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Babylon, the Broken Hammer

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Lesson #43

  • Memory verse: Jer 25:15
  • In Jeremiah chapter 50 we have come to a very interesting peak in the mountains of prophecy given by this prophet.
    • If you were to ask the average person on any street in the world of Jeremiah’s day, “Which nation in the world is the most powerful, most influential, and without precedent controls the most territory in the world? The answer would be the same around the world…Babylon.
    • No nation before the Babylonian empire controlled as much territory or subjugated so many people. No nation instilled fear in so many people.
  • Through the prophecies at the end of the book of Jeremiah, we have seen how God uses Babylon to bring judgment on all the enemies of Israel.
    • The believer of Jeremiah’s day had the right to ask, “What about judgment on Israel’s worst enemy, Babylon that took us out of the Promised Land and destroyed the temple of God?”
    • No matter how large, influential, or important a nation is, it does not escape God’s judgment.
      • We have seen through the book of Jeremiah that God is in control of all nations. He puts people and nations in authority and removes them according to His will.
      • That means God has the ultimate power to do what He thinks is best and when.
  • In Jeremiah 50, we see God’s judgment on Babylon, Israel’s greatest enemy.
  • Read Jer 50:1-8 Babylon’s idolatry
    • Through the book of Jeremiah, we have seen the pervasive extent of idolatry in the hearts of the Jewish people, in the temple in Jerusalem, and geographically throughout the whole nation.
    • The Babylonian captivity was God’s punishment on Israel for this idolatry.
      • Did not Babylon also have its own systems of idolatry? Yes.
      • Notice an important Biblical principle here…When people resist the truth to persist in a lifestyle of sin, God gives them over to what they choose to want. (Rom 1:18-24)
      • When God took the Israelites captive to Babylon, they were spiritually captive to the gods and idols they worshipped. Babylon was a center of idolatry.
    • Jeremiah mentions two of their primary gods in verse 2.
      • Bel
        • This is another name for Baal, the god the Israelites worshipped in the Promised Land throughout the Old Testament.
        • Baal, Bel (Num 22:41 Jdg 2:13 Jdg 6:25-32 1Kin 16:31-32 1Kin 18:19-26, 40 1Kin 19:18, etc.)
      • Merodach (Marduk)
        • The Israelites sacrificed their live babies to this god in the valley south of Jerusalem.
        • Jesus likened this location to hell.
    •  For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.” (3)
      • “..out of the north…”
        • It is interesting to notice that God told Israel that the enemy that would bring judgment on God’s people in the Promised Land would come out of the north.
          • Babylon came to conquer Israel out of the north.
          • Previously, the Assyrian Empire that subjugated the Northern Kingdom of Israel came out of the north.
          • In the tribulation period yet to come, God will bring Russia to invade Israel out of the north.
        • Now in Jeremiah 50 God says He will bring a nation to conquer Babylon out of the north.
          • To which nation could this prophecy refer?
          • By the historical record, we know that the nation that conquered Babylon was the Medo-Persian Empire.

This was a joint empire of two different groups of people…the Medes and the Persians.

The Medes were the warriors that came from the north.

The Persians were the intellectuals that ruled the kingdom from the southeast.

