What city is mentioned more in the Bible than any other city? Jerusalem-- almost 900 times, if you count up Jerusalem, Zion, about 900 times. The city that is mentioned second to Jerusalem is the city of Babylon. 287 times in scripture, Babylon is mentioned, and Jeremiah mentions Babylon 164 of those times, more than all of the rest of scripture combined.
Nebuchadnezzar is the king that will rule in Babylon, and at the time this prophecy was written, Nebuchadnezzar was, indeed, ruling very strongly from the city of Babylon and gaining control over the known world at that time. In Nebuchadnezzar's court, he had a vast array of magicians, soothsayers, astrologers, who contacted the spirit guides in the spirit world. It was a very occultic setup. From the time that the Tower of Babel was set up back in Genesis chapter 10 through the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, through today and into the future, that Babylonian system has been, is, and will be very popular.
When we get to the Book of Revelation in chapter 17, it says, "Mystery Babylon the great, the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth." In other words, all of the false religions that were spun out of Babylon come home to mama, because they blossom during the tribulation period in the future. It's interesting that today, corporations collectively will spend $4 billion on new age consultants. People who dabble in the occult in the new age give advice to corporate America and corporations worldwide. $4 billion is spent.
One writer and researcher said, "Once I attended a day of lectures at a new age retreat center. One speaker summed up his points by explaining what was meant by the coming of the new age, and then he said, it all started in Babylon, folks." So we're not surprised, then, to find over and over again, both in Isaiah and here in Jeremiah, last week and this week, in the closing chapters of the book, the judgments that are proclaimed upon the city and the nation of Babylon. Thus, says the Lord, behold. I will raise up against Babylon against those who dwell in Leb-kamai a destroying wind.
Leb-kamai is just a code word, a synonym for Babylon. It literally means, the heart of those who rise against me. And I will send winnowers to Babylon who shall winnow her and empty her land, for in the day of doom, they shall be against her all around.
A destroying wind-- now when a winnower wanted to winnow his grain, he was looking not for a wind but for a breeze. And in the afternoon hours in Israel, he would throw up the grain into the air after loosening it up by foot, and then the wind, the breeze would take away the chaff, and the kernels would fall to the threshing floor.
But here, God promises a destroying wind, not a breeze. But he will blow through Babylon in judgment, destroying her because of the way she treated the Jewish nation. Against her, let the archer bend his bow and lift himself up against her in his armor. Do not spare her young men. Utterly destroy all her army. Thus, the slain shall fall on the land of the Chaldeans and those who thrust through her in the streets. For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah. By his God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.
Now you'll notice in that verse that Judah and Israel are mentioned separately. And that's important to understand, because there is this notion among some people of the 10 lost tribes of Israel. Now we know the history. We know that in 722 BC, the Assyrians came in, and they took captive and destroyed, basically, the northern kingdom of Israel, those 10 northern tribes. And they tried to do the same with Judah. They failed. God withstood the judgment, but in 586 BC, the Babylonians took that southern kingdom of Judah.
We know that Judah returned about 70 years after they were taken out of their land. They returned and built the temple and populated the southern portion once again. And so some people have said, well, since Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians, and we sort of lost track of all of those tribes, and Judah returned, what ever happened to those tribes? They must be lost.
And so notice, once again, Israel is not forsaken, nor is Judah. Different groups have tried to trace their ancestry back to the 10 lost tribes. Groups in Afghanistan, groups in Kurdistan, in Iraq, in Persia, in China, in Japan, and even in Africa, all of them claim some descendancy from the 10 lost tribes of Israel. The Mormon church even says that the American Indians are one of the lost tribes, and they sailed to America before the first exile from Jerusalem.
Then there's a group of about 2,000 African-Americans called Black Hebrews that dwelled down in the desert parts of the Negev in a little town called Demona. And they're from Detroit and Chicago, incidentally. They've come all the way from America to come back to the land, because they say they are descendants of the tribe of Judah. So all sorts of interesting posturings and conjecturings as to which tribe was which and who these tribes are.
Listen. They're not lost, because God knows who they are. That's the short answer. And so in the end times, when God seals 144,000, and the tribes are mentioned, though we may not know who they are, God knows who they are. By the way, all of the tribes of Israel were reckoned in Judah when they came back from Babylon. Here's why. Yes, the Assyrians took the northern kingdom captive, and yes, the Babylonians took the southern kingdom captive.
But the Babylonians took everybody captive, including Assyria, so they took that area where those 10 tribes had been scattered and settled so that when they could come back to the land, they could come back to the land, though not knowing exactly what tribe they were from, except the Levites. Some of them didn't know. Some of them did. But they're not lost. They were all reckoned in Judah in the return.
There's some interesting studies of late with the Human Genome Project. That is DNA researchers have noticed that Jews have retained their core genetic identity through history. And it's because there's these things in the chromosome known as haplotypes, and these are genetic markers that appear in sequence in the Y chromosome. And there's a fascinating book I just read on the way back from Israel all about this so that they can determine genetically who is Jewish and who is not. They can't tell you what tribe you're from, but they could tell if you have that haplotype, those genetic markers in the chromosomes that would show you as having that core genetic identity of a Jewish person.
