As you read each passage, pray for God’s help. Ask yourself:
- What does God reveal about Himself?
- How is your own heart revealed?
- How does this passage underline the wonder of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ, and your own need of Christ as Saviour and Lord?
- Turn these truths into prayer and praise.
4 December Jer 51:45-50
The last part of this oracle is a command to the exiles in Babylon to flee, now that Babylon is being overthrown. The historical situation of the Jews in exile becomes a metaphor in the rest of the Bible for God’s people through the ages who face the hostility of the world (note how John depicts as “Babylon” those who persecute Christians in Rev chs.17-18). We may live for the moment in “Babylon”, but our heart surely has another home (v.50).
5 December Jer 51:51-58
Babylon’s punishment is directly for its crimes against God’s people and against the Lord Himself (v.51). Thus it will always be, and “Babylon” in every age should beware, for “the Lord is a God of retribution” (v.56). God’s retribution is seen here as the answer to hubris, i.e. to the pretensions of idolatry (v.52) and arrogance (v.53). For what does the soaring ambition of the few and the frantic efforts of the many amount to in the end? V.58 supplies the answer. So how will you live today?
6 December Jer 51:59-64
Jeremiah’s oracles against Babylon were taken and read to the exiles there during the fourth year of King Zedekiah’s reign (v.59). Zedekiah had presumably been summoned to Babylon to make sure of his loyalty. Seriah, his staff officer, was Baruch’s brother, a man Jeremiah felt he could trust to take and read the scroll. Once again, God’s historic judgement on Babylon is symbolic of the final overthrow of all who stand against Him and oppress His people (v.64, compare Rev 18:21,24).
7 December Jer 52:1-11
The final chapter of Jeremiah recaps the fall of Jerusalem before ending on a note of hope. Verses 1-11 recall the tragic figure of King Zedekiah, who was what James would have called a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). He broke faith with his Babylonian overlords (v.3) and with his own people (v.7). But the root of all his trouble was that he had first broken faith with God (v.2). When will we learn that turning from the Lord always leads to disaster?
8 December Jer 52:12-23
These verses tell of the systematic destruction of Jerusalem. Every major building is burned (v.13). The city walls are torn down by thousands of troops (v.14). The temple is looted and all its wealth is taken to the treasuries of Babylon. It makes terrible reading, but our loving heavenly Father has included these details for our learning. Appalling dangers need to be boldly signposted. God’s love will bring His people as low as is necessary to deliver us from the tyranny of our proud rebellion.
9 December Jer 52:24-30
In vv.24-27 we read of the execution of Jerusalem’s leading citizens, who had to pay the price Babylon put on their refusal to surrender. They should have heeded Jeremiah. Vv.28-30 remind us that there were three successive deportations over a long period. It is a sad reminder of the long and persistent rejection of God’s word by His people, despite His offer of a happier future if only they would return to Him.
10 December Jer 52:31-34
But what’s this? A surprising ending! Just when we might have thought the story of God’s people had run into a dead-end, there’s a gleam of light. Jehoiachin was Zedekiah’s predecessor, deposed after only three months, and a prisoner in Babylon for over 36 years. Yet his eventual release and restoration to honour reminds us that God’s promise of a future for His people is not empty (see Jer 29:11-14). Christmas is coming – see Mt 1:1,11-12 (footnote: Jeconiah = Jehoiachin) and v.17. God’s love will NOT be defeated, despite all we might do!