Jeremiah 51, a chapter of 64 verses is quite remarkable, quite challenging. It is all about Babylon and God’s judgements on her, that mighty city. She had destroyed Jerusalem and God’s great Temple and taken all its treasures. She is led by a king who, up to this time, had been all conquering. The book of Daniel fills out the details – and then tells of her climactic collapse.
In Jeremiah we have the Lord’s prophecies of that collapse. “Jeremiah wrote in a book all the disaster that should come upon Babylon” (verse 60). Seraiah is commissioned, “When you come to Babylon, see that you read all these words, and say, ‘O LORD, you have said concerning this place that you will cut it off, so that nothing shall dwell in it, neither man nor beast, and it shall be desolate forever … Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more …’” (verses 62-64).
This is still the case today; Saddam Hussein sought to restore some part of Babylon and seat himself in it; his effort was a disaster. In this chapter the Lord caused Jeremiah to see far beyond the time of the Babylon he knew. Some of his words are echoed in Revelation. Babylon is a Greek word, but in Hebrew it is the word “Babel” – and we know what happened to Babel.
The name Babylon is symbolic in Revelation of the entire anti-God attitude in the world since the time of Jesus. In these “last days” it also finds expression in the anti-Israel spirit that now so inhabits the world, especially in the Middle East. Jeremiah 51:48 is prophetic of a time when “the heavens and the earth, and all that is in them, shall sing for joy over Babylon …” The next verse says, “Babylon must fall for the slain of Israel, just as for Babylon have fallen the slain of all the earth”.
Earlier verses even more clearly have a latter day application, “… this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance … Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, making all the earth drunken … therefore the nations went mad. Sudden Babylon has fallen and been broken … for her judgment has reached up to heaven, and has been lifted up even to the skies” (verses 6-9).
These words are echoed in Revelation 14:8; 18:3,5-6,23 etc. God will surely deal with this latter day Babel; when Babel sinks, may we be so related to things divine that we do not sink with it.