When you see a prophecy that has not been fulfilled yet, you need to pay attention. And, Jeremiah 50 and 51 is just such a prophecy. And yes, those two chapters are a single prophecy.
Remember that the chapter divisions of the Bible were not inspired by God.
Anyway, Jeremiah 50 and 51 are about the destruction of Babylon – complete, traumatic and Earth-shaking obliteration. And, when you research the history of Babylon and the area where Babylon sits, nothing like this has ever happened. When the Persians took over, Babylon was not destroyed. It was almost a bloodless coup. When Alexander invaded, he destroyed as little as possible and used that city as a regional capital.
In fact, Babylon was never destroyed. It slowly became a backwater city, under Hellenistic rule and was eventually abandoned completely under Muslim rule in the 11th century.
And, let me say for those who wish to connect this with some other location other than Mesopotamia, God makes it very clear about what ‘babylon’ He is talking about when He says this:
The Land of the Chaldeans
There is only one ‘land of the Chaldeans’, and that is in modern day Iraq. Attempting to connect this reference to the Babylon of Revelation would be a violation of the scriptures. Yes, some persist in trying to make this a reference to America, The Roman Catholic Church, etc.
This is in Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq. Period.
Now, when I say that ‘this has never happened before’, I should make an important clarification:
It seems to have started.
When George Bush launched his war on Iraq in 2003, it was the beginning of a spiral into the complete and utter collapse of Iraq as a nation-state. That war began a chain of events that still has not reached completion. Within 23 days, Iraq’s political system had been decapitated, along with the Iraqi military. What political order that was left centered around tribal and religious affiliations. Then, the United States chose to impose a political system that handed Iraq over to the Shiite majority, a majority that had been suppressed by the Sunni minority since the 16th century under Ottoman rule, and then Iraqi rule that began in 1919.
You wouldn’t think of democracy as being a bad idea, until you realize that the Shiite minority finally had the opportunity to pay back the Sunnis for centuries of suppression, repression and systematic abuse, torture and genocide. The Shiites were finally in power, and the Sunnis knew that they were going to be the targets of Shiite vengeance. Soon, Shiite and Sunni militias were battling in the streets. And, the US army and marines had to go in and stop the fighting.
The result has been a creeping takeover by Iran, of the Shiite-dominated areas of Iraq. Those areas of Iraq that are Sunni, like Fallujah, Tikrit, Ramadi and the Anbar province became the breeding grounds for Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The irony is that the ruins of Ancient Babylon are located within the Babil governate of Iraq.
Why is that ironic?
Because the Babil Governate is mostly Shia, and was even the center of the Shiite uprisings in 1991.
Anyway, the point is that Iraq – the Land of the Chaldeans – is being torn apart by Sunni and Shia strife. At the moment, it is still able to maintain some of the political institutions of a ‘nation state’, but it’s unclear that this will be able to continue. And, Iran wants to keep Iraq dominated by the Shiites.
Because Iraq acts as a land bridge between Iran and Syria, and Syria gives Iran access to the Mediterranean Sea and a way to attack Israel.
Because of Shiite eschatology and their desire to create the conditions for the return of their Mahdi, Israel has become entwined within Iran’s raison d’etre – her reason for being. The desire to destroy both the United States and Israel are at the very center of the thinking of the religious elites that control Iran. And, this fascination with Israel will wind up crushing Iran – but, more on that, later.
The point is that Iraq has been broken in pieces, and what is left is being completely destroyed. The Kurds rule northern Iraq. The Sunnis are in the west, and the Shiites are in the east. And, Shiite Iran is doing its very best to keep the Iraqi Sunnis weak and disorganized.
The Sunni Arab states in the region see what Iran is doing and are doing their best to help the Iraqi Sunnis. That’s how ISIS and Al-Qaeda were able to grab so much power and territory, so quickly. If you want to know the roots of a terrorist organization, always follow the money, and following the money given to those Salafi terrorists will lead you to the Salafi countries of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.
note: Salafi Muslims are Sunnis who believe in a literal interpretation of the Quran. And, if you compare the Quran with the atrocities committed by ISIS and Al-Qaeda, you’ll see that ISIS and Al-Qaeda are merely following the explicit instructions of the Quran.
