Today’s Passage – Jeremiah 51 – 52 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – click here to view the text from the Blue Letter Bible website)
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8
Read the “0828 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“18 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. 19 And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. 20 In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.” (Jeremiah 50:18-20)
Beginning in chapter 47, God is pronouncing judgment through the prophet Jeremiah on all the nations that had been an enemy to God’s people: Philistia (ch. 47), Moab (ch. 48), Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Cedar, Hamon, and Elam (ch. 49). In chapters 50 – 51, the focus of God’s judgment is on Babylon. Again, the judgment described in these chapters seems to surpass the conquering of the Babylonians by the Medes and Persians, which seemed to have happened without much of a fight (see Daniel 5). The description given in these chapters depict the future destruction of Antichrist’s kingdom in Revelation 17 and 18.
Interestingly, chapter 52 goes back in time and discusses the Babylonian siege against Jerusalem, which culminated in 586 BC. It is another historic interlude similar to one we saw in chapter 39. This one reads almost identically to 2 Kings 24:18 – 25:30.
My thought this morning is that though God used Babylon as an instrument of judgment against Israel, which is what the majority of this Book of Jeremiah has been focused on, He will still judge Babylon for what she did to God’s people. God allows and even uses evil people to accomplish His will in the lives of those that belong to Him, but we must not ever make the mistake of confusing God’s chastisement of His own with His ultimate wrath upon those who do not belong to Him.
I remember when I was a boy, my brothers and I used to fight like cats and dogs, but there was never a time when anybody outside of my family could ever attack me without experiencing the wrath of my older brothers. My brothers felt like they could whip up on me all they wanted, but they were not about to let anybody else touch me. That may be a weak illustration but it somewhat pictures God’s dealings with Israel. God would allow a certain measure of punishment to come Israel’s way but He would never allow them to be completely destroyed. However, the nations, like those listed above and in chapters 47 – 51, had no such guarantee. God ultimately destroyed (or will destroy) these nations that had oppressed Israel.
What is the application for us today? If you belong to God, you are in His hands and no-one can pluck you out of God’s hands. Absolutely nothing bad can happen to you unless God for some very good reason wills it to happen. Nothing gets past the desk of God. He sees everything that is happening in your life. I am reminded of what Satan told God in the Book of Job: “10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land” (Job 1:10). How did Satan know that God had hedged Job in on every side? He must have been trying to get in, but God wouldn’t let him. It is the same way with us. Satan can only do what God permits him to do to us, and the same principle applies to all our enemies. Israel had to be chastised for their rebellion against God, but God never forsook them, and He still has a wonderful plan for them. He has a wonderful plan for you as well. Notice Jeremiah 50:20 above. God sees Israel without iniquity and completely pardoned; and if you belong to God, that is how He sees you as well.
Notice what Spurgeon said about v. 20: “Those sins were of no common order. The Israelites were always a stiff-necked and rebellious race. Israel’s sins were of the most heinous character because of the greatness of their privileges and the peculiar and special love the Lord had lavished on them. They were positively unmatched in guilt by any nation under heaven. For all of that, the Israelites cast away their God. They who had worshiped the Lord turned aside from him and bowed down before Baal and went after other gods and worshiped idols. But their provocations, their idolatries, their lusts were all to be swept away and to be forgotten.” (Spurgeon. 2017. The Spurgeon Study Bible: Notes. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers).
We all deserve the judgment and destruction that Babylon received (and will receive in the future), but God in His marvelous grace has pardoned those who have placed their faith in Him. What an awesome God we serve!
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.