The Gold Has Become Dim

Lamentations 4:1–22 (NKJV)

4:1 How the gold has become dim!

How changed the fine gold!

The stones of the sanctuary are scattered

At the head of every street.

2 The precious sons of Zion,

Valuable as fine gold,

How they are regarded as clay pots,

The work of the hands of the potter!

Gold is a fine metal, with great qualities that make it good for jewelry and ornamentation.  Typically, it does not break down easily, and lasts long-term.  So, to use it as a symbol for the deterioration of Jerusalem is a bold and strong statement of how far the city has fallen.  The gold is dim.  The fine metal has tarnished or deteriorated.  The precious stones are out of their settings of gold, and scattered in the streets.  It is a day of destruction.

3 Even the jackals present their breasts

To nurse their young;

But the daughter of my people is cruel,

Like ostriches in the wilderness.

4 The tongue of the infant clings

To the roof of its mouth for thirst;

The young children ask for bread,

But no one breaks it for them.

5 Those who ate delicacies

Are desolate in the streets;

Those who were brought up in scarlet

Embrace ash heaps.

6 The punishment of the iniquity of the daughter of my people

Is greater than the punishment of the sin of Sodom,

Which was overthrown in a moment,

With no hand to help her!

7 Her Nazirites were brighter than snow

And whiter than milk;

They were more ruddy in body than rubies,

Like sapphire in their appearance.

8 Now their appearance is blacker than soot;

They go unrecognized in the streets;

Their skin clings to their bones,

It has become as dry as wood.

9 Those slain by the sword are better off

Than those who die of hunger;

For these pine away,

Stricken for lack of the fruits of the field.

10 The hands of the compassionate women

Have cooked their own children;

They became food for them

In the destruction of the daughter of my people.

Mothers are unable to feed their children.  Sons and daughters starve and thirst to death.  Skin tone has become ashen and gray.  Women cook their children just to live another day.  It would be better to die at the hands of a soldier than to die like this, yet here they are, wasting away in their punishment.  

11 The Lord has fulfilled His fury,

He has poured out His fierce anger.

He kindled a fire in Zion,

And it has devoured its foundations.

12 The kings of the earth,

And all inhabitants of the world,

Would not have believed

That the adversary and the enemy

Could enter the gates of Jerusalem—

13 Because of the sins of her prophets

And the iniquities of her priests,

Who shed in her midst

The blood of the just.

14 They wandered blind in the streets;

They have defiled themselves with blood,

So that no one would touch their garments.

15 They cried out to them,

“Go away, unclean!

Go away, go away,

Do not touch us!”

When they fled and wandered,

Those among the nations said,

“They shall no longer dwell here.”

16 The face of the Lord scattered them;

He no longer regards them.

The people do not respect the priests

Nor show favor to the elders.

17 Still our eyes failed us,

Watching vainly for our help;

In our watching we watched

For a nation that could not save us.

18 They tracked our steps

So that we could not walk in our streets.

Our end was near;

Our days were over,

For our end had come.

19 Our pursuers were swifter

Than the eagles of the heavens.

They pursued us on the mountains

And lay in wait for us in the wilderness.

20 The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of the Lord,

Was caught in their pits,

Of whom we said, “Under his shadow

We shall live among the nations.”

21 Rejoice and be glad, O daughter of Edom,

You who dwell in the land of Uz!

The cup shall also pass over to you

And you shall become drunk and make yourself naked.

22 The punishment of your iniquity is accomplished,

O daughter of Zion;

He will no longer send you into captivity.

He will punish your iniquity,

O daughter of Edom;

He will uncover your sins!

The destruction of Jerusalem was unexpected and swift.  The people of God sinned, repeatedly, and brought on this judgment.  The nations around Israel were shocked by the demise of the great city.  The punishment has begun, but is not over.  They are hunted, defiled, and killed.  Even their relationship with the Lord is not enough to save them in this moment.  Restoration will come, later.  Thankfully, even gold can be polished and restored.  It can be hammered into beautiful shapes.  But, for now, the gold has become dim.  

