Jeremiah Chapter 25:King of Babylon, 70 year Desolation

Nov 14th, 2009 | By | Category: Jeremiah, Psalm 83 and Gog & Magog, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Jeremiah Chapter 25:King of Babylon, 70 year Desolation

Chapter 25 will first be considered as it was treated in the 1981-1983 study. Then the chapter will be presented again, this time as set forth in the 1998-2004 study.

Jer. 25:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;

In referring to the fourth year of Jehoiakim (624 BC), Jeremiah was talking about an earlier time than the beginning of chapter 24. One reason is that the 70 years will be mentioned and Jeremiah was reviewing his ministry.

Many take this fourth year of Jehoiakim as the beginning of the 70-year captivity, but the account does not so state. The chronology is thrown off 19 years by such reasoning. At this time, Jeremiah began to prophesy about the 70 years—the account does not say that the 70 years began here. Chronologists generally take the year 587 BC as the start of the 70 years. To do this, they make the desolation 51 years long and the captivity 19 years—for a total of 70 years; that is, 606 (BC) – 587 (BC) = 19 years.

Jer. 25:2 The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,

Jer. 25:3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

Jer. 25:4 And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

In review, Jeremiah said that for 23 years, he had been giving a message about God’s coming judgment; he rose early to speak and do the Lord’s will. However, the people refused to hearken to the message. Had they obeyed, God would have stayed the judgment (see verse 5). Not only Jeremiah but also all the Lord’s prophets had been preaching not to go after other gods, but the people would not listen.

Jer. 25:5 They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever:

Jer. 25:6 And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.

In other words, “Repent!” said Jeremiah. But the people refused.

Jer. 25:7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

The people preferred to make and worship idols—things made with their own hands.

Jer. 25:8 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Jer. 25:9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

God said He would bring Nebuchadnezzar plus associated peoples from the north against Jerusalem and surrounding nations and destroy them. Jerusalem and Judah would be destroyed first. The surrounding nations rejoiced at this destruction, but then Nebuchadnezzar destroyed them too.

What is the antitype here? Jerusalem pictures the professed people of God. With Israel not in this picture, Jerusalem and Judah represent Protestantism and Catholicism, the religious element of Christendom. The surrounding nations represent another element, which will be discussed later in the chapter.

Regarding the term “perpetual desolations,” the Hebrew olam means “lasting,” that is, a long period of time. Although olam can mean “everlasting,” that is not necessarily the thought, for context determines the signification. Jerusalem and Judah were not destroyed everlastingly. (Note: If context does not make the meaning of a word clear, then we should consider all Scriptures on that subject.)

Jer. 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

In 606 BC, Jerusalem and Judah experienced the ceasing of the voice of mirth and gladness, etc. Jeremiah prophesied that sounds and light would cease. The same experience befell the surrounding nations in a secondary sense.

In the antitype, Jerusalem and Judah represent Christendom. Therefore, in this chapter (and in much of the Book of Jeremiah), “Babylon” does NOT represent Christendom. Rather, it represents Gog and Magog, a nonreligious communistic element. To repeat: When compared with Jerusalem and Judah in the Book of Jeremiah, Babylon does NOT represent Christendom.

Jeremiah prophesied that joy and gladness would depart from Judah and Jerusalem (Christendom) in the destruction.

In Scripture, Jerusalem can represent (a) the true Church (Rev. 21:2), (b) the future capital of the world, or (c) Christendom. Verse 10 is the key to understanding this chapter with regard to Sheshach and Babylon representing communism (Jer. 25:26). In many cases, the following three are equated: (1) Gog and Magog of Ezekiel, (2) the Assyrian of Isaiah, and (3) Babylon (Sheshach) of Jeremiah. Many falsely assume that the voice of mirth, gladness, etc., pertains to Babylon, but that assumption has been a stumbling block, for here it applies to Jerusalem.

Jer. 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Verse 11 has only a natural application. For 70 years, the land of Israel would be desolate. While in captivity, Daniel later prayed in regard to this 70-year prophecy of Jeremiah.

Chronologists have erred by starting the 70 years in 587 BC instead of in 606 BC. The setting of this chapter is the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see verse 1), but the 70 years did not begin until the last year of Zedekiah, as shown by other Scriptures. The 70 years were years of sabbath: “To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years” (2 Chron. 36:21).

The 70 years began when Jerusalem and the Temple were burned and the wall was broken down. “And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem, and burnt all the palaces thereof with fire, and destroyed all the goodly vessels thereof” (2 Chron. 36:19).

The 70 years ended with the decree of Cyrus. “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, … the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the LORD God of heaven given me; and he hath charged me to build him an house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people?

The LORD his God be with him, and let him go up” (2 Chron. 36:22,23).

Jer. 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

The “perpetual desolations” of verse 12 are longer than the 70 years of verse 11. The length of time depends on the context, and here the word “perpetual” means a very long desolation.

When the Babylonian “head of gold” kingdom perished, the Persian “arms and breast of silver” took over. Babylon as a power ceased to exist; hence “perpetual” means everlasting in regard to Babylon’s power. (Of course the people will come out of the grave in the Kingdom, and the desert will be made fruitful.)

Belshazzar was the king of Babylon at the end of the 70 years. Thus Belshazzar and the city, the land, and the empire of Babylon would all go down.

Jer. 25:13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.

Verse 13 indicates that the Book of Jeremiah was not finished until shortly before the prophet’s death at about age 90. Although the book was finished or collated late in his life, prophecies were uttered sequentially throughout his ministry. All that God prophesied through Jeremiah concerning the destruction of Babylon would come to pass. After going to Egypt, Jeremiah went to Babylon, where he finished his book during the 70 years.

Jer. 25:14 For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.

There would be a literal balancing of the scales of justice. Babylon would receive retribution, and the people would become slaves, experiencing that which they did to Judah. The Babylonians treated their captives more brutally than was necessary.

Jer. 25:15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

God instructed Jeremiah to take a “wine cup” of His fury and make “all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.” We are reminded of the cup of wrath that Christendom will have to drink (Rev. 18:6). However, it is not reasonable to think that Jeremiah literally went to all the nations listed in verses 18-26. There are several possibilities as to how verse 15 was fulfilled.

1. On feast days, Jeremiah could have stood in one of the gates of Jerusalem and given Jews of some of these lands this message to take back to their homes.

2. When Jerusalem was under siege just before its capture, the confederate army host with Nebuchadnezzar had representatives from a number of nations. Jeremiah could have reached many nations at that time (see Jer. 1:15).

3. Jeremiah could have sent messengers out with this message.

Jer. 25:16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.

Jer. 25:17 Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:

Jeremiah did not literally take a cup but probably had a very real dream. In the dream, God gave him a cup, and then Jeremiah made all of the specified nations drink it. Upon awaking, he realized that God had charged him to deliver a message of condemnation to these nations for their wickedness.

Jer. 25:18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;

Jer. 25:19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;

Jer. 25:20 And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,

Jer. 25:21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,

Jer. 25:22 And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea,

Jer. 25:23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners,

Jer. 25:24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert,

Jer. 25:25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes,

Jer. 25:26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

The peoples to be condemned, which can be grouped into a category of ten, were Jerusalem, Judah, Egypt, Uz, Philistines, etc. History about Nebuchadnezzar is scarce, but no doubt all of these nations literally suffered retribution and trouble. However, history shows that, with the exception of the king of Sheshach, who drank last, the nations did not experience retribution in the sequence listed. Nebuchadnezzar was called “a king of kings,” yet secular history says very little about him (Dan. 26:7). Our information comes almost exclusively from the Bible.

