Jeremiah 51: Judgment and Salvation
October 20, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jeremiah 51, Song of Solomon 4:8-16, John 6:25-40, 1 Peter 3:8-12
The judgment from God against Babylon is recorded in greater length and at greater extremity in this chapter. Once again, we need to remind ourselves of the yet broader context, not just of God’s judgment against all sinners who have not put their trust in the God of the Bible, but of the overarching principle of God’s justice and holiness.
The God who is, the God of the Bible, is a God who is holy, who will not let wickedness and evil stand, and who will defend the rights of the marginalized, victimized, the widow and the orphan. There is a final judgment place for the evil that plagues our world and ruins our own hearts. That sin, in which to some measure at least we all partake, is either dealt with at the cross where Jesus took the punishment we deserve, or in hell.
In a very real sense, the choice is ours, though in an ultimate way God’s people, his elect people, are chosen since before the foundation of the world. “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In other words, when we read this chapter and find its message of judgment hard to swallow, we should also ask ourselves whether we want there to be no justice at all for the evil of our world. And if we do want justice—and who does not—then we must also ask whether we are perfectly pure, and if not—and who is there who does not sin—then put our trust in God for our salvation.
What makes this chapter particularly extraordinary is that it is also Babylon that God uses to exercise discipline against his own people. “You are my hammer and weapon of war” (51:20). God, though not in any way the author of evil, is able to weave the threads of destiny in such a way that good is brought out of evil. “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
The message ends with a final enacted parable. The message is written in a book. It is taken to Babylon. It is read out formally in that place of coming judgment. Then it is tied to a stone and thrown into the Euphrates. “Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted” (51:64). Such news is a terrible message to hear. Where can we find rescue? In the One who walks on water.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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