There is a tribe that they can identify, and that's the priestly Tribe of Levi, the Kohanim, the priests. The researchers have discovered the Kohanim Modal haplotype, where they can tell which person ascended or descended from the lineage of Aaron, the first priest-- fascinating study on the genealogies. So these tribes-- God knows who they are. Geneticists may know that they're Jewish but may not know what tribe, save one, but God knows them all and will restore them.
Flee from the midst of Babylon, and every one save his life. Do not be cut off in her iniquity, for the time of the Lord's vengeance he shall recompense her. Babylon was a golden cup in the Lord's hand that made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine. Therefore, the nations are deranged.
Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed. Wail for her. Take balm for her pain. Perhaps, she may be healed. We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed. Forsake her, and let us go every one to his own country, for her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies.
The question in that verse is, who is the "we?" What does that refer to? And it must refer to the Jewish exiles that were taken captive. They were originally intended to be a blessing to Babylon. Remember when Jeremiah wrote the letter to those exiles in chapter 29? He said, build houses, get families, have families, and seek the peace of that country. Seek the peace of that country, and pray for its peace, for in its peace, you shall find peace. So go there, and be a blessing to the Babylonians.
And indeed, truly, Babylon saw the light for a brief period of time. Among those exiles was a young man by the name of Daniel, who loved his God, a man of no compromise, who was sold out to God and impressed and impacted the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel and his three buddies, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah-- thank you. Been a long day-- made a great impact, especially on Nebuchadnezzar. And that was something that Nebuchadnezzar's grandson, Belshazzar, had forgotten.
So when the handwriting came upon the wall there in Daniel chapter 5, and Daniel interprets it, Daniel rebukes Belshazzar, because he had seen the light. He knew better, and he said, you know, it was Nebuchadnezzar, your father, speaking in those paternal terms, really your grandfather, humbled himself before God, and understood that God rules in the kingdom of man and gives it to whomever he wishes. And he said, and you knew this. You knew all of this, but he had forgotten it willingly and partied hearty that night. And God judged him, because he rejected the light that had come to that nation.
Vance Havner once said, we're not judged so much by how many sins we've committed, but by how much light we've rejected. The country of Babylon saw a great light in the witness of the Jews, who had come, especially that prophet, Daniel, but had rejected it. The Lord has revealed our righteousness. Come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord, our God. Make arrows bright. Gather the shields. The Lord has raised up the spirit of the King of the Medes, for his plan is against Babylon to destroy, because it is the vengeance of the Lord, the vengeance for his temple.
Set up the standard on the walls of Babylon. Make the guards strong. Set up the watchmen. Prepare the ambushes, for the Lord has both devised and done what he spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon. It declares here that God was enacting his vengeance for his temple. The temple was the place, though it was extravagant in Solomon's time, it was the place that God dwelt. He dwelt between the cherubim on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant. There, the Lord said, I will meet with you. I will speak with you.
They came, they being the Babylonians, and destroyed the temple. And God says, I'm going to take vengeance, because you destroyed the place of my presence. We've mentioned before that you don't want to mess with God, and it's always best to let God be the one who exacts vengeance, not you. "Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. "I will repay."
God's a master at it. He's a master at protecting his people, at guarding his heritage. Once I was in the Philippines, and we were doing a conference at one of the Calvary chapels in the lower island of Mindanao. And as we were gathering there, and it took several days to get there by plane, and then by boat, and then by another boat, then by car. When we got there, the pastor asked us which route we had taken, and we told him. And he said, oh, I'm amazed you got here.
He said, you should be dead. He said several Americans have been killed lately on that same route, but the Lord has protected you. Then he smiled, and he said, let me tell you what the Lord's done for us. This group called the New People's Army, the NPA, that were persecuting the Christian churches in that area would go into churches on Sunday morning with their machine guns and hold up the church and steal their offerings.
So they came one Sunday morning with their machine guns, and they threatened the church. They said, we want all your money, and we don't want you to meet next week. We're shutting this place down, and if you meet next week, we're going to be here to kill your pastor and to kill as many as come. They knew their threats were serious. They'd done it before.
The pastor smiled at me as he said, Sunday morning came, and I was interested how many people would show up in church that Sunday. Just as Pastor Chuck was so encouraged to see you here tonight on this Easter Sunday evening, that pastor was encouraged to see so many faithful believers out with the threat of death over their heads. And they opened up in prayer, maybe one eye open as they prayed, conducted their service-- not a problem. The Lord was worshipped. The offerings were collected and disseminated for the Lord's work-- not a problem.
They were curious. They found out that this New People's Army was, indeed, on the way, but their Jeeps overturned in a terrible accident. Both of them and everyone inside was killed-- the rebels. And so the guy said, I'm surprised you're alive, but actually, I'm not surprised, because God protected you like he protected us. Don't you love it when the Lord protects his people?
So the vengeance for the Lord's temple-- set up the standard on the walls of Babylon. Make the guards strong. Set up the watchmen. Prepare the ambushes, for the Lord has both devised and done what he spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon. Oh, you who dwell by many waters, and that Tigris Euphrates River delta fed into the channels and watered that land. Abundant in treasures, your end has come, the measure of your covetousness.
