Today’s readings convey a mix of information. God removes Elijah and Elisha takes up his role, his authority being confirmed by several miracles. Although Elijah is taken “up into heaven”, it is not into heaven itself! It is not clear where he goes but a letter is later received from him (2 Chronicles 21:12). Paul tells the Corinthians about the things that “were written down for our instruction” (1 Corinthians 10:11) and those concerned about Paul’s warnings would seek such writings eagerly; they would not be easily available as they are today.
In Jeremiah we read a lot about Babylon’s destiny and doom. Almost all the people are now in captivity in parts of Babylon, Daniel and Ezekiel included. Babylon was the Middle East superpower of the day. God’s message through Jeremiah is, “The word that the LORD spoke concerning Babylon … declare among the nations … Babylon is taken …” (50:1,2).
Babylon ceased dramatically, but Jeremiah is granted a vision far beyond that era, “… in that time, declares the LORD, the people of Israel and the people of Judah shall come together, weeping as they come, and they shall seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with faces turned toward it, saying, ‘Come, let us join ourselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant …’” (verses 5,6).
After the death of Solomon the nation divided. When their Messiah came they did not recognise him, not having read the message of the prophets, especially Isaiah. Jeremiah is now told of a future time, “In those days and at that time, declares the LORD … I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant” (verse 20). As a result of this pardoning they “come together, weeping as they come … to seek the LORD their God”.
We wait to see this happen as it seems to be a parallel with the dramas to happen at the return of Christ, the true Messiah. The chapter ends with a statement paralleled in the book of Revelation, at “the capture of Babylon the earth shall tremble, and her cry shall be heard among the nations.”
In Revelation 18:9,19 we read, “Alas! Alas! … you mighty city, Babylon! For in a single hour your judgement has come … she has been laid waste”. Babylon in Hebrew is the word ‘babel’ – and in Genesis we are told of the dramatic end of that city after the earth’s cleansing in the time of Noah. Our world was initially cleansed by message of Christ, and this was renewed to some extent when God’s word was freely available in all languages. But now we face the time when “the earth shall tremble”. Will you tremble? Only those who are really on ‘the Lord’s side’ will not, for the angels will gather them.