Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Jeremiah's lament

In the "Life Journal" reading this morning I read Jeremiah 50 and 51. These are two rather lengthy oracles Jeremiah speaks against the Babylonians. The context is important. The armies of Babylon have laid siege to Jerusalem. Jeremiah has already told the King and the residents of Jerusalem that this army is the judgement of God against then, that the city will fall, and that the leaders and the people will be carried off into exile for 70 years. The armies of Babylon are clearly identified as sent from God to punish the people for their disobedience. Jeremiah tells them it will be ugly, brutal, and only a few of them are going to survive (only a remnant will remain).

We turn the page and come to 50 and 51. In the Prophet Jeremiah's writings this is apparently the last contribution he makes before the city of Jerusalem falls. 50 and 51 are written on a scroll and the bearer is told to read it to the exiles after the fall of the city. 50 and 51 is a judgement against Babylon -- even though they are carrying out the discipline God has meted out they are still guilty of attacking and destroying God's people in Judah. 50 and 51 tell of the destruction of Babylon, literally their obliteration. It reports that the city of Babylon, once destroyed, will never be rebuilt.

I remember seeing photographs and reading news articles when the US invaded Iraq and the soldiers passed by the ruins of the ancient city of Babylon. It is a place in the desert, it is a place where wild animals roam (and not a few archaeologists) but it is not a place of human habitation.
History shows that Jeremiah's invaders from the north, were initially Persians (who let the Israelites return and rebuild Jerusalem), later Greeks under Alexander and finally the Romans. The city never regained its former glory and today is little more than an archaeological site. Lesson?

Dr. BJ

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