Let God shine you and restore you daily.  Let Him polish you and buff you into His image.  Let His word sharpen you and make you gleam in the light of His glory.  Let it not be said of your life, “How the gold has become dim!”

Restoration Comes From Repentance

Lamentations 3:30–66 (NKJV)

30 Let him give his cheek to the one who strikes him,

And be full of reproach.

31 For the Lord will not cast off forever.

32 Though He causes grief,

Yet He will show compassion

According to the multitude of His mercies.

33 For He does not afflict willingly,

Nor grieve the children of men.

34 To crush under one’s feet

All the prisoners of the earth,

35 To turn aside the justice due a man

Before the face of the Most High,

36 Or subvert a man in his cause—

The Lord does not approve.

37 Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,

When the Lord has not commanded it?

The Lord is not an evil god with mischief as His goal.  God actually longs to bless His people and bring good into their lives.  Punishment is only in the name of discipline.  God’s desire is not to harm or crush, but rather to increase and bless.  However, evil actions bring evil results, and discipline is necessary in the short term to bring about holiness and righteousness in the long term.

38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High

That woe and well-being proceed?

39 Why should a living man complain,

A man for the punishment of his sins?

lamentations-3-40-41

40 Let us search out and examine our ways,

And turn back to the Lord;

41 Let us lift our hearts and hands

To God in heaven.

42 We have transgressed and rebelled;

You have not pardoned.

43 You have covered Yourself with anger

And pursued us;

You have slain and not pitied.

44 You have covered Yourself with a cloud,

That prayer should not pass through.

45 You have made us an offscouring and refuse

In the midst of the peoples.

46 All our enemies

Have opened their mouths against us.

The effects of God’s judgment are harsh.  The only remedy is repentance and contrition.  Man must turn his heart back to the God of grace in order to be restored.  When the heavens are covered with a cloud of glass, keep praying.  When you feel thrown away, understand that punishment is only temporary toward the heart with Godly sorrow and repentance.

47 Fear and a snare have come upon us,

Desolation and destruction.

48 My eyes overflow with rivers of water

For the destruction of the daughter of my people.

49 My eyes flow and do not cease,

Without interruption,

50 Till the Lord from heaven

Looks down and sees.

51 My eyes bring suffering to my soul

Because of all the daughters of my city.

52 My enemies without cause

Hunted me down like a bird.

53 They silenced my life in the pit

And threw stones at me.

54 The waters flowed over my head;

I said, “I am cut off!”

Sorrow follows judgment, but is surely merited.  The deep unsettled nature of conviction and guilt drive one to tears, and rightly so.  However, one is not required to stay there.  Rise up, but only with a bowed head toward God, not your problems.  

55 I called on Your name, O Lord,

From the lowest pit.

56 You have heard my voice:

“Do not hide Your ear

From my sighing, from my cry for help.”

57 You drew near on the day I called on You,

And said, “Do not fear!”

58 O Lord, You have pleaded the case for my soul;

You have redeemed my life.

59 O Lord, You have seen how I am wronged;

Judge my case.

60 You have seen all their vengeance,

All their schemes against me.

61 You have heard their reproach, O Lord,

All their schemes against me,

62 The lips of my enemies

And their whispering against me all the day.

63 Look at their sitting down and their rising up;

I am their taunting song.

64 Repay them, O Lord,

According to the work of their hands.

65 Give them a veiled heart;

Your curse be upon them!

66 In Your anger,

Pursue and destroy them

From under the heavens of the Lord.

Jeremiah calls unto God for rescue and vengeance against his enemies. There is hope in Christ.  There is power in the name of Jesus.  There is restoration in the future of the repentant soul.  Trust in God and know that what seems like complete hopelessness today can become a beautiful restoration tomorrow if you pray and trust the Lord of the whole Earth.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Lamentations 3:1–29 (NKJV)

3:1 I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath.

