JUDGMENT BEGINS WITH THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD AND PROGRESSES AGAINST ALL NATIONS FOR THEIR STUBBORN REBELLION
Mankind has a built-in capacity for sin defined as Total Depravity. That is just how we are wired. We sin because innately we are sinners. Interestingly, mankind also has the common tendency to think that somehow judgment for sin will skip over us. We can see the severe demonstration of God’s judgment around us, but still come to the false conclusion that accountability does not apply in our case.
So the nation of Judah, despite having seen the demise of the Northern Kingdom at the hands of Assyria, despite being warned over many years and from the mouths of many prophets about the impending judgment from God, still holds out the false illusion that she is untouchable. So with the pagan nations. Babylon will end up being used as an instrument of God’s judgment on His own people while maintaining that their own ruthless wicked practices will not bring them down.
In similar fashion, the other surrounding nations imagine that they are invincible – until it is too late. Here we see the progression of God’s inevitable judgment – starting with the household of God, but then branching out and encompassing Babylon and the surrounding nations as well. God will execute His justice and hold His creation accountable despite their sense of false security.
Parunak: Ch. 25 ends the first oracle section of Jer. (Biography in ch. 1, oracles in 2-25, biography in 26-29) . . . these oracles have been dedicated to judgment, and ch. 25 is a grand finale on the theme of judgment.
JUDGMENT BEGINS WITH THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD AND PROGRESSES AGAINST ALL NATIONS FOR THEIR STUBBORN REBELLION
I. (:1-7) BLAME ASSIGNED — JUDAH INDICTED FOR FAILURE TO LISTEN AND RESPOND TO THE WARNINGS OF THE LORD
“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 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying,”
Mackay: The fact that the events of chapter 25 took place several years before those recorded in chapter 24 again reminds us that at this point the material has been gathered thematically rather than chronologically. . .
The dual dating is employed to emphasize that form this point onwards the real power in the land is Nebuchadnezzar (cf. 32:1, the only other text in the book to employ dual dating). Jeremiah is speaking against a background when the power of Babylon has already impinged upon the small kingdom of Judah. Jehoiakim is no longer free to do as he pleases in Judah, and the long-threatened judgment of the Lord has begun to be implemented.
Feinberg: This prophecy is precisely dated to show its extraordinary significance. . . Archaeology has shown that there were two methods of chronological reckoning in the Near East – by accession year and by nonaccession year. Judah used the first method; Babylon, the second.
Jeremiah at the mid-point of his prophetic career
A. (:3-4) Communicators of the Message – Sent from the Lord
1. (:3) Jeremiah
“From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, even to this day, these twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened.”
Authority of the Lord behind the message
Plenty of repetition and consistency in the message
2. (:4) Other Prophets
“And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets again and again, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear,”
Jeremiah was not a lone voice; not an outlier; message was consistent from all these prophets
Parunak: Note the time periods involved. 23 years for Jer; the others are “all his servants the prophets,” which takes us back to Samuel 500 years earlier, and ultimately to Moses 800 years before. This message is not new. No one can claim they haven’t had time to hear it.
Mackay: The prophets referred to here might be those that were contemporary with Jeremiah such as Uriah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk, but more probably this is the line of prophetic ministry stretching back to much earlier times, by which the Lord sought to recall his errant subjects, and which received in general the same response, or rather non-response (7:25-26; 11:7; 26:4-5; 32:33; 35:14-15; 44:4-5).
B. (:5-6) Content of the Message – Repent / Remain Loyal to the God of the Covenant / Reject Idolatry
1. (:5a) Repent
“saying, ‘Turn now everyone from his evil way and from the evil of your deeds,”
Mackay: Their “ways” (18:11) refers to their lifestyle in general, whereas “practices” refers to more specific actions that arise from the prevailing consensus (4:18).
2. (:5b) Remain Loyal to the God of the Covenant
“and dwell on the land which the LORD has given to you and your forefathers forever and ever;’”
What have these false idols given to them?
3. (:6) Reject Idolatry
“and do not go after other gods to serve them and to worship them,
and do not provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands,
and I will do you no harm.”
C. (:7) Cavalier Rejection of the Message
“’Yet you have not listened to Me,’ declares the LORD, ‘in order that you might provoke Me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm.’”
