Description
Jeremiah reveals an order of end-time judgments against Israel, against the Antichrist's empire, against the nations of the whole world and their leaders, and finally against the Antichrist who is the king of Sheshach or Mystery Babylon.
Commentary
In this crucially important chapter, Jeremiah reveals an order of end-time judgments against Israel, against Middle Eastern nations, against the nations of the whole world and their leaders, and finally against the king of Sheshach. At one level, there was partial fulfilment of these judgments through Nebuchadnezzar's conquests of Middle Eastern nations in the 6th century BC, and the eventual fall of the king of Babylon to Cyrus the Persian in 539 BC. But there is a reason the king of Babylon is called the king of Sheshach. Ultimately this is the judgment of the king of Mystery Babylon, that is the Antichrist. And there will be an end-time fulfilment of these judgments against Israel, against Middle Eastern nations, against the nations of the whole world, and finally against the Antichrist.

Jeremiah received this revelation in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, which was 605 BC. This was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar. In about May of that year, Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Assyrian Empire and their Egyptian allies at the battle of Carchemish. Later that year, he attacked Jerusalem, and King Jehoiakim submitted Judah to him as a vassal state. Nebuchadnezzar deported some of the nobles, including Daniel and his three friends, but left Jehoiakim as king. Verses 1 to 14 relate to Judah's imminent defeat and exile to Babylon which Jeremiah prophesies will last 70 years (v11). Jeremiah says he has been warning Judah to turn away from sin and idolatry for 23 years (v3), but they haven't listened to him. Therefore, God will use his servant Nebuchadnezzar to punish Judah and the surrounding nations (v9). God calling this pagan king 'his servant' is a remarkable honour, otherwise reserved for biblical characters like Abraham, Moses and David. In this case, it implies, in no uncertain terms, that Nebuchadnezzar is God's chosen agent to punish Judah. Isaiah makes similarly surprising statements about Cyrus, who became God's agent to restore them to the land at the end of the exile. After the 70 years, it will be the Babylonians' turn to be punished for their sins (v12-14). It is clear that God uses individuals and nations to fulfil his purposes, even without them knowing God or being aware that they are participating in his plans.

Jeremiah's prophecies of exile were fulfilled by the three deportations to Babylon in 605 BC, 597 BC, and again in 586 BC when the temple was destroyed. Forty seven years after that, Cyrus the Persian defeated the Babylonians in 539 BC, and that same year, according to Ezra 1, issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to Israel to rebuild the temple. At that point in time 42,360 chose to do so (Ezra 2:64), though many stayed longer. It wasn't until 516 BC that the temple was completed and rededicated (Ezra 6:15). So there were 70 years between the destruction of the first temple and the completion of the second one. In Zechariah 1:12, this seems to be understood as the fulfilment of Jeremiah's 70 years, The absence of a temple in Israel indicated God's anger with the nation. What that implies for Israel today is that their exile is not properly over yet, because their temple has not yet been restored. But what would constitute the true temple of God in Israel today? Would it be a building? Or would it be Jesus (John 2:19), present in Israel as the true temple? Or does the community of Christian believers already present in Israel, with increasing numbers of Messianic Jews, constitute its true temple (Ephesians 2:19-22)? Prophecies of the Antichrist setting up the abomination in the temple (Daniel 9:27 & 12:11, Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:4) seem to imply that in the Great Tribulation, the temple will have been restored as a physical building.

Although Jeremiah's prophecy of 70 years was fulfilled, and God used the Persians to punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins, verse 12 goes on to say that God would make Babylon an everlasting ruin. However, Babylon remained a significant city for more than a thousand years after the Persian conquest. It didn't become an abandoned ruin until after the Islamic conquest of Mesopotamia in the 7th century AD. God's judgment of Babylon features in many end-time prophecies, including Revelation 17-18 which describes the fall of Mystery Babylon. Babylon is used to refer both to the literal ancient city in Mesopotamia, but also figuratively to a modern city that falls in the end times. Isaiah 21 makes a clear connection between figurative Babylon and Arabia. So Jeremiah's prophecy of Babylon's punishment is not yet complete.