You see, Nebuchadnezzar wasn't satisfied dwelling alone, and he wasn't satisfied in taking a neighbor country. He wanted the world. He was thirsty for as many treasures as he could take, even the treasures of the temple in Jerusalem. The Lord of Hosts has sworn by himself, surely, I will fill you with men as with locusts, and they shall lift up a shout against you. He has made the earth by his power and established the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heaven by his understanding.
God and God alone created the heavens and the earth. David said, the heavens declare the glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. Day into day, they utter their speech. Night into night, they reveal knowledge. God is speaking through the heavens, and the heavens declare that God is glorious.
Here, we're told by Jeremiah that by his power, by his wisdom, and by his understanding, God made all things. USA Today newspaper had a little article on an interesting listening device from Harvard University. They constructed this 85-foot dish that is posted just outside of Boston, owned by Harvard University, focused in on the heavens in search for intelligent life. And because with its computer technology, it can be magnified listening way out into outer space, it can simultaneously listen for and detect and decode, they say, 128,000 frequencies at a time. They're listening.
David said, God's already spoken. The heavens declared the glory of God. The firmament shows his handiwork. And looking around at our universe with its beauty, with the glory of God, we have to conclude an intelligent being, a personal intelligent being created it. It didn't just happen. It's declaring the glory of God, and here the wisdom and the understanding and the power of God.
I look at it this way. If the art that is hanging in the sky is that beautiful and that magnificent, how much more the artist? The other night, I caught a beautiful sunset here at the beach-- the colors and just the change of it over a period of minutes-- how beautiful. No artist can do that like God can do that. And I thought, how beautiful. That's my dad that painted that. That's our Heavenly Father. How much more glory is the artist himself?
And also, Paul the Apostle said, it's because of that that men are without excuse. God has left himself a witness through natural revelation in the heavens and the earth. And Jeremiah brings that into purview, comparing himself, God comparing himself with the false gods of Babylon. When he utters his voice, there's a multitude of the waters in the heavens. He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for rain. He brings the wind out of his treasuries.
So the hydrological cycle is mentioned in this verse, where the sun evaporates, the sea goes into the atmosphere, the breezes blow it inland, the air cools, the moisture condenses, it forms clouds, and it dumps again in rain. The rain goes into the rivers. The rivers go into the sea, and the cycle starts all over again. Solomon, in chapter 1 of Ecclesiastes, takes this same cycle that Jeremiah mentions it-- talks about the vapor going up, and then the rain falling down. And he uses it as an example of the monotony of the universe.
Jeremiah sees it as the faithfulness of a God behind the universe. You know, you can look at the same thing two different ways, can't you? Perspective means a lot. One guy says, oh, it's the same thing every single day-- sunrise, sunset, hydrological cycle. Here we go again. Vanity, vanity, all is vanity. Jeremiah sees it and says, what a faithful God we serve, controlling every single day, being faithful in his seasons.
He says he brings the wind out of his treasuries. I'm not a big fan of wind. Wind irritates me. And before moving back to California, I lived in, as you know, New Mexico. And during this time of the year for March and April, there's lots of wind. And it has a lot of dust in the air with it. And I remember the first March that I was there, and I wrote on my calendar on my desk. It was a windy day. I just wrote across the date, "wind." The next day was windier. I said, more wind. And then the next day, crummy wind. And then finally, I wrote, depression. It's like, get rid of the wind.
And yet wind is a blessing from God. He brings it out of his treasuries. Wind blows away pollutants, clears the air. Our air here in Southern California would be a lot worse without those winds, and when the Santa Anas come and blow it all out, we are grateful to God.
You say, yeah, but some winds are destructive. And they are. Hurricanes are destructive, but hurricanes, as well, are one of God's ways to release the pent up energy that is in the earth at the equator to disseminate, to disperse it. So he brings the wind out of his treasuries. It's all programmed and planned.
Everyone is dull-hearted without knowledge. Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image, for his molded image is falsehood. There is no breadth in them. They are futile, a work of errors. In the time of their punishment, they shall perish. The portion of Jacob is not like them. That's a name for God, the portion of Jacob. He is the maker of all things, and Israel, the tribe of his inheritance, the Lord of Hosts is his name. You are my battleaxe, and weapons of war, for with you, I will break or literally shatter the nation in pieces. With you, I will destroy kingdoms.
So Cyrus, the King of the Medes, and later on, Alexander the Great would come and destroy Babylon, shatter it. With you, I will break in pieces the horse and its rider. With you, I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider. With you, also, I will break in pieces man and women. With you, I will break in pieces old and young. With you, I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden. With you, also, I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock.
With you, I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen. And with you, I will break in pieces governors and rulers. And I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea for all of the evil they have done in Zion in your sight, says the Lord.
God's law of compensation, payback-- I'm going to pay you back for all of the wickedness that you have brought upon my people, my temple. Babylon began, as we mentioned back in Genesis chapter 10, with a fellow by the name of Nimrod. This mighty hunter before the Lord, he was the fourth generation from the flood. He was the grandson of Ham, and his descendants and the other sons of Noah settled in the plain of Shinar.