Remember that Saddam Hussein began to support Salafi Islam within Iraq in 1993, as a way to strengthen his control of Iraq. This resulted in Salafi mosques, Salafi military officers, Salafi laws and the spread of Salafism among the Sunni tribes of western Iraq. So, ISIS and Al-Qaeda were the natural result when Saddam fell.
Salafi military officers with nothing else to do, was a recipe for Salafi insurgency.
So, even though the Shiites have defeated ISIS and Al-Qaeda on the battlefield, the fighting is not finished. In the years ahead, Sunni rebels will be killing Shiite officials and Shiite military officers. Bombs will be blowing up government offices and public gatherings in Shiite cities and towns.
Enter Turkey. That country, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been helping ISIS by acting as pipeline for funds, equipment and manpower – most of that coming from Salafi countries of the Middle East. Turkey is why the uprisings in Syria were so successful. And Turkey is supporting the Salafis for two reasons:
Erdogan, the leader of Turkey, has wanted to recreate the Ottoman Empire for a very long time. And, he sees the breakup of Syria and Iraq as an important step in the recreation of that empire. And, he has been supporting other Salafi movements like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza.
Unfortunately for Erdogan, he has a Kurdish problem. Twenty percent of the Turkish population is Kurdish, and Turkey has been repressing, suppressing and terrorizing them for decades. The Kurdish language was outlawed. Kurdish leaders were put in jail. Kurdish groups were brutally persecuted. And, there are lots of Kurds living in northern Iraq and northern Syria, right along the border of Turkey. So, supporting ISIS was one way of weakening the Kurds.
The bottom line is that Iraq has become a vicious battleground where external and internal will continue to pound the Land of the Chaldeans into tinier and tinier pieces. And, this is exactly what Jeremiah 50 and 51 are describing.
Now, let’s make something clear, the prophesy of the destruction of Babylon and the Land of the Chaldeans is far from being fulfilled. There is still a lot that must happen before everything that is described in these two chapters is complete. Some of the verses even seem to indicate that nuclear weapons will be used. Or, something similar.
Whatever the details, a large part of Iraq is destined to become a waste howling wilderness. It’s hard to imagine it, and it has never happened before. And, it is connected to the return of Israel to her land and the return of Israel to God. And, THAT is what we need to focus on.
So, let’s look at the verses that connect Israel to the destruction of Iraq.
In the first three verses of Jeremiah 50, God proclaims the destruction of land of Babylon and then connects that destruction to the return of Israel:
4 “In those days and in that time,” says the Lord,
“The children of Israel shall come,
They and the children of Judah together;
With continual weeping they shall come,
And seek the Lord their God.
5 They shall ask the way to Zion,
With their faces toward it, saying,
‘Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord
In a perpetual covenant
That will not be forgotten.’
Now, because the Lord says ‘in those days’ and ‘in that time’, the timing of Israel’s return to God might not precisely coincide with Iraq’s destruction. There is leeway in a statement like that.
But, what is this ‘perpetual’ or everlasting covenant?
Well, there is only one that is spoken of in the Bible, and that is the New Covenant in Jesus Christ, the one that you and I follow. Even the Old Covenant had a clause in it that proclaimed
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,
That prophet that Moses talked about is Jesus Christ. And, it was Jesus who caused the implementation of The Law to cease from being effective. The rites and ordinances no longer had any power. Torah – the five books of Moses – were complete and fulfilled in Jesus Christ, so there was no longer a need for any other sacrifice. And, it is THAT covenant that is perpetual and everlasting. It will not have an end, since Jesus Himself is without end and without beginning.
And, in the next two verses, we see two thousand years of history:
6 “My people have been lost sheep.
Their shepherds have led them astray;
They have turned them away on the mountains.
They have gone from mountain to hill;
They have forgotten their resting place.
7 All who found them have devoured them;
And their adversaries said, ‘We have not offended,
Because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice,
The Lord, the hope of their fathers.’
For two thousand years, one antisemite after another has used the excuse given in verse seven:
We are against the Jews because they have sinned against God.
Jews have been called ‘Christ Killers’, and all kinds of imagined evils have been attributed to the Jews. And, this vile hatred has caused them to be persecuted everywhere.
