areas of Babylon. The Bible narrative contains statements to the effect that the land was an arid waste and also that it was flooded. The question naturally arises, How could the land be both dry and flooded? The city of Babylon and the land beyond, which had been irrigated and used to grow food, became dry, and formerly dry land was flooded by the Euphrates. Therefore, the warning to the Jews was not only to get out of the city but also to keep moving and not settle down outside the city.
Jer. 50:25 The LORD hath opened his armoury, and hath brought forth the weapons of his indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.
In the type, God used Cyrus and confederate peoples as His instrument or “weapons of his indignation” against Babylon. A nobody to start with from a very remote region, Cyrus became a leader who gathered forces as his military victories continued. He was so successful in capturing cities of Asia Minor such as Sardis that his army kept growing. In the antitype, Cyrus represents Jesus, and those “confederate” with Jesus are the Church, the Little Flock.
Jehovah is called “the Lord GOD of hosts.” Just as all the heavenly bodies in the astronomical realm—the heavenly “hosts”—are under His perfect control at all times, so here, ingeniously and without tampering with free moral agency, Cyrus and the powers associated with him were engineered by the Lord. For instance, if God wanted an army to go in a certain direction, He could overrule the weather or environmental conditions. The same principle was manifested when He hardened Pharaoh’s heart (Exod. 7:13). God did not interfere with
Pharaoh’s free moral agency but knew how Pharaoh would react under certain conditions.
God overruled so that the individual with the “right” temperament for the pouring of the ten plagues would get on the throne of Egypt at a particular time. Any other claimants to the throne were removed from the picture in one way or another.
And so in Cyrus and the confederate forces, the Lord had human “weapons” for His wrath. The Pastor used this principle in explaining what he called the “Lord’s Great Army” (Joel 2:11). That army of unconsecrated individuals will fulfill His will in the near future. Even Satan fulfills God’s will in the sense of being the executioner. God does not interfere with the free moral agency of Satan, for Satan has hardened his own character in evil. Interestingly, Shakespeare seemed to sense that God has that supreme intellect and ability.
Jer. 50:26 Come against her from the utmost border, open her storehouses: cast her up as heaps, and destroy her utterly: let nothing of her be left.
Some of the forces with Cyrus came from the Ararat area, a remote region, an “utmost border” from the north (Jer. 51:27). “Open her storehouses” meant that the enemy would take food from Babylon and exploit the goods of the land. The Babylonians thought the food storehouses were for their own preservation, but the enemy took the food. What is the thought of “cast her up as heaps”?
Comment: The NIV reads, “Break open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain.” “Destroy her utterly” meant that the land would be laid waste, not only of inhabitants but also of food and everything of value. Idols and things considered to be of no use were put into the refuse pile. Cyrus and his army took what they wanted for a spoil, and the rest was heaped together and burned.
Comment: A note in the NIV says the Hebrew word for “destroy utterly” in verses 21 and 26 is a special word used specifically in connection with God: “The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the LORD, often by totally destroying them.” Young’s Analytical Concordance says the word means ”to devote to God or destruction.”
Reply: In a couple of instances in the Hebrew, the same word that is a most holy and a most reverential word can also be a curse, an anathema. The context determines the meaning. The “devoted” thing can be either an accursed thing or an offering that one gives properly and acceptably to the Lord.
Comment: That term was used with Achan after the fall of Jericho when everything was supposed to be destroyed. Achan’s sin consisted of taking some of the goods into his tent as personal booty (Josh. 7:1).
Jer. 50:27 Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter: woe unto them! for their day is come, the time of their visitation.
Jer. 50:28 The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.
Although the average Christian can absorb very little, what makes Jeremiah 50 and 51 of interest is that there is so much detail about Babylon. It is as though the account is saying, “Much, much more will be told about Babylon in the future than we can get from reading the narrative. All of the details will be explained at a future date with complete accuracy. Everything will be made plain.”
“Slay all her bullocks; let them go down to the slaughter.” The Babylonians were marked for destruction, and so much so that they were being corralled to go to destruction. Cattle that are to be slaughtered are corralled into a kind of “sluiceway” and/or forced through a little gate and then hit on the head with a sledgehammer. The illustration was figuratively showing that not one of the Babylonians would escape. How very dramatic!
Q: Do the “bullocks” have a relationship to the hierarchy in Papacy?
A: Although “bullock” can mean an adult animal, the original Hebrew word has to be checked to see what stage of the animal is being referred to. There is a difference between a mature bull, one of medium age, and a tender young one. Sometimes “bullock” means a very young animal, and in other places, it means a more mature animal.
The account here is saying that just as animals are corralled and marked for slaughter, so every Babylonian was to be wiped off the face of the earth. In fact, after the destruction of Babylon, there was no more Babylon—just ruins.