Israel, the ten-tribe kingdom, is missing, for it had already become desolate and gone into captivity. The nations that are listed are both literal (natural) and prophetic (primarily spiritual).

With Israel missing, Jerusalem and Judah take on other meanings. Jerusalem can be literal, or it can picture either the true Church or the false Church. Egypt represents Christendom (the Christian world). Tyre, Bozrah, and Edom all represent Papacy. Hence several in this list can spiritually picture Catholicism, and this fact is a clue that Sheshach (Babylon) represents something else here, even though Babylon is often a picture of Christendom.

The ten categories, which are basically centered around Abraham’s day, are shown below.

1. Jerusalem, Judah, and their kings and princes. These are a representation of Protestantism.

2. Egypt and its king, servants, princes, people, and “mingled” people (immigrants). “Pharaoh king of Egypt” is a double title, which none of the other categories have. Pharaoh can represent either Satan or God depending on the picture. Here Satan represents the pope, Satan’s chief earthly representative. The listing of all segments of the Egyptian population (Pharaoh, servants, people, etc.) is a picture of the papal hierarchy. The “mingled people” would be Greek Catholics, Armenian Catholics, Russian Orthodox, etc.

In prophecy, Pharaoh had his arm broken twice; hence there were two judgments. In the antitype, Papacy was judged once in the Protestant Reformation through the French Revolution with Napoleon. The future complete destruction will be the second judgment.

3. All the kings of the land of Uz. Why is this virtually unknown place listed as the third category? The Holy Spirit thus separated the first two categories from the remainder to show that they are the significant ones from the Christian standpoint. The first two represent all the Christian nations. The others represent non-Christian nations.

Very little is known about Uz, which is mentioned in Genesis 10:23. Job came from Uz, which was near India and includes those of the Hindu religion and the Persian Gulf states such as the small wealthy nations of Kuwait and Oman.

4. The Philistines (Ashkelon, Azzah [Gaza], Ekron, and Ashdod), i.e., terrorists such as the PLO. These cities and this area, which are in Israel today, do not represent a particular god or religion.

5. Edom, Moab, and Ammon. These three are all in Jordan, the Hashemite kingdom. Edom was Esau, Jacob’s twin brother, a grandson of Abraham. Moab and Ammon were Lot’s children after his daughters got him drunk. (Lot was a nephew of Abraham.) When Ishmael was sent away from Abraham, he went east and settled in the desert.

6. Tyre, Zidon, and the isles beyond the sea. Tyre and Zidon are close together; hence all were maritime peoples on the seacoast. The “isles” would include England in the antitype. Spain, Portugal, and France were also great maritime powers. All of these colonial powers had outlying colonies, which they controlled through their ships and navigation. In other words, the maritime powers of Europe are pictured here.

7. Dedan, Tema, and Buz, plus Arabia and the kings of the mingled people in the desert (the bedouins) and Zimri. These places are a description of the Arab nations.

8. Elam (Persia) and the Medes. The Medes are related to Persia, that is, to Iran and Iraq.

9. This category is different: “all the kings of the north, far and near … and all the kingdoms of the world.” The “kings of the north” include Russia, China, Japan (in the far north), and Turkey (in the near north). “All the kingdoms” would be Africa, Australia, and North and South America (including the United States). In other words, the Time of Trouble will include all the nations of the world. Why? Because they all worshipped “the works of their own hands” (verse 14). The Apostle Paul said that the nations degenerated (Rom. 1:21-32).

10. Sheshach. Judah, Egypt, and Sheshach are the three principal actors. They are, respectively, the first two and the last in the categorical listing.

In the natural picture, Babylon was judged when Media-Persia took over. First, however, Babylon captured all of these other nations—the whole civilized world of Jeremiah’s day. In this chapter, Babylon represents communists, anarchists—the element that will be chiefly responsible for tearing down the governments of the world. The communist element that has infiltrated many nations but is disenchanted with organized governments is the Lord’s Great Army, which will be operating in all nations. “And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (Joel 2:11). The Lord’s Great Army will consist of many little armed bands of guerrillas. Gog, which originates out of the north (Russia), will be part of this worldwide tearing-down element. When Gog from the land of Magog goes down to Israel, it is significant that this element will be destroyed last.

Ultimately, these lawless hordes (with guns) will fight and slaughter each other for food. Hence the brunt of the trouble will be on the heads of the wicked (as well as on “kings” earlier when the leaders of the nations are singled out for punishment). Verses 18-26 emphasize “kings,” for those in positions of leadership and power will suffer most in the Time of Trouble. The prominent leaders who have taken advantage of others will experience the most trouble. The trouble will start in Europe, for World War III will create great havoc there. Armageddon will affect the whole world religiously and politically, but Europe (Christendom) will especially experience trouble. There will be no place to hide. Homes will be entered and violated. Gog and the Assyrian are exact equivalents. However, Sheshach is a worldwide element that includes Gog/the Assyrian. Terms like Czar, Kaiser, Caesar, Ptolemy, Herod, and Sheshach refer to an office or a title. At the time of the literal fulfillment, Belshazzar was the Sheshach.

Note: The names of the nations in the then-known civilized world of Jeremiah’s day were used to describe the nations of our day, with verse 26 including all those not specifically delineated.

Jer. 25:27 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.

Jer. 25:28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink.

If the nations just mentioned refused to drink the cup Jeremiah gave them, God would make them drink. “Spew” means vomit. By his message, Jeremiah tore down kingdoms.

“Drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more.” The nations just mentioned lost the great power they once had. The Medes, Elamites, etc., had to share power after that.

Q: How would the cup of fury and wrath be refused?

A: The cup was refused when the religious leaders declared that Jeremiah was not the Lord’s prophet and went on with their own arrangements.

Jer. 25:29 For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.

Jerusalem was the city called by God’s name. In the antitype, Christendom is falsely called by Christ’s name. Hence the trouble will start in Christendom. And what do the Scriptures say?

“Judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Pet. 4:17). The judgment began in 1878 with Babylon’s fall from favor. Its destruction is future. At the same time that nominal spiritual Israel was falling from favor, favor was starting to rise on natural Israel. Also at the same time, God’s favor to the true spiritual Israel has been taking place, beginning in 1878.

1878 – Rejection of nominal Church

1878 – Favor begins to return to natural Israel

1878 – Resurrection of sleeping saints (true Church)

Moreover, the glorification of the true Church in the near future will occur very close in time to the destruction of the false Church and the establishment of the New Covenant with Israel. In other words, judgments of favor and disfavor are occurring at the same time.

After Jerusalem’s fall in the type, all the other nations received a judgment. Accordingly, after Christendom’s fall, God will bring a judgment on all the nations outside Christendom. The smashing of the image on the feet shows the destruction of Christendom plus the other nations (the entire image—head, arms, breast, belly, etc.—which represents Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, Rome, and the Holy Roman Empire).

Jer. 25:30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.