And they decided to build a tower. They decided to build a tower that would reach up into the heavens and make a name for themselves. It's a fascinating story. It shows, first of all, that man saw that he had a spiritual need. He needs to get in touch with something above himself. He wants to build something to reach heaven. But it was a do-it-yourself religion. It was, I'm going to make a name for myself. We will be the ones that reach up to God. The gospel shows us that God has reached down to man in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some of the ancient documents of the era show that Nimrod had a wife by the name of Semiramis. And there was a legend that they had a son miraculously born by a sunbeam and that she was a virgin and that Tammuz, their son, was considered to be a Savior, a God of sorts, that he was killed by a bull, but then miraculously resurrected. So way back in the beginning, when Babylon was just starting, even before Jesus Christ was revealed on earth, Satan was already concocting a false Christ, a false messiah, a false Savior.
Through the legends of Nimrod and Semiramis and Tammuz, it all started in Babylon, folks, as that one seminar speaker said at the beginning. Behold, I am against you, o destroying mountain, who destroys all of the earth, says the Lord. I will stretch out my hand against you, roll down from the rocks, and make you a burnt mountain.
Now Babylon was not on a mountain. It was not surrounded by mountains. It was on a flat plain. I've stood in that plain. It's just vast and open. But mountain is sometimes symbolic of a kingdom, and to the nations around Babylon, this was the big guy on the block, and the images of a huge, destroying mountain, God says, I'm going to make you an extinct volcano. You're going to burn out. You're going to burn up. There's going to be nothing left within you. You're a threat to other people, but you'll be extinct and powerless.
They shall not take from you one stone for a corner nor a stone for a foundation, but you shall be desolate forever, says the Lord. Set up a banner in the land. Blow the trumpet among the nations. Prepare the nations against her. Call the kingdoms together against her-- Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her. Cause the horses to come up like bristling locuses.
This is a list of the people that was conquered by the Medes in the sixth century, BC. And the Medes used these people in this verse to help them in their attack against Babylon. Now it mentions a general here, appointed general against her caused the horses to come up like bristling locusts. The general that took Babylon for King Cyrus II was General Ugaburu. And General Ugaburu managed to stop the Euphrates River that was flowing through town, divert it into another channel, lower the water to about waist high, the soldiers were able to get into Babylon, under the gate, through the river, and fill the city with troops. Almost without notice, they were suddenly upon them.
Prepare against the nations with the kings of the Medes, its governors, and all its rulers, all the land of his dominion, and the land will tremble in sorrow, for every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have ceased fighting. They have remained in their strongholds. Their might has failed.
They became like women. They have burned her dwelling places. The bars of her gates are broken. One runner shall run to meet another and one messenger to meet another to show the King of Babylon that his city is taken on all sides. The passages are blocked. The reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are terrified.
Now Babylon did have an elaborate courier system to get messages from one part of the kingdom to another. These were runners, who would run bringing the message of whatever the news was from one to another. It says the message will go to the King of Babylon. The night that Babylon was overtaken by the Medes, King Belshazzar was slain. He was killed.
So this must refer to the couriers that ran far away to the co-regent of Babylon at the time, Nabonidus, who was co-reigning with Belshazzar at the time, also the King of Babylon. News by these couriers came to this king or, and perhaps, Daniel, who was the third ruler in the kingdom. These runners would go bringing the news that the kingdom had fallen to the Medes and the Persians. For thus, says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, the daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor, when it's time to thresh her. Yet a little while in the time of her harvest will come.
Now in the next few verses, Judah is crying out to God. Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon has devoured me. He has crushed me. He has made me an empty vessel. He has swallowed me up like a monster. He has filled his stomach with my delicacies. He has spit me out. Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon. The inhabitant of Zion will say, and my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea, Jerusalem will say.
And now we get the answer of God back. In a very encouraging way, the Lord responds. Therefore, thus, says the Lord, behold. I will plead your case and take vengeance for you. I will dry up her sea and make her springs dry. Babylon shall become a heap, a dwelling place for jackals and astonishment and a hissing without inhabitant. They shall roar together like lions. They shall growl like lions' whelps. In their excitement, I will prepare their feasts. I will make them drunk that they may rejoice and sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake.
There is a frequent mention in these verses of the utter desolation in the destruction of Babel, which did not happen when Cyrus the Mede took it over. But it did happen when Alexander the Great, around 330, BC, did come in and destroy the city of Babylon, leveling it, making it at that time without inhabitant. Babylon today, as we mentioned last time, is just a set of old clay bricks, ruins. On the outskirts that are shepherds and fields, but there's really no inhabitants in this ancient city of Babylon, whose ruins remain with us.
Now it says, I will make them drunk, verse 39. That's being drunk with judgment. It's interesting that Belshazzar had his drunken feast, drunken with his own power and his own reputation, his own wealth the night that Babylon was destroyed. I will bring them down like lambs to the slaughter, like rams with male goats. Oh, how Sheshach is taken. That's a code name for Babylon. I'll explain why. Oh, how the praise of the whole earth is seized. How Babylon has become desolate among the nations.
