“Flee out of the middle of Babylon!
Go out of the land of the Chaldeans,
and be as the male goats before the flocks.
For, behold, I will stir up
and cause to come up against Babylon a company of great nations from the north country;
and they will set themselves in array against her.
She will be taken from there.
Their arrows will be as of an expert mighty man.
None of them will return in vain.
Chaldea will be a prey.
All who prey on her will be satisfied,” says Yahweh.
“Because you are glad,
because you rejoice,
O you who plunder my heritage,
because you are wanton as a heifer that treads out the grain,
and neigh as strong horses,
your mother will be utterly disappointed.
She who bore you will be confounded.
Behold, she will be the least of the nations,
a wilderness, a dry land, and a desert.
Because of Yahweh’s wrath she won’t be inhabited,
but she will be wholly desolate.
Everyone who goes by Babylon will be astonished,
and hiss at all her plagues.
Set yourselves in array against Babylon all around,
all you who bend the bow;
shoot at her.
Spare no arrows,
for she has sinned against Yahweh.
Shout against her all around.
She has submitted herself.
Her bulwarks have fallen.
Her walls have been thrown down,
for it is the vengeance of Yahweh.
Take vengeance on her.
As she has done, do to her.
Cut off the sower from Babylon,
and him who handles the sickle in the time of harvest.
For fear of the oppressing sword,
they will each return to their own people,
and they will each flee to their own land.
One of the peculiar things about Babylon’s history, is that God told Babylon to attack and destroy Israel, yet, here we read that He decided to destroy Babylon after they did it. Why would God destroy a nation for doing what He told them to do? Well, the answer is pretty easy when we carefully read what God said here.
God expected Babylon to destroy Jerusalem out of duty to Him, but instead of doing that, they took pleasure in destroying God’s people and God’s land. God said that it was “Because you are glad, because you rejoice, O you who plunder my heritage.” This is a pretty tedious subject because, in a sense, God does take pleasure in removing wickedness. The Bible says that God was pleased to crush Jesus for our sins even though I am sure that it broke His heart at the same time. The Bible also says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. When I attempt to bring these two things together, this is what I come up with. We should enjoy the destruction and removal of sin, but we shouldn’t enjoy the removal of those who should have accepted God’s mercy and grace. We should also not enjoy the fact that God’s land and people had to be dishonored in the process.
When I think about it, this makes a lot of sense. We should never enjoy anything that brings shame to God’s Name. God told us that it was His will to call the Land of Israel and its people by His Name. He also told us that Jerusalem and the temple would be the place where His Name and glory would be located on earth. I believe that God was simply holding His servant, Babylon, responsible for respecting God and that’s what they failed to do. That was a very dangerous and arrogant thing for them to do because God didn’t have the ties to them that He had to Israel. Their condemnation was certain and final.
There are a couple of things we need to pay attention to in our generation. First, we should never enjoy doing damage to God’s things. We are only to enjoy the removal of sin and corruption. Second, we need to respect God’s decision to attach His name to Israel and their land. We are acting arrogantly if fail to do this and we can expect to be severely disciplined.