Comment: The reason for the prior question about the bullocks is that there seems to be a differentiation in verses 27 and 28. All of the bullocks are slain, yet there are escapees.
Reply: When Jerusalem was laid waste, only a few hundred Jews out of a couple million survived. And with the destruction of Babylon, the ones who escaped were Jews. The Jews in Babylon were given information in advance about the coming destruction. To a priest who was going on a mission to Babylon with other notables on other business, Jeremiah gave a scroll containing these curses and told him to read it publicly. Surely the priest did not open the scroll and read it before the king of Babylon. No, the scroll was read to benefit the Jews who were in captivity, warning them to get out of the city before it was too late. In other words, “This city is marked for utter destruction. The best thing is not only to get out of the city but also to get out of the land. Go back to your homeland.” The Jews did flee the capital city. Some of them obeyed further and returned to Israel when Cyrus issued the decree, and others went to other lands. Daniel knew about this prophecy and warning, for he later quoted Jeremiah. Likewise at the First Advent, Jesus warned about the trouble coming on Jerusalem and said to get out of the city.
“The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion”; that is, when the Jews got back to the homeland, they were to tell of their experiences in Babylon— almost like a testimony meeting. The returned exiles had much to share not only about the families who had been separated but also about the destruction of Babylon. They were to declare how accurately Jeremiah had prophesied and how everything he had said as the word of the Lord was fulfilled. The multitude of testimonies would be awesome, confirming that the word of the Lord is like silver purified seven times (Psa. 12:6).
What “vengeance of his [God’s] temple” were the returned Jews to declare in Zion? Because the Babylonians destroyed God’s holy Temple in Jerusalem in 606 BC, retribution came in 536 BC when the temples of the gods Bel and Merodach were destroyed by the Medes (Jer. 50:2).
The 90-foot-high statue on the Plain of Dura was of the god Bel (Dan. 3:1). Therefore, what the Babylonians did to the Lord’s holy Temple, the Lord did to their holy(?) temples. “The vengeance of the LORD our God” came upon Babylon and upon their religious idols.
Q: If “the voice of them” in verse 28 refers to the Jews (God’s people) who returned to Israel from Babylon, then in the antitype, would the pronoun “them” refer to just the Great Company or to the Great Company and the Little Flock?
A: In the type, the Lord forewarned the Jews then living to get out of Babylon lest they die because the city was doomed for destruction. When the Jews did remove themselves from the capital city, they were further informed to separate even more and return to the homeland.
Those Jews who did go back to Israel after the destruction of Babylon testified to each other (and to their later progeny) the details of their deliverance. Thus, just as with the Passover, a record was historically preserved of what had happened. For the spiritual application, we are brought down to the closing scenes of antitypical Babylon, to the time of its destruction. We will now consider verse 28 from that standpoint.
“The voice of them that flee and escape out of the land of Babylon, to declare in Zion the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.” Verse 28 has not been fulfilled from an antitypical standpoint. The time period in which this “voice,” or message, will be delivered by the escapees pertains to the fall of symbolic or mystic Babylon (Christendom, Papacy, Catholicism). At that time, a message will be declared in “Zion,” that is, in natural Israel.
Comment: The fleeing and escaping are reminiscent of Lot, who was pulled out of Sodom at the last minute. The second part of verse 28 pertains to the message “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,” which the Great Company will give to natural Israel after the Little Flock is off the scene (Isa. 40:1).
Reply: That is basically what the verse is saying.
Q: Won’t the Little Flock declare in Zion “the vengeance of his [God’s] temple,” as stated in Revelation 18:20,24? That text reads, “Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her [mystic Babylon]…. And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.” Wouldn’t God’s “temple” be the true Church?
A: That is the usual explanation, but it is not correct because the Church in glory, the saints, who will already have been raised at this point, will be fully aware of what is happening down here on earth and will not need enlightenment. All of the Very Elect class must be complete and glorified before the actual fall of Babylon. Therefore, those comprising the Little Flock will not have to instruct one another in heaven. Of course after the Kingdom is established, they will be responsible for giving instruction down here, but that is a different scenario.
After Babylon falls but before the Kingdom is established, another class down here will declare in Zion “the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple.” In the fall of Christendom, the collapse of the civil powers will not immediately follow the fall of the nominal religious systems. And Jacob’s Trouble will not be over at this time. Therefore, the Great Company will declare to natural Israel a message of the imminence of Gog and Magog’s coming down from the north and what the final result will be. They will tell the Jews not to fear. The Holy Remnant will be given a comforting message to the effect that those Jews who are right with God—those whose consecration is real—will witness a miraculous destruction of the enemy. The intent of the enemy from the north will be to wipe out Israel, but the outcome will be the opposite. The enemy will be utterly destroyed except for a small remnant.
