8 Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words, 9 I will summon all the peoples of the north and my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations. I will completely destroy them and make them an object of horror and scorn, and an everlasting ruin. 10 I will banish from them the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, the sound of millstones and the light of the lamp. 11 This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
12 “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. 13 I will bring on that land all the things I have spoken against it, all that are written in this book and prophesied by Jeremiah against all the nations. 14 They themselves will be enslaved by many nations and great kings; I will repay them according to their deeds and the work of their hands.” (Jeremiah 25:8-14)
By the time Jeremiah came to speak these words, he had been in prophetic ministry for 23 years, denouncing false gods and false prophets, declaring the words of the Lord, warning judgment for Judah as well as her neighbours. In this passage, Jeremiah prophesied that God will use Babylon and her king Nebuchadnezzar as His instruments to purge the Jewish people with exile to Babylon for 70 years.
And Jeremiah continued: after 70 years, Babylon would herself be subject to desolation and enslavement for their guilt. God is in control of history. He knows the rise and fall of nations. He uses surprising agents to achieve His purpose, even our enemies.
This passage also asks us to see rebellion and disobedience in more than a personal context, as most of Old Testament does. It is communal and national. The Great Commission at the end of Matthew also deals with this perspective. In Genesis Chapters 18-19, the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah (despite the prayer of Abraham) highlights how sin could be communal. It is in the culture, in social systems, in our law, in governments. Sin is often not recognized as sin under these circumstances. Let us be Jeremiahs and call a spade a spade.
Another lesson to be learned from this passage is this. We learn it from the first sentence. “Because you have not listened to my words, ......I will summon the people of the North, my servant Nebuchadnezzar.....against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations.......” Calamity came upon the Jews for one reason only. They have not listened to the words of the Lord, let alone acted upon them.
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus has this to say: everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock that will stand. The foolish will hear but does not put them into practice. He built his house on sand which will fall with a crash.
Do we listen? Do we put into practice what we listen? Are we just all talk? Our answer will mean the difference between life and death, life in Christ or life in Babylon.