At a certain moment the measure is full. Before God lets the judgment come, He lets hear again how much effort He has made to spare His people and His dwelling place (verse 1515The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent [word] to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place;). Again and again He has called the people to return to Him through His messengers. The expression “again and again” indicates the necessary urgency of the message. God has made haste. He has not been slow or sparse in His attempts to urge them to turn back. None of this has been effective.
It is striking to read about “His people and His dwelling place”. It is about what is His. His judgment of what is His concerns Him Himself. He does not judge aloofly. It touches Him Himself deeply. That is why He has done everything He can to keep it from coming this far.
The rebellion of God’s people and their leaders is evidenced by their reception of His messengers (verse 1616but they [continually] mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against His people, until there was no remedy.). All the effort of God to bring His people back to Himself has been answered with contempt and scorn (cf. 2Chr 30:1010So the couriers passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them.; 2Pet 3:33Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts,). People always mock those who come with a message from heaven that they do not like. Religious people in particular react in this way.
Then God can no longer postpone the judgment and gives His people and also His dwelling place to the enemy. He makes the king of the Chaldeans rise up against them (verse 1717Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave [them] all into his hand.). Judgment comes to all age groups who are responsible for their actions (cf. Rev 19:1818so that you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of commanders and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of those who sit on them and the flesh of all men, both free men and slaves, and small and great.”; 20:1212And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.). There is no regard for persons with God.
According to the historians, Nebuchadnezzar goes up against Jerusalem on January 15, 588 BC. On 28 July 586 BC the city falls. On 14 August the temple is burned (verse 1919Then they burned the house of God and broke down the wall of Jerusalem, and burned all its fortified buildings with fire and destroyed all its valuable articles.). Before this happens, the treasures are robbed from God’s house and brought to Babylon (verse 1818All the articles of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his officers, he brought [them] all to Babylon.). These will be the treasures left over from the previous two lootings (verses 7,107Nebuchadnezzar also brought [some] of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon.10At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the LORD, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.).
This time also the treasures of the king (2Kgs 20:15-1715He said, “What have they seen in your house?” So Hezekiah answered, “They have seen all that is in my house; there is nothing among my treasuries that I have not shown them.”16Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, “Hear the word of the LORD.17‘Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and all that your fathers have laid up in store to this day will be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left,’ says the LORD.) and his princes are robbed and taken. All the palaces of the princes in which they have lived their lazy lives, with everything in them, go up in flames.
God makes everything happen because there is nothing more desirable in the temple for Him. He gives His temple to the Gentiles (Psa 79:11A Psalm of Asaph.
O God, the nations have invaded Your inheritance;
They have defiled Your holy temple;
They have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
; Lam 2:1,71How the Lord has covered the daughter of Zion
With a cloud in His anger!
He has cast from heaven to earth
The glory of Israel,
And has not remembered His footstool
In the day of His anger.
7The Lord has rejected His altar,
He has abandoned His sanctuary;
He has delivered into the hand of the enemy
The walls of her palaces.
They have made a noise in the house of the LORD
As in the day of an appointed feast.
; 4:11How dark the gold has become,
[How] the pure gold has changed!
The sacred stones are poured out
At the corner of every street.
; Jer 51:5151We are ashamed because we have heard reproach;
Disgrace has covered our faces,
For aliens have entered
The holy places of the LORD’S house.
). We see the same when the church reveals her “Laodicea spirit” (Rev 3:14-2214“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:15‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot.16So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.17Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked,18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and [that] the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.20Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.21He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”). There is also nothing in it that pleases Him. Therefore, He will give up Christianity, which culminates in the great Babylon, to judgment (Rev 17:15-1815And he *said to me, “The waters which you saw where the harlot sits, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.16And the ten horns which you saw, and the beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her desolate and naked, and will eat her flesh and will burn her up with fire.17For God has put it in their hearts to execute His purpose by having a common purpose, and by giving their kingdom to the beast, until the words of God will be fulfilled.18The woman whom you saw is the great city, which reigns over the kings of the earth.”; 18:1-2,191After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illumined with his glory.2And he cried out with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.19And they threw dust on their heads and were crying out, weeping and mourning, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, in which all who had ships at sea became rich by her wealth, for in one hour she has been laid waste!’).
All who have not been killed are taken by Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon to serve him and his sons as servants (verse 2020Those who had escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and to his sons until the rule of the kingdom of Persia,). The judgment is total, the humiliation complete. Yet the rejection is not final, but temporary. There is talk of a “until”, i.e. “the rule of the kingdom of Persia”. Persia is the kingdom through which God judges Babylon and to which He then gives world dominion (Dan 5:2828‘PERES’—your kingdom has been divided and given over to the Medes and Persians.”).
What happens as soon as the Persians have world domination and therefore authority over Judah and Israel, we will see in verses 22-2322Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia—in order to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah—the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom, and also [put it] in writing, saying,23“Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and He has appointed me to build Him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all His people, may the LORD his God be with him, and let him go up!’”. First it is said how long the exile will last and that is, after “the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah”, seventy years (verse 2121to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete.; Jer 29:1010“For thus says the LORD, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.; 25:1111This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.; Dan 9:2,24-272in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, observed in the books the number of the years which was [revealed as] the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet for the completion of the desolations of Jerusalem, [namely], seventy years.24“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy [place].25So you are to know and discern [that] from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince [there will be] seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.26Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end [will come] with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.27And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations [will come] one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”). This period of seventy years is counted from the first transportation to Babylon.
The fact that the exile lasts seventy years is not coincidental. The people are driven out of the land for seventy years to let the land enjoy its sabbaths. God has set a perfect time for the land to come to rest after all the idolatry the people have committed there (Lev 26:34-35,43a34‘Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.35All the days of [its] desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.43For the land will be abandoned by them, and will make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them. They, meanwhile, will be making amends for their iniquity, because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes.).
When those years are fulfilled, the LORD fulfills His word and brings the people back to His land and to His city and to His house. We see the fulfillment in the books of Ezra and of Nehemiah. The next two verses, the last two of this Bible book, prepare us for this.