We will consider further the phrase “the vengeance of his [God’s] temple.” At present, the Temple Mount is occupied by an alien power, the Arabs. Although the Israelis have not legally ceded the Temple Mount to the Arabs, they wink the eye for the sake of peace and to avoid a holy war, a jihad. Not only has Israel agreed not to violate the Al-Aksa mosque and the Arab services, but also Orthodox rabbis do not want their membership to go on the Temple Mount at all until Messiah comes. Tourists can visit the Temple Mount only at certain hours. The point of these stipulations is to compromise with and to pacify the Arab element, whereas it is God’s holy mount, the mount on which His Temple will be built. Al-Aksa and Dome of the Rock are two alien buildings that will be removed from the mount in God’s due time. In the future when God delivers the Holy Remnant, He will also deliver (1) Jerusalem and (2) the Temple Mount.
Comment: “Flee and escape” are key words, for they imply urgent circumstances yet future, as opposed to the instruction to “Come out of her, my people,” which has been going on since 1878 under generally calmer conditions (Rev. 18:4).
Reply: Yes, the spiritual call to come out of Babylon, which is still going on, is an invitation, whereas the Great Company class will be pulled or yanked out after the Little Flock is complete and off the scene.
The fact that the Great Company will give a message to natural Israel indicates they will havemore light than at present. An interesting article or talk was given in detail some time ago on a secondary application for Benjamin. In regard to the primary application, when the brothers took Benjamin to Egypt, Joseph (picturing Christ) laid before Benjamin a fivefold portion, which represents the reward the Church will get. However, there followed an incident with Joseph’s divining cup. (Instead of hearing a voice in the inner ear like many of the prophets, Joseph had a divining cup of prophecy through which he could visually see future events. In other words, Joseph was instructed by God through the divining cup.) Joseph had this cup intentionally placed in the knapsack of Benjamin. Then Joseph told his steward to pursue the brothers and search for the missing cup, which of course was found in Benjamin’s possession. When we get to this revealment stage in the antitype, the account will be turning from the enlightened Little Flock understanding and merging into the Great Company understanding. As the Pastor showed, the Great Company will be utilized to give a message after the Little Flock is gone.
The Great Company is to give a message to Israel when the nation is dwelling with unwalled villages during the false peace period prior to Jacob’s Trouble (Ezek. 38:11). At that time still future, when the Little Flock is complete and after Babylon has fallen, the responsibility of enlightened Christians who remain in the flesh will be to give a message to Israel (“Zion”).
These consecrated ones, who are dearly loved by the Father because they accepted Christ in the present age and committed their life to serve God, will become the favored class after they wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb in the great tribulation (Rev. 7:14).
Jer. 50:29 Call together the archers against Babylon: all ye that bend the bow, camp against it round about; let none thereof escape: recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.
Comment: This verse sounds like Jehu’s rounding up all the servants of Baal and not letting one escape.
Reply: Yes, and before that event, as shown in 2 Kings 9 and 10, Jehu killed King Jehoram (Papacy), King Ahaziah (Protestantism), Jezebel, the 70 sons of Ahab, and the brothers of Ahaziah, and then came the Jehonadab stage. The time sequence fits beautifully, including Jehu’s pulling Jehonadab into the chariot. Jehonadab was a Rechabite, and the Rechabites were a consecrated, devoted, and faithful element. Jehonadab was beside Jehu when the last phase of slaying occurred with regard to Christendom in the antitype. Here Jehonadab was pulled into the chariot, and in another picture, Lot was pulled out of Sodom, which was a radical change. To a certain extent, the Great Company class will lead a charmed life in the fall of Babylon, for they will not perish but will be delivered. Earlier the target of the enemy will be the Little Flock class. Similarly at the First Advent, the target was Jesus. The religious leaders thought that if they could still the voice of Jesus Christ, the entire movement would cease.
In verse 29, the “Holy One of Israel” is Jehovah. In the type, the “archers,” who were the Medes, the enemy of Babylon, received endorsement and encouragement from the Jews who had fled from the city of Babylon. None of the inhabitants were to escape.
“Recompense her according to her work; according to all that she hath done, do unto her: for she hath been proud against the LORD, against the Holy One of Israel.” The feminine pronouns show that the antitype applies to Catholicism. The type pertained to the Medes.
Jer. 50:30 Therefore shall her young men fall in the streets, and all her men of war shall be cut off in that day, saith the LORD.
The prophecy was that “her young men” would fall in the streets and “her men of war” would be cut off. The destruction of literal Babylon was very sudden, and so it will be in the antitype. Babylon’s defenders will wilt and lack stamina because their hearts will not be in the work. Some of Babylon’s staunchest supporters will desert, and every man will look out for himself. Many will be literally killed, and others will deny the Catholic faith. This cutting off is the burning of the tares.
