JEREMIAH 49:1 – 52:34 and 1 JOHN 5:1–21
The judgements upon other nations continued to be declared prophetically by Jeremiah. In verses 1-6 the Word of the Lord comes against Ammon. The children of Ammon are the descendants of the 2nd daughter of Lot (Gen 19:38). As it was with Moab there were many conflicts involving Israel with Ammon. They would align with Edom and Moab on many occasions in opposing Israel. They too were a people who rejoiced over their enemies. Ammon would be the modern day capitol of Jordan which is Amman. The Ammonites invaded the territory of Gilead that belonged to the tribe of Gad and killed pregnant women. They were an excessively cruel people. In verse 5, it is clear that the Lord would spare no mercy for them in the time of judgement. Once again, the long-suffering extension of the Lord is shown to Ammon, as they will be given an opportunity to return to the Lord in the last days (vs 1-6).
Jeremiah then turns his attention to the Edomites in verses 7-22. God designated a portion of land to the Edomites around the area of the Dead Sea. As Israel was sojourning through the wilderness towards their promised land, they were instructed by God to not disturb them but to make their way around them (Deu 2:4-5). Edom was birthed as a nation through Esau, the elder brother of Jacob. The Bible says that Esau was a fornicator and one who was not given repentance (Heb 12:16-17).
Esau despised his birth right which could be equated with people who take issue with their God given calling in life. He was more concerned in fulfilling temporal appetites then the blessings of God. He lightly held his birth right and sold it out for beans. Is it any wonder that God would not grant repentance in light of such an attitude? He opted for the riches and delights of the world while Jacob suffered through trials and tribulations. Esau came to despise his brother because of the recognition of the anointing that was upon him. This happened with King Saul when he lost the anointing to David. One who has been blessed and has sold out and lost their calling will come against those who are going on in God. Such people come to know that something has been lost. This will become more apparent in these last days as the church continues to separate into two streams.
Edom excelled in human wisdom; a wisdom that did not come from God. You can see the manifestations of its fruit today. This is why the church must come to the place of separating from the world. The destruction upon Edom will be thorough when the Babylonians come through their land (vs 9-11). God does give the promise of preserving the widows and fatherless if they come to the place of putting their trust in Him. This makes clear how precious the widows and fatherless ones are in the eyes of God. Their fortress like barriers will be brought down and their wisdom removed in a stroke. It will be sudden and so severe. The description of the warrior like prowess of the men of Edom will be likened to women in travail as the Babylonians advance upon them. All pride and bravado will be removed. This can be paralled to the patriotic fervour of a nation as it prepares for war; if God has ordained that nation for judgement it will be futile to come against His purposes.
Damascus is next on the list of nations to be judged (vs 23-27). This will be followed by the judgements upon Kedar and Hazor (vs 28-33). The inhabitants of Kedar are descendants from Ishmael. They were a nomadic people as were the Hazorites who tend to be associated with the Arabians. The Word of the Lord is given to them to flee their homes before the Babylonian move upon them. The worldly possessions make it difficult for them to let go. How important of a lesson this is for us. If we are attached to the things of the world we will have difficulty in extricating ourselves from its whirlpool like grip in the midst of judgement.
The attention now turns to Babylon. The judgements that the Lord has pronounced upon Israel and its surrounding nations have come by way of Babylon. They will be the Lord’s instrument and means of carrying out His wrath upon their sinful ways. Babylon is laced throughout the whole of scripture beginning with Nimrod. He was the grandson of Ham who exploited the vulnerability of his father Noah. Babylon figures prominently here and will figure prominently in the last days.
This chapter begins with the pronounced judgement that will come upon Babylon after the 70 years of Israeli captivity is completed. There is a description of the exiles given in verses 5-8 as being truly repentant and changed as a result of their 70 years of captivity. The approach to these chapters will be from a bigger picture. I will look to highlight the significant verses by putting the whole of Babylon into perspective. What really is Babylon? Babylon is one of the systems which Satan has been able to penetrate his way into the affairs of man. It is seen in Genesis at Babel and carries all the way through to the Book of Revelation up to the time of the 2nd coming. Perhaps one of the best ways to define our look at Babylon is to go back to the fall of Lucifer in heaven. The seeds of what later became Babylon are seen there. We will then contrast this event in heaven with what took place at Babel.