2 He has led me and made me walk

In darkness and not in light.

3 Surely He has turned His hand against me

Time and time again throughout the day.

4 He has aged my flesh and my skin,

And broken my bones.

5 He has besieged me

And surrounded me with bitterness and woe.

6 He has set me in dark places

Like the dead of long ago.

7 He has hedged me in so that I cannot get out;

He has made my chain heavy.

8 Even when I cry and shout,

He shuts out my prayer.

9 He has blocked my ways with hewn stone;

He has made my paths crooked.

10 He has been to me a bear lying in wait,

Like a lion in ambush.

11 He has turned aside my ways and torn me in pieces;

He has made me desolate.

12 He has bent His bow

And set me up as a target for the arrow.

13 He has caused the arrows of His quiver

To pierce my loins.

14 I have become the ridicule of all my people—

Their taunting song all the day.

15 He has filled me with bitterness,

He has made me drink wormwood.

16 He has also broken my teeth with gravel,

And covered me with ashes.

17 You have moved my soul far from peace;

I have forgotten prosperity.

18 And I said, “My strength and my hope

Have perished from the Lord.”

19 Remember my affliction and roaming,

The wormwood and the gall.

20 My soul still remembers

And sinks within me.

Jeremiah mourns over his treatment at the hands of his countrymen.  He laments over His treatment at the hand of God as part of the idolatrous nation of Judah, even though he has behaved righteously.  His physical condition is compromised and unhealthy.  His outlook is dim, his attitude is down.  Jeremiah sees the result of his nation’s judgment, and is despondent.  Is there hope for Jeremiah or for Judah?

21 This I recall to my mind,

Therefore I have hope.

22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.

23 They are new every morning;

Great is Your faithfulness.

24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,

“Therefore I hope in Him!”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

To the soul who seeks Him.

26 It is good that one should hope and wait quietly

For the salvation of the Lord.

27 It is good for a man to bear

The yoke in his youth.

28 Let him sit alone and keep silent,

Because God has laid it on him;

29 Let him put his mouth in the dust—

There may yet be hope.

Jeremiah quickly answers the question of whether there is hope by turning his eyes from the situation around him to the vision of the Lord in his mind and understanding.  Two of my favorite Scriptures in the entire Bible, and the subject of songs in our books are verses 22 and 23, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.  They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”  God is faithful.  God is secure.  God is forever.  Believe that He is greater than your sin; greater than your trouble; greater than your loss.  God is greater than anything you will face in this life.  I trust You, Lord.  Great is Thy Faithfulness!

Judgment Stings

Lamentations 2:1–22 (NKJV)

2:1 How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion

With a cloud in His anger!

He cast down from heaven to the earth

The beauty of Israel,

And did not remember His footstool

In the day of His anger.

2 The Lord has swallowed up and has not pitied

All the dwelling places of Jacob.

He has thrown down in His wrath

The strongholds of the daughter of Judah;

He has brought them down to the ground;

He has profaned the kingdom and its princes.

3 He has cut off in fierce anger

Every horn of Israel;

He has drawn back His right hand

From before the enemy.

He has blazed against Jacob like a flaming fire

Devouring all around.

This opening passage reveals the things that God has allowed to be compromised in Judah due to their sin.  Their beauty, or splendor, is gone.  The buildings, the temple, the government, etc., have been cast down.  The strongholds are gone, Judah is vulnerable and susceptible to attack.  It’s fortresses no longer hold back the enemy.  Finally, their horn is cut off, signifying a loss of strength or pride (honor).  Judah is shamed and defeated.

4 Standing like an enemy, He has bent His bow;

With His right hand, like an adversary,

He has slain all who were pleasing to His eye;

On the tent of the daughter of Zion,

He has poured out His fury like fire.

5 The Lord was like an enemy.

He has swallowed up Israel,

He has swallowed up all her palaces;

He has destroyed her strongholds,

And has increased mourning and lamentation

In the daughter of Judah.