I mentioned that Sheshach was a code name for Babylon. One of the goddesses in the pantheon of worship for the Babylonians was the goddess called Shach. And Shach was worshiped annually on a five-day drunken binge. It was a time when you could do anything. Anything was permitted. In fact, it was encouraged-- the worst type of debauchery possible during this five-day festival. And they had a little pagan practice that each household would appoint a [? zogar, ?] a ruler who would dress up in royal garbs, and everybody in that household would do whatever this [? zogar ?] said.
And again, it was licentious. It was a debauched kind of partying for five days. The fact that Babylon is called Sheshach in this verse is an allusion to the fact, probably, most scholars think, that Babylon fell by the Medes during this festival when they were drunk and partying. And Belshazzar was involved himself in this festival. And that's when it fell during this time the city was taken.
The sea has come up over Babylon, verse 42. She is covered of the multitude of its waves. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land where no one dwells, through which no son of man passes. The sea is a reference to the invaders that came in to conquer the land. I will punish Bel in Babylon. I will bring out of his mouth what he has swallowed, and the nation shall not stream to him anymore. Yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall. My people shall go out of the midst of her, and everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the Lord.
Cyrus did allow the Jews to return to their land. Not all of them did, just a remnant of about 50,000. Many Jews remained in the land, but the edict was given for them to return to their homeland, if they wish, and here the call goes out. Let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the Lord, lest your heart faint, and you fear for a rumor that will be heard in the land. A rumor will come one year, and after that, in another year. A rumor will come, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler. Therefore, behold the days are coming that I will bring judgment on the carved images of Babylon. Her whole land shall be ashamed, and all her slain shall fall in her midst.
God was not only judging Babylon, the rulers, not only judging the Babylonians, the people. God was judging their gods. This was a battle of the gods. God was judging the false idols, the false deities, the gods and goddesses of Babylon-- very similar to when he judged Egypt. In Exodus chapter 12, God says that he would pour out his judgment upon all of the gods of the land of Egypt. Why? To show himself superior, that all of these were false, concocted, imaginary deities of no value. And that judgment would show the finality of that truth.
Then the heavens and the earth and all that is in them shall sing joyously over Babylon, for the plunderers shall come to her from the north, says the Lord. As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall, so Babylon-- at Babylon, the slain of all the earth shall fall. You who have escaped the sword, get away. Do not stand still. Remember the Lord of far off, and let Jerusalem come to your mind.
He's saying to the Jews, don't be afraid. Don't be afraid of what's coming. God's judgment upon Babylon will be a catalyst to drive the Jews from Babylon to go back to their homeland. So remember the Lord. Remember his goodness. Think about Jerusalem. The Lord is bringing you back home.
We are ashamed, because we have heard reproach. Shame has covered our faces, for strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the Lord's house. The exiles, the captives in Babylon-- they felt disgrace. They felt embarrassed, so to speak, that the Gentiles, the Babylonians had defiled their holy courts, their temple.
And so they're wondering, hey, if God was, in their minds, unable to protect the sanctuary in Jerusalem, how do we know he's going to protect us if we remove ourselves from the protection of Babylon, and travel 500 miles to the west back to Jerusalem? We're going to be stranded. We're going to be out there all alone. Maybe God won't protect us.
Therefore, behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will bring judgment on her carved images and throughout all her land, the wounded shall groan, though Babylon were to mount up to heaven, and though she were to fortify the height of her strength yet from me, plunderers would come to her, says the Lord. The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans, because the Lord is plundering Babylon and silencing her loud voice. Though her waves roar like great waters, and the noise of her voice is uttered, because the plunderer comes against her, against Babylon, and against-- and her mighty men are taken. Every one of their bows is broken, for the Lord is the God of recompense. He will surely repay.
So those exiles, embarrassed because their temple was destroyed, wondering about making that trip from Babylon back home to Jerusalem, are told by God, hey, Babylon isn't the safest place to stay. I'm going to wipe her out. Eventually, Alexander the Great will come after Cyrus will come and destroy this place. So those walls that you're trusting in, don't. They're not trustworthy. They will fall. They will go down. So trust me. That's the message that the Lord-- leave this place, or face the same fate that this city is about to face.
I will make drunk her princes and wise men, her governors and her deputies, her mighty men. And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep and not awake, says the King, whose name is the Lord, Yahweh of Hosts. Thus, says the Lord of Hosts, the broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The people will labor in vain, and the nations, because of the fire, they shall be weary.
You may remember we mentioned that Babylon's walls were very impressive-- 200 qubits tall. That's about 311 feet tall, 87 feet thick, watchtowers every so many feet. Some counted hundreds of watchtowers, they say. And that broad, tall, massive wall encircled the city. If you were to measure up the totality of it, 60 miles of wall. So those exiles looked up and thought, nothing can penetrate these babies. God says, don't trust in them. Your fate will be the same as this city if you remain here. It's best that you leave.