Cavalier: Showing arrogant or offhand disregard; dismissive:
II. (:8-14) BOOMERANG EFFECT — JUDGMENTS OF THE LORD INVOLVING NEBUCHADNEZZAR
“Therefore thus says the LORD of hosts,”
A. (:8-11) Nebuchadnezzar Commissioned to Devastate Judah
1. (:8) Judgment Due to Rebellion
“Because you have not obeyed My words,”
2. (:9a) Judgment Delegated to Nebuchadnezzar
“’behold, I will send and take all the families of the north,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land, and against its inhabitants, and against all these nations round about;’”
3. (:9b) Judgment Depicted as Devastating and Humiliating
“and I will utterly destroy them, and make them a horror, and a hissing,
and an everlasting desolation.”
4. (:10) Judgment Designed to Remove All Joy
“Moreover, I will take from them the voice of joy 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 lamp.”
Longman: the grinding of grain to produce food to enjoy
Thompson: all mark the close of life (cf. Eccl. 12:3-6 for similar examples pointing to the approach of death)
Mackay: A bleak and grim silence descends on the land under divine judgment.
5. (:11) Judgment Detailed as Seventy Years of Desolation and Subjugation
“And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror,”
“and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
MacArthur: Here is the first specific statement on the length of the exile (cf. 29:10). This period probably began in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, when Jerusalem was first captured and the temple treasures were taken. It ends with the decree of Cyrus to let the Jews return, spanning form ca. 605/04 B.C. to 536/35 B.C. The exact number of Sabbath years is 490 years, the period from Saul to the Babylonian captivity. This was retribution for their violation of the Sabbath law (cf. Lv 26:34,35; 2Ch 36:21).
B. (:12-14) Nebuchadnezzar Condemned to Similar Divine Judgments
1. (:12) Punishment Reversed
“’Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,’ declares the LORD, ‘for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.’”
Boomerang nature of this judgment = a reversal of how Babylon had been devastating Judah for her sins
Longman: This is exactly what happened to the political entity called Babylon. In 539 B.C., the native Babylonian dynasty led by Nabonidus and his son and co-regent Belsharusur (the latter mentioned in the Bible under the name Belshazzar [see Dan. 5]) were defeated by the Persians under Cyrus the great.
2. (:13) Prophecies Fulfilled
“And I will bring upon that land all My words which I have pronounced against it, all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations.”
MacArthur: Jeremiah prophesied judgments on surrounding nations (cf. chaps. 46-49), while Babylon is the focus of judgment in chaps. 50-51.
3. (:14) Payback Rendered
“(For many nations and great kings shall make slaves of them, even them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the work of their hands.)”
Wiersbe: because of the ruthless way they treated both Jews and Gentiles (25:12-14). It was one thing for Nebuchadnezzar to do God’s work, but when his attitude became proud and hateful, he overstepped his bounds.
III. (:15-29) BAR SCENE – JEREMIAH SERVING UP THE CUP OF GOD’S WRATH TO THE NATIONS
“For thus the LORD, the God of Israel, says to me,”
Thompson: It is at once evident that vv. 15-39 are closely related to the oracles against the foreign nations in chs. 46-51. . . All the nations referred to in chs. 46-51 are included here except Damascus, but other nations are referred to besides those mentioned in the oracles there.
A. (:15-16) Summary Instruction
1. (:15) Distribution of the Cup of DivineWrath
“Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.”
2. (:16) Drunkenness Described
“And they shall drink and stagger and go mad because of the sword that I will send among them.”
B. (:17-26) Specific Imbibings
1. (:17) All the Nations
“Then I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD sent me:”
2. (:18) Judah
“Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and its kings and its princes, to make them a ruin, a horror, a hissing, and a curse, as it is this day;”
3. (:19) Egypt
“Pharaoh king of Egypt, his servants, his princes, and all his people;”
4. (:20) Philistines
“and all the foreign people,
all the kings of the land of Uz,
all the kings of the land of the Philistines even Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and the remnant of Ashdod);”
land of Uz was home of Job (Job 1:1)
Longman: The Philistines refer to the people who live in the coastal areas and low foothills of the Shephelah in an area to the southwest of Jerusalem.
Mackay: There is no mention of the fifth member of the Philistine pentapolis, Gath, which seems to have been destroyed by this date. It is similarly omitted in Amos 1:7; Zeph. 2:4; 2 Chron. 26:6, probably having been overthrown by Hazael (2 Kgs. 12:17).