6 He has done violence to His tabernacle,

As if it were a garden;

He has destroyed His place of assembly;

The Lord has caused

The appointed feasts and Sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion.

In His burning indignation He has spurned the king and the priest.

7 The Lord has spurned His altar,

He has abandoned His sanctuary;

He has given up the walls of her palaces

Into the hand of the enemy.

They have made a noise in the house of the Lord

As on the day of a set feast.

8 The Lord has purposed to destroy

The wall of the daughter of Zion.

He has stretched out a line;

He has not withdrawn His hand from destroying;

Therefore He has caused the rampart and wall to lament;

They languished together.

9 Her gates have sunk into the ground;

He has destroyed and broken her bars.

Her king and her princes are among the nations;

The Law is no more,

And her prophets find no vision from the Lord.

Jeremiah describes further here the condition of Jerusalem after the judgment of God.  The Lord has become the adversary, the enemy of His people.  He has destroyed people, palaces, fortresses, the tabernacle, the altar, the walls and the gates of the city. He has cut down the beauty of the city, the strength of man, and has rejected their places of worship because of their sin.  He has removed their defenses and made them weak.

10 The elders of the daughter of Zion

Sit on the ground and keep silence;

They throw dust on their heads

And gird themselves with sackcloth.

The virgins of Jerusalem

Bow their heads to the ground.

11 My eyes fail with tears,

My heart is troubled;

My bile is poured on the ground

Because of the destruction of the daughter of my people,

Because the children and the infants

Faint in the streets of the city.

12 They say to their mothers,

“Where is grain and wine?”

As they swoon like the wounded

In the streets of the city,

As their life is poured out

In their mothers’ bosom.

13 How shall I console you?

To what shall I liken you,

O daughter of Jerusalem?

What shall I compare with you, that I may comfort you,

O virgin daughter of Zion?

For your ruin is spread wide as the sea;

Who can heal you?

14 Your prophets have seen for you

False and deceptive visions;

They have not uncovered your iniquity,

To bring back your captives,

But have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions.

15 All who pass by clap their hands at you;

They hiss and shake their heads

At the daughter of Jerusalem:

“Is this the city that is called

‘The perfection of beauty,

The joy of the whole earth’?”

16 All your enemies have opened their mouth against you;

They hiss and gnash their teeth.

They say, “We have swallowed her up!

Surely this is the day we have waited for;

We have found it, we have seen it!”

17 The Lord has done what He purposed;

He has fulfilled His word

Which He commanded in days of old.

He has thrown down and has not pitied,

And He has caused an enemy to rejoice over you;

He has exalted the horn of your adversaries.

18 Their heart cried out to the Lord,

“O wall of the daughter of Zion,

Let tears run down like a river day and night;

Give yourself no relief;

Give your eyes no rest.

19 “Arise, cry out in the night,

At the beginning of the watches;

Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.

Lift your hands toward Him

For the life of your young children,

Who faint from hunger at the head of every street.”

20 “See, O Lord, and consider!

To whom have You done this?

Should the women eat their offspring,

The children they have cuddled?

Should the priest and prophet be slain

In the sanctuary of the Lord?

21Young and old lie

On the ground in the streets;

My virgins and my young men

Have fallen by the sword;

You have slain them in the day of Your anger,

You have slaughtered and not pitied.

22 “You have invited as to a feast day

The terrors that surround me.

In the day of the Lord’s anger

There was no refugee or survivor.

Those whom I have borne and brought up

My enemies have destroyed.”

The city is bound up in mourning, tears, and fainting.  Children are starving.  Prophets have lied.  Onlookers deride Jerusalem.  Conquerors boast of Jerusalem’s demise.  Old and young lie dead in the streets.  When judgment comes, it is ugly, messy, deadly.  Jerusalem, once glorious and revered city, is now in ruins and its people are devastated.  Be sure that when a life or a family is walking contrary to the will of God, judgment comes.  Mercy will follow if repentance occurs, but judgment will be messy.  Here the warnings.  Heed the call to repentance before judgment hits.  Be saved from your sins before you walk over a metaphorical cliff into the disfavor of God.  Judgment stings.

lam 2

Jerusalem, the Lonely Widow

Lamentations 1:1–22 (NKJV)

The book of Lamentations describes the horrible condition of the city of Jerusalem after its conquest at the hands of Babylon.  The mourning and lament are palpable.