Isa 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
Isa 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Gen 11:3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
Gen 11:4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
Can you see the similarities? Babylon represents man’s attempt to play God and take the place of God. It started with the rebellion in heaven with Lucifer where 1/3 of the angels sided with him. Lucifer then sought to inject man with the same poison as seen in Gen 3:5.
Gen 3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
After successfully tempting man to become partaker of the sin nature, he laid hold of a man through whom he could work who was named Nimrod (Gen 10:8-9). Why was Nimrod the one to establish Babel as opposed to others? He is the grandson of Ham; the son of Noah who exposed and exploited his father’s nakedness and vulnerability. It is very interesting to note the response of Noah’s 3 sons after he was discovered to be drunk and naked (Gen 9:21). The two elder sons covered their father not even taking opportunity to look upon him. The youngest (Ham) sought to gain advantage by exploiting the matter. This was a significant event and it literally determined the blessings and curses upon lineages. It was through this breech where Satan was able to enter into the line of Ham and later influence Nimrod. It was Satan who was able to inspire Nimrod to rally the people to unite in this defiant act of building the tower. It was the epitome of pride and it is conveyed in their words “let us make a name” as they sought to touch the heavens (Gen 11:4). This is a vivid portrayal as to what will be seen in the last days via the antichrist. Nimrod is not the antichrist but he serves as a clear example of what he will be like. Nimrod was an influential leader and had a great capacity in being able to gather people unto himself. At Babel, you had Satan working through man (Nimrod) in defiance to God. It was a re-enactment upon earth as to something that was attempted in the heavens. The unity and force of the people was so strong that the Lord had to come down and disperse them by confounding their language. Their unity was broken because they could not communicate with one another. We see the reverse of this at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the saints in the upper room (Acts 2). It was through the tongues of the Holy Spirit in all of the different languages that allowed the Gospel to go forth in power and unity throughout the regions. The power of the enemy was broken by taking one language and breaking it. The power of the Gospel going forth resulted from people speaking different languages in a united flow for the purposes of God. The difference is in the authors. Satan is the author of confusion and can only unite people on his terms. The Holy Spirit orchestrates God’s Word and agenda at His discretion.
Babylon is seen in many other areas of scripture as well. It is during the ministry of Jeremiah where it comes into its next great prominence. It will now serve as God’s primary means of judgement upon Israel for their idolatry as well as many of the other surrounding nations. Babylon will serve as the medium that will allow God to purge and cleanse His beloved Israel from their idolatry. The fruits of Babylon can be stated as a season in Israel’s history where God took a people who were bent on idolatry into a people who came to know God’s heart (Jer 24:6-7).
There are other lessons we can take away from Babylon and what it can mean for us. We do not have to go through 70 years of captivity but there will be times when we will find ourselves in a captive kind of environment. It was not a pleasant experience for Jacob to live under his Uncle Laban for 20 years and to put up with all of his deceptive tricks. (The changing of his wages, the giving of Leah instead of Rachael etc) The truth is that Jacob was a deceiver himself. His 20 years under Uncle Laban was like a “Babylon” experience for him seeing that it purged him from that nature of deceit. Do we recognize Babylonian captivity moments in our own lives? At the end of his Babylon, Jacob came into a greater position of authority and power with God and man. He also came to know a change of name from Jacob to Israel. Here we can see the fruits of what Babylon can produce.
