Jeremiah 25:15-38 The Grapes Of Wrath.
“Jeremiah predicts seventy years of Babylonian activity for Judah as judgment for persistent sin, and warns the neighboring nations as well of judgment at the hands of Babylon (ch. 25). His message meets opposition from false prophets, priests, and the people (chs. 26-29).” (NGSB. 1192-3) Again, Jeremiah did not dream this word out of his own imagination, he spoke that which he had received (vv. 1-2). He also repeats the point regarding the beginning of his call to the ministry, being “from the thirteenth year of Josiah” (v. 3). Jeremiah spoke into a specific historical context, controlled as all history is, by the sovereign will of God. Again, he also points to his present, twenty three years after that initial reception of the word of the LORD God, but alas the people did not listen, just as they had rejected the LORD’s previous servant prophets (v. 4). Therefore the message remained the same – they needed to repent (v. 5), and turn from their idolatry or spiritual adultery (v. 6). This is why the LORD was angry with them (v. 7). Consequently, the curses for breaking the covenantal bond would follow (vv. 8ff.).
Now we read what it is that the LORD had said to Jeremiah specifically, namely that he was being called to symbolically take the “wine cup” of the LORD’s fury, from his hand, and cause all nations, to whom the LORD was sending him, “to drink it” (v. 15). Then he says “I took the cup from the LORD’s hand, and made all the nations drink, to whom the LORD sent me” (v. 16). Again, this was not an imaginary dream, Jeremiah had stood in the council presence of the LORD God and received from him the symbolic wine cup of his fury. Furthermore, he did not pour it out, so to speak, as he saw fit, but rather he went a spoke what he had received to the nations to whom the LORD had sent him. Jeremiah may have been a lone voice among many false prophets, but he did not fly solo. He spoke as an ambassador of his King, to those whom his King had sent him (v. 17). It should also not go unnoticed that the first people he was to go to with this message was “Jerusalem and the cities of Judah,” specifically to the covenantal heads in “its kings and its princes, to make them a desolation, an astonishment, a hissing, and a curse” (v. 18 Cf. 25:9-11).
This wine and cup of the LORD’s fury, wrath, or indignation will reappear in the last book of the bible, book of “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1a; 14:10), in the context of the “the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth” (14:6), before the reaping of the harvest and the grapes of wrath (vv. 14ff.). ‘Curse’ is the key word here, hearkening to the reality of the covenantal bond (Cf. 24:9). The road then naturally leads to Egypt, the infamous oppressor of the people of God, also hearkening back to the exodus event in their salvation history (v. 19). We then are called back to remembering the victories, especially under David, over the Philistines (v. 20), “Edom, Moab, and the people of Ammon; all the kings of the land,” that is the promised land (v. 21), Tyre, Sidon, and Arabia, on through to the Medes (vv. 22-25), and “all the kings of the north, far and near, one with another; and all the kingdoms of the world which are on the face of the earth. Also the king of Sheshach shall drink after them” (v. 26). Sheshach was a code word for Babylon, the king and nation who would take the nation into captivity.*
In other words, Jeremiah brings things all the way from the bondage of Egypt through deliverances and victories won to the approaