READ : Jeremiah 51:41-45
Come out of her, my people. (v. 45 NIV)
As at the beginning and in the middle, so now at the end of his book, Jeremiah looks
beyond the affairs of Israel to the international scene. As a prophet of the God of all
the earth, he is also called to address the affairs of the nations around.
For much of Jeremiah’s life the world superpower has been Babylon (“Sheshach,” as it is
sometimes called in the Old Testament). Now, having addressed half a dozen other nations,
he ends with two entire chapters (50-51) that contain God’s word for that great
God used Babylon first as an instrument of punishment for his unbelieving people
Israel, and then as a haven for the believing remnant among them till the time came to
return to their own land. Here he uses Babylon as a symbol of the whole world-system that
organizes itself without reference to him. When Jesus returns, this “Babylon” will be
swept away – much of Jeremiah 51 reappears in Revelation 18 – and replaced by God’s
city, the heavenly Jerusalem. Meanwhile, in both chapters he calls his people out of the
condemned city. Not physically (for that can’t be done, and anyway he wants us in the
world to witness to it). We are called to come out of Babylon spiritually, to distance
ourselves from its life-style and principles and assumptions – just as Jeremiah himself
repeatedly said a courageous “No” to the godless policies of those last kings of Judah.
Lord, show us how to be in the world but not of it.