1:1 How lonely sits the city

That was full of people!

How like a widow is she,

Who was great among the nations!

The princess among the provinces

Has become a slave!

2 She weeps bitterly in the night,

Her tears are on her cheeks;

Among all her lovers

She has none to comfort her.

All her friends have dealt treacherously with her;

They have become her enemies.

The city is described as empty, lonely, degraded, and without comfort.

3 Judah has gone into captivity,

Under affliction and hard servitude;

She dwells among the nations,

She finds no rest;

All her persecutors overtake her in dire straits.

4 The roads to Zion mourn

Because no one comes to the set feasts.

All her gates are desolate;

Her priests sigh,

Her virgins are afflicted,

And she is in bitterness.

5 Her adversaries have become the master,

Her enemies prosper;

For the Lord has afflicted her

Because of the multitude of her transgressions.

Her children have gone into captivity before the enemy.

6 And from the daughter of Zion

All her splendor has departed.

Her princes have become like deer

That find no pasture,

That flee without strength

Before the pursuer.

The festivals are over.  The young people that once brought hope for future glory are scattered or dead.  Judah and Jerusalem seemed doomed.  The punishment for her sins is overwhelming.

7 In the days of her affliction and roaming,

Jerusalem remembers all her pleasant things

That she had in the days of old.

When her people fell into the hand of the enemy,

With no one to help her,

The adversaries saw her

And mocked at her downfall.

8 Jerusalem has sinned gravely,

Therefore she has become vile.

All who honored her despise her

Because they have seen her nakedness;

Yes, she sighs and turns away.

9 Her uncleanness is in her skirts;

She did not consider her destiny;

Therefore her collapse was awesome;

She had no comforter.

“O Lord, behold my affliction,

For the enemy is exalted!”

10 The adversary has spread his hand

Over all her pleasant things;

For she has seen the nations enter her sanctuary,

Those whom You commanded

Not to enter Your assembly.

The shame of Judah is obvious.  The nations mock her, deride her.  They have walked right in to her holy places, and they have seen her exposed by the punishment.  She has no honor any longer.

11 All her people sigh,

They seek bread;

They have given their valuables for food to restore life.

“See, O Lord, and consider,

For I am scorned.”

12 “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?

Behold and see

If there is any sorrow like my sorrow,

Which has been brought on me,

Which the Lord has inflicted

In the day of His fierce anger.

13 “From above He has sent fire into my bones,

And it overpowered them;

He has spread a net for my feet

And turned me back;

He has made me desolate

And faint all the day.

14 “The yoke of my transgressions was bound;

They were woven together by His hands,

And thrust upon my neck.

He made my strength fail;

The Lord delivered me into the hands of those whom I am not able to withstand.

15 “The Lord has trampled underfoot all my mighty men in my midst;

He has called an assembly against me

To crush my young men;

The Lord trampled as in a winepress

The virgin daughter of Judah.

Poverty, sorrow, weakness, bondage and defeat have come upon Judah.  The once lofty city of Jerusalem is destroyed.

16 “For these things I weep;

My eye, my eye overflows with water;

Because the comforter, who should restore my life,

Is far from me.

My children are desolate

Because the enemy prevailed.”

17 Zion spreads out her hands,

But no one comforts her;

The Lord has commanded concerning Jacob

That those around him become his adversaries;

Jerusalem has become an unclean thing among them.

In this statement, Jerusalem accepts the guilt for her condition.  She sees that the responsibility for her fall is her own.  There is no one else at which to point the finger.

18 “The Lord is righteous,

For I rebelled against His commandment.

