These chapters bring us to the end of Jeremiah’s story, and confirm what we already know: It’s not going to go well with Babylon. Even though the Lord used them to meet out judgment on Judah, Babylon will pay for their own sins. Chapter 51 describes the destruction in detail, and Babylon will be no more. The picture above indicates that the Lord wasn’t kidding. This is all that remains of the great Babylon. But when Jeremiah was alive Babylon was still a great empire.
The words of this chapter were written on a scroll and given to a man who was hauled off to Babylon with King Zedekiah. Jeremiah instructed the man that when he got to Babylon he was to read all these words aloud to the people exiled there. Then he is to finish with this:
62 Then say, ‘Lord, you have said you will destroy this place, so that neither people nor animals will live in it; it will be desolate forever.’
I’m sure he people found this hard to believe. By that time the Babylonian empire had been around for over a thousand years, and probably much longer. Sure, Lord, they must have thought, Babylon is just going to disappear. Yes it is. But that would take a least 70 years.
Chapter 52 describes the fall of Jerusalem in detail, and why it happened:
3 It was because of the Lord’s anger that all this happened to Jerusalem and Judah, and in the end he thrust them from his presence.
It tells again of the sad story of young king Zedekiah (he would have only been 32), how we was blinded and hauled away to rot in a Babylonian prison until his death. The perfect ending for the futility of the kings of Israel to rule in the name of the Lord. One day a king will come that will rule successfully, just not one they expect.
We also see in this chapter one of the possible reasons the Lord wanted to wipe out Babylon forever:
17 The Babylonians broke up the bronze pillars, the movable stands and the bronze Sea that were at the temple of the Lord and they carried all the bronze to Babylon.
And the following verses describe how they took everything, which would include the holy of holies. Obviously the Lord didn’t look kindly on the desecration of his dwelling place with his people.
We also are told of the number of people who were taken into captivity, a surprisingly small number, only 4,600. But these were the people left from those taken to Babylon earlier. Out of this small remnant will come Israel’s true king one day, and God’s people will be like the Lord promised, the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky.
The book ends with a hint that God will indeed bless his people again some day. The king of Judah, Jehoiachin, was released from prison after 37 years by a new Babylonian king, given a place of honor and dined daily at the king’s table. (I was confused about who this king was related to Zedekiah. This article clears it up. Jehoiachin was taken as a young king—either 8 or 18, with the initial captives, the higher elements of society, to Babylon. The poor and lower classes were left behind, and Zedekiah became their king. When he’s finally taken, it’s over.) Even in what appears a hopeless situation for his people, the Lord is giving them hope.