The word which Jeremiah, the prophet commanded [? Suraya, ?] the son of [? Nuriya, ?] the son of [? Nicaea, ?] when he went with [? Zedekiah, ?] the King of Judah, to Babylon in the fourth the year of his reign, and [? Suraya ?] was the quartermaster. He was in charge of making the king comfortable. That was his job. So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. And Jeremiah said to [? Suraya, ?] when you arrive in Babylon, and you see it, and you read all of these words, then you shall say, oh, Lord, you have spoken against this place to cut it off so that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast. But it shall be desolate forever.
Now it shall be when you have finished reading this book, you shall tie a stone to it, and throw it out into the Euphrates. You say, what a waste of a good scroll, tying a weight on it and throwing it, chucking it in the water, and it drowns. Here's why. Then you shall say, thus, Babylon shall sink and not rise from the catastrophe that I will bring upon her, and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
That was a symbolic act of the finality of this judgment that would utterly consume Babylon. It doesn't stand alone in history. Once when the Phoenicians left their home country, and they went to the west to found the city of Marseilles, France, they tied a document and put lead on it and threw it into the water and said, we will return to our land when this lead swims. It was a symbolic message that we're not coming back until there is total victory. We are bent, and we are set that this is finally what we are to do.
It's also interesting to tie together what we have just read with the Book of Revelation, which, as you know, has a prophetic Babylon, Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots, chapter 17 and 18 of Revelation. In chapter 18 of Revelation, we read, then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, thus, with violence, the great city Babylon shall be thrown down and shall not be found anymore.
And so we have in view these two horizons, one near and one far, one fulfilled historically. One will be fulfilled prophetically. Of course, Jesus did say that whoever offends one of these little ones, it's better that you tie a millstone around his neck and throw him into the sea. The system of Babylon from the time of the Tower of Babel throughout history that blossoms in the great tribulation period will have offended so many people on this earth, destroyed the faith of so many people on this earth. It is only right that God's judgment and that final destructive judgment come upon her.
Now the final chapter, Jeremiah 52, a historic postlude to the book. Written 25 years after the chapters that we just read in the prophecies of the destruction of these nations, 25 years later, it's very similar to Second Kings chapter 24 with a few different variations. Why is it written at the end? No doubt to show that all that Jeremiah predicted came to pass. So it's written after the fact, after it did come to pass.
You say, well, what's the point of it? It would be a great encouragement to the people in captivity. You say an encouragement? What-- to say, I told you so? Well, part of Jeremiah's prophecy was not only that Jerusalem would be destroyed and taken captive, but that they would return as well. So here would be the encouragement. I have predicted this by the mouth of the Lord. It has come to pass so that you might know that everything else that I spoke by the mouth of the Lord will come to pass. You will return.
The word of God is so incredibly accurate that anytime anyone tries to debunk the Bible, they get egg on their face. It's fun to watch. And the question is, why? If the Bible is that accurate, and it can be demonstrated over and over again, why do people attack it so much? Why is the Bible the center of such controversy?
Roy Aldrich tells us why, and I agree with his words. He writes, "Satan does not waste his ammunition. Professors who are being paid to teach philosophy, English, biology, and mathematics will often take time from their class periods to undermine the Bible and Christianity. Why are they not doing the same with the sacred books of other religions? The answer is that Satan, the original liar, is sympathetic with books that lie.
His real enemy--" excuse me-- "his real enmity is directed against the book of truth, because it contains the dynamite for his defeat. That's why. That's why the Bible is attacked over and over again. Don't be afraid of those attacks. You have enough ammunition to put up, as Jude writes, a good fight for the faith, and demonstrate the accuracy and the veracity of the scripture."
Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king, and he reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. This is a different Jeremiah, not the prophet. He also did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all that Jehoiakim had done, for because of the anger of the Lord, this happened in Jerusalem and Judah until he finally cast them out from his presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the King of Babylon.
Now we get the final recap of the fall of Jerusalem. It came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the 10th month on the 10th day of the month that Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it. And they built a siege wall all around. So the city was besieged until the 11th year of King Zedekiah. It was a two and 1/2 year siege. They built a wall all around the walls of the city to close it in. And the siege began January 15th, 588, BC, and lasted to July 18th, 586 BC.
And August 14th is when they began to destroy the city itself. And the destruction continued with a burning. They burned the city down. By the fourth month on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city, there was no food for the people of the land. And the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city by night by way of the gate between the two walls, which was by the king's garden, even though the Chaldeans were near the city all around.
They went by way of the plain, but the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All of his army was scattered from him. So some snuck out. They fled. The king was one of them. Zedekiah traveled eastward down toward the Dead Sea and was apprehended in Jericho. It is thought that he was trying to escape to Edom next door, because there was a temporary pact between Jerusalem and Edomites. Now eventually, the Edomites will turn against Jerusalem and become bitter enemies once again. But right now, he's trying to escape to a nearby country. He was apprehended.
So they took the king and brought him to the King of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath and pronounced judgment on him. The King of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah, the King of Babylon, bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison until the day of his death.
What a horrible last sight to behold-- your own sons being killed before your eyes, and then your eyes being put out so that the last living memory-- and you would be kept alive-- was that of your sons being killed while you were watching. Nebuchadnezzar was brutal. Most would say beyond hope. But we read the Book of Daniel, and we see how God is able to deal even with this man in a powerful way.