Hear now, all peoples,

And behold my sorrow;

My virgins and my young men

Have gone into captivity.

19 “I called for my lovers,

But they deceived me;

My priests and my elders

Breathed their last in the city,

While they sought food

To restore their life.

20 “See, O Lord, that I am in distress;

My soul is troubled;

My heart is overturned within me,

For I have been very rebellious.

Outside the sword bereaves,

At home it is like death.

21 “They have heard that I sigh,

But no one comforts me.

All my enemies have heard of my trouble;

They are glad that You have done it.

Bring on the day You have announced,

That they may become like me.

22 “Let all their wickedness come before You,

And do to them as You have done to me

For all my transgressions;

For my sighs are many,

And my heart is faint.”

Jerusalem feels she has no one to whom she can turn.  Her loves rejected her.  Her priests are dead.  Her enemies mock her.  She is alone in her grief and sorrow.  When tragedy strikes, one of a few responses is possible.  One can allow the grief to overwhelm them and fall under the weight of it, or one can turn to God, believing in spite of the facts before them.  I choose to believe.  However, the lonely widow–feeling the weight of defeat–may struggle to overcome.  Reach out and help, for one day you may need that same hand.

Remembering the Fall of Jerusalem

Jeremiah 52:1–34 (NKJV)

52:1 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah. 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, till He finally cast them out from His presence. Then Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.

Now it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, on the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came against Jerusalem and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it all around. So the city was besieged until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah. By the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine had become so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land. Then the city wall was broken through, and all the men of war fled and went out of the city at 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. And they went by way of the plain.

But the army of the Chaldeans pursued the king, and they overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho. All his army was scattered from him. So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he pronounced judgment on him. 10 Then the king of Babylon killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. And he killed all the princes of Judah in Riblah. 11 He also put out the eyes of Zedekiah; and the king of Babylon bound him in bronze fetters, took him to Babylon, and put him in prison till the day of his death.

Zedekiah, king of Judah, ignored the warnings of Jeremiah, and was conquered.  His family was killed, he was blinded and put in bronze fetters, and the city was taken.

12 Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. jer 5213 He burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. 14 And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. 15 Then Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive some of the poor people, 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. 16 But Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard left some of the poor of the land as vinedressers and farmers.

17 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. 18 They also took away the pots, the shovels, the trimmers, the bowls, the spoon
s, and all the bronze utensils with which the priests ministered. 19 The basins, the firepans, the bowls, the pots, the lampstands, the spoons, and the cups, whatever was solid gold and whatever was solid silver, the captain of the guard took away. 20 The two pillars, one Sea, the twelve bronze bulls which were under it, and the carts, which King Solomon had made for the house of the Lord the bronze of all these articles was beyond measure. 21 Now concerning the pillars: the height of one pillar was eighteen cubits, a measuring line of twelve cubits could measure its circumference, and its thickness was four fingers; it was hollow. 22 A capital of bronze was on it; and the height of one capital was five cubits, with a network and pomegranates all around the capital, all of bronze. The second pillar, with pomegranates was the same. 23 There were ninety-six pomegranates on the sides; all the pomegranates, all around on the network, were one hundred.

The destruction of Jerusalem sound eerily similar to the destruction proclaimed against Babylon in chapter 51.  It seems that the Lord is pledging to bring a similar destruction on the conquerors of Jerusalem as the destruction they exacted against Jerusalem.  Their walls were torn down, as well as the houses of their notable citizens, and their temple was destroyed.

jer 52 the-chaldees-destroy-the-brazen-sea

24 The captain of the guard took Seraiah the chief priest, Zephaniah the second priest, and the three doorkeepers. 25 He also took out of the city an officer who had charge of the men of war, seven men of 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 sixty men of the people of the land who were found in the midst of the city. 26 And Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard took these and brought them to the king of Babylon at Riblah. 27 Then 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.

28 These are the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews; 29 in the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar he carried away captive from Jerusalem eight hundred and thirty-two persons; 30 in the twenty-third year of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried away captive of the Jews seven hundred and forty-five persons. All the persons were four thousand six hundred.