5. (:21) Nations east of Judah: Edom, Moab, Ammon
“Edom, Moab and the sons of Ammon;”
6. (:22) Phoenician seacoast towns: Tyre and Sidon
“and all the kings of Tyre,
all the kings of Sidon
and the kings of the coastlands which are beyond the sea;”
7. (:23) Arabian Peninsula: Dedan, Tema, Buz
“and Dedan, Tema, Buz and all who cut the corners of their hair;”
Thompson: The expression “the cutting of the fringe” is ambiguous. Some translations take it as “those who cut the corners of their hair,” a reference to a tribal custom among some desert Arabs. The alternative and perhaps more convincing translation is “those who roam the fringe of the desert” (NEB; cf. 49:32), referring to nomadic or seminomadic tribes or clans who lived on the desert fringes.
8. (:24) Arabia
“and all the kings of Arabia
and all the kings of the foreign people who dwell in the desert;”
9. (:25) Far East: Zimri, Elam, Media
“and all the kings of Zimri,
all the kings of Elam
and all the kings of Media;”
10. (:26) Summary
“and all the kings of the north, near and far, one with another;
and all the kingdoms of the earth which are upon the face of the ground, and the king of Sheshach shall drink after them.”
Mackay: Sheshach is a cryptic reference to Babylon (51:41; cf. also 51:1). The device is known as athbash, an elementary code which wrote the consonants of a Hebrew word by reversing the letters of the alphabet (the first letter aleph for the last letter tau and vice-versa) . . .
C. (:27-29) Severe and Certain Impact
1. (:27) Severe Impact — Experience the Full Impact of God’s Wrath
“You shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Drink, be drunk, vomit, fall and rise no more because of the sword which I will send among you.’”
2. (:28-29) Certain Impact — No Escape from God’s Wrath
“And it will be, if they refuse to take the cup from your hand to drink, then you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts: You shall surely drink! For behold, I am beginning to work calamity in this city which is called by My name, and shall you be completely free from punishment? You will not be free from punishment; for I am summoning a sword against all the inhabitants of the earth, declares the Lord of hosts.’”
Kidner: Principle that judgment must “begin with the household of God”: cf. 1 Peter 4:17; Amos 3:2.
Mackay: The nations who are not in covenant relationship with the Lord have no reason to think that they are immune from judgment because of their sin.
IV. (:30-38) BLAST FROM THE LORD
“Therefore you shall prophesy against them all these words,
and you shall say to them,”
A. (:30-31) Mighty Roar of the Lord
“’He will roar mightily against His fold.
He will shout like those who tread the grapes,
Against all the inhabitants of the earth.
A clamor has come to the end of the earth,
Because the Lord has a controversy with the nations.
He is entering into judgment with all flesh;
As for the wicked, He has given them to the sword,’ declares the Lord.
The Lord will roar from on high
And utter His voice from His holy habitation;”
B. (:32-33) Mighty Storm from the Lord
“Thus says the Lord of hosts,‘Behold, evil is going forth from nation to nation,
And a great storm is being stirred up from the remotest parts of the earth.
Those slain by the Lord on that day will be from one end of the earth to the other.
They will not be lamented, gathered or buried;
they will be like dung on the face of the ground.’”
Mackay: “At that time” / “on that day” (in contrast to “this day” in v. 18) gives the passage eschatological overtones. The impending scene will presage the final judgment of God. Previous descriptions of the slain had focused on the environs of Jerusalem (7:32-33; 19:11), but now the impact of the judgment is evident on all sides. There will be so many slaughtered on that day that it will be impossible to carry out the traditional mourning rites, and the corpses will be left untended where they have fallen (8:2; 9:22; 12:2; 16:4).
C. (:34-38) Slaughter of the Shepherds and Scattering of the Sheep
“Wail, you shepherds, and cry; and wallow in ashes, you masters of the flock;
For the days of your slaughter and your dispersions have come,
And you will fall like a choice vessel.
Flight will perish from the shepherds, and escape from the masters of the flock.
Hear the sound of the cry of the shepherds, and the wailing of the masters of the flock!
For the Lord is destroying their pasture, And the peaceful folds are made silent
Because of the fierce anger of the Lord.
He has left His hiding place like the lion;
For their land has become a horror
Because of the fierceness of the oppressing sword
And because of His fierce anger.”