God’s explanation of “why” the Babylonian empire must fall was simple. “Just as Babylon killed the people of Israel and others throughout the world, so must her people be killed.” This is one common picture of justice, known as retributive justice. “For the Lord is a God who gives just punishment; he always repays in full.”
What surprised me was that long before Babylon’s destruction, roughly seventy-seven years, Jeremiah sent messages to Babylon about its own demise at the hands of God. What a bold move! Notice Jeremiah used someone else to deliver this message from God to Babylon. Imagine what those hearing God’s message must have thought. It would be their descendants who would witness God’s fulfillment of these words.
While this is the last of the prophecies speaking to the destruction of Babylon, I see it more as a warning or prompt to God’s people to get out before it’s too late! God wants them to escape the disgrace of what is about to happen in that land, but the people can only focus on the disgrace of losing their temple in Jerusalem.
God doesn’t respond directly to that here. The people said, “We are ashamed. We are insulted and disgraced because the Lord’s Temple has been defiled by foreigners.” Does that mean they don’t want to go back because their beloved temple has been defiled? Or are they embarrassed because of their willful disobedience that led to the destruction of the temple in the first place?
Have you ever felt disgraced or caused others to feel that way? Do the circumstances that led to those feelings still exist? Perhaps you’re still walking through a time of embarrassment or shame.
If you’ve been spared some of those nasty feelings, what do you see as something that would bring disgrace or insult to you? Sometimes we take a hit for our faithfulness by people who don’t understand or share the same beliefs. Rather than let those times of ridicule bring you shame or embarrassment, can you turn it into a “God appointment” to in some way witness to God’s character.
I don’t think God wants us to hurt, yet he knows we need trials to grow strong. In John 16:33, Jesus realistically pointed out we would have them. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Take heart, Jesus says. That’s how we escape the disgrace. We can have peace when we have Jesus.
Reflect today on James’ words from James 1:2-4. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” Go out today and be joyful!
Let’s pray. Heavenly Father, you’ve done it again. You’ve opened up my eyes to the beauty of your word and how blessed I am to be your child. Your plans are always perfect. Your love is never-ending. Thank you for the freedom to live in this place and the endurance I am building. May I grow closer to you every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.