Another key in unlocking some of the truths concerning Babylon is to understand some of the keys from Daniel 9. Daniel was aware of the prophesies of Jeremiah; knowing that there were 70 years designated for Israel’s captivity (Dan 9:2). The Babylonian period of Daniel’s day is covered in the first 19 verses. The scene then changes from verse 20 onwards speaking of a future event that relates to the first 19 verses. It speaks to the last days and once again Babylon will be prominently figured. The beauty of Daniel 9 is that it covers the Babylonian period of Jeremiah’s day and then uses the historical truths of Babylon as a platform for the last days (vs 22-27). There are warnings against over speculating seeing that much of the knowledge concerning the last days was to be sealed up until an appointed time. It does seem that the time is coming upon us. The Book of Revelation speaks of a “Mystery Babylon” in chapter 17 and then a nation known as Babylon in chapter 18. Some of the verses in the closing chapters of Jeremiah will help to give further insight concerning this.
A good example would be Jer 50:13 where it speaks of the desolations of Babylon which will be like Sodom and Gomorrah. This seems to have a greater application for the last days seeing that the Medes and Persians inhabited the land of Babylon after Babylon’s defeat. The power and pride of Babylon is shown to be broken in verses 21-32 of chapter 50. This pride was seen in Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4 when he emphasized and admired the works of his own hands. The Lord sent an immediate judgement upon him which led him to repent of his actions. Throughout the verses of chapter 50, one comes to understand why the judgements were so severe upon Babylon. As we examine the sins and subsequent judgements of ancient Babylon let us take special note of similar scenarios today. Is there a nation(s) that represents the Babylon of old? What is the mystery Babylon spoken of in Rev 17? The rebuilt city of Babylon in the last days will be destroyed in an hour as it says in Rev 18:10. The empire of Babylon in Jeremiah’s day took place over a much longer period of time.
Let’s take a quick note of Jer 51:7-8.
Jer 51:7 Babylon hath been a golden cup in the LORD’S hand, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine; therefore the nations are mad.
Jer 51:8 Babylon is suddenly fallen and destroyed: howl for her; take balm for her pain, if so be she may be healed.
These verses have several applications. They are referred to in many of the prophesies of Isaiah as well as being found in Revelation chapters 17-18. There will be a fulfilment of these verses in Daniel 5 when Belshazzar loses the kingdom in one night to the Medes and Persians. In Revelation 18:10 there will be those who will see the rebuilt city of Babylon falling in one hour.
Throughout the closing chapters of Jeremiah, there is a continued cycle of pronounced judgements spoken against Babylon. There are also continued references to Babylon as God’s instrument of judgement. This summary only scrapes the surface of all that is contained in these chapters about Babylon. Our overall perspective concerning Babylon will be enhanced when we begin to understand the origins and trace through the mentions of Babylon throughout scripture up to the time of Revelation. Babylon and its system is the culmination of iniquity from that which began with Lucifer’s rebellion. At the same time, it serves as a cleansing agent for God’s people whereby coming to the place of knowing His heart (Jer 24:5-7).There is a judgement upon Babylon that is referenced in many places like Daniel 9 that takes place after their 70 years of oppression upon Israel. There will be a greater judgement when its cup becomes full at the time of the 2nd coming. Babylon is a prominent subject that is covered throughout the Word of God. We do well to study its many implications.
1 John 5
This chapter helps to reinforce the assurance of salvation and faith from the doctrinal errors that were prevalent in the days of John. In the 2nd chapter of his epistle John gave a listing of three different levels of believers. (Fathers, young men and little children) John seems to be addressing the younger ones in the faith in this chapter. It is one thing to be a new believer and have struggles in areas of doctrine but older and more mature saints should be able to discern and fight the good fight. Sadly, it is not just new believers who struggle along these lines. John understood the subtleties of the enemy having witnessed it first-hand.
He begins by re-emphasizing the importance of the love of God as foundational in having relationship with God. He also points out that it is belief in Jesus Christ who comes forth from the Father that serves as the basis of man’s salvation. The proof of this relationship is determined by how we love others and as to whether we keep His commandments. Our love is quantified by the level of our obedience to His commandments. This is basic because it is something seen in the development of a child in their interaction with parents (vs 1-3).