There was a time when Papacy (the man) died (being “wounded to death”—Rev. 13:3), but the Catholic Church (the woman) lived on. But if the woman dies, the man will have to die too.
Jer. 50:31 Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee.
In the type, the “most proud” Babylonians made boastful and haughty declarations, but they would fall. In the antitype, Catholicism has boasted and said in her heart, “I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow” (Rev. 18:7).
Jer. 50:32 And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.
Notice the change to masculine pronouns. Incidental to the fall of mystic Babylon, many other things will happen, of which this is a detail. In the type, Babylon would be not only laid waste but also left without any inhabitants or survivors. In the picture of the smiting of the image, each of the first three universal empires continued on in another form after it lost world dominance, but the fourth universal empire will lose its entity and become truly extinct.
“I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.” The destruction came first upon Babylon, the capital city (Papacy in antitype); then upon the outlying suburbs; and finally upon the empire.
Q: In antitype, is the fulfillment of the destruction and the “fire … round about” to be carried out by the Lord’s Great Army?
A: Yes, although the real fulfillment of the Lord’s Great Army will be in Jerusalem. However, there will be precursor formulating factors.
Jer. 50:33 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go.
Jer. 50:34 Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall thoroughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
Evidently, many of the Jews wished to return to the homeland, but they could not because they were in bondage to the Babylonians. In fact, the Lord had told them prior to 606 BC,
“When you go to Babylon, you will be there for 70 years. Build houses and do not think of coming back until the 70 years expire.” Even after the destruction of Babylon, two years elapsed before Cyrus issued the decree allowing the Jews to return to their homeland. Those who had businesses in the city of Babylon lost everything when they fled to the suburbs, and there they continued to be detained for an additional two years. The waiting period increased their desire to go back to Israel.
History shows that a victorious king often gave amnesty to the prisoners, and that is what Cyrus did. Verses 33 and 34 refer to the two-year period between the destruction of the city of Babylon and the decree of Cyrus on behalf of the Jews.
Jer. 50:35 A sword is upon the Chaldeans, saith the LORD, and upon the inhabitants of Babylon, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men.
Jer. 50:36 A sword is upon the liars; and they shall dote: a sword is upon her mighty men; and they shall be dismayed.
Chaldea refers to the territory, the province, whereas Babylon was the capital. All of the inhabitants were affected: princes, wise men, and inhabitants. The “sword” indicates death, that is, more than just trouble and violence.
Jer. 50:37 A sword is upon their horses, and upon their chariots, and upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women: a sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed.
In the type, those who had horses and chariots had money, authority, and rank and hence were powerful and influential. Everything would cease: individuals, works, mechanics of operation, and so forth. In the antitype, “horses” are doctrines. The entire nominal religious system of Christendom will fall—doctrines, relics, scapulas, clerical robes, titles, etc. Again the feminine pronoun “her” pertains to ecclesiasticism.
“A sword is … upon all the mingled people that are in the midst of her; and they shall become as women.” Who are the antitypical “mingled people”? From one standpoint, they are the various denominations—the daughter systems whose views are nominally Protestant, even though they have some differing doctrines. The supporters are nominal Christians, or tares.
Q: In a former study, the “mingled people” were explained as the consecrated and the unconsecrated. Of course the unconsecrated would be tares, but would the “consecrated” be those who are unfaithful to their consecrations and thus go into Second Death?
A: Yes, the Judas class, as well as those whose conduct does not match their profession of consecration, will not get life. And those who do not come out of Babylon will suffer “plagues.”
There are two types of plagues: the seven plagues and the three plagues (Rev. 16:1-12,17; 18:8).
The three plagues (death, mourning, and famine) pertain to the destruction of the harlot.
As we get into the end time, a lot of soul searching will take place to know just where we stand with God. Taking spiritual inventory and reviewing past conduct will become more meaningful at that time. As we see judgment coming on others, we will ask, “Is judgment coming on me?” In the time setting of verse 37, the Little Flock will be complete. Therefore, the Judas class, in the more particular sense, will not be on the scene here, but those who, in principle, are of that class try to have one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. If the foot on the earth is not pulled up quickly, the individual will not get life. The consecrated ones who respond properly and make the right decision at that time will come out of the great tribulation, washing their robes in repentance and making them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14). They will get life, and life is a real treasure. Since we are nine-tenths dead—and perhaps more—we cannot at present appreciate what real life is and its value. Many for a little sop here on earth will forfeit their eternal destiny. Just for a meal, Esau gave his inheritance to Jacob. We must get rid of the compromises and cut off the tendrils.