The Lord shall “mightily roar.” This description suggests a lion, justice, and judgment. The origin of the judgment will be from God. From His heavenly habitation, He will “mightily roar upon his [earthly] habitation”—Jerusalem and Judah (Christendom). God will “shout” and “tread the grapes.” We are reminded of the treading of the grapes of wrath in Revelation 14:18,19. “And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God.” The custom in treading the grapes was to shout and sing in unison. In karate, a shout helps the athletic movement. All of the world’s inhabitants will be involved.

Jer. 25:31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.

News will spread of the coming judgment until all are included. Revelation 18:9,10 shows that the kings of the earth will be fearful when Babylon falls because they will know they are next. God “will plead with all flesh,” giving especially the wicked to the sword. The instruction to the world is to “seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid [spared] in the day of the LORD’S anger” (Zeph. 2:3).

Jer. 25:32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

The evil (judgment) will go forth from nation to nation like a domino effect, with the contagion spreading out like a forest fire until all lands are included. At the same time, trouble will spread inward from the coasts of the earth so that all are embraced in this trouble. This is a description of all-comprehensive judgment!

Jer. 25:33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

The dead will be from one end of the earth to the other. So many will die that the bodies will not be buried or lamented. Whatever way people die, they will not be mourned because the trouble will be so comprehensive. Many will starve to death, and many will be killed by violence. Moreover, epidemics and plagues will result from the dead bodies. The three means of death are sword, famine, and pestilence.

Jer. 25:34 Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.

Jer. 25:35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape.

Jer. 25:36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture.

The “shepherds” are the religious leaders primarily and the civil leaders secondarily. They will not escape but will cry in unison in regard to the trouble coming upon them. Their “pasture” (congregation) will be “spoiled” (taken from them).

The shepherds will “fall like a pleasant vessel,” that is, like a potter’s vessel. The picture is one of complete destruction—just as the awesome image was all smashed together (Dan. 2:34,35).

Jer. 25:37 And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

The “peaceable habitations,” that which the leaders hoped would bring peace, will end in trouble and destruction. Belshazzar’s feast was a time of false peace. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).

Jer. 25:38 He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.

God will forsake His peaceful repose of ignoring the permission of evil and exhibit fierce anger.

He will leave His covert (den), and it will be the day of Jehovah’s WRATH.

Nebuchadnezzar (Sheshach) was the oppressor, but he was the instrument of God’s anger, the axe that boasted itself against its maker, God. Therefore, God will also judge the hammer—the anarchists—after they do their work.

The following commentary on chapter 25 is from the 1998-2004 study.

Jer. 25:1 The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon;

Jer. 25:2 The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,

Jer. 25:3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.

A time period is given as to when the following statements, at least through verse 7, were uttered. From the thirteenth year of Josiah’s 31-year reign to the “fourth year of Jehoiakim” was a period of 23 years; that is, it was the “three and twentieth year” of Jeremiah’s ministry.

At that time, he said to all the people of Judah, “I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.” “Rising early” shows Jeremiah’s intensity of purpose in not wanting to waste any time. Feeling that his time was dedicated to God and that he had a stewardship, he got up early on a regular basis to do this public work. However, generally speaking, his preaching fell on deaf ears.

Comment: Twenty-three years was a long time to keep prophesying without significant results.

Reply: Yes, and Jeremiah continued to prophesy to Judah through the reign of Zedekiah and even beyond, when he was down in Egypt with the vinedressers who fled after assassinating Gedaliah. His long ministry covered a total of about 45 years.

Jer. 25:4 And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.

How far back in history was Jeremiah’s reference to Jehovah’s sending “unto you [Judah] all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them”? Of course he was including the contemporary prophets of Ezekiel and Daniel. Many of Ezekiel’s prophecies were similar to Jeremiah’s, and in some cases, he even went into more detail. In addition, Jeremiah was referring to the prophets immediately prior to his day. For example, Zephaniah prophesied a little earlier and perhaps overlapped the beginning of Jeremiah’s ministry. Habakkuk was another such prophet. When we read the different prophecies, sometimes the name of a prophet comes up for which there is no book.

“But ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.” It was as though the Lord gave opportunity to nip the evil in the bud, but because the people stubbornly resisted, they became increasingly hardened against hearkening to subsequent prophets and changing their ways.

Jer. 25:5 They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever:

The prophets who rose early and prophesied said, “Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and [then, as a consequence, you will] dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever.”

Jer. 25:6 And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.

Why did the people of Judah go “after other gods” to serve and worship them? Careless intermarriage was probably a big factor. For that reason, the Christian is told to marry in the faith as far as possible: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14; compare 1 Cor. 7:39).

“Provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands [making idols, altars, and statues to heathen gods]; and I will do you no hurt.” These works of their hands were usually placed in prominent, conspicuous spots on the hills and in the groves.

Comment: As a modern-day example, huge statues of prior popes are in some of the Italian churches.

Reply: Yes, the statuary is prolific. On one of the tours, we saw the statue of St. Peter with the toes worn down into stumps from being kissed so many times over the years.

Jer. 25:7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.

The people refused to hearken.

Jer. 25:8 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words,

Jer. 25:9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.

“Behold, I will … take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land.” “All the families of the north” were other nations that were sympathetic to Nebuchadnezzar and opposed to Israel.

When it was seen that the king of Babylon was going down to visit a judgment on Israel, many volunteers from  surrounding nations joined his army. Nebuchadnezzar was the representative of the main core of the Babylonian Empire, which included many subservient countries.

Volunteers from these countries were happy to join the army under his leadership. We believe there was an ulterior motive for the inclusion of this information in the account, as will be seen.

God called Nebuchadnezzar “my servant” not from a moral standpoint but as the instrument of judgment. He was also called “the lion [that] is come up from his thicket,” and a lion is a symbol of justice and judgment (Jer. 4:7). For example, Solomon’s throne had several lions.

“Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom” (1 Kings 10:18-20). The lions were a symbol of judgment, especially if one did not hearken, for the king’s word was law in the realm.

Why would God bring Nebuchadnezzar and participants from other countries “[1] against this land [Judah], and [2] against the inhabitants thereof”? The moral reason was that the people of Judah did not hearken to God’s instruction. In addition, Nebuchadnezzar and his army destroyed the land—they ate the crops during the siege, burned the land, cut down the trees to make battering rams, destroyed houses and fortifications, and spoiled the goods.

Moreover, God brought Nebuchadnezzar “against all these nations [peoples] round about”— Ammon, Moab, Edom, Gaza, Ashkelon, Tyre, etc. The nations immediately surrounding Israel were sympathetic to Nebuchadnezzar’s coming down against Judah because of past experiences and defeats in war, such as under King David. As spectators with seething hatred, they cheered as they watched Israel’s destruction. When some of the Jews fled and hid from the enemy, these spectators pointed out the hiding places to the Babylonians. Therefore, through Nebuchadnezzar, God would “utterly destroy them [not only Judah but also the nations surrounding Judah], and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual [lasting] desolations.” This important information requires some consideration so that we will know which thought is correct when certain other judgments come up. To understand the desolation on the other nations, we will take Judah as the example. What did the king of Babylon do to Judah? He destroyed the capital city and the Temple, killed great numbers of people, burned houses, etc., and took a few of the inhabitants captive to Babylon. The point is that if Judah became a “hissing” and a byword, these other nations suffered a similar fate.

Secular history is very deficient on this information, so the Bible provides details not obtainable anywhere else. It pictures that from a worldly standpoint, Babylon was the greatest nation, the head of gold. Nebuchadnezzar did many things in his long reign of more than 40 years.