Verses 15 to 29 describe a vision in which God gives Jeremiah a cup, filled with the wine of his wrath. He is told to take it to all nations, starting with Judah, and to make them drink it. It will make them drunk and vomit, and is symbolic of the judgment of God that each nation must drink in the end times, beginning with Israel. This judgment comes first to Jerusalem (vs 18 & 29), then upon many Middle Eastern nations that are specifically named (v19-25), then upon every nation on the face of the earth (v26), and finally the king of Babylon must drink it. In this context of verse 26, the king of Babylon is not the ancient king of Babylon (as in verse 9), but the Antichrist who is figuratively called the king of Babylon. With a coalition of Islamic nations (as named in verses 19 to 25), he invades Jerusalem (also see Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 14), bringing God's punishment upon stubborn Israel who refuses to acknowledge Jesus as her Messiah. At his second coming, Jesus defeats the armies of Antichrist's empire, liberates Jerusalem, restores Israel, and ultimately punishes the Antichrist by throwing him into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:20). The nations listed in verses 23 to 24, including Dedan, Tema, and all the kings of Arabia, describe the Arabian Peninsula, which in Isaiah 21 is called the Desert by the Sea, and Babylon. Its fall is announced with "Babylon has fallen, fallen" (Isaiah 21:9). In Revelation 17-18, Arabia is again portrayed as Mystery Babylon and the Great Prostitute, holding this same cup that Jeremiah sees in this vision. The announcement of its fall is again, "Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great!" (Revelation 18:2). The Great Prostitute shares her cup with the nations, they drink it and become intoxicated. In its present-day context the wine symbolises Islam, which Saudi Arabia exports to the world. At another level, it may also symbolise her oil. The nations overlook her sinfulness because they are intoxicated with her oil. Jeremiah's vision implies that the nations who drink from Saudi Arabia's cup will share in her end time judgments. Here in chapter 25, Jeremiah tells us that all the nations on the face of the earth must drink it (v26). But it is likely that some nations will be judged more severely than others. In verse 26, Jeremiah tells us "After all of them have drunk the wine of the LORD's wrath, the king of Babylon must drink it". This translation obscures an important detail. The Hebrew says 'the king of Sheshach' must drink it. According to the NET Bible notes, "Sheshach is a code name for Babylon formed on the principle of substituting the last letter of the alphabet for the first, the next to the last for the second, and so on". This is another important clue linking Babylon in this chapter with Mystery Babylon in Revelation 17-18. The king of Sheshach is not simply the king of ancient Babylon. He is the mystery end-time ruler that we otherwise know as the Antichrist. This also explains why the Antichrist is called the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14.

Another important observation about verses 15 to 29 is that it is probably the passage Peter has in mind in 1 Peter 4:17, "For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?" Here in Jeremiah, it is Jerusalem that must drink the cup first, then the nations named (all of which are Muslims nations today), then all nations on the face of earth, and finally the Antichrist. Peter says 'the house of God' in place of Jerusalem, indicating that the church will stand alongside Israel in the pecking order of end-time judgment. Consequently, we need to be ready to suffer for Christ, so that we may rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed (1 Peter 4:7-19). This is also confirmed in Revelation 12:17. After trying unsuccessfully to destroy Israel, the devil then turns and makes war on Christians. This results in there being Christian martyrs from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 6:9-11 & 7:9)

What will God's end-time judgment look like, according to Jeremiah? In verses 27 and 29, God tells the nations that he will send war sweeping through them. Verse 29 is a clear prophecy of world war that will affect every nation on earth. In verse 38, God says their lands will be laid waste firstly by the warfare of the oppressive nation (Antichrist's end-time empire), and secondly by the fierce anger of the Lord. The fierce anger of the Lord would include Jesus' defeat of the nations' armies at Armageddon, and also the various end-time plagues that are described in Revelation and other end-time scriptures like Habakkuk 3.

In verses 28-29, Jeremiah envisages nations refusing to drink from the cup of God's wrath, implying they will deny that his judgments will reach them too. Jeremiah points out that if God even judges the city that he calls his own (Jerusalem), other nations will certainly not escape his judgments. When Jerusalem falls to the Antichrist, as prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and Zechariah 14, it will be a sure sign of world war to follow, that will affect all who live on earth.