The “mingled people” became “as women”; that is, they were panic-stricken in the type. In antitype, fear will also be a factor.
“A sword is upon her treasures; and they shall be robbed.” In the type, the enemy looted the treasures of Babylon. The antitype is similar. Even the Vatican will be ransacked.
Jer. 50:38 A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up: for it is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.
With the literal picture, Cyrus diverted the waters of the river Euphrates from Babylon, thus stopping her commerce, the lifeblood of the city. Evidence from other Scriptures verifies that there is an antitypical fulfillment, which we will now consider.
The “waters” are the people, nations, and tongues and their support, especially financial.
Revelation 17:15 gives the definition: “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.” Notice the tense in the first part of verse 38: “A drought is upon her waters; and they shall be dried up.” The antitypical waters have not dried up yet. However, there are initial stages in the drying-up process.
The reason for the drying up is that Babylon “is the land of graven images.” The image on the Plain of Dura was famous in the type. In addition, there were other statues, large and small, in the province and throughout the empire of Babylon. The word “graven” means that the images were made by human hands. Under the Law, even the steps to an altar had to be natural whole stones, unhewn by human hands. In the days of Solomon, the ordinance was amended. Earlier the Prophet Jeremiah used sarcasm about the dumb idols that could not talk or walk, yet they were worshipped. “For the customs of the people are vain: for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it move not. They are upright as the palm tree, but speak not: they must needs be borne, because they cannot go. Be not afraid of them; for they cannot do evil, neither also is it in them to do good” (Jer. 10:3-5).
The antitype of hewn or manufactured steps to an altar would be catechisms, litanies, printed (not spontaneous) prayers, etc. God wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Q: In the past, Babylon was a golden cup in the hand of the Lord to bring truth. Does the drying up mean that when Babylon falls, the voice of the Lord will no longer be heard in her (Rev. 18:23)?
A: That is part of the explanation.
“They are mad upon their idols.” The people treated their idols as if they were living beings. They knelt and prayed to dumb idols that could not speak. These actions of the people were a form of insanity.
Comment: In Athens, Paul said, “I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious [that is, too religious or overreligious],” for the people even had an idol with the inscription “TO THE UNKNOWN GOD” (Acts 17:22,23).
Comment: With the Roman Catholic faith in certain countries, the people madly pin money on statues of the Virgin Mary on All Saints’ Day. The people are spiritually drunk, unbalanced, and irrational.
Reply: People today travel to a place in Yugoslavia, where they wait for hours and hours for a vision of the Virgin Mary.
Comment: In the contest with the false prophets of Baal, Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud: for he [Baal] is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked” (1 Kings 18:27).
Reply: Yes, Elijah was saying sarcastically, “Raise your voice, for Baal is not hearing you.”
Jer. 50:39 Therefore the wild beasts of the desert with the wild beasts of the islands shall dwell there, and the owls shall dwell therein: and it shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.
In other words, Babylon would be no more inhabited by humans, and wild beasts would dwell there. The word “therefore” indicates the effect of the drought and the drying up of the waters.
Comment: Instead of having graven images of animals, the Roman Catholic Church has graven images of deceased human beings who are supposed to be saints. It is rather humorous to think that in many cases, statues are made without knowing what the person looked like.
Reply: The Scriptures do not prohibit the making of a statue, but man must not bow down to the statue. After all, God required animals to be made in connection with the Temple of Solomon. For instance, 12 oxen supported the large laver, and graven animals were on the walls. Therefore, it was the worshipping of the images or statues as a personality that was so offensive. Certainly the statue on top of City Hall in New York City of a blindfolded woman holding a scale to illustrate justice is permissible, but that statue is not worshipped. Kneeling before and praying to a statue is strictly forbidden. Orthodox Jewry is a little unbalanced on this subject, for they forget that two conditions constitute the prohibition: (1) making the statue and (2) praying to it.
Comment: The sin is in worshipping what is created by human hands rather than the Creator. “It [Babylon] shall be no more inhabited for ever; neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation.” The Hebrew olam, translated “for ever,” can mean just a long period of time and does not necessarily mean for eternity. For thousands of years, for a long time, “from generation to generation,” Babylon was a desolate waste. “For ever” is to be thought of in a modified sense. The next verse is helpful too.
Jer. 50:40 As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein.
Where are Sodom and Gomorrah today? Their ruins are buried under the Dead Sea. When Abraham generously gave Lot a choice, Lot chose Sodom and Gomorrah as a residence because the land was so fertile. On the surface, it appeared that Abraham got the bad end of the deal, but that was not actually the case. Prior to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the waters of the sea had an exit and were not dead. Verse 40 does not preclude a change in that land area in the future, for the waters of the Dead Sea will be freshened in the north (Ezek. 47:8-11). The waters will be revived with moderation, and there will again be an exit. Fish comparable to those in the Mediterranean Sea will swim in the Dead Sea.