Jer. 25:10 Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.

The voice of mirth, gladness, the bridegroom, and the bride and lighted candles and the sound of millstones were removed not only from Judah but also from the surrounding nations. Right away we can see a spiritual connotation because of Revelation 18:23, “And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” In other words, the natural picture, from which we can extrapolate valuable information, is a past historical fulfillment that embodies a prophecy of the future. As we continue, we will become more and more convinced that chapter 25 was not wholly fulfilled by the king of Babylon and his confederates, for some of the details did not happen back there but are prophesied elsewhere as events in the near future.

As we read verse 10, we can almost picture a wedding. During the Harvest period, the voice of Jesus, the Bridegroom, has been outside the nominal Church, yet the voice can be heard inside.

Therefore, it is improper to say there is no Spirit begettal inside Babylon, for the voice is heard within the system from without. The Bride responds to the Bridegroom’s call, “Come out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4). In 1878, the nominal system ceased to be the mouthpiece of the Lord, but that did not stop the Lord’s people.

The “sound of the millstones,” the grinding of the wheat—Sunday school classes for children, the preparation of food in the seminaries, etc.—will cease. Eventually, the “light of the candle”will be entirely extinguished. At present, mystic Babylon is getting darker and darker. The degradation of the nominal Church hastens on, and in time, these activities will cease. Thus there is a progression, but also a definiteness, that will end in desolation.

Jer. 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

Verse 10 reads, “I [God] will take from them [plural—that is, from Judah plus the nations round about Israel].” Now verse 11 continues, “This whole land shall be a desolation,” starting with Judah and extending to much of Egypt, Ammon, and Petra (areas that once flourished). Egypt’s former grandeur in large cities and temples is in ruins. Even today these areas have not regained their former richness and agrarian fertility. The shock wave was so bad when King Nebuchadnezzar did his destroying work that the recovery process is taking thousands of years. “Astonishment” is associated with “hissing” (whistling).

And so a judgment was to come that would humble the nations so that they would be in a nonthreatening position for many years. “These nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

Jer. 25:12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.

Here is a time period that has been universally accepted, namely, 70 years. However, as to the application of those 70 years, Bro. Russell and a few old-timers back there—but very few of other denominations—had the correct thought. The beginning of this chapter (Jer. 25:1) tells the time period here: “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim … [which] was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.” Some incorrectly start the 70 years from this period of time, but verse 1 is merely saying that Jeremiah was predicting future things in the fourth year of King Jehoiakim.

To repeat: Verse 1 does not mean the 70 years started in the fourth year of Jehoiakim. Many Bibles today have a marginal reference that this date is 606 BC, meaning that the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the first year of the king of Babylon, was 606 BC. However, based on the detailed information in Chronicles and Kings, the destruction of Jerusalem would then be 586 BC, a date commonly accepted by others, instead of 606 BC. They apply 606 BC here instead of at the time the city was destroyed according to the chronology of the Second Volume, which we accept. We gave several years to a study of the chronology and all the alternative thinking, and today’s thinking is no different. It sounds new with the mention of the tablets, but a lot of tablets had already been uncovered when the same thinking was used in the past—50 or more years ago.

Q: Do some use the backward approach with Cyrus, Darius, and Artaxerxes to get 586 BC?

A: They use the forward approach, whereas we use the backward approach. We take 536 BC as being a correct date. Therefore, 70 years earlier would be 606 BC. The Pastor applied 606 BC not to Jehoiakim but to Zedekiah and the destruction of Jerusalem, which we believe is correct.

And there is another line of reasoning. When verse 11 says, “This whole land shall be a desolation, … and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years,” did Israel serve the king of Babylon in the fourth year of Jehoiakim? No. Jeremiah was talking about a future 70 years, not a current 70 years, yet Bible chronologists across the board get this mixed up. Fortunately, a couple of other places in Scripture give the correct thought to solidify the thinking that the 70 years were from 606 to 536 BC. Otherwise, when speakers with the other view use the wording here in Jeremiah 25, they can make one think they are right because they speak with such assurance. Their positiveness has the effect of traumatizing some who are less informed on the subject matter.

Therefore, the 70 years started at a future time from the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim.

Jeremiah was not implying that the 70 years began there. For one thing, Egypt was not in subjection at this time. Nebuchadnezzar had warned Egypt and then come down and broken one arm. However, he did not go into Egypt and destroy it until the second time when he broke the other arm. Therefore, anyone who delves into secular history, where there is so much confusion, instead of getting informed by the Bible, which presents true history, has caused a lot of confusion. It is good that not too many brethren are affected, for how many have the time, the desire, or the talent to go into the nitty-gritty of secular history?

Jer. 25:13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.

We have already read where Jeremiah sent emissaries with prophetic messages to the different surrounding nations, telling them what would happen. From captivity, Ezekiel prophesied of the same time period. The double witness is encouraging because it tells us that God informs His people wherever they are, that is, even if they are in different lands. The message may come from people we do not even know, but God feeds His people in the various places with the necessary information.

Jer. 25:14 For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.

From this point on, the prophecy is being enlarged down to our day. The natural picture of something that literally happened can be spiritualized—somewhat like chapters 50 and 51 of this same book, which are a detailed prophecy against Babylon. From here to the end of chapter 25, we will get a little information on events that were about to occur—and the 70 years began when the actual occurrence started.

Comment: It is interesting that earlier in this chapter (verse 9), Jeremiah called Nebuchadnezzar a “servant” of God, but even though the king accomplished that work, he was responsible for his actions. The same principle applies to Judas. Although he fulfilled prophecy in betraying Jesus, he incurred the penalty of Second Death.

Reply: In Isaiah 10:5-15, the Assyrian was the battle-axe that did the Lord’s work, but then God said in effect, “Do not get high-minded, for you, too, will receive retribution.” The same principle operated with the king of Babylon.

Jer. 25:15 For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me; Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.

God said to Jeremiah, “Take the wine cup of this fury at my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.” This verse needs to be modified to some extent because we do not think that Jeremiah went personally to each of the 15 or so nations. However, he did go representatively by sending a messenger with the pertinent message for each nation. The same principle applies to Zechariah 14:16,17, which states that there will be no rain upon the nation that does not go up to the Feast of Tabernacles. The thought is that all nations will have to go representatively to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles. As an illustration, when a dignitary

dies, the various nations are represented at the memorial service by their president, vice president, prime minister, or other high-ranking leader. Thus Jeremiah went representatively to all of these nations and caused them to drink the “wine cup” of fury, that is, the message of trouble. In contrast, Paul urged the Christian to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the holy wine of joy (Eph. 5:18).

Jer. 25:16 And they shall drink, and be moved, and be mad, because of the sword that I will send among them.

God told Jeremiah in advance that the nations would drink and that the wine of fury, the message, would make them angry. They would be insulted and mad that the message of bad news came out of Jerusalem, the headquarters of the Jewish nation.

Jer. 25:17 Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:

In what way did Jeremiah take the cup and make all the nations drink? The message was probably enacted, or dramatized, as on a stage. Jeremiah went to a prominent place with a symbolic cup of the wine of fury and, while pointing in the direction of a particular nation,

repeated the judgment message God had given him. As he turned, he pointed to one nation after another: to Egypt, to Moab, to Ammon, etc. Ezekiel used the same technique of dramatization by drawing a map of Jerusalem under siege and lying on his left side for 390 days and then on his right side for 40 days. In addition, his food and water were rationed to indicate that the food supply would be scarce.

