Jeremiah 51 has the prophet continuing with his prophecy against Babylon. After being an instrument God used to pass judgment on other nations, now the focus is turned on this might nation and judgment is coming. “Behold, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon….and I will send to Babylon winnowers….and they shall empty her land, when they come against her from every side on the day of trouble”. God announced His coming judgment against the empire that He used to bring judgment against Judah.
God used the picture of a destroying wind that would winnow Babylon as grain is processed, with a wind blowing away the useless chaff. It would utterly destroy all her army. And even in the midst of this destruction, God is faithful to remind His people that “Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts”. They’ve received judgment and some harsh punishment, but God has not forgotten them. His people had sinned, but they were not forsaken by God.
Jeremiah uses some strong words that described the Babylonians, and also unfortunately describes us today. “Every man is stupid and without knowledge”. We don’t understand the ways of God and thus bring about all sorts of negative things in life. The Babylonians brought on the full force of God’s judgment for their evil and idolatry and the way they destroyed God’s temple. But before that, they were an instrument of God. He is in absolute control of all things. “You are my hammer and weapon of war:…I will repay Babylon and all the inhabitants of Chaldea before your very eyes for all the evil that they have done”.
So they will transition from a tool of God to the focus of God’s wrath and judgment. They will be judged and destroyed. The righteous will rejoice – even singing with joy – over the justice and judgments of God. Babylon may try and resist, but God will win. “Though Babylon should mount up to heaven, and though she should fortify her strong height, yet destroyers would come from me against her,declares the Lord”. This is an allusion to the Tower of Babel, constructed as a defense and in defiance against God. God came against that tower and would come against the height of Babylon’s strength now and in the future.
As Jeremiah ends his prophecy he tells Seriah to literally take the scroll, weight it with a stone, and then throw it into the Euphrates as a graphic illustration of the catastrophe of judgment that would soon sink Babylon. God is more powerful than any nation. He can use any nation for His ways, and yet has power to destroy them as well. Our God reigns above all!