For thousands of years, Babylon has been a waste, a dry and barren desert, because the waters of the Euphrates were diverted by Cyrus into new channels. However, in the future, water may again flow there, since the Hebrew olam (“for ever”) is not necessarily for perpetuity.
Comment: Would the spiritual application of desolation mean forever in the sense of eternity?
Reply: Yes, the spiritual application is a different picture. Never again will Papacy exist. Once the beast, the harlot, and the false prophet are destroyed, never again will there be a religious deception. Also, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was sodomy, among other things, and that sin will cease for ever and ever.
Whenever God speaks, there is a cadence. Sometimes we can see it, and sometimes we cannot because of our limitations in understanding. We can consider a little about the way God speaks. In Jeremiah 49:19, in talking to Edom, God said, “Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?” The same words are used in the next chapter (Jer. 50:44). In chapter 49, the “habitation of the strong” was Edom, but in chapter 50, it was the well-fortified city of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was able to capture the seemingly impregnable Edom, which was up on a mountain crag. His skill and ingenuity are not recorded in secular history, but he must have been brilliant. The clause “I will suddenly make him [singular] run away from her” reads in the fiftieth chapter, “I will make them [plural] suddenly run away from her.” The rest of the verse is duplicated in chapter 50.
And there are other interesting points, for instance, the terms “the vengeance of the LORD our God, the vengeance of his temple” (Jer. 50:28). These words (and the cadence) are repeated in the next chapter: “the vengeance of the LORD, the vengeance of his temple” (Jer. 51:11). When we read the Bible many times, God’s cadence stands out. But to devote a lot of study to cadence, which is mathematics, is not profitable spiritually. However, chronology, which is a different matter, is important because it is the baseline upon which all prophecies are hinged.
Another point to be noticed is the content of the message. In the various accounts in Scripture, three primary pictures are equated to nominal Christendom: (1) Edom, (2) Babylon, and (3) Sodom and Gomorrah. All students of the Bible in nominal Christendom realize we are in the end time and they use Scriptures, but they do not use these three as pictures of nominal Christendom. It helps, first, to zero in on the literal events and then, second, to draw spiritual lessons. A characteristic of Jesus was to use the words “Verily, verily.” The Apostle Paul repeated certain phrases that identify the words as his. The words and/or phrases are a part of them just as the language here is a part of God. The Heavenly Father speaks in a certain recognizable way—but to a limited degree because of the greatness of His thinking. The principle with God is, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).
Jer. 50:41 Behold, a people shall come from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.
Jer. 50:42 They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy: their voice shall roar like the sea, and they shall ride upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle, against thee, O daughter of Babylon.
Jer. 50:43 The king of Babylon [Belshazzar] hath heard the report of them [the Medes and Cyrus] , and his hands waxed feeble: anguish took hold of him, and pangs as of a woman in travail.
Verses 41-43 are connected. News reached Babylon that a potential enemy, Cyrus the Great, intended to come down from the north and conquer Babylon. Although Cyrus had only a limited number of men in his army, his successes had been very great, for example, his conquest of Sardis, a place that had been considered impregnable. Now Cyrus was coming southward, and when ominous reports reached Belshazzar, the king was frightened in regard to the Babylonian Empire. Belshazzar felt secure as far as the capital city of Babylon was concerned, but if he remained in the city withstanding a siege for a couple of years, he could not defend his empire.
The picture is complex. At the time of the feast, King Belshazzar was overconfident and drunk and was making sport of the gold and silver Temple vessels, but prior to the feast, he had great fear (Daniel 5). Stated another way, at first Belshazzar, the king of Babylon, was fearful of the impending trouble, but then he was bolstered with a false sense of security through wine, etc., at the feast.
“Behold, a people shall come from the north.” North of Babylon were Russia and Eastern Turkey. After the king of Babylon heard the report that Cyrus was coming down, there was a delay, perhaps because of the merger, through marriage, that was planned by the Medes and the Persians. Rather than be enemies, the political decision was to join forces.
The Bible describes the ominous threat from the north as riding “upon horses, every one put in array, like a man to the battle.” It was a big force, but the Hebrew indicates those comprising the force were knit together as one. This unified force marching down from the north against “the daughter of Babylon” was a powerful enemy. In antitype, nominal Christendom will see problems coming. Already leaders of the Religious Right are concerned about the deterioration of morals in the United States, about immigrants who are coming in and outnumbering the local inhabitants, about ongoing racial problems, and so forth. They want to stop these problems, but more time is needed before they can act. Those of the Religious Right are correct in opposing women becoming religious leaders and the ordination of homosexuals, but they are wrong not to look to God’s Kingdom as the remedy. Because they are doing what they think is right, they will be very unreasonable in the future. They will be thoroughly convinced that it is God’s will for them to intervene, but actually God is showing that these are symptoms of Christendom’s decadence.
