The word that Yahweh spoke concerning Babylon, concerning the land of the Chaldeans, by Jeremiah the prophet.
“Declare among the nations and publish,
and set up a standard;
publish, and don’t conceal;
say, ‘Babylon has been taken,
Bel is disappointed,
Merodach is dismayed!
Her images are disappointed.
Her idols are dismayed.’
For a nation comes up out of the north against her,
which will make her land desolate,
and no one will dwell in it.
They have fled.
They are gone,
both man and animal.
“In those days, and in that time,” says Yahweh,
“the children of Israel will come,
they and the children of Judah together;
they will go on their way weeping,
and will seek Yahweh their God.
They will inquire concerning Zion with their faces turned toward it,
saying, ‘Come, and join yourselves to Yahweh in an everlasting covenant
that will not be forgotten.’
My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have caused them to go astray.
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill.
They have forgotten their resting place.
All who found them have devoured them.
Their adversaries said, ‘We are not guilty,
because they have sinned against Yahweh,
the habitation of righteousness,
even Yahweh, the hope of their fathers.’
When I read prophesies about the destruction of Babylon in the Bible, it is very difficult for me to determine what part of history they are referring to. In a political and spiritual sense, Babylon is still not destroyed. The land where the ancient city once was, is desolate today, however. I am told that in recent times, Saddam Hussein attempted to rebuild the city of Babylon, but I was also told that he chose not to build it in exactly the same location, but it is obvious that even Hussein’s attempt to rebuild it failed. Here in Jeremiah, the prophesy appears to be connected with the Jews chance to leave Babylon. We know from other prophesies that this started with Cyrus. He was an emperor that ruled after Babylon was taken over by the Persians. As I mentioned before, it was a miracle of God that Cyrus was named in Isaiah’s prophesy as the one who would be used by God to cause Israel to return to the land.
This passage is less obvious, however, because of the words that come next. It’s almost as if Jeremiah’s prophesy blends thousands of years of the future into a single passage. When I read things like this, I have to admit that I get pretty confused, but at a high level, the message is comforting. It shows us that God had a plan that He was willing to share with Israel, that they would someday return to their land. This passage also reveals the hearts of those who would return. It says that “they will go on their way weeping, and will seek Yahweh their God.” That’s something that did happen when the Jews rebuilt the temple and the walls of Jerusalem, but perhaps Jeremiah is talking about what will happen in a more pure way after the Messiah is received by Israel. That hasn’t happened yet, so this passage may be talking about things that are still in the future.