Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Now that we covered the emphasis of universal judgement in this chapter, we get to one of the main parts of Jeremiah 25. In Jeremiah 25:3-14 we have something of an anniversary message. Jeremiah has been preaching to the people 23 years, but they haven’t been paying attention.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “God Sent Me”
3 From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me, and I have spoken unto you, [rising early and speaking/over and over];
but ye have not hearkened.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “God Sent Others”
And it’s not that the Lord sent Jeremiah only. Though they may not have been many in number, God had other prophets that he sent to his people.
4 And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, [rising early and sending them/again and again];
but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Their Message
And here’s the message that both Jeremiah and his fellow prophets spoke to the people.
5 They said,
Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever:
6 And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Your Response
So, turn from evil – especially idolatry – and you can stay in the land. That’s been God’s message to the people for so long. Pretty simple. But here’s the people’s response.
7 Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Punishment for Response
And so, there’s punishment that had to come to Judah due to this response of disobedience.
8 ¶ Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts;
Because ye have not [heard/obeyed/listened to] my words,
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Babylon’s 70 Years
9 Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north, saith the LORD, and Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and will bring them against this land, and against the inhabitants thereof, and against all these nations round about, and will utterly destroy them, and make them an astonishment, and an hissing, and perpetual desolations.
10 Moreover I will take from them the [voice/sound] of [mirth/joy], and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the sound of the millstones, and the light of the [candle/lamp].
11 And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. [dan 9.2, 2chr 36.21, zec 1.12]
So, note that this destruction will come not just to Judah but even to the surrounding nations.
Note also the mention of 70 years of these nations serving Babylon.
Some think that this time period started in 605 BC with the Battle of Carchemish and Nebuchadnezzar coming to power and that it ended with Cyrus’ decree for the Jews to return to Judah in 538 BC, which itself was a year after the last king of Babylon, Belshazzar, died. But if you’re calculating that, that’s only around 67 years. That’s close to 70, but not quite 70. And so someone who holds this view would say that the number 70 is sort of a round number that basically represents one whole generation. After all, Moses gave the life expectancy of people in his Psalm as three-score and ten – that’s 70 – the typical life span in those days.
Others have stated that maybe the 70 years started in 609 BC before the Battle of Carchemish in one of the previous battles in which Babylon defeated Assyria. Then if the Jews returned to Jerusalem in 539 BC that would make exactly 70 years.
The prophet Zechariah himself speaks of 70 years, but he’s actually speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC to the founding of Zerubbabel’s temple in 516 BC.
It’s interesting that the prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:1 starts to consider this 70 year period of time in 538 BC. So, I would assume that he was looking back to the starting of this desolation being about 608 BC – which would best line up with the theory that the 70 years started just a few years before what we’re reading about in Jeremiah 25 – and that it ends right around the time that Daniel seeks the Lord about this in 538/9 BC or so.
Ultimately though we might not be able to exactly pinpoint wen Babylon began to rule over the nations that God speaks about in this chapter. Did this 70 year period start when Babylon conquered its first nation? If so, when did that happen? We just might not know. But we do know generally when Babylon ceased to be in charge of things in the world. And we can count 70 years backward from there. And I think that is represented by the 609BC-539BC numbers.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Babylon’s Destruction
So, Babylon will have its 70 years of reigning over these nations. But there’s a time coming where Babylon itself will be overthrown.
12 And it shall come to pass, when seventy years are accomplished, that I will punish the king of Babylon, and that nation, saith the LORD, for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans, and will make it perpetual desolations.
13 And I will bring upon that land all my words which I have pronounced against it, even all that is written in this book, which Jeremiah hath prophesied against all the nations. [jer 46-51; lxx order also]
14 For many nations and great kings shall [serve themselves/make slaves] of them also: and I will recompense them according to their deeds, and according to the works of their own hands.
Now, this does actually happen. The Medes and Persians killed the last king of Babylon – Belshazzar after his drunken feast with the writing on the wall recorded in the book of Daniel.
So, that was the beginning of Jeremiah’s 23rd anniversary message to the people. Babylon will come and destroy not only Judah but all the surrounding nations. And then after 70 years, Babylon itself will be destroyed.
Now in Jeremiah 25:15-29 the topic shifts to God’s wine cup of wrath for the nations which he just spoke of. And really, this is just a figurative way of expressing what God just very literally expressed in the previous section. The wine cup symbolizes God’s punishment of the nations that he just mentioned.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Command to Take the Cup
So, first, God commands Jeremiah to take this cup of wine to the nations in Jeremiah 25:15-16.
15 ¶ For thus saith the LORD God of Israel unto me [i.e., in a vision]; Take the wine cup of this [fury/wrath] [at/from] my hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send thee, to drink it.
16 And they shall drink, and [be moved/stagger], and [be/go] [mad/insane], because of the [sword/wars] that I will send [among/sweeping through] them.
I think that Jeremiah is experiencing another vision here. The Lord speaks of taking a cup from his hand. And yet we know that God the Father has no literal physical hands. In addition, the last statement of Jeremiah 25:16 identifies this cup as brining a sword or wars among these nations. Regular literal physical cups don’t do that.
Then what the Lord is doing here is giving a vision to Jeremiah in which the cup is real. Jeremiah in this vision can see this cup. And yet outside of the vision in literal physical reality, the cup represents something. The cup represents God’s punishment through military conflict.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: Make the Nations Drink
Next in this vision, Jeremiah obeys God’s command to “take the cup” and to “cause all nations…to drink it” in Jeremiah 25:17-26.
17 ¶ Then took I the cup at the LORD’S hand, and made all the nations to drink, unto whom the LORD had sent me:
He starts with Judah.