In verses 30 to 38, Jeremiah sees God coming as a lion (v30), then as a warrior (v30-31), then as a judge (v31), and then as the one who raises up a mighty storm of destruction (v32). All of these are revelations of Jesus in his various end-time roles. In verse 30, Jeremiah sees the Lord like a Lion, about to roar from the heights of heaven and attack. In Revelation 5:5, John sees Jesus as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. In verse 30, he first of all roars against his own land, and then against all those who live on the earth, which is the pattern of judgment already seen in verses 17 and 29 (judgment begins with the house of God - 1 Peter 4:17). He shouts in triumph like those stomping grapes, an end-time picture of Jesus warring against the nations that we also see in Isaiah 63:1-6, Joel 3:3, Revelation 14:19-20 and 19:15. In verse 31, he passes judgment on all humankind. But how will they be judged? God will hand the wicked over to be killed in war (v30). For he is causing a mighty storm of destruction to rise up from the distant parts of the earth (v32). The bodies of the slain will be scattered from one end of the earth to the other (v33). Jesus refers to this portrayal of the world like a battlefield, strewn with corpses of the slain, in Matthew 24:27-28, "For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather". It is the vultures, circling over the corpses of the slain, that are visible from east to west like lightning. In verses 34 to 37, we see the anguish of the shepherds (the rulers of the nations). They will be a particular focus of God's judgment, and will cry in anguish, both over their own destruction (v34) and over their peaceful dwelling places being laid waste (v37). The lord is like a lion who has left his lair, and it is certain that their lands will be laid waste. In other words, he is not going to return to his lair without having devoured his prey. His judgments will be executed first of all by the warfare of the oppressive nation (the Antichrist's empire), and secondly by the fierce anger of the Lord (v38). There is a clear sense in verse 38 that God will use the Antichrist as an agent of his judgment against the nations, just like he used his 'servant' Nebuchadnezzar to execute judgment on Judah in the 6th century BC. But at the end of it all, God will then judge the Antichrist, as it says in verse 26, "After all of them have drunk the wine of the LORD's wrath, the king of Sheshach must drink it".

Given that this chapter portrays the Antichrist as an agent of divine judgment, like God used Nebuchadnezzar to judge Judah and the surrounding nations, an important question is 'to what extent should we submit to him?'. In chapter 27, during the period after the second deportation of 597 BC, Jeremiah counsels those who remain in the land, and Zedekiah their king, to submit to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, in order that they might live (27:12). He told them they would have to serve Nebuchadnezzar, his son and grandson, until it was time for Babylon to fall (27:7). However, in relation to the Antichrist, it is clear from various scriptures that from the time he invades Jerusalem, he will only rule for a further three and a half years. According to Revelation 13:16, he forces everyone to receive a mark on their right hand or forehead. Receiving this mark signifies submission to him, but also submission to Allah. For the mark as revealed in Revelation 13:18 contains a hidden message in Arabic script saying 'In the name of Allah'. The Antichrist will try to force everyone to become Muslims. It is made very clear in Revelation 14:9-11, 16:2, 19:20 and 20:4, that we must resist receiving this mark at all costs, for those who receive it will end up in the lake of fire. So in the case of the Antichrist, is it clear that we must not submit to him, but instead resist him.
Tags
Places: Israel, Judah, Jerusalem, Egypt, Uz, Philistia, Gaza, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Sidon, Coastlands, Lebanon, Dedan, Tema, Buz, Arabia, Elam, Media, Iran, Ends of the earth, Babylon, Mystery Babylon, Sheshach
Symbols: Cup of intoxicating wine of judgment, Jesus as a lion, Jesus as a warrior, Jesus as Judge, Winepress, Shepherds
Tags: Day of Judgment, Day of vengeance, Day of great slaughter, World War, Jesus fights muslim nations, Jesus fights all nations, Antichrist as King of Babylon, Antichrist as king of Sheshach, Babylon as Sheshach, Antichrist as Nebuchadnezzar, Antichrist as agent of divine judgment, Jesus treads the winepress, Jesus as a lion, Jesus as a mighty warrior, Jesus as Judge, The world like a battlefield, Cup of intoxicating wine of judgment, Judgment first on the house of God, Order of end-time judgments, Fall of Jerusalem
Seventy Years of Servitude for Failure to Give Heed
1 In the fourth year that Jehoiakim son of Josiah was king of Judah, the Lord spoke to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah. (That was the same as the first year that Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon.)
2 So the prophet Jeremiah spoke to all the people of Judah and to all the people who were living in Jerusalem.
3 “For the last twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon was ruling in Judah until now, the Lord’s messages have come to me and I have told them to you over and over again. But you would not listen.
4 Over and over again the Lord has sent his servants the prophets to you. But you have not listened or paid attention.
5 He said through them, ‘Each of you must turn from your wicked ways and stop doing the evil things you are doing. If you do, I will allow you to continue to live here in the land that I gave to you and your ancestors as a lasting possession.
6 Do not pay allegiance to other gods and worship and serve them. Do not make me angry by the things that you do. Then I will not cause you any harm.’
7 So, now the Lord says, ‘You have not listened to me. But you have made me angry by the things that you have done. Thus you have brought harm on yourselves.’
8 “Therefore, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘You have not listened to what I said.
9 So I, the Lord, affirm that I will send for all the peoples of the north and my servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I will bring them against this land and its inhabitants and all the nations that surround it. I will utterly destroy this land, its inhabitants, and all the nations that surround it and make them everlasting ruins. I will make them objects of horror and hissing scorn.
10 I will put an end to the sounds of joy and gladness, to the glad celebration of brides and grooms in these lands. I will put an end to the sound of people grinding meal. I will put an end to lamps shining in their houses.
11 This whole area will become a desolate wasteland. These nations will be subject to the king of Babylon for seventy years.’
12 “‘But when the seventy years are over, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation for their sins. I will make the land of Babylon an everlasting ruin. I, the Lord, affirm it!
13 I will bring on that land everything that I said I would. I will bring on it everything that is written in this book. I will bring on it everything that Jeremiah has prophesied against all the nations.
14 For many nations and great kings will make slaves of the king of Babylon and his nation too. I will repay them for all they have done!’”