After performing this pantomime, Jeremiah sent a messenger to the various nations to deliver the message in person. Thus there were two stages: (1) he gesticulated the message and (2) he sent a messenger to deliver the message verbally.

Comment: Jeremiah made sure that the leadership of each nation heard the message.

Jer. 25:18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day;

Jerusalem, the cities of Judah, and the king, prince, or leader of each city would be made “a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; as it is this day.” Verse 18 is important from a chronological standpoint to determine the time frame of the 70 years of desolation.

Verse 12 reads, “And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” What does the term “as it is this day” in verse 18 signify? Ezra wrote this clause later, that is, after the 70 years had already started. Without this realization, the chronology becomes confused. As we will discuss subsequently, certain problems existed at the time this information was recorded.

Jer. 25:19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;

Jer. 25:20 And all the mingled people, and all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod,

When we read verses 19 and 20, certain little pauses and couplings should be observed. For instance, verse 19 refers to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt—his servants, princes, and people. But the beginning of verse 20, “And all the mingled people,” also refers to Egypt, meaning the mixed population of not only the Egyptians but also the foreign element dwelling in the land.

Just like Israel, the land of Egypt was laid waste by King Nebuchadnezzar, yet there is no record of this defeat in secular history. The decimation was so bad that the survivors were taken captive to Babylon, and Egypt was desolate for a period of time. Thus on the one hand, Nebuchadnezzar poured out fury on those who differed with him. On the other hand, he honored those whom he approved, so he was polarized in two different directions depending on his mood. He had no qualms about burning his enemies alive.

The next clause in verse 20, “and all the kings of the land of Uz,” has nothing to do with Egypt. Uz was a separate territory in what today is more or less the land of Arabia. Job dwelled in Uz. Saudi Arabia is a large, nebulous area covering a tremendous amount of ground that is filled with oases and stark desert, which is sort of an odd mixture.

“And all the kings of the land of the Philistines, and [even] Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod.” Now the reference is to a much different area. Uz was to the east of Israel, being a desert kingdom that flourished at one time in history, and the Philistines were on the west side of Israel, being on the Mediterranean coast. Ashkelon, Azzah (Gaza), Ekron, and Ashdod were principal cities of the Philistines.

There is the possibility that verse 19 should be kept separate. If so, then verse 20 should read, “And all the mingled people, even all the kings of the land of Uz, and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, even Ashkelon, and Azzah, and Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod.” Just as in the Greek of the New Testament, the word translated “and” in the Old Testament can mean either “and” or “even.” A committee of many scholars translated the Scriptures; for example, 70 scholars worked on the Septuagint. However, each scholar could not do the entire Bible because to analytically study the grammar of the Old or New Testament is a daunting task that requires a lifetime. Therefore, the scholars were segmented so that each handled only smaller portions. The use of this method accounts for multiple spellings of the same name through different provincial dialectical twists.

Jer. 25:21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,

Going from north to south and bordering one another in a rather uneven fashion, this grouping of separate and distinct peoples was Ammon, Moab, and Edom. Edom was on the east side of the Dead Sea, and it extended all the way down to the Gulf of Eilat.

Jer. 25:22 And all the kings of Tyrus, and all the kings of Zidon, and the kings of the isles which are beyond the sea,

With regard to Tyrus and Zidon, there are a Tyre and a Sidon in Lebanon today.

Jer. 25:23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all that are in the utmost corners,

Jer. 25:24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the mingled people that dwell in the desert,

Of the two Dedans and Shebas, this Dedan and Sheba were in Saudi Arabia, being related to the children of Abraham through his wife Keturah. Like Ishmael’s children, they left Abraham and went east but in a different time period. Incidentally, the other Dedan and Sheba are in Africa. Tema, probably an abbreviation of Teman, was also in the Saudi Arabia area. What about Buz? Elihu of the Book of Job was the son of a Buzite (Job 32:2). Job was of the land of Uz (Job 1:1).

Comment: According to Job 4:1, Eliphaz was a Temanite.

“And all that are in the utmost corners.” This expression pertaining to the skull, or head, is figuratively used to describe a geographic area in what we believe is Kuwait and Yemen today. What is presently Saudi Arabia consisted of different provinces with distinct people and was a very populated area at one time.

Jer. 25:25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of the Medes,

Now the description is going from Saudi Arabia more into northeastern and northwestern areas. A portion of eastern Turkey, called Anatolia and embracing the Ararat area, is included.

The Medes are familiar to us because of the Media-Persia Empire. Elam is Persia, or Iran.

Zimri is mentioned in 1 Kings 16:16-19, as follows. “And the people that were encamped heard say, Zimri hath conspired, and hath also slain the king: wherefore all Israel made Omri, the captain of the host, king over Israel that day in the camp. And Omri went up from Gibbethon, and all Israel with him, and they besieged Tirzah. And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, For his sins which he sinned in doing evil in the sight of the LORD, in walking in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin which he did, to make Israel to sin.”

Basically, the account is now getting into the areas of Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Generally speaking, the description shifts up to a very large bloc north of Saudi Arabia.

Jer. 25:26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.

Verse 26, “all the kings of the north, far and near,” is a summary of verse 25 about Zimri, Elam, and the Medes. The description is of a large area, or bloc, north of Saudi Arabia. Some of the nations are farther north, and some are a little more to the south, but all are north of Saudi Arabia as we know it today. Even these nations have changed down through history, just as Israel and particularly the nations in Europe have changed. What was once Media has shifted, just as the nations in Europe have shifted.

“All the kingdoms of the world” are more or less the mercantile or professional world, the world of business. After the Flood, Noah’s three sons went in three directions—but not right away. Their migration was gradual. For instance, the earliest period of Rome in history is about 767 BC, but at that time, Rome was a little nothing. Later, of course, it became a great empire with the Caesars—Julius, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Nero. Although these emperors ruled in the early part of the empire, the time period is rather recent. The point is that Japheth  sort of dragged his steps in Turkey and in going across the Bosphorus into Europe.

“All the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of Sheshach [Babylon] shall drink after them.” Right away this portion of verse 26 helps us, for the king of Babylon is the last to drink the cup of the wine of God’s fury. In the New Testament, mystic Babylon, or Christendom, drinks the cup first. Therefore, these two cups are different. All the nations in verses 18-26 had a past experience, and they prefigure a future experience—but not the one that we, as Christians, are more familiar with, namely, England, the Anglican Church, the Protestant churches, and the Catholic Church. The nomenclature in this chapter is different, for it pertains to the territories that are involved.

And there is another point. Sometimes people say that with a type and an antitype, the antitype has to be distinctly different. If the type is material, they feel that the antitype has to be spiritual. In many instances, that statement is true but not necessarily. Some carry this dogmatic thinking even down to pictures with regard to beings. For instance, the man Joseph pictures the man Jesus. At his First Advent, down here on earth, Jesus was the fulfillment of the picture of Joseph; each was hated of his brethren, who conspired against him. Thus both type and antitype are a man, not man and a spiritual being.

The clue found here in verse 26 that the king of Sheshach will drink last disengages us from a Christendom type of picture and enables us to see that the antitype pertains more to the natural. With this realization, we can now begin more properly to draw other conclusions as we read verse 27.

Jer. 25:27 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Drink ye, and be drunken, and spew, and fall, and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you.