Now in the fifth month, verse 12, on the 10th day of the month, which was the 19th year of King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard who served the King of Babylon, came to Jerusalem and burned the house of the Lord and the king's house. All the houses of Jerusalem-- that is all of the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And just a few weeks ago, some of us were there in the City of David at the digs, where before our eyes were the walls of the city at the time of the destruction. And we could look in at some of those rooms still bearing the marks of the fires of 586, BC.
The words we're reading about we saw before our eyes come to life. The city burned with fire. All the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. And Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried away, captive, some of the poor people and the rest of the people who remained in the city, the defectors, who had deserted to the King of Babylon, and the rest of the craftsmen. But Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, left some of the poor of the land as vine dressers and as farmers.
By August 17th, 586, BC, Jerusalem was emptied of its rebels, and they began burning it by fire. The day the temple itself fell was the ninth of Av, A-V, the month of Av, the ninth of the 11th Jewish month of Av. That's when the temple itself fell. It's an interesting date, because the temple will be rebuilt and rebuilt again and bigger by King Herod. And in 70, AD, the temple will fall again. And the temple will fall the second time on exactly the same day, the ninth of Av, as it did the first time in 586, BC.
It's an interesting date to the Jews. In the Jewish calendar, when they write out the date, we'll put the month first, and then we'll put the day of the month, and then the year. They always reverse it. They put the day first and then the month. So imagine how shocked they were after September 11th when they saw the papers, 9/11.
The Jews in Israel will tell you to this day, they were shocked, because it brought back the time their temple was destroyed on the ninth day of the 11th month, even though it was our ninth month, 11th day. In their minds, they see 9/11, and they think of the destruction of their temple. And so their hearts leapt, they said. And they thought, we're kindred to the people in America because of what had happened. It's just an interesting psychological tie in seeing that date to the modern Jew.
The bronze pillars that were in the house of the Lord and the carts and the bronze sea that were in the house of the Lord the Chaldeans broke in pieces and carried all their bronze to Babylon. They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the bowls, the spoons, all the bronze utensils, which the priest ministered. Later on, Belshazzar will take them out the night of his drunken party in Daniel chapter 5 at his banquet. The basins, the fire pans, the bowls, the pots, the lamp stands, the spoons, the cups, whatever was solid gold, whatever was solid silver-- the captain of the guard took away the two pillars, one sea, the 12 bronze bowls which were under it, and the carts, which Solomon made for the house of the Lord. The bronze of all these articles was beyond measure.
When Solomon built his temple, it took him seven and 1/2 years to complete it. And basically, he took the dimensions of the tabernacle in the wilderness and doubled them so that the combination of the holy place and the holy of holies in the tabernacle was 15 feet wide, 15 feet tall, and 45 feet deep. He doubled it. So the Temple of Solomon was 30 feet wide, 30 feet tall, and 90 feet deep, only 2,700 square feet. It would take an estimated $11 million to reproduce it today, so you can imagine a building that costs $4,000 a square foot. It was a very expensive edifice.
And it had lots and lots of gold and silver, and bronze utensils. One person estimated that to rebuild the Temple of Solomon today with all of the vestments of the priests, all of the instruments of the music, all of the robes for the levitical choirs, all of the different shovels and pans-- and by the way, not one menorah, but 10 golden lamp stands in the holy place and 10 tables of showbread-- would cost an estimated $174 billion dollars to reproduce the entire temple complex today. So the King of Babylon had a heyday, didn't he, in taking all of it.
Only one thing is not mentioned, I find interesting-- the Ark of the Covenant. You would presume that if he got a hold of the Ark of the Covenant, it would have been mentioned. The lamp stands are mentioned. That sacred ark isn't mentioned. And Josephus tells us that when Zerubbabel rebuilds the temple years later, two things are missing-- number one, the Shekinah glory. Shekinah is an Aramaic word that means the presence of God-- and the Ark of the Covenant. The question has always been, where is the ark? And the answer is, nobody knows.
It is thought by some that during the Babylonian siege, the ark was taken to a special priest's tunnel in an entrance underneath the temple mount, and it was stored. And they can't dig there today because of obvious reasons. It's under Muslim control. And some believe that the Ark of the Covenant is somewhere tucked under the temple mount.
And it drives a lot of us nuts just wondering where it might be, but I kind of think the Lord doesn't want us to find it, because if we did, think of how many other relics have been worshipped in times past. And people would begin to venerate the ark like people in times past have supposedly venerated the cross and other icons. But the ark is missing, not mentioned, and wasn't in the Temple of Zerubbabel, according to Josephus.
Now concerning the pillars, the height of one pillar was 18 qubits. A measuring line of 12 qubits could measure its circumference. Its thickness was four fingers. It was hollow. A capital of bronze was on it. The height of one capital was five qubits, or seven and 1/2 feet. With a network of pomegranate all around the capital all of bronze, the second pillar with pomegranates was the same. There were 96 pomegranates on the sides. All the pomegranates all around on the network were 100.
The captain of the guard took Suraya the chief priest, Zephaniah, the second priest, and three doorkeepers. He also took out of the city an officer who had charged of the men of war, seven men, the King's close associates, who were found in the city, the principal scribe of the army who mustered the people of the land and 60 men of the people of the land, who were found in the midst of the city. And Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, took these and brought them to the King of Babylon at Riblah.
