Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Growing Babylonian Threat

Jeremiah 25:1-14

“The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.” (Jeremiah 25:1-3)

Josiah had been the last good king of Judah, reigning thirty one years.  Jeremiah began prophesying during Josiah’s thirteenth year as king.  Josiah was killed by the Egyptians and his son Jehoahaz took the throne, but was deposed by the Egyptians and Jehoiakim was made king.  Four years later, Nebuchadnezzar came to power in Babylon.   For twenty three years, Jeremiah had been warning Judah that they were going to be conquered by Babylon if they did not turn wholeheartedly to God.  When he first started, the Assyrians were in power and Babylon was not seen as much of a threat, but in his first year as king, Nebuchadnezzar was able to defeat the Assyrians and seize control of their empire.  Jeremiah’s prophecies assumed a whole new level of importance to the people.    Jeremiah was not the only prophet God had sent to warn them.

“And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.  They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.   Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.” (Jeremiah 25:4-7)

God had sent his prophets to warn them in plenty of time for Judah to make the necessary changes and turn to the Lord, but they had ignored them.  The prophets had warned them that each one needed to do as God had said, keeping their part of their covenant or contract with god as the condition for God allowing them to keep the land.  God had promised that he would give them the land forever and protect them, if they would obey his laws and not worship other gods.   Judah had deliberately ignored God’s prophets and flagrantly broken the terms of their contract, bringing God’s anger on themselves. 

“Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Because ye have not heard my words, Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.” (Jeremiah 25:8-9)

Because they had ignored God’s warnings, God will unite the northern lands of Syria, Assyria, and Turkey under Nebuchadnezzar to attack Judah and the other countries around them, including the Philistines, the Moabites , the  Edomites, the Ammonites, the Zidonians, and Egypt.  Several of those kingdoms would cease to exist and all would be controlled by other groups after the collapse of the Persian Empire.   Egypt would be ruled by the Persians, the Greeks, and later the Ptolemy family until they were conquered by Rome in Cleopatra’s day.   The Edomite’s and Moabite’s land was taken by the Nabateans.  The Zidonians were absorbed by the Phoenician Empire.    

“Moreover I will take from them the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the candle.  And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:10-11)

For seventy years, all those nations would be subjects of the Babylonian Empire.  The cities in Judah would be largely uninhabited and Jerusalem totally destroyed.  The culture they had built would essentially cease to exist for the seventy years.   

“And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.  And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations.  For many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.”  (Jeremiah 25:12-14)

While Nebuchadnezzar would turn to God, as described in Daniel 4:37, his descendants and later Babylonian kings did not.  As a result, Jeremiah’s earlier prophecies against Babylon will be fulfilled.  The Babylonians would be ruled by the Persians, and later the Greek, the Seleucids, the Romans, the Parthians, and the Sassanids before being conquered by Arab and Islamic forces after 650 AD.  Clearly the prophecy of their serving many great kings and nations has been fulfilled. 

Unfortunately, even Nebuchadnezzar’s  rise to power and victory over the Assyrians did not get the Jews attention.   Jeremiah would continue to prophesy for another twenty five years or so.  

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