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balancing scales August 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Jeremiah 50-51

Recompense for Evil

Why do the wicked prosper? This is one of the age old questions that seems difficult to answer. Sometimes people do great harm to others, especially Christians. They may burn their churches, rob, blackmail and extort them, set up false accusations against them so that they lose their jobs or reputations, frame them for crimes they did not commit, and even send them to jail. Will the wicked get away with their evil actions against the people of God? No. God promises someday he will give evil people their just due. What harm they have inflicted upon his people will come upon them (2Thessalonians 1:6-10).

Babylon was evil. Powerful as a lion, she mauled other nations in her blood thirsty quest to rule the world. She would soon wage a final attack against Jerusalem. After a long siege, her ruthless soldiers would knock down the city walls and the temple, and they would leave them in a heap of rubble. They would pillage the city and then burn it. They would exile the people of Jerusalem and King Zedekiah, leaving only a small portion of poor native people to occupy the land (2Kings 25:12). For Jerusalem’s ungodliness she would be destroyed, yet what would happen to Babylon?

God would use Babylon as his agent of disciplining Judah for her sins. She was a hammer wielded by the hand of God. But Babylon would become proud and mock Judah, whom she would conquer. God hates pride, and especially those who would boast about what they do against His people (Jeremiah 50:10-11,15,18,29).

From Jerusalem, Jeremiah sent a letter telling the king of Babylon what will happen to his country for pillaging her. He said that Babylon itself would be destroyed and pillaged, and people would be shocked at the judgment God would send against her. In the near future the Medes and Persians (nations from the east who would attack from the north) would conquer her so that she would not rise again. In the distant future, God will also completely destroy Babylon or the area of Babylon (the current area of Iraq) by some unknown nation from the north (Jeremiah 50:3,41; 51:11; Ezekiel 26:7).

What was the future for God’s oppressed people? Jeremiah says,

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah as well. All their captors hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause so that he may bring rest to their land, but unrest to those who live in Babylon.”

For Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the LORD Almighty, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.

“In those days, at that time,” [a phrase usually denoting a future time period] declares the LORD, [when unnamed armies from the north would be on the verge of attacking Babylon or the area of Babylon] “the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”

Flee from Babylon! Run for your lives! Do not be destroyed because of her sins. It is time for the LORD's vengeance; he will pay her what she deserves.

But I [the LORD] will bring Israel back to his own pasture and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan; his appetite will be satisfied on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead. (Jeremiah 50:33-34; 51:5; 50: 4-5; 51:6; 50:19, NIV).

A destroyer will come against Babylon; her warriors will be captured, and their bows will be broken. For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.

I will make her officials and wise men drunk, her governors, officers and warriors as well; they will sleep forever and not awake,” declares the King, whose name is the LORD Almighty.

This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Babylon's thick wall will be leveled and her high gates set on fire,” (Jeremiah 51:56-58a, NIV)

Both in 539 B.C. and in the day of the Tribulation Period recorded in the book of Revelation (December 28-31 Bible studies), God was and is going to punish the nation of Babylon. In 539 B.C. Babylon was conquered but not completely destroyed. In fact, it became a capitol for the conquering Media-Persia Empire. In the future, however, Babylon (or a nation occupying that area) will be completely destroyed and desolate. In that day, God says 144,000 Jews will be sealed for salvation (Revelation 7; 14:1-5). There will be worldwide repentance of the Jewish people as Jeremiah prophesied (50:4). Once again, God’s favor will be upon a re-unified Israel and He will be their God. He will restore their land and give worldwide peace (Revelation 21:1-3).

If God cares what happens to Israel, his chosen people, does he also care about us? We know he does. Romans 8:31-39 says,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies.

Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

Just as it is written, “FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.”

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

Lessons to live by:

  • God promises that someday he will give evil people their just due. What harm they have inflicted upon his people will come upon them.
  • God hates pride, and especially those who would boast about what they do against His people.
  • God does not forsake his people in their troubles. Their “captors may hold them fast, refusing to let them go. Yet their Redeemer is strong; the LORD Almighty is his name. He will vigorously defend their cause,” (Jeremiah 50:33-34, NIV).
  • God cares for us. Do you know him? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). Though we Christians may suffer for his name, nothing can separate us from him.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Jeremiah 51:56b “For the LORD is a God of retribution; he will repay in full.” (NIV)

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