Babylon has two futures. The first is to be conquer. The second is to be conquered. God will use Babylon to judge Judah but he will also judge Babylon.
This prophecy may come as a surprise to the people of Judah. Jeremiah has been delivering words about how Babylon will conquer Jerusalem and burn it to the ground. They are told that their only hope is to leave the city and surrender to Nebuchadnezzar. Now, Jeremiah is telling of Nebuchadnezzar’s defeat.
We are not told at what time in Judah’s history Jeremiah is giving this prophecy. It may be before the fall of Jerusalem or after it. From the prophecy itself, the people are clearly told that this is a second future not an alternate one. “The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go” (verse 33b). Judah WILL be taken captive. There is no way out of that. But there IS an end to it.
Judah is told that Babylon will bring troops that number as the sands on the seashore. Yet, they will be out numbered when the time comes. It will be from a conglomeration of nations. What is left of Edom will join them.
The sheer numbers will not be the only advantage. The strength and courage of those fighting will be different than before. The once powerful Chaldean army will become terrified and weak. The foreign troops they employ will become as “women.” Personally, I want to know what that means. I know many women who are strong enough for battle. I personally would stand and fight tooth and nail if someone came after my family. I may not be good with weapons but I have a magnificent brain. Granted, men are generally physically stronger than women, but DO NOT mess with a ‘mother bear’ protecting her cubs.
Back to Babylon’s second future. The BIGGEST reason that Babylon lost was because God was against them. While He was for them, using them as His instrument of judgment, they couldn’t be defeated. It didn’t matter what those they came against threw at them. God ensured that Babylon prevailed. When He became against them, it made no difference what tactics they tried. They would FAIL.
God is NOT fickle! He doesn’t decide to be for you one moment then against you the next. God KNEW Nebuchadnezzar’s faults and flaws. He was not changing His standards to make that behavior acceptable. Instead, He was using Nebuchadnezzar’s own character as an instrument; he was a tool. God didn’t make Nebuchadnezzar hungry for power and conquest. He allowed that desire to be fulfilled. But it was NEVER God’s intention to let Nebuchadnezzar, or those who followed him on Babylon’s throne, to rule forever. Their nation was FILLED with idols and false gods. They were a corrective instrument for His people. NOT a new way of life for all. Once His purpose was completed, God had to ‘pry’ Nebuchadnezzar’s fist open to release His people. God did this with the Persian empire. The Persian empire held God’s people with an ‘open hand’ and allowed them to return to their own lands. If Nebuchadnezzar had done this, how different would history have been?
God KNEW what was needed to turn His people back to Him. He gave them that and no more. He didn’t continue to punish them once they had learned the lessons God had for them. He wouldn’t hold their past sins over their heads either. Once the punishment and correction were complete, the sins were washed away.
God uses things in our lives in the same way. No. He doesn’t usually send us into captivity, but He does use the personalities and circumstances around us to draw us closer to Him. He doesn’t cause the pain but He brings the lessons that will carry us through it and out the other side. And there IS a way out! He holds the map. Let Him show it to you and head for it as FAST as you can go! He will provide the ‘tail wind’ when it gets too difficult for you on your way through. He seldom picks you up out of it but walks with you ALL THE WAY THROUGH. And sometimes He calms the storm too.
Father God, THANK YOU for using whatever is necessary to get my attention! And THANK YOU for discontinuing its use when the lesson has been learned. I don’t know where I would be today without them. Each one has brought me closer to You in one way or another. I also trust You with all future lessons. You are FAITHFUL in ALL things.