Over the course of Nebchadnezzer’s reign as king of Babylon, he took four thousand six hundred people of the Jews into captivity.  These helped make up the remnant that God would use to repopulate and restore Jerusalem.  God is holding on to true believers for the latter day revival that will usher in the coming of the Lord for His church!

31 Now it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that Evil-Merodach king of Babylon, in the first year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him out of prison. 32 And he spoke kindly to him and gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 33 So Jehoiachin changed from his prison garments, and he ate bread regularly before the king all the days of his life. 34 And 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.

Regime change brought new fortunes upon the deposed king of Judah.  Evil-Merodach took over the throne from Nebuchadnezzer thirty-seven years after Jehoiachin(Zedekiah) was taken captive.  He was brought out of prison and given a seat at the king’s table, and regular portions of food.  After a time of punishment, there is always grace for those who seek it.  The destruction of Jerusalem was horrible, and should have been remembered.  However, the grace of God is even more memorable.  Never forget that God redeems, forgives, and saves in our times of need!

When God Speaks

Jeremiah 51:1–64 (NKJV)

In the following poetic prophecy against Babylon, the Lord makes statements concerning the causes and the nature of the punishment He will inflict on the nation.  First, He states that He will remove the sinful through conquest.  He names the governors, satraps, officials, princes, and the lowly as objects of His wrath.  He speaks of wrath against men and women, children, the elderly.  Secondly, He discusses the reasons for this judgment.  They include the futility of their idolatry and their crimes against Israel.  The Babylonians served false gods rather than worship the one true God.  They also attacked and brought Judah into captivity under the watch of Jeremiah the prophet.  Third, in light of the conquest of Babylon, God instructs those from Israel and Judah to return to their land, for He will give them back their land and drive out their captors.  Finally, He discusses the measure of the destruction.  Their palaces, their vineyards, their cities, will be razed, torn down to the ground to the point that they will not even be able to find a cornerstone or a foundation among them.  Their great gardens will be destroyed.  Desolation will come upon the land.  All who pass by will hiss in derision at the nation who ruled others but is now destroyed.

51:1 Thus says the Lord:

“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon,

Against those who dwell in Leb Kamai,

A destroying wind.

2 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.

3 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.

4 Thus the slain shall fall in the land of the Chaldeans,

And those thrust through in her streets.

5 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.”

6 Flee from the midst of Babylon,

And every one save his life!

Do not be cut off in her iniquity,

For this is the time of the Lord’s vengeance;

He shall recompense her.

7 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.

8 Babylon has suddenly fallen and been destroyed.

Wail for her!

Take balm for her pain;

Perhaps she may be healed.

9 We would have healed Babylon,

But she is not healed.

Forsake her, and let us go everyone to his own country;

For her judgment reaches to heaven and is lifted up to the skies.

10 The Lord has revealed our righteousness.

Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God.

11 Make the arrows bright!

Gather the shields!

The Lord has raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes.

For His plan is against Babylon to destroy it,

Because it is the vengeance of the Lord,

The vengeance for His temple.

12 Set up the standard on the walls of Babylon;

Make the guard strong,

Set up the watchmen,

Prepare the ambushes.

For the Lord has both devised and done

What He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.

13 O you who dwell by many waters,

Abundant in treasures,

Your end has come,

The measure of your covetousness.

14 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.”

15 He has made the earth by His power;

He has established the world by His wisdom,

And stretched out the heaven by His understanding.

16 When He utters His voice—

There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:

“He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth;

He makes lightnings for the rain;

He brings the wind out of His treasuries.”

17 Everyone is dull-hearted, without knowledge;

Every metalsmith is put to shame by the carved image;

For his molded image is falsehood,

And there is no breath in them.

18 They are futile, a work of errors;

In the time of their punishment they shall perish.

19 The Portion of Jacob is not like them,

For He is the Maker of all things;

And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.

