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balancing scales August 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Jeremiah 50-51

Repayment for Evil

Why do the wicked prosper? This an age-old question which is difficult to answer. Some people do great harm to others, especially Christians. They burn their churches, rob, blackmail and extort them. They make false accusations against followers of Christ so they lose their jobs and reputations. Some governing authorities frame Christians for crimes they did not commit and have them sent them to jail or even killed. Will the wicked get away with their evil actions against God's people? No. God promises that someday He will give them their just due. What harm they inflict upon His people (both Jew and non-Jew) will come upon them (2Thessalonians 1:6-10).

In today's Bible reading we learn more about Babylon. She is an evil nation. Powerful as a lion, she mauls other nations in her bloodthirsty quest to rule the world. The LORD uses Babylon as His agent of disciplining Judah for her sins. She is a hammer wielded by His strong arm. But Babylon is proud and mocks Judah, whom she will soon conquer. God hates pride, and especially those who boast about what they will do against His people (Jeremiah 50:10-11,15,18,29). She will soon wage a final attack against Jerusalem. After a long siege, her ruthless soldiers will knock down the city walls and the temple, and leave them in a heap of rubble. They will rob the city and temple of its treasures and later come back to burn it. They will exile the people of Jerusalem and King Zedekiah, leaving only a small portion of poor native people to occupy the land (2Kings 25:12). For Jerusalem’s ungodliness, she will be destroyed, yet what will happen to Babylon?

From Jerusalem, Jeremiah sends a letter informing the king of Babylon what will happen to his country for robbing Jerusalem. In repayment for her sins, Babylon will be destroyed and pillaged, and people will be shocked at the judgment God will send against her. In the near future, the Medes and Persians (nations from the east who will attack from the north) will conquer her so that she will not rise again. In the distant future, God will also completely destroy Babylon or the area of Babylon (the current area of Iraq) by a nation from the north (Jeremiah 50:3,41; 51:11; Ezekiel 26:7).

What is the future of God’s oppressed people? Jeremiah prophesies,

All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.

For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.

In those days, at that time,” declares the LORD, [when armies from the north are on the verge of attacking Babylon or the area of Babylon] “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”

Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.

But I [the LORD] will bring Israel back to his own pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan; his appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead (Jeremiah 50:33-34; 51:5; 50: 4-5; 51:6; 50:19, NIV).

A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.

I will make her officials and wise men drunk, her governors, officers and warriors as well; they will sleep forever and not awake,” declares the King, whose name is the LORD Almighty.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire” (Jeremiah 51:56-58a, NIV)

Both in 539 B.C. and in the day of the Tribulation Period prophesied in the book of Revelation (December 28-31 Bible studies), God is going to punish the nation of Babylon. In 539 B.C. Media-Persia will conquer Babylon but not completely destroy her; Babylon will become the capital for this two-nation confederacy. In the distant future, God will destroy Babylon (or a nation occupying that area) and leave her desolate. In that day, God will seal 144,000 Jews for salvation (Revelation 7; 14:1-5). Jewish people all over the world will turn from their sins to God, as Jeremiah prophesied (50:4). God's favor will then return to a re-unified Israel, and He will be their God. He will restore their land and bring peace to the world (Revelation 21:1-3).

If God cares what happens to Israel, His chosen people, does He also care about us? Yes! The Apostle Paul writes,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies.

Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39, NIV),

Lessons to Live By

  • The LORD promises that someday He will give evil people their just due. What harm they have inflicted upon His people will come upon them.
  • God hates pride, and especially those who boast about what they will do against His people.
  • The LORD does not forsake His people in their troubles. Their “captors may hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause” (Jeremiah 50:33-34, NIV).
  • God cares for us. Do we know Him? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). Although we Christians may suffer for His name, nothing can separate us from Him.

Focus Verse

Jeremiah 51:56b (NIV) “For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.”

End note: “in those days, at that time” is a phrase usually denoting a future time period.

praying hands Write a private prayer response to today’s Bible study:

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A Look Ahead: We may see or experience some strange things When God Shows Up. Find out more as we begin the mysterious book of Ezekiel.

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