In verses 4-6 John addresses the theme of the overcomers. Whatsoever is born of God has the potential to overcome all things as it pertains to the world. It is achieved through faith. As believers, we do not overcome all things at once; it is a day to day process of living a life of faith. As we learn to die to the flesh and appropriate faith as we become more like the Lord. The grace of God is the enablement that gives the ability to overcome. The letter to the 7 churches in Revelation holds many promises but it is given to those who overcome. As Christians, we are given the keys to become overcomers however it must be appropriated. It is God’s will that we grow from the spiritual level of little children to become young men and then ultimately fathers in the faith. Our father Abraham gives us the pattern. He heard from God, obeyed God, received promises from God and staggered not at the promises of God (Rom 4:20). Abraham was an overcomer by faith and this same opportunity is available for us.
The Trinity is presented in verses 7-13. It is the doctrine of the Trinity that sets Christianity apart from any other religion. John identifies the Godhead as the Father, The Word and the Holy Ghost in verse 7. Each member of the Godhead is equal however it is the Father who is supreme. It is the Father from which all things originate namely His will and pleasure which the Son and the Spirit seek to employ. The Son has the title of being “The Word” which became flesh. Jesus as the Son of God became the Son of man and as sinless man became sin and died upon the cross. It was the person of the Holy Spirit that enabled the Son of God to become the Son of man in addition to enabling the Son of man to go the Cross. Each member of the God-head is equal but different in function yet always in harmony. John reinforces the above by referring to the witness of the Spirit, water and the blood (vs 8).
In these verses, you find John speaking over and over again that Jesus is the Son of God. He does this to counteract many of the false doctrines that were circulating that diminished Christ in His divinity. This was one of the challenges to Paul when he wrote to the Colossian church. Many would speak of Christ as a good man, prophet and teacher but not declaring Him as the Son of God. John keeps using the term Son of God to make clear his point. John makes clear that all life is in the Son and that without Him no man can be saved. Today, in many religions the emphasis is on good works as the primary criteria of gaining access to heaven. The doing of good works serves as the fruit of having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Good works are important but they merely serve as the fruit of having faith in Christ. This same challenge exists today.
John speaks on the importance of prayer in verses 14-16. If we pray with confidence in Christ, we should believe to receive that which we pray for. This statement must be qualified otherwise people will ask of things amiss, outside of God’s will. We must be walking in the light and having close communion with Him. This level of relationship allows us to know the heart of God which then shows us how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer demonstrates that we are to pray that God’s kingdom would come here on earth as it has been decreed in heaven. This requires that we know God’s agenda and heart when we pray otherwise we may pray presumptuously according to what is in our heart.
In verses 17-21 John exhorts that we be set free from all sin and idolatry. He makes a distinction that there are sins unto death and sins that are not unto death. When we were born, we took on the sin nature of Adam. The tendency of man has always been to fall short of the mark; which is in fact the definition of what sin is. We are constantly battling with a nature and there is grace through the blood of Jesus Christ that can be applied to deal with that nature. The sin unto death is a “deliberate and habitual” disregard for the things of God. Perhaps the best example of these sins is mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21. These works of the flesh are contrasted with the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the following verses in Galatians (vs 22-23). If we walk in the light there is the ability for these sin tendencies to be exposed. It is what we do at this point that makes the difference. If we acknowledge these sin tendencies, the blood of Jesus is able to bring a cleansing. We come into danger when these sins become exposed and we intentionally disregard them. A continual disregard sets our heart up for hardness and deception which will take a person down a wrong road. There can come a time when such a person has crossed over a line due to the intentional choices they have made against the Truth and Light. It is to these types of people that John says we are not to pray for (vs 16). John concludes this first epistle with a simple yet comprehensive warning. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”. The idols men serve today are quite different than that of John’s day but the same principle applies. An idol establishes an area of residence in the heart that is meant for God. It can take on many shapes and forms. If an idol is allowed to remain, it will seek to establish an increased foothold making it increasingly difficult for God to move. This final instruction is cited for the little children but it applies to all; the young men and the fathers and we need to give it heed.