By his power he made earth.
His wisdom gave shape to the world.
He crafted the cosmos.
He thunders and rain pours down.
He sends the clouds soaring.
He embellishes the storm with lightnings,
launches the wind from his warehouse.
Stick-god worshipers look mighty foolish!
god-makers embarrassed by their handmade gods!
Their gods are frauds, dead sticks—
deadwood gods, tasteless jokes.
They’re nothing but stale smoke.
When the smoke clears, they’re gone.
But the Portion-of-Jacob is the real thing;
he put the whole universe together,
With special attention to Israel.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
They’ll Sleep and Never Wake Up
God says, “You, Babylon, are my hammer,
my weapon of war.
I’ll use you to smash godless nations,
use you to knock kingdoms to bits.
I’ll use you to smash horse and rider,
use you to smash chariot and driver.
I’ll use you to smash man and woman,
use you to smash the old man and the boy.
I’ll use you to smash the young man and young woman,
use you to smash shepherd and sheep.
I’ll use you to smash farmer and yoked oxen,
use you to smash governors and senators.
“Judeans, you’ll see it with your own eyes. I’ll pay Babylon and all the Chaldeans back for all the evil they did in Zion.” God’s Decree.
“I’m your enemy, Babylon, Mount Destroyer,
you ravager of the whole earth.
I’ll reach out, I’ll take you in my hand,
and I’ll crush you till there’s no mountain left.
I’ll turn you into a gravel pit—
no more cornerstones cut from you,
No more foundation stones quarried from you!
Nothing left of you but gravel.” God’s Decree.
“Raise the signal in the land,
blow the shofar-trumpet for the nations.
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her.
Call kingdoms into service against her.
Enlist Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz.
Appoint a field marshal against her,
and round up horses, locust hordes of horses!
Consecrate the nations for holy work against her—
the king of the Medes, his leaders and people.
“The very land trembles in terror, writhes in pain,
terrorized by my plans against Babylon,
Plans to turn the country of Babylon
into a lifeless moonscape—a wasteland.
Babylon’s soldiers have quit fighting.
They hide out in ruins and caves—
Cowards who’ve given up without a fight,
exposed as cowering milksops.
Babylon’s houses are going up in flames,
the city gates torn off their hinges.
Runner after runner comes racing in,
each on the heels of the last,
Bringing reports to the king of Babylon
that his city is a lost cause.
The fords of the rivers are all taken.
Wildfire rages through the swamp grass.
Soldiers desert left and right.
I, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, said it would happen:
‘Daughter Babylon is a threshing floor
at threshing time.
Soon, oh very soon, her harvest will come
and then the chaff will fly!’
“Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon
chewed up my people and spit out the bones.
He wiped his dish clean, pushed back his chair,
and belched—a huge gluttonous belch.
Lady Zion says,
‘The brutality done to me be done to Babylon!’
And Jerusalem says,
‘The blood spilled from me be charged to the Chaldeans!’
Then I, God, step in and say,
‘I’m on your side, taking up your cause.
I’m your Avenger. You’ll get your revenge.
I’ll dry up her rivers, plug up her springs.
Babylon will be a pile of rubble,
scavenged by stray dogs and cats,
A dumping ground for garbage,
a godforsaken ghost town.’
“The Babylonians will be like lions and their cubs,
ravenous, roaring for food.
I’ll fix them a meal, all right—a banquet, in fact.
They’ll drink themselves falling-down drunk.
Dead drunk, they’ll sleep—and sleep, and sleep . . .
and they’ll never wake up.” God’s Decree.
“I’ll haul these ‘lions’ off to the slaughterhouse
like the lambs, rams, and goats,
never to be heard of again.
“Babylon is finished—
the pride of the whole earth is flat on her face.
What a comedown for Babylon,
to end up inglorious in the sewer!
Babylon drowned in chaos,
battered by waves of enemy soldiers.
Her towns stink with decay and rot,
the land empty and bare and sterile.
No one lives in these towns anymore.
Travelers give them a wide berth.
I’ll bring doom on the glutton god-Bel in Babylon.
I’ll make him vomit up all he gulped down.
No more visitors stream into this place,
admiring and gawking at the wonders of Babylon.
The wonders of Babylon are no more.
Run for your lives, my dear people!
Run, and don’t look back!
Get out of this place while you can,
this place torched by God’s raging anger.
Don’t lose hope. Don’t ever give up
when the rumors pour in hot and heavy.
One year it’s this, the next year it’s that—
rumors of violence, rumors of war.
Trust me, the time is coming
when I’ll put the no-gods of Babylon in their place.
I’ll show up the whole country as a sickening fraud,
with dead bodies strewn all over the place.
Heaven and earth, angels and people,
will throw a victory party over Babylon
When the avenging armies from the north
descend on her.” God’s Decree!
Remember God in Your Long and Distant Exile
“Babylon must fall—
compensation for the war dead in Israel.
Babylonians will be killed
because of all that Babylonian killing.
But you exiles who have escaped a Babylonian death,
get out! And fast!
Remember God in your long and distant exile.
Keep Jerusalem alive in your memory.”
How we’ve been humiliated, taunted and abused,
kicked around for so long that we hardly know who we are!
And we hardly know what to think—
our old Sanctuary, God’s house, desecrated by strangers.
“I know, but trust me: The time is coming”
“When I will bring doom on her no-god idols,
and all over this land her wounded will groan.
Even if Babylon climbed a ladder to the moon
and pulled up the ladder so that no one could get to her,
That wouldn’t stop me.
I’d make sure my avengers would reach her.”
“But now listen! Do you hear it? A cry out of Babylon!
An unearthly wail out of Chaldea!
God is taking his wrecking bar to Babylon.
We’ll be hearing the last of her noise—
Death throes like the crashing of waves,
death rattles like the roar of cataracts.
The avenging destroyer is about to enter Babylon:
Her soldiers are taken, her weapons are trashed.
Indeed, God is a God who evens things out.
All end up with their just deserts.
“I’ll get them drunk, the whole lot of them—
princes, sages, governors, soldiers.
Dead drunk, they’ll sleep—and sleep and sleep . . .
and never wake up.” The King’s Decree.
His name? God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
“The city walls of Babylon—those massive walls!—
will be flattened.
And those city gates—huge gates!—
will be set on fire.
The harder you work at this empty life,
the less you are.
Nothing comes of ambition like this
Jeremiah the prophet gave a job to Seraiah son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, when Seraiah went with Zedekiah king of Judah to Babylon. It was in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. Seraiah was in charge of travel arrangements.
Jeremiah had written down in a little booklet all the bad things that would come down on Babylon. He told Seraiah, “When you get to Babylon, read this out in public. Read, ‘You, O God, said that you would destroy this place so that nothing could live here, neither human nor animal—a wasteland to top all wastelands, an eternal nothing.’
“When you’ve finished reading the page, tie a stone to it, throw it into the River Euphrates, and watch it sink. Then say, ‘That’s how Babylon will sink to the bottom and stay there after the disaster I’m going to bring upon her.’”