Where is Babylon today? Prior to the start of the war with Iraq, Saddam Hussein, who was a nobody, thumbed his nose at the other nations. And the Shah mentioned that his kingdom, Iran, going way back in history, was one of the longest kingdoms on earth. He was being very successful in trying to modernize his country and bring it up to a standard like other nations, but then the religious element, who felt that all of their standards were being eroded, conspired against him.

Where are Zimri, Elam, and the Medes today? They are gone. From a natural standpoint, the land remains, but Babylon no longer exists as a kingdom. Egypt still exists but because of American aid. Therefore, we make a distinction between a “curse” and “desolation” (compare Jer. 25:18). Egypt is a mean country in its poverty, although Nasser and subsequent leaders have tried to raise the standard and unify the Arabs.

Jer. 25:28 And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink, then shalt thou say unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Ye shall certainly drink.

Jer. 25:29 For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.

“For, lo, I [God] begin to bring evil [through the king of Babylon] on the city [Jerusalem] which is called by my name.” (Jerusalem is at the head of the list in verses 18-26.) The evil first came upon Jehoiakim, then on Jehoiachin, and finally on Zedekiah. At this point in the account, Nebuchadnezzar was dealing with Jehoiachin. Therefore, the destruction of Jerusalem and the lasting desolation were still future.

“Should ye [all the nations previously mentioned] be utterly unpunished?” God was saying through Jeremiah, “Should I bring judgment on Jerusalem and leave all the other peoples unpunished? No! The others will have to drink this cup of fury too, not just the people called by my name.” The point is that in the application here, Babylon does not picture Christendom because in the religious picture, mystic Babylon will fall first. Subsequently the other nations will be dealt with.

“Ye [the other nations already enumerated] shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.” They would all have to drink of the cup of fury.

Jer. 25:30 Therefore prophesy thou against them all these words, and say unto them, The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.

When the image is smitten, which is a different picture, the smiting will take place on the feet. When the ten toes are smitten, the entire image will fall (Dan. 2:34,35). Babylon was the head of gold, so when the stone hits the feet, the whole image will instantly destruct. “The LORD shall roar from on high, and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar upon his habitation; he shall give a shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth,” causing the image to explode or implode at once.

As Jeremiah was giving these prophecies, Ezekiel was talking the same way in captivity. These prophecies had a fulfillment in Jeremiah’s day, and they will have another fulfillment at the end of the present age.

Comment: There is a fourfold emphasis on Jehovah’s voice. He will “roar,” “utter his voice,” “mightily roar,” and “shout.” It is like a person who has been holding back his words until all of a sudden, a tremendous verbal explosion occurs.

Reply: Yes, God’s fury will come up into His face (Ezek. 38:18).

Jer. 25:31 A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh; he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the LORD.

Verse 31 is like shifting into another gear, going from the fulfillment in the past to the fulfillment in our day. We see Kosovo, Ethiopia, the Sudan, etc.—these tremors, which are jumping all over like a flame, precede the real earthquake, or trouble, that is still future. A tremor is related but is relatively superficial compared to the crescendo of the earthquake, the great Time of Trouble yet future.

“The LORD hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh.” The future trouble will be very embracive, involving “all flesh,” whereas Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction was more local, and it was accomplished in a few years.

Comment: Although God “will plead with all flesh,” He will particularly “give them that are wicked to the sword.” This is one of several Scriptures that show the trouble will be primarily on the heads of the wicked.

Reply: Yes, that is true in a broad-brush sense.

Review of Jeremiah 25

Before proceeding, we will summarize the earlier part of this chapter. We went into great detail to show what areas the various nations occupied back in Jeremiah’s day. Some of the nations are grouped in mini blocs of two, three, or four peoples. At any rate, the nations embraced the then-known world, and the prophecy of coming trouble and desolation had a past fulfillment.

However, secular history does not record the marvelous deeds of King Nebuchadnezzar. More is probably known in Arab annals than by present Western scholarship—except for what is written in God’s Word, specifically in the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. Those three prophets gave clues regarding the various component nations that are mentioned in the listing.

While there was a past fulfillment, Pastor Russell and other writers saw that some of these prophecies also have an end-time fulfillment. In other words, there is to be a future fulfillment.

The listing, starting with verse 18, begins with Jerusalem and ends in verse 26 with Sheshach.

Thus, whatever the listing signifies, Jerusalem is first in the sequence, and Sheshach is last. However, what is sandwiched in between is not necessarily sequential, for many of the kings had their experience in blocs within a period of a few years. Verse 29 is one clue that Jerusalem was first to receive judgment in the type: “For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name.” In the past, the city called by God’s name was Jerusalem. And Sheshach, or Babylon, ended the scenario back there by drinking the wine of God’s fury last. If we try to give Babylon (Sheshach) an antitypical fulfillment, there appears to be a problem because in many Scriptures, Babylon is a picture of Christendom, spiritually speaking, and Christendom will be the first to receive judgment, not the last. The conquest of Jerusalem started shortly before 606 BC and ended with the destruction of the city and the Temple. In the type, Jerusalem was destroyed and made desolate, just like the other nations and Sheshach, but in the antitype, the city has to picture something else, for the Scriptures plainly show that the Lord will not make Jerusalem desolate in the end time. God will interfere at the time of Jacob’s Trouble and fight as in the “day of battle” to rescue Israel, specifically the Holy Remnant (Zech.

14:3). Therefore, in chapter 25, Jerusalem pictures Christendom, as applied in the Volumes.

The seeming problem is as follows. If Jerusalem is Christendom (nominal spiritual Israel) in the antitype, what does Babylon (Sheshach) represent? We will read verse 29 again: “For, lo, I begin to bring evil on the city which is called by my name [Jerusalem], and should ye [the other nations previously mentioned] be utterly unpunished? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the LORD of hosts.” In addition to Jerusalem, these other nations would have to drink the cup of the Lord’s wrath.

When we bring this prophecy forward to our day and see that Jerusalem is the first to drink, we realize the city pictures Christendom in the antitype, and this interpretation harmonizes with other Scriptures which show mystic Babylon’s falling first in the end time. Clearly, then, the “Babylon” of Jeremiah 25 pertains to something else, which we will treat shortly. After the nominal Church systems fall, the kings of the earth will stand afar off, witnessing the “smoke of her burning” (Rev. 18:9,10). As has been said for years, the fall of the nominal Church will mean that the Little Flock is complete. Having obeyed the call to come out of Babylon, the feet members will be spared that experience (Rev. 18:4).

Q: Do verses 29-33 lead down to the end of the Gospel Age?

A: Yes. First, the judgments of the past occurred as enumerated, but then the picture enlarges into a broader stroke to apply to the end of the present age. Clues to this effect are the terms “all the inhabitants of the earth” (used twice), “the ends of the earth,” “all flesh,” “the coasts of the earth,” and “from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth.”

A question arises at this point: How can we spiritualize Jerusalem by saying that it represents Christendom when all the rest of the detail is natural? Common sense would say that everything must be either spiritual or natural; for example, if Jerusalem is spiritual, then Egypt should also be spiritual (and the others too—Ammon, Moab, etc.). However, there are precedents in Scripture where a spiritual signification and a natural application are in the same picture. Let us try to think of some of these precedents, which are exceptions to the general rule. Normally, we think along the lines of the general rule, which is proper, but we should never feel that when exceptions are made, they are contrary to the general rule.