18 To wit, Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah, and the kings thereof, and the princes thereof, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, an hissing, and a curse; [as it is this day/such is already becoming the case];
He moves to Egypt.
19 Pharaoh king of Egypt, and his servants, and his princes, and all his people;
20 And all the [mingled/foreign] people [i.e., living in Egypt],
and all the kings of the land of Uz,
Uz is either somewhere near the Euphrates River or in the land of Edom.
Then Jeremiah comes back to the Philistines in his vision.
and all the kings of the land of the Philistines, [(] [and/even] Ashkelon, and [Azzah/Gaza], and Ekron, and the [remnant/people left alive] of Ashdod [)],
Then he goes back south and east.
21 Edom, and Moab, and the children of Ammon,
Then Jeremiah comes back up to the northwest.
22 And all the kings of [Tyrus/Tyre], and all the kings of [Zidon/Sidon], and the kings of the [isles/coastlands] which are [beyond/along] the sea,
Then Jeremiah goes – again, in his vision – down toward Arabia.
23 Dedan, and Tema, and Buz, and all [that are in the utmost/who cut the] corners [i.e., of their hair, at the temples],
24 And all the kings of Arabia, and all the kings of the [mingled/foreign] people that dwell in the desert,
Then he goes toward Babylon in the far east.
25 And all the kings of Zimri, and all the kings of Elam, and all the kings of [the Medes/Media],
26 And all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another, and all the kingdoms of the world, which are upon the face of the earth: and the king of [Sheshach/Babylon] [cipher/secret code, reverse alphabet, 22 letters, sh (21) sh (21) k (11) = b (2) b (2) l (12)] shall drink after them.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: “Speak to the Nations”
And I think we’re still in the vision when God commands Jeremiah to speak to these nations in Jeremiah 25:27.
27 ¶ Therefore thou shalt say unto them,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel;
Drink ye [i.e., this cup], and be drunken, and [spue/vomit], and fall, and rise no more, because of the [sword/wars] which I will send among you.
Jeremiah 25 Commentary: If They Refuse to Drink
We continue in the vision when the Lord tells Jeremiah what to do if the nations refuse to drink in Jeremiah 25:28-29.
28 ¶ And it shall be, if they refuse to take the cup at thine hand to drink,
then shalt thou say unto them,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
Ye shall certainly drink[./!]
29 For, [lo/take note], I [begin/am beginning] to bring [evil/calamity/disaster] on the city which [is called by my name/I call my own],
and should ye be utterly unpunished?
Ye shall not be unpunished:
for I [will call for a sword/am proclaiming war] upon all the inhabitants of the earth,
saith the LORD of hosts.
And then in the rest of the chapter in Jeremiah 25:30-38 the Lord gives Jeremiah the literal command to prophesy against the nations. I originally put that he’s to prophesy “to” the nations. But that’s not what the text says. Jeremiah is to prophesy “against” these nations.
Now, we know from Jeremiah 51 that the prophesies against Babylon were actually literally read aloud in Babylon. But as for the other nations, I’m not sure whether they ever got these messages that were concerning them.
30 ¶ Therefore prophesy [thou/Jeremiah] against them all these words, and say unto them,
First, God will compare himself to a dangerous fierce lion and also as a man who triumphantly treads grapes as he literally judges the nations.
The LORD shall roar from [on high/the heights of heaven] [i.e., like a lion about to attack], and utter his voice from his holy habitation; he shall mightily roar [roaring he will roar] [upon/against] his [habitation/fold/land]; he shall give a [i.e., triumphant] shout, as they that tread the grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31 [A noise/A clamor/The sounds of battle] shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the LORD [hath a controversy with/will bring charges against] the nations, he will [plead/enter into judgement/pass judgement] [with/on] all [flesh/mankind]; he will give them that are wicked to [i.e., be killed by] the sword [i.e., in war], saith the LORD.
Next, the Lord compares his judgement of the nations to a whirlwind that leaves widespread and massive destruction.
32 Thus saith the LORD of hosts,
Behold, [evil/disaster] shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great [whirlwind/storm] [i.e., of military destruction] shall be raised up from the [coasts/remotest part/distant parts] of the earth.
33 ¶ And [the/those] slain [of/by] the LORD shall be at that day [i.e., scattered] from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be [i.e., like] dung upon the ground.
And last, the Lord compares the leaders of the nations who will receive God’s judgement to shepherds, while he comes back to the metaphor of himself as a dangerous and fierce lion. As the lion attacks their sheep and the shepherds themselves, those shepherds have no way to stop the attack.
34 [Howl/wail], ye [shepherds/rulers], and cry [i.e., in anguish]; and [wallow/roll] yourselves in the ashes, ye [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock: for the days [of your slaughter/for you to be slaughtered] and of your dispersions [are accomplished/have come]; and ye shall fall like a [pleasant/choice/fine] vessel.
35 And the shepherds shall have no way to flee, nor the [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock to escape.
36 A voice of the [i.e., anguished] cry of the [shepherds/leaders], and an [howling/wailing] of the [principal/masters/shepherds] of the flock, shall be heard: for the LORD hath [spoiled/destroyed] their [pasture/lands].
37 And the peaceable [habitations/folds/dwelling places] are [cut down/made silent/laid waste] because of the fierce anger of the LORD.
38 He hath [forsaken/left] his [covert/hiding place], as the lion: for their land [is desolate/has become a horror/will be laid waste] because of the [fierceness/warfare] of the oppressor, and because of [his/God’s] fierce anger.
So, that’s Jeremiah 25 – God’s Universal Judgement.