And, the next verse tells those Jews living in Iraq to leave:
8 “Move from the midst of Babylon,
Go out of the land of the Chaldeans;
And be like the rams before the flocks.
In 1951, in response to massive persecution of the Jews of Iraq, Israel launched Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. In less than a year, well over a hundred thousand Jews fled to Israel leaving only a few thousand Jews behind. Today, less than ten Jews remain in Iraq.
Then, in verses nine through eighteen, we see what appears to be the two wars fought against Iraq, that began in 1990 and 2003. This ‘assembly of great nations’ referred to in these verses has never happened before. Furthermore, these ten verses are still ongoing, which means that there is still more to come.
And, why is Iraq/Babylon destroyed?
Here is the explanation, given within those ten verses:
17 “Israel is like scattered sheep;
The lions have driven him away.
First the king of Assyria devoured him;
Now at last this Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has broken his bones.”
18 Therefore thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel:
“Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land,
As I have punished the king of Assyria.
But… wait. The Babylonian Captivity happened 2600 years ago.
Isn’t that a little long to wait to punish the King of Babylon?
To humanity, yes. But, God has reasons that stretch far beyond the paltry life spans that we are given. And, the purpose of all of this is the return of Israel.
These next three verses are like an aside, that describe part of the purpose for this great destruction of Babylon:
19 But I will bring back Israel to his home,
And he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan;
His soul shall be satisfied on Mount Ephraim and Gilead.
20 In those days and in that time,” says the Lord,
“The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none;
And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found;
For I will pardon those whom I preserve.
That last line, ‘For I will pardon those whom I preserve’ acts as a reminder. Zechariah 13 mentions that two thirds of those in the land of Israel will be killed and that God will purify the survivors. However, God knows those who are His, and THEY will survive what is coming.
Then, God returns to the utter devastation that He will inflict upon Iraq/Babylon. From verse 21 through 32, it is utter and complete devastation. Then, for two verses, God reminds us that there is an important subtext for this destruction:
33 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
“The children of Israel were oppressed,
Along with the children of Judah;
All who took them captive have held them fast;
They have refused to let them go.
34 Their Redeemer is strong;
The Lord of hosts is His name.
He will thoroughly plead their case,
That He may give rest to the land,
And disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.
Forgive me, but the words ‘That He may give rest to the land’ are more than just a ‘subtext’. That’s a purpose. He is destroying Iraq/Babylon to give rest to Israel.
From verse 35 unto the end of the chapter (verse 46), it is complete mayhem and destruction. And, verse 40 describes the destruction…
“As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah”
I’ve been to the area where ‘God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah’, and it’s awful. No one can live there without some kind of outside assistance. And, as I’ve said before, this has never happened to Iraq/Babylon. But, it is happening, right now.
The prophecy of the destruction of Iraq continues with the next chapter, and the first verse shows us a spiritual element and an opportunity to learn a little Hebrew:
Thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will raise up against Babylon,
Against those who dwell in Leb Kamai,
A destroying wind.
Whenever you see the word ‘wind’ in the Bible, that word can also mean ‘spirit’. The Hebrew word for wind and spirit are exactly the same word:
רוח (pronounced roo-ach – ‘ch’ as in Bach)
It is safe to say that this is not just a ‘wind’, it’s a ‘destroying spirit’. And, we see that ‘destroying spirit’ at work in verses two, three and four. Then, there is an explanation for why in verse five:
For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah,
By his God, the Lord of hosts,
Though their land was filled with sin against the Holy One of Israel.”
Even though Israel has sinned against God – and is still sinning against God – God has not forsaken Israel, the children of Jacob. Therefore, God will destroy Iraq as a part of His plan to reinstate the children of Jacob. He will bring them back, even though they rebelled against Him.
Verses six through nine offer more death and destruction for Iraq, but verse nine offers an interesting perspective. The first sentence in that verse says:
We would have healed Babylon,
But she is not healed.
Look at Iraq today. For 16 years, the world has tried to heal Iraq, but she cannot be healed – for all of the reasons that we have discussed at the beginning of this discussion. The Sunni/Shia divide will be – and is – the final destruction of Iraq.