Those two pillars had names, didn't they? They were huge, bronze pillars that were underneath a porch that came out of Solomon's temple 15 feet, and it was 30 feet tall. And these bronze pillars were named Jachin, or Jakin and Boaz. And the idea is that it was part of a sentence that was inscribed on the top of the pillar. On one pillar, it was thought to have read, Yahweh, or the Lord, will establish Jachin by throne forever.
And then on the second pillar, it would have read, in Yahweh is the king's strength. Boaz means strength. So Jakin means he will establish. The other one means strength, and these two pillars were taken to Babylon along with the molten sea. That was the laver of washing, 15,000 gallons, a massive laver. And the King of Babylon struck them and put them to death at Riblah in the land of Hamath.
Thus, Judah was carried away captive from its own land. These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive in the seventh year, 3,023 Jews. In the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar, he carried away captive from Jerusalem 832 persons. In the 23rd year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried away captive of the Jews 745 persons. All the persons were 4,600.
Now this may, in this reckoning of the number of people taken away, include males only, because there seems to be a discrepancy here between the number of those carried away captive, as described in Second Kings, and the ones that are mentioned here. We know that those taken captive in 597, BC, alone were 10,000. So to reconcile this, it is thought that these are a couple of subdeportations of the final or third, the last, batch of exiles in 586 that left Jerusalem and went to Babylon.
Came to pass and the 37th year of the captivity of Jehoiachin. That is Jeconiah or Coniah, if you remember your past chapters. The King of Judah in the 12th month on the 25th day of the month, that evil [? Marduk, ?] the King of Babylon, in the first year of his reign lifted up the head of Jehoiachin, or [? Yahoyachin ?] would be the Hebrew pronunciation, the King of Judah, and brought him out of the prison. So he's been a captive since 597. This year is 561, BC. He's been there a long time.
And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin, or [? Yahoyachin, ?] however you want to say it, changed from his prison garments. He ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. As for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the King of Babylon, a portion for each day until the day of his death all the days of his life.
So this king dies in Babylon. But remember, a curse was placed upon his lineage. He was from the lineage of King David through Solomon, and his bloodline was cursed so that no more kings will sit upon the throne in Jerusalem from the royal line of Solomon. And so we read in the genealogies that Mary, the mother of Jesus, traces her genealogy back to King David, not through Solomon, but through the son of David named Nathan.
Escaping the blood curse, born of a virgin, God will get around his own curse. And so as Pastor Chuck said at the beginning of our study, Jeremiah was overseeing the death of the nation of Judah, now taken captive to Babylon. You would think, in reading this book, that the people would learn from history, learn from the mistakes of her northern neighbors, the 10 tribes, and turn to God, repent, but she didn't.
And even when Jeremiah was faithful to pronounce God's judgment upon them, and they saw the enemy encircling them, you would think that they would turn. They would see the signs, and they would run back to God, flee back to God for mercy. But they didn't.
And here's the sad truth. Any nation who fails to learn from its history is doomed to relive that history. I think of the United States of America that is following a similar path to that of ancient Judah.
When the British writer, GK Chesterton, wrote in his essay about the American soil, he said, "I've been to America, and it's the only nation on the face of the earth that is established by a creed that is theologically and dogmatically set out in the Declaration of Independence." He was referring to the second paragraph, "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. And among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."
He recognized that America was set out upon a creed that God is the creator, and we are his creation. We have come a long way. How the mighty have fallen. A nation whose Ivy League universities were set out to evangelize the eastern seaboard and glorify God and spread the gospel have now become so liberal, so anti-Christ that we shudder to think what will happen.
Alexander Solzhenitsyn said, "To destroy a people, you must first sever its roots." And we are in the midst of a battle in the schools around this country of historical revisionism, where in the halls of academia, the history of our country is being rewritten, recast, saying things like, well, the founding fathers-- none of them really believed in the God of the Bible. They were all deists. Study the ancient documents. Study the speeches of the early presidents and of those in office, and you will see a different picture.
And so one nation under God, or a nation that's turned from God? And we must stand in the gap and cry out for God's favor upon this nation, that God would send revival if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and turn from their evil ways. God said he would hear from heaven. He would answer their prayer and heal their land. Let's be those ambassadors who will pray for our country, and be faithful to proclaim God's word as Jeremiah did. Let's pray together.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the last 23 weeks of being in this fabulous and very contemporary book that speaks to our hearts today in such a vivid manner. Thank you for the example of this faithful prophet, Jeremiah, who said some hard things over and over again, being faithful to his God in the midst of a faithless generation. His words came true, because they were from your heart, inspired by the Holy Spirit, not the word of man, but the word of God. We see the accuracy, the veracity of your word, and we know that all of your promises will come to pass.
We pray for our nation, Lord. May we be among those who live that humble, authentic lifestyle of a relationship serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you, Lord, for your people, those faithful ones who have come out to study your word, because they love your word, because they love you. Bless, direct, and use us this week and in the days ahead, for we ask it in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen.
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