Judah and the Nations Will Experience God’s Wrath
15 So the Lord, the God of Israel, spoke to me in a vision. “Take this cup from my hand. It is filled with the wine of my wrath. Take it and make the nations to whom I send you drink it.
16 When they have drunk it, they will stagger to and fro and act insane. For I will send wars sweeping through them.”
17 So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand. I made all the nations to whom he sent me drink the wine of his wrath.
18 I made Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and its officials drink it. I did it so Judah would become a ruin. I did it so Judah, its kings, and its officials would become an object of horror and of hissing scorn, an example used in curses. Such is already becoming the case!
19 I made all of these other people drink it: Pharaoh, king of Egypt; his attendants, his officials, his people,
20 the foreigners living in Egypt; all the kings of the land of Uz; all the kings of the land of the Philistines, the people of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, the people who had been left alive from Ashdod;
21 all the people of Edom, Moab, Ammon;
22 all the kings of Tyre, all the kings of Sidon; all the kings of the coastlands along the sea;
23 the people of Dedan, Tema, Buz, all the desert people who cut their hair short at the temples;
24 all the kings of Arabia who live in the desert;
25 all the kings of Zimri; all the kings of Elam; all the kings of Media;
26 all the kings of the north, whether near or far from one another; and all the other kingdoms which are on the face of the earth. After all of them have drunk the wine of the Lord’s wrath, the king of Babylon must drink it.
27 Then the Lord said to me, “Tell them that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel says, ‘Drink this cup until you get drunk and vomit. Drink until you fall down and can’t get up. For I will send wars sweeping through you.’
28 If they refuse to take the cup from your hand and drink it, tell them that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says ‘You most certainly must drink it!
29 For take note, I am already beginning to bring disaster on the city that I call my own. So how can you possibly avoid being punished? You will not go unpunished! For I am proclaiming war against all who live on the earth. I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, affirm it!’
30 “Then, Jeremiah, make the following prophecy against them: ‘Like a lion about to attack, the Lord will roar from the heights of heaven; from his holy dwelling on high he will roar loudly. He will roar mightily against his land. He will shout in triumph like those stomping juice from the grapes against all those who live on the earth.
31 The sounds of battle will resound to the ends of the earth. For the Lord will bring charges against the nations. He will pass judgment on all humankind and will hand the wicked over to be killed in war.’ The Lord so affirms it!
32 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, ‘Disaster will soon come on one nation after another. A mighty storm of military destruction is rising up from the distant parts of the earth.’
33 Those who have been killed by the Lord at that time will be scattered from one end of the earth to the other. They will not be mourned over, gathered up, or buried. Their dead bodies will lie scattered over the ground like manure.
34 Wail and cry out in anguish, you rulers! Roll in the dust, you who shepherd flocks of people! The time for you to be slaughtered has come. You will lie scattered and fallen like broken pieces of fine pottery.
35 The leaders will not be able to run away and hide. The shepherds of the flocks will not be able to escape.
36 Listen to the cries of anguish of the leaders. Listen to the wails of the shepherds of the flocks. They are wailing because the Lord is about to destroy their lands.
37 Their peaceful dwelling places will be laid waste by the fierce anger of the Lord.
38 The Lord is like a lion who has left his lair. So their lands will certainly be laid waste by the warfare of the oppressive nation and by the fierce anger of the Lord.”
(NET)