To what nation does Jeremiah 50-51 refer?

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted August 22, 2016

Jeremiah has been called “the prophet to the nations.” In the Book of Jeremiah, he devotes the first forty-five chapters to Israel (Judah & Jerusalem). In chapters forty-six through fifty-one, however, he focuses on Israel’s neighbors – Egypt, Gaza (Phillistia), Jordan (Moab, Ammon, & Edom), Syria (Damascas), Saudi Arabia (Arabia), Iran, (Elam), and Iraq (Babylon) – and prophesies concerning what will befall them in the end times. The United States of America does not seem to be among them – or is it?

The original explorers and settlers of America were European Christians. Christopher Columbus, whose name means “Christ bearer,” sailed westward with the belief that he had been given a divine mission to extend Christendom to a new world. Spanish Franciscan and Dominican friars moved into the southwest and French Jesuits moved into the northeast with the common mission of bringing the gospel of Christ to the natives, often suffering gruesome deaths at the hands of demon possessed savages.[1] Their sacrificial lives and martyr deaths planted the seeds for the spiritual phenomenon to come.  A lust for gold motivated the first settlers of Virginia, but the mission to build a New Jerusalem impelled the Pilgrim Separatists who left Holland aboard the Mayflower – the latter entered into a covenant with God and one another to establish a new society that would honor the biblical God and live according to biblical principles. They were followed by the Puritan Separatists led by John Winthrop, whose vision of this society as “a city on a hill” captured the imagination of countless of his followers in the next four centuries.

The founders of the new nation, most of whom were Christians, but all of whom were serious students of the Bible, took care to craft the foundational documents of the new nation according to biblical principles. The powers of the federal government would be limited to protecting society from outside invasion (using a citizens’ militia) and inside criminality (using an appeals court judicial system), punishing evil-doers, maintaining just commercial standards (particularly money, weights, and measures), regulating interstate commerce, and exercising stewardship over the public infrastructure.

In the 19th Century, America’s citizens set about building local communities from the Atlantic to the Pacific that were most notable for the number of their churches, which were filled with God-fearing and Bible-believing worshipers each Sunday. As a result, God blessed and protected the nation as he promises to do for a nation that honors him and his commandments in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, and it became that “city on a hill” of which John Winthrop spoke: the freest, richest, most powerful nation ever to exist – and the envy of the world.

In the last 100 years, the nation has undergone such a startling transformation that it would be unrecognizable to its pioneers, founders, and early citizens. The federal government has become a leviathan – the epitome of the Beast-out-of-the-Sea in Revelation. Both its bureaucracy[2] and its budget[3] have become bloated beyond belief. Its currency has been debauched.[4] It has inexorably extended its control over the lives of its citizens. Its professional military forces consume more money than the military forces of all other nations combined, maintain posts in 146 other countries, and engage in aggressive violent actions that extend its hegemony over peoples who do not welcome the presence of either its soldiers and its merchants on their soil or the cultural pollution that inexorably follows from that presence. Worst of all, it has purged the honoring of the biblical God from its public spaces and institutions and extended legal protection to behavior that is abhorrent to God: the worship of false gods and idols; blasphemy; the neglect of parents; abortion and euthanasia; fornication, adultery, and homosexuality and the destruction of the family that follows there from; gambling and theft; and covetousness. State and municipal governments are no better, having merely followed in the federal governments wake and emulated all its sins.

Not surprisingly, God has begun withdrawing his blessings and protection from the country,[5] For example, on January 28, 1986, hundreds of millions of people watched America’s space shuttle Challenger blow up with seven persons aboard, including a teacher. Yet few understood the lesson. At the time, the space shuttle was the pinnacle of American managerial, industrial, and technological achievement and represented America’s attempt, in President Reagan’s words, “to reach for the stars.” A similar attempt was made over four thousand years ago in Babylon when they said, “Let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven” (Genesis 11:4). But “…the heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men” (Psalm 115:16). He “…hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and hath determined the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). And “…though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down” (Amos 9:2).

In Jeremiah 50-51, “the prophet to the nations” wrote about the fate that awaits Babylon the Great. I wonder about the identity of the nation which Jeremiah is addressing. Many of the nation’s characteristics do not fit the Babylon of the 1st millennium BC, but they do fit the United States of the 21st century AD.

Ancient Babylon did not have a mother that was “sore confounded” (Jeremiah 50:12), whereas the US’s mother, England, has been “sore confounded” ever since the end of World War II.

Ancient Babylon was not “the hindermost of the nations” (Jeremiah 50:12) – it was the first – whereas the US is the hindermost (last or most recent) of the great nations.

Ancient Babylon was not “the hammer of the whole earth” (Jeremiah 50:23), whereas at the start of the 21st century the US is – to quote Madeleine Albright and many others after her, including President Obama – “the indispensable nation.”

Ancient Babylon was not inhabited by “mingled peoples” (Jeremiah 50:37), whereas the US is a mixture of immigrants from every other nation in the world.

Although Ancient Babylon enjoyed a measure of wealth and power, she was not “a golden cup in the Lord’s hand” (Jeremiah 51:7), whereas the US is far and away the richest and most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

Ancient Babylon did not make “all the earth drunken…[and]…mad” (Jeremiah 51:7), whereas the US has exported its commercialism and debased culture to every nation on the globe.

Ancient Babylon did not ‘dwell on many waters’ (Jeremiah 51:13) – only a small portion of it touched the Persian Gulf – whereas the US sits amidst the Great Lakes to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.

In my opinion, Jeremiah was addressing the USA of the 21st Century. If he was, the USA will be destroyed suddenly and utterly.[6]

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.


[1] The myth of the noble savage is just that – a myth.

[2] By 2006, national, state, and municipal governments employed over 40% of workers in the country, most of whom earned more and possessed better pensions than their counterparts in the private sector.

[3] Over $2.5 trillion a year and growing.

[4] The dollar is worth 1% of what it was worth in 1913  when congress delivered it into the hands of the Federal Reserve, a private corporation owned and operated for the benefit of the country’s largest banks.

[5] Compare the curses in Deuteronomy 28:15-68 with what is happening in the U.S. today.

[6] Jeremiah 51:8.

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