      • “ In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the Lord their God.” (4)
        • In which days and in what time will the Jews come and seek the Lord?
          • Certainly that did not happen when Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians.
          • Therefore, Jeremiah is not talking about the fall of the Kingdom of Babylon to the Medes and Persians.
        • The prophecy relates to a later period of time. What period of time?
        • The period of time when Israel finally turns to God and receives Jesus Christ as their Messiah is the tribulation period of seven years that ends with the second coming of Jesus Christ. (Zec 12:10-11)
      • Why is the prophecy about the second coming of Christ placed with the defeat of the Babylonian Kingdom in Jeremiah’s day?
        • The book of Revelation tells us about Mystery Babylon (Rev 17-18). This is the world false religion of the tribulation period controlled by the Antichrist and the false prophet (Rev 13).
        • Therefore, the destruction of the Babylonian Kingdom that we see in Jer 50 prefigures the defeat of the world idolatry of Mystery Babylon in Rev 18 and the second coming of Christ.
    • The perpetual covenant (5)
      • This is the new covenant that Jeremiah introduced us to in Jer 31.
      • This is the covenant we are under today sealed and confirmed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
  • Read Jer 50:9-20 The Medes and Persians that come from the north
    • God punished the Assyrians for their attack and imprisonment of the Jews in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Assyria was the largest Kingdom in the Middle East of that time, yet not too big for God to judge.
    • In the same way God will punish Babylon.
  • Read Jer 50:21-32 Babylon, the broken hammer
    • God illustrates the destruction of Babylon as a broken hammer. (23)
      • Babyon hammered the nations breaking nations and people in the path.
      • In this illustration we see another principle of God that flows through the whole Bible.
        • Biblical Principle: God’s judgment is specific and just. His punishment is directly related by nature and intensity to the activity for which a nation is being judged.
        • In other words, Babylon hammered the nations and in turn God will hammer them.
    • The nation of Babylon fell in 538 BC to the Medo-Persian Kingdom that lasted until 330 BC.
  • Read Jer 50:33-46 The fall of Babylon
    • The historical story of the fall of Babylon is very interesting to see how God first removed the king and then the nation.
      • King Nebuchadnezzar was a very strong authoritative king.
        • Nebuchadnezzar died in 561 BC after a reign of 44 years.
        • His death occurred twenty five years after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC.
      • Political chaos reigned in Babylon after that:
        • His son, Evil-Merodach, succeeded him (2Kin 35:27-30, Jer 52:31-35). After two years, he was assassinated by his son-in-law Neriglissar, who took the throne in 559 BC reigning but a short time.
        • Labashi Marduk, his son, reigned nine months when he was killed by Nabonidus, another of Nebuchadnezzar’s son-in-laws.
        • Nabonidus took the throne in 555 BC and was the ruler in 538 BC when the Medes and Persians under Cyrus took Babylon.
        • Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus, was co-regent with his father Nabonidus, at the time of the attack in 538 BC. (Dan 5)
    • The actual fall of Babylon was predicted by several prophets, not just Jeremiah. (Isa 13, 14, 21:1-10 Jer 50, 51)
      • There was great unrest in the Babylonian Empire since the death of Nebuchadnezzar especially among the Marduk priests because Nabonidus supported the moon goddess, called “sin”, over the worship of the god, Marduk.
      • Nabonidus was elsewhere in the kingdom battling a revolt and neglected the New Year celebrations that were important to the Marduk priests.
      • Belshazzar was left to rule in Nabonidus’ absence. Small skirmishes occurred on the outskirts of Babylon days before, but Belshazzar ignored them thinking Nabonidus would take care of it. This was one of those affairs of state that fell through the cracks of bureaucracy.
    • Read Dan 5:1-6, 13-14, 24-28, 30-31
      • The taking of Babylon was relatively quick and somewhat peaceful.
        • The Euphrates River flowed right through the city.
        • Historians say Cyrus knew of this great feast and devised a way to divert the river causing it to dry up where it flowed into the city under the city walls.
        • The army of Cyrus the Mede led by Gobryas marched into the city on the dry river bed right under the city wall. (Jer 50:38) The city of Babylon fell in one night.
        • The Marduk priests greeted the Medes and Persians with glee.
      • Notice that the fall of Babylon in Jeremiah’s prophecy speaks about the sword that God will send on the Chaldeans (the Babylonians). (35)
        • The city of Babylon fell quickly by the sword.
        • The rest of the kingdom was conquered in warfare by the Medes and Persians.
  • Historical update:
    • Notice that Jer 50:13 and 39 tell us that the city of Babylon will not be inhabited forever.
      • This is a curse placed on that location by God.
      • For many hundreds of years that location was uninhabited.
      • Then Sadaam Husein decided to rebuild the city of Babylon because his model was Nebuchadnezzar.
        • Sadaam Husein did succeed in constructing many buildings on the site.
        • Then the Gulf War came and destroyed some of them. Sadaam Hussein died before he could fulfill his dream in contrast to rebuild what God said should not be rebuilt .
      • Babylon will play a big part in the tribulation period. Therefore, against God’s command that it not be rebuilt, the Antichrist will rebuild it.
  • Special Note:
    • “ Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me? (44)
    • We dealt with this verse in Jer 49:19 as it is repeated intact here.
      • When something is repeated in scripture, it is as though God is saying, “This is important, underline it!”
      • In Jer 49 we saw that the “shepherd” that God will appoint will be a “chosen man”.He is Jesus Christ who will come to reign at His second coming.
        • Before Christ comes at His second coming, there will be an “idol shepherd” that God will appoint. (Zec 11:17)
        • The “idol shepherd” is the Antichrist that will presume to be the Messiah to the Jews in the tribulation period. He will rebuild Babylon.
        • Jesus Christ will destroy the “idol shepherd” and Mystery Babylon at the end of the tribulation period before He reigns for 1000 years.

Jeremiah 51

  • Application of Jer 50
    • We have seen how God deals with evil nations in the book of Jeremiah. God deals equally with evil people.
    • In reality God judges all sin eventually.
      • God judged all sin through Jesus Christ on the cross when He took our sins upon himself and paid the price.
      • While the price of sin is death that Jesus already paid, all people do not avail themselves of this free gift. Instead they choose to be judged on their own merits.
    • Pray this week for the non-believers you know.
      • Pray that God will soften their hearts to the truth of the reality of Jesus Christ.
      • Pray that God will cross their path with many witnesses that will testify of Jesus Christ.
      • Pray that they will have spiritual ears to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit that points them to Christ.
  • Preparation for Jer 51
    • Read Jer 51:1- 64
      • Who do you think is the weapon in God’s hand? (51:20-24)
  • Memory verse: Jer 51:15
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About Joyce

I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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