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Jeremiah 50-51

08.15.2010

After telling every nation in the region that they are about to get rolled over by Babylon, Jeremiah turns his attention to Babylon itself.  For two chapters (and not short ones) he unloads on Babylon for their wickedness and goes into great detail on the ways in which and extent that God will destroy them.  Again, this addresses some of Jeremiah’s earlier questions to God about why Babylon seems favored.  Within God’s framework, at least, justice delayed is not justice denied.

One question I have about this regards the amount of free will that Babylon had as it exacted punishment on Judah and swept the other nations into the history books.  Babylon served as God’s agent of justice but was then punished for its actions in that role.  In 51:20, Jeremiah refers to Babylon as God’s hammer and weapon of war.  Now, these objects do not bear responsibility for the damage they cause.  People may sue a gun manufacturer for enabling a gun crime/accident, but no one sues the gun itself.  It would be absurd.  Here, of course, hammer and weapon are metaphors, but it does seem a bit unjust for God to say, “Come sin over here because that would be useful for My plans,” and then punish Babylon for the very sin He recently found so useful.

I don’t have an answer to this dilemma.  In these situations, all I can do is assert the things I know to be true:

  • God is holy.  He is not implicated in the sins of man, including those sins which carry out His will.
  • God is just.  Sins must be paid for, either by the actor or by Jesus via substitutional atonement.
  • God’s will, while sovereign, allows people to make independent decisions for which they are held accountable.

This story, however, serves as a great example of one of my biggest spiritual struggles right now.  Of course, I appreciate any ideas or thoughts on the topic.

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2 Comments
  1. Jim permalink

    Was Babylon free of sinful ways before conquering Judah, or was this just a way to “kill two birds with one stone”?

    • Babylon was definitely not free of sinful ways. In fact, the book of Habakkuk is the story of a guy wrestling with God over this very issue. Habakkuk wants to know how a just God can use such a sinful nation to punish His chosen people.

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