The United States did not truly understand this divide, or it would never have thrown the Sunnis out of power and disbanded her Sunni army. It was a stupid thing to do, but it was God’s prophetic plan that it would happen.
And then, we see verse ten:
The Lord has revealed our righteousness.
Come and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God.
Again, God reminds us that this is a part of the plan for His return of Jacob to the Land of Israel. And, when He says, ‘The Lord has revealed our righteousness’, it’s to say that Israel has NOT been righteous.
Verses 11 through 19 continue with God’s description of the destruction of Iraq before yet again referring back to Israel. However, this time there is something different:
19 The Portion of Jacob is not like them,
For He is the Maker of all things;
And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance.
The Lord of hosts is His name.
20 “You are My battle-ax and weapons of war:
For with you I will break the nation in pieces;
With you I will destroy kingdoms;
21 With you I will break in pieces the horse and its rider;
With you I will break in pieces the chariot and its rider;
22 With you also I will break in pieces man and woman;
With you I will break in pieces old and young;
With you I will break in pieces the young man and the maiden;
23 With you also I will break in pieces the shepherd and his flock;
With you I will break in pieces the farmer and his yoke of oxen;
And with you I will break in pieces governors and rulers.
God describes Israel as His ‘battle-ax’ and ‘weapons of war’. And, God will use Israel to break kingdoms into pieces. And, we’ve already seen Israel do quite a bit of that. The concept of Arab nationalism was destroyed because Israel got in the way. The Palestinians have been unable to create any political autonomy for themselves. Jordan’s desire to control the ‘West Bank’ was defeated. And, Israel acts as a block to Iranian aspirations. But, that’s just the intro to what God is speaking of, here.
Remember this verse in Zechariah:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
Yes, Israel can do a lot of damage, all by herself. Her army and air force are formidable. But, the destruction that God is causing – and will cause – has more to do with Israel’s existence, than anything else.
Everyone in the world is fighting each other for control of that tiny plot of land that we call Jerusalem. It’s as if they have all gone insane, and their madness forces them into self-destruction. I have been watching this madness for decades, and I still shake my head at how crazy it is.
Then, verses 24 through 34 speak again of the destruction of Iraq, with some interesting detail about those who will participate in Iraq’s destruction – Turkey, Iran and the Kurds. And then, God reminds us of the purpose of this destruction, in verse 35:
Let the violence done to me and my flesh be upon Babylon,”
The inhabitant of Zion will say;
“And my blood be upon the inhabitants of Chaldea!”
Jerusalem will say.
And, I’m betting, that in Jerusalem, those who read this passage will proclaim this, when the final destruction of Iraq occurs. When you live in Jerusalem – as I have – there is a feel of prophecy in action, everywhere you go. And, now that I live in Taiwan, I miss that.
Verses 36 through 48 again take up the thread of the destruction of Iraq, as well as warning God’s people to leave Iraq. And, for the most part, they have. There are very few Christians left in Iraq, and those that remain, want to get out. And, when God refers again to Israel, He says something that speaks to some of what has already happened:
49 As Babylon has caused the slain of Israel to fall,
So at Babylon the slain of all the earth shall fall.
50 You who have escaped the sword,
Get away! Do not stand still!
Remember the Lord afar off,
And let Jerusalem come to your mind.
51 We are ashamed because we have heard reproach.
Shame has covered our faces,
For strangers have come into the sanctuaries of the Lord’s house.
let Jerusalem come to your mind
Remember what I said about Operation Ezra and Nehemiah?
Well, a lot of those Jews who were rescued from Iraq, settled in Jerusalem. And, Israel had to develop new building techniques to quickly assemble apartments to accommodate the massive influx of new immigrants. Southern Jerusalem is full of these hastily erected buildings.
From here to the end of this chapter God returns to continue describing Iraq’s destruction. And, the prophecy ends with a reaffirmation that these events WILL happen as God has described them to Jeremiah.
Again, let me emphasize that history shows us that Babylon was never destroyed in the way that Jeremiah 50 and 51 describe it. And, it has only been, over the past 50+ years, that we’ve begun to see this prophecy fulfilled. So, as bad as it has been, up to now, it will only get worse. Far worse.
And, it will have everything to do with the Return of the children of Jacob to their Land.