“They shall hold the bow and the lance: they are cruel, and will not show mercy.” The bow and the lance were characteristics of the Medes.
Q: In antitype, who are the people that “shall come from the north”?
A: As a precursor or initial phase, the Lord’s Great Army will come down from the north into Europe, even though that term applies specifically and dramatically to their subsequent attack on Israel. The second chapter of Joel describes how in the anarchy coming on Christendom, the Lord’s Great Army will go in windows and doors. The land before them will be like the Garden of Eden, but when they march through, they will leave behind burning, smoking ruins. At that time, the Lord’s slain will be upon the mountains all over the world (Isa. 34:1-3). However, Israel will be the focal point, the center stage, in the climax of the trouble. The prophecy with regard to Israel is definitive.
The Lord’s Great Army will first go to Rome and sack the Vatican. Then hooks will be put in the nose to turn Gog back from the destroying work in Europe and cause Gog to go down to Israel (Ezek. 38:4). The main picture of Gog is the setting in Jacob’s Trouble. As Gog marches down to Israel, others will join as one unified force.
Q: In verse 41, what are the “coasts” of the earth?
A: The NIV has “ends” of the earth. The “coasts” would be the outer peripheral areas. When Cyrus went up into Ararat and conquered the inhabitants, those people admired him and many followed under his leadership. What was a little well-knit organized army under the control of Cyrus grew in numbers through admiration and also for survival.
In antitype, when the Lord’s Great Army comes from the “coasts” of the earth, no mercy will be shown in the animosity against those of nominal Christendom, many of whom are well intentioned but not properly instructed in God’s Word. The destruction of the religious systems will be complete and permanent.
Q: Is the thought that the people who come from the north will start from a certain area, but eventually many others will join in?
A: Yes, the Lord’s Great Army will come down as one unified force. Diversity usually means problems but not in this case. There is a basic sadistic tendency in human nature that, if catered to, results in great cruelty.
Jer. 50:44 Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?
“He shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan.” The Jordan River is in Israel. Whenever the Jordan flooded and overflowed its banks, the lions dwelling in the forests and thickets near the river left their dens, went out into the civilized area of Israel, and wreaked havoc in their search for food. They preyed on cows, sheep, and sometimes even humans. The lions appeared suddenly from their habitat because the Jordan River flooded rapidly after a torrential rain up in Mount Hermon. Likewise, the fall of Babylon would be sudden with an element of surprise. The army of Cyrus was described as a lion coming out of nowhere, out of the north.
In antitype, the downfall of mystic Babylon will be sudden, and the element of surprise will be involved—just as in the type. The city of Babylon was busy with commerce and traffic while Cyrus was building up his army. By the time the people of Babylon heard about Cyrus and his army, they were a real threat to the Babylonian Empire.
“Behold, he [Cyrus] shall come up [suddenly] like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her.” When an enemy people “roar” with a unified voice, it has a weakening effect upon the victim. The roar indicates unison and unanimity of feeling. Mob hysteria is frightening to behold. This great unified force would come in battle array as one man and one lion—it would be like one body coming down.
The Lord introduced His thinking in the middle of verse 44. “I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? And who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd [or prophet] that will stand before me?” Why was this seemingly incongruous thought inserted in the account? The reason is that God was foretelling what would occur. As a certainty, God’s Word does not return to Him void (Isa. 55:11). His prediction would be fulfilled, and what “shepherd” or prophet would contradict or countermand what God was saying? In other words, no matter how unified and strong Babylon was, when Cyrus and the Medes came down, the picture would change entirely.
“Who will appoint me the time?” indicates God has a time schedule. Our problem is in understanding that schedule, although we should try. God does not discourage the study of prophecy. We may know the year but not the “day” or the “hour” (Matt. 24:36).
God’s prophecies are steadfast and will surely happen. Christ’s Kingdom will displace the present governments. We pray, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10). Even though that prayer will not be fulfilled until the end of the Kingdom Age, the spirit of the prayer is entirely proper both now and throughout the Kingdom. The start of the Kingdom will be the precursor of bringing mankind into harmony with God so that they will be able to enter His arrangement and dwell with the everlasting fire, having clean hands, etc. (Isa. 33:14). A process of development is needed, and God has mercifully given the Kingdom Age for mankind to become acclimated to this future condition. If man were introduced too quickly to the perfection of the Kingdom, he would perish. Even the Ancient Worthies will be given time, for although their hearts were right, they have a lot to learn. The Kingdom will be merciful not only for the human race in general but also for the Ancient Worthies, who will come forth physically and mentally perfect. Their faith has been thoroughly tested, but they need education and experience before they get their final reward.