The Lord of hosts is His name.

20 “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war:

For with you I will break the nation in pieces;

With you I will destroy kingdoms;

21 With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider;

With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;

22 With you also I will break in pieces man and woman;

With you I will break in pieces old and young;

With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden;

23 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.

24 “And I will repay Babylon

And all the inhabitants of Chaldea

For all the evil they have done

In Zion in your sight,” says the Lord.

25 “Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain,

Who destroys all the earth,” says the Lord.

“And I will stretch out My hand against you,

Roll you down from the rocks,

And make you a burnt mountain.

26 They shall not take from you a stone for a corner

Nor a stone for a foundation,

But you shall be desolate forever,” says the Lord.

27 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 the bristling locusts.

28 Prepare against her the nations,

With the kings of the Medes,

Its governors and all its rulers,

All the land of his dominion.

29 And the land will tremble and sorrow;

For every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon,

To make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitant.

30 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 gate are broken.

31 One runner will run to meet another,

And one messenger to meet another,

To show the king of Babylon that his city is taken on all sides;

32 The passages are blocked,

The reeds they have burned with fire,

And the men of war are terrified.

33 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:

“The daughter of Babylon is like a threshing floor

When it is time to thresh her;

Yet a little while

And the time of her harvest will come.”

34 “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.

35 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.

36 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.

37 Babylon shall become a heap,

A dwelling place for jackals,

An astonishment and a hissing,

Without an inhabitant.

38 They shall roar together like lions,

They shall growl like lions’ whelps.

39 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,” says the Lord.

40 “I will bring them down

Like lambs to the slaughter,

Like rams with male goats.

41 “Oh, how Sheshach is taken!

Oh, how the praise of the whole earth is seized!

How Babylon has become desolate among the nations!

42 The sea has come up over Babylon;

She is covered with the multitude of its waves.

43 Her cities are a desolation,

A dry land and a wilderness,

A land where no one dwells,

Through which no son of man passes.

44 I will punish Bel in Babylon,

And I will bring out of his mouth what he has swallowed;

And the nations shall not stream to him anymore.

Yes, the wall of Babylon shall fall.

45 “My people, go out of the midst of her!

And let everyone deliver himself from the fierce anger of the Lord.

46 And lest your heart faint,

And you fear for the 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),

47 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.

48 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.

49 As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall,

So at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall.

50 You who have escaped the sword,

Get away! Do not stand still!

Remember the Lord afar off,

And let Jerusalem come to your mind.

51 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.

52 “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.

53 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.

54 The sound of a cry comes from Babylon,

And great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans,

55 Because the Lord is plundering Babylon

And silencing her loud voice,

Though her waves roar like great waters,

And the noise of their voice is uttered,

56 Because the plunderer comes against her, against Babylon,

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.

57 “And I will make drunk

Her princes and wise men,

Her governors, her deputies, and her mighty men.

And they shall sleep a perpetual sleep

And not awake,” says the King,

Whose name is the Lord of hosts.

58 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;

And they shall be weary.”

The bottom line is that God is showing His superiority and sovereignty over the whole earth.  No nation will rise and rule without recognizing God as Lord of all.  Therefore, although He used them as an instrument of teaching for His chosen people in their sin and rebellion, He came back to judge them for the idolatry and sin.  There actions against Israel and Judah were their downfall in addition to their idolatrous lifestyle.

59 The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Mahseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And Seraiah was the quartermaster. 60 So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon. 61 And Jeremiah said to Seraiah, “When you arrive in Babylon and see it, and read all these words, 62 then you shall say, ‘O 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.’ 63 Now it shall be, when you have finished reading this book, that you shall tie a stone to it and throw it out into the Euphrates. 64 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.

Jeremiah had Seraiah the quartermaster seal up the words of the prophecy, declare them in Babylon, and then throw them in the Euphrates River, thus signifying that Babylon would sink and never rise from the catasprophe that would come upon them.  When God speaks, listen, for His word will come to pass!