The stone smiting the image is a prominent example of the spiritual being mixed in with the natural, for the ten toes are a mixture of iron and clay. “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they [the ecclesiastical element] shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay” (Dan. 2:43). With the ten toes, “clay” (the ecclesiastical element) and “iron” (civil Rome, the political element) are mixed together in the same picture, and all the other parts of the image are natural. When smitten on the toes, the whole image will be broken together—at once. The destruction is described as going up the image: “A stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together” (Dan. 2:34,35). The destruction will begin with the feet (Christendom, a mixture of church and state) and then go up the legs to the thighs and the arms and finally to the head (none of which are a mixture as far as ecclesiasticism is concerned). The iron and clay represent Christendom, but what part? The ten toes show that the area particularly affected will be Europe, a geographic area just like the other representations. Thus Europe is brought into the breaking down of the end-time picture, whereas the past  fulfillment of Jeremiah 25 embraced only the Middle East. All of those nations—the Medes, the Persians (Elam), etc.—will be involved in the future Time of Trouble, but the smiting will start with Christendom and end up with Sheshach, or Babylon (verse 26).

The end-time enemy of Christendom is called “the Assyrian” in the Book of Isaiah. Moreover, the one who is given great prominence as being used of the Lord to come down and visit judgment on Israel is the “Assyrian, the rod of mine [God’s] anger” (Isa. 10:5). During the prophecies here in Jeremiah, the term “Sheshach” (Babylon) is the equivalent (Jer. 25:26; see also 51:41). In the Book of Ezekiel, the enemy element is “Gog” of the land of Magog (Ezek. 38:2,3,14,16,18; 39:1,11). Thus the “Assyrian” in Isaiah, “Sheshach” in Jeremiah, and “Gog” in Ezekiel are all the end-time enemy under different terminology.

Jer. 25:32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.

Jer. 25:33 And the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.

Verse 33 is the closing verse of a scenario that began with verse 1 of this chapter. Already we are beginning to see “evil … go forth from nation to nation” in multiple trouble spots. But the pleading with “all flesh” (verse 31) will be as a composite whole. We are in a time of trouble but not the Time of Trouble. What we see at present is symptomatic, and it will lead up to the great social explosion that will cover the earth.

Earlier verses of this chapter mentioned many nations being visited with desolation beginning with Jerusalem. Many kings and various component parts of the known world in Jeremiah’s day were enumerated. The listing ended with verse 26 telling that the last to drink the cup of

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the Lord’s wrath will be the king of Sheshach, which is another name for the king of Babylon.

The fulfillment of verses 32 and 33 is still future, but we have seen samples of this type of destruction. For instance, when two tribes in Rowanda warred against each other, more than a million people were slain. The corpses, being too numerous, were not buried but were left on the ground to decompose with the stink going forth for many months. Another instance of the dead not being buried was the Warsaw ghetto in Poland, where for months, Jews walked by the dead and did not lament because the magnitude of the horror was so overwhelming. Many were also killed in Kosovo and Serbia, but there the casualties were buried in mass graves—trenches dug by bulldozers. The point is that these tragedies, as bad as they were, are not evidences of the great Time of Trouble but are merely samples of trouble which are permitted to alert us as to what to look for in the future.

Comment: Israel will need seven months to bury the dead after Jacob’s Trouble (Ezek. 39:12).

Reply: Yes, we were coming to that Scripture. It will take seven months to bury the dead and seven years to convert the implements of war into agricultural purposes (Ezek. 39:9).

In the future Time of Trouble, “the slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” Isaiah 34:1-3 describes the same end-time period: “Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the LORD is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies: he hath utterly destroyed them, he hath delivered them to the slaughter. Their slain also shall be cast out, and their stink shall come up out of their carcases, and the mountains shall be melted with their blood.” Throughout the entire earth, contemporaneous deaths will be so devastating that people will be worried about their own survival. Mankind, with all of their problems, have not gotten down on their knees and prayed in reverential fear for God to deliver them. Therefore, the coming trouble is necessary to get the people to “look upward” to Jehovah (Isa. 8:21). “They shall … curse their king [civil or political authorities] and their God [false religious leaders].” False religion throughout the world will cease. Meanwhile, the people are getting sick of the corruption, but the explosion is still future.

Comment: Jesus said, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matt. 24:22).

Verses 32 and 33, then, are an end-time picture beginning with Christendom and ending with the destruction of the ones who visit their wrath worldwide. The Assyrian was called “the rod” of God’s anger. Nebuchadnezzar was called God’s “servant,” His “lion [that] is come up from his thicket” (Jer. 4:7; 25:9). The Lord’s Great Army will cause anarchy at the end of the age (Joel 2:11), but eventually God will cause the wrath of men to bring forth praise to Him, for severe trouble is necessary to make them get down on their knees. But, first, they will “pass through it [the land], hardly bestead and hungry” (Isa. 8:21). The RSV has “greatly distressed and hungry.” Hunger, the nonavailability of food, will be a big factor.

Comment: Hungry people are dangerous people.

Reply: During this period of time, only Israel will have a measure of security with their “cattle and goods” (Ezek. 38:12). People cannot eat or drink oil; they will want to satisfy their immediate temporal needs.

Comment: In connection with Gog coming down from Magog, God said, “I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws [their mouths], and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords” (Ezek. 38:4). This text is a clear indication that the invasion of Israel will have nothing to do with material wealth but with food.

Reply: The forces of Gog will first go into Europe, to Rome. After they visit their wrath on Papacy, they will be turned around to go southward down into Israel. Gog will want to wreak vengeance in one direction, but the lack of food will force them to turn around. It has been said, “An army travels on its stomach.”

“They [the dead bodies] shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” They will lie on the surface of the ground until they completely decompose.

In the beginning of the seven months in Israel, thousands of corpses will be buried daily. When bodies and bones are subsequently discovered on the outskirts, they will be brought back to the cemetery called “Hamon-gog” (Ezek. 39:11-15). Gog will be sort of an antitypical fulfillment of Haman in the Book of Esther. Agag is also related to Gog (1 Sam. 15:32,33).

Jeremiah 25:12 states, “And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.” That area is largely desert today, even though Iraq unsuccessfully tried to rebuild Babylon. Notice again what God said: “When seventy years are accomplished [i.e., after the 70 years], … I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation … for their iniquity … and will make it perpetual desolations.” What “seventy years” were accomplished? What is usually not explained or is given a low profile with the chronology changes being made is that the 70 years of desolation are said to be 51 years, with 19 years

being dropped. After the desolation of all the enumerated nations, who drank of the wine cup of God’s fury, the last to drink was the one who caused the captivity. Nebuchadnezzar had a tremendous campaign including the capture of Egypt, of which secular history says virtually nothing. Reliable secular history goes back to the Persian king Cambyses, but the Bible gives us earlier details of ages, births, deaths, and years. In addition, the Jewish annals tell about the chronology so that we can add up the years. No other nations of ancient history left behind such an accurate record. Even the register on the mountain in Persia provides only the names of successive kings, not the years. The Abydos tablet, too, gives the sequence of different Pharaohs who ruled Egypt but not the years. Only the Bible gives us the specifics—how marvelous! The scholars go everywhere but to the Bible, which has the accurate information.

The god of this world is powerful in blinding the minds of men who are smarter than we are in academic education but ignore the Word of God.

Comment: The wisdom of God is foolishness to men (1 Cor. 1:18-29; 2:14; 3:19).

Reply: Yes. Jesus said, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Matt. 11:25). We are “babes” from the perspective of the world.

Now let us turn to 2 Chronicles 36:20,21, “And them that had escaped from the sword carried he [Nebuchadnezzar] away to Babylon; where they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.” Jeremiah 25:1 reads, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon.” The question is, Was the land desolate in the fourth year of Jehoiakim? No. Was it desolate eight years later when his son, Jehoiachin,

reigned for three months and then was taken captive to Babylon? No. The land was not desolate until the city of Jerusalem was destroyed; that is, the 70 years are marked from the destruction of Jerusalem. “To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah,” the whole land had to lie desolate for 70 years, which did not happen until the people of Judah and the foreigners that had been placed in the former territory of the ten tribes were taken captive, leaving the entire land desolate. Egypt, Edom, Moab, Ammon, etc., were also made desolate; the people were either killed or taken captive to Babylon, just like the survivors of Judah.

Q: How long did the vinedressers and Gedaliah remain in the land after Nebuchadnezzar left them there?

A: They were there for only a few months when the vinedressers slew Gedaliah, the puppet governor left by Nebuchadnezzar, and fled to Egypt.

Jer. 25:34 Howl, ye shepherds, and cry; and wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished; and ye shall fall like a pleasant vessel.

Jer. 25:35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape.

Jer. 25:36 A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture.

Jer. 25:37 And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD.

Verses 34-37 are stated as though the desolation had already occurred, but that was not the case. Jeremiah’s uttering this prophecy as though it had already taken place shows God’s determination to fulfill what was irrevocable. The surety of fulfillment added emphasis, as if to say, “The Lord’s evidence of what He had been predicting for years was now accomplished.”

Although the dispersions had not fully taken place, some were beginning to happen, for one or two of the shepherds who had disagreed with Jeremiah got summary punishment before the year was over.

Verse 34 says, “For the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished.” This statement sounds as if the days had already occurred, but then the rest of the verse states, “Ye shall fall [future tense] like a pleasant vessel.” Thus verse 34 has both past and future tense. Verse 35 uses future tense: “And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the principal of the flock to escape.” Then verse 36 mixes the tenses: “A voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath spoiled their pasture.”

Jeremiah spoke with surety of the details that were going to happen. This method of speaking added power and force to his message.

The “shepherds” were particularly the religious leaders of both the priests and the false prophets. “Wallow yourselves in the ashes, ye principal of the flock: for the days of your slaughter and of your dispersions are accomplished.” One interpretation is that the principals were slaughtering the flock. There were two types of dispersion: (1) the Jews went into captivity and were dispersed, and (2) the shepherds of the flock scattered the sheep. Instead of gathering the sheep together and nourishing them, the shepherds dispersed them. Instead of being shepherds, the religious leaders were slaughterers, and they dispersed the flock. They were guilty of the sectarian spirit of rivalry and internecine destruction and biting one another.

It was as though the book was now being closed on such activity. “Now is the time for your falling like a pleasant vessel” is the thought; it was like a rich man being made poor again. The religious leaders were like a pleasant vessel in their appearance. They had good clothes, a very religious look, and all the ornamentation of religiosity and honor, but they would be debased.

The falling of a pleasant vessel reminds us of other falls: the smiting of the image, the clay potter’s vessel that Jeremiah smashed, and especially the fall of (mystic) Babylon (Rev. 17:5).

The kings and the merchants will stand afar off and mourn and howl over Babylon’s fall (Rev. 18:9-11). The vessel was pleasant in appearance prior to the smashing. As an illustration, if a woman had a precious vessel that fell and broke, she would be dismayed. But here, of course, the shepherds themselves would be demeaned and lose their influence and authority. They “shall have no way to flee, nor … to escape.” As we proceed, we will find that the false prophets and the false priests were put to death; none escaped in the trouble of 606 BC.

As Jeremiah continued to prophesy, it was like hearing “a voice of the cry of the shepherds, and an howling of the principal of the flock,” but the event had not yet happened. “For the LORD hath spoiled their pasture. And the peaceable habitations are cut down because of the fierce anger of the LORD.” The Temple, the shepherds’ way of life, and the shepherds themselves would be destroyed.

This whole chapter pertains to what Jeremiah said in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. 25:1). Since the next chapter starts with “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim” and does not state specifically, the time setting could be about the same. The prophecies of Jeremiah were written down, probably by Baruch, who acted like a secretary, so we are given thumbnail descriptions of different things that happened in the prophet’s ministry. The documents were later taken by King Nebuchadnezzar and put in the archives of the Temple of Bel in Babylon.

Not until many, many years later did the king unlock the archives and tell Ezra to take the documents of Jeremiah’s sermons. The question facing Ezra was how to compile and collate them. Baruch had inserted the time period, but if multiple talks were from the fourth year of Jehoiakim, the problem was how to sequence them. Earlier, in chapter 22, we mentioned that there was a continual chronological description through chapter 21; then the sequence stopped.

The refrain resumes way down here, so the chapters in between are this material, which consists of several discourses given the same year. Does it matter whether something was said in the first or second month, for example? In other words, it was hard to sequence sermons given in the same year. Having insight, Ezra probably felt there was something in the chapters that merited the sequence as it has come down to us. We do not fully fathom the purpose, but no doubt there was one. Ezra was a most unusual person. We think he was even nobler than Nehemiah, but Nehemiah had a more honored position and was the king’s cup bearer.

The recognition of past and future tense had an effect on the hearers, for it showed that the speaker was convinced he was telling the truth. His words brought conviction. Not only was Jeremiah speaking a “thus saith the LORD,” but he was positive it would occur that way. To not hearken to Jeremiah’s message shows how hardened the Jews were as a people. With regard to the sinner, if there were seven opportunities, if there were seven Millennial Ages, a certain class would fail in every one of them. A hardened heart is very deceitful.

In the term “principal of the flock,” the word “principal” is plural, meaning “principal ones.”

Thus the majority followed the advice and guidance of the false shepherds. Only a small  minority heeded Jeremiah’s instruction, namely, “When the enemy surrounds Jerusalem, those who run out of the city and become willing captives are guaranteed survival, but they will be slaves for the rest of their life.” Faith would say, “If my life is spared and I am to be a slave, perhaps I will have a good master and be treated reasonably well.” And that is what happened, for many captives, like Daniel and the three Hebrew children, were given prominent positions.

Jer. 25:38 He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor, and because of his fierce anger.

“He hath forsaken his covert, as the lion.” In this context, the “lion” has a dual application—to both Jehovah and Nebuchadnezzar. God roars as a lion, and King Nebuchadnezzar was likened to a lion earlier (Jer. 4:7). Verse 38 incorporates both thoughts: “He [the LORD or Nebuchadnezzar] hath forsaken his covert, as the lion: for their land is desolate because of the fierceness of the oppressor [Nebuchadnezzar], and because of his [Jehovah’s] fierce anger.”

Not only did the king of Babylon come down and destroy Jerusalem as a lion coming from its covert, but also God was the lion visiting judgment on His people. Solomon’s throne had lions on either side to represent justice and judgment in carrying out the Lord’s will. In visiting judgment, Nebuchadnezzar acted as God’s executioner.

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