Jer. 50:45 Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them.
“Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon.” Jeremiah delivered this prophecy to Seraiah, who, when he got to Babylon, was to get up on the city gate, wall, or other prominent place and proclaim the message (of this very chapter) to the people. By nature, Seraiah was very meek and quiet, but he was told to deliver the message (Jer. 51:59). When he began his speech, the Holy Spirit took over and assisted him, so that he spoke loudly, forcibly, and with strength. When finished, he publicly cast the scroll into the Euphrates. And where was this river? It went right through the center of the city. How convenient! Seraiah did not have to exit the city and go down to the riverbank to throw the message into the water. He simply rolled up the scroll; cried out, “Thus with violence shall Babylon fall”; and then threw the scroll down from the parapet into the water below. Indeed he cast the scroll into the very river that was dried up later. How dramatic!
Q: Hadn’t Cyrus already entered Babylon at this point in time?
A: No. We should keep in mind that this fiftieth chapter was a prophecy of threats and warnings of future portent. One third of the Bible is history, one third is prophecy, and one third pertains to character development. All three are needed. The Lord has His way of informing His people, and He has promised to guide them. “The meek [those who are teachable] will he guide in judgment: and the meek will he teach his way” (Psa. 25:9). How we react to instruction and providence—whether we take the right path—is the question. When we take a wrong path, we should back up and start over again. The overall leading of the Lord will guide His people. “Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them.”
Comment: The NIV reads, “The young of the flock will be dragged away; he will completely destroy their pasture because of them.” The RSV has, “Surely the little ones of their flock shall be dragged away.”
Reply: These translations give the proper thought, for the reference is to the Great Company class. The Little Flock, who will be off the scene before Babylon falls, will be instrumental in the fall of Babylon from beyond the veil. We are reminded of Lot, who was dragged out of Sodom.
In both type and antitype, those who refuse to leave Babylon perish. True Christians who do not respond properly and leave mystic Babylon at this future critical time will suffer her plague of death, extinction. There will be no more popes, cardinals, or priests in the system.
At one time, Russia was an intellectual superpower, but what happened? Over the years, the Jews have been migrating from Russia. There has been a slow draining of the Jewish intelligentsia and vitality from that country. Basically, the Russian people are descendants of Genghis Khan and thus are a very brutal, no-nonsense people. Stalin spared the top-notch medical doctors, who were Jews, so that they could take care of the ruling elite. In fact, Lenin and Trotsky were Jews.
Comment: The Inquisition gives us a sense of the brutality of Papacy, whereas modern history makes it seem as if Papacy has undergone a transformation or reformation for the better.
Believing that prophecy will be fulfilled and that Papacy will revert back to persecuting tactics, we can see how those who do not eventually isolate themselves from that system will be fully culpable. Papacy’s edicts and actions will be of the same character as in the Dark Ages. Then it will be seen that the judgment on mystic Babylon is just.
What will temporarily delay this judgment is the hour of power (Rev. 17:12). The enemy who comes in to destroy will be stopped momentarily because of edicts that are passed. When the hour of power ends, the nominal systems will be overwhelmed. Edom, Babylon, and Sodom and Gomorrah all picture the same thing, spiritually speaking, but each from a different camera angle, as it were.
Q: Is the thought that in antitype, just before mystic Babylon falls, those Spirit-begotten who are still in the nominal Church systems but have the right heart attitude will be extricated by the Lord’s providence?
A: Yes, when the remaining consecrated in the nominal systems see that the supposed changes and reformations of character are only a veneer and that the Inquisition spirit is again operative, they will be responsible for getting out. If they refuse to leave, they will merit a judgment of Second Death.
Q: Please explain again the phraseology of being “dragged” out.
A: True Christians still in Babylon will be escorted or pulled out with a sense of urgency. It will be a time of crucial decision making. To get life, they must act and not reason too long. The Great Company is a mercy class, a rescued class, of virgins who were foolish at one time. God appreciates that they responded initially to Christ and gave their heart wholly. Very, very few of earth’s inhabitants take this step of dedication, and God does not forget those who do. In the final analysis, one may not measure up to being of the elite class, but God does not forget those who commit their lives to Him and remain loyal at heart. He also remembers their works (Heb. 6:10).
Jer. 50:46 At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations.
Spiritually speaking, verse 46 is describing the fall of mystic Babylon. Details are furnished in Revelation 18:9-11,15-17, as follows: “And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning, Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come…. And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchants of these things, which were made rich by her, shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment, weeping and wailing, And saying, Alas, alas, that great city, that was clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold, and precious stones, and pearls! For in one hour so great riches is come to nought.” Panic will ensue.