Jeremiah 51, Psalm 35
Before the book of Jeremiah ends with Babylon defeating Jerusalem, God promises Babylon’s destruction. This will take place less than 100 years after Babylon is victorious over Jerusalem. Why will God punish Babylon, the destroyer who has been used by God to render justice to Judah? We are told God will do this for “vengeance for his temple” (Jeremiah 51:11). Though Babylon has been God’s instrument, we find that they have been evil in how they destroyed God’s people and city. This makes plain one of the paradoxes in scripture. God is control of nations, individuals, and everything taking place in the universe. We often describe this as God’s sovereignty. At the same time, we are genuinely responsible for the choices we make and the actions we take, because they are actually ours. How can we reconcile that God controls everything and that we are both responsible for what we do? Simply, we recognize that the way God controls events, space, and time as one who sees all moments as now and has infinite knowledge and power is very different than how we as finite, time-bound, dying, and weak creatures control anything. In short, it is mysterious to us because we cannot conceive how to explain such grand mysteries. We then can trust that “the secret things belong to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 29:29) and believe the plain meaning of Holy scripture.