Jeremiah 50:2–3, 24–25, 29–32, 44bcomment (0)
August 18, 2011
By Douglas K. Wilson
Related Scripture: Jeremiah 50:2–3, 24–25, 29–32, 44b
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Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
RECOGNIZE THE LORD’S AUTHORITY
Jeremiah 50:2–3, 24–25, 29–32, 44b
In the Old Testament, God was the King who rules nations. Yahweh was the King over all kings, Lord over all lords and God over all the nations’ so-called gods. When kingdoms rejected His authority, they faced His righteous judgment. When they surrendered to Him, He blessed the work of their hands.
No matter how powerful Babylon wasagainst other nations, they stood guilty before the Holy One of Israel. God would raise a more impressive adversary by which to judge Babylon.
You are not the captain of your ship. You are not the master of your own destiny. First, you do not have the resources to do anything you dream. Second, you do not have the abilities to accomplish everything you desire. Third, even if you had the resources and abilities, you would not be satisfied long enough to enjoy your fulfilled goals. And in the end, you cannot take or enjoy it beyond the grave.
None Is Invincible (2–3)
The Babylonians had great confidence in their deities. Like Israelites who gave their children God-centered names (with Ja- or Jeho- prefixes and -iah or -el suffixes), Babylonians had deity-related names for their little ones. Two deities from this passage are found elsewhere in the names of Jewish inhabitants, including Daniel (BELteshazzar) and Mordecai (Marduk).
Jeremiah announced again (see Jeremiah 10:11) that the empire’s gods were no match for Yahweh’s wrath. Neither Bel nor Marduk, neither images nor idols would keep God’s judgment from coming to pass. The Persians, by God’s design, would sweep in from the north and lay waste to the city.
Resistance Is Futile (24–25, 44b)
Jeremiah reminded Judah how the religious leaders, whom he called shepherds, had led the people astray. As a priest and prophet, Jeremiah had a unique perspective regarding those entrusted to lead the nation to God. He also described how Babylon would be overrun, just as Nineveh had been several decades before.
Note the name for God employed in verse 25. He was the Lord GOD of Hosts. He was Adonai, the Master. He is GOD, Yahweh. Whenever the name for God is written in capital letters in the Old Testament, the text indicates “Yahweh.” He was the Master, the covenant-making God, who ruled the hosts, the armies of heaven. No empire — not even Babylon — would stand against Him.
Yahweh remains the King of kings. Philosophers in the 19th century believed that the Bible and Christianity would fade into obscurity. Neither the Bamboo Curtain nor the Iron Curtain could keep Chinese and Eastern European underground churches from flourishing in the 20th century. During the coming decades, believers must choose to trust God in the midst of a cultural climate bent on silencing Christians in the public forum.
Resistance Is Fatal (29–32)
Arrogant leaders would not stand against God’s judgment. Reading Daniel in conjunction with Jeremiah offers substance to his pronouncement. Nebuchadnezzar was reduced to temporary lycanthropy or some other mental disorder (Dan. 4:32–33). Belshazzar faced death the same night that he unashamedly offered toasts to the gods of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone (Dan. 5:22–30). Jeremiah prophesied against Babylon’s leaders, yet they failed to heed the warning.
Old Testament prophets routinely called for repentance from sin and reconciliation with God. Even the nations that acknowledged other gods were confronted with their rebellion against the Creator of heaven and earth. Whether they chose to worship Him or not, the nations were still accountable to God.
On a personal level, we need to understand that disobedience to God is an invitation to death. When we knowingly sin, we are essentially saying to God, “Kill me.” Before Adam ever committed a crime, God warned that eating a piece of forbidden fruit would result in death (Gen. 2:17). Ezekiel wrote, “The person who sins … will die” (18:4). In James, we read, “When sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death” (1:15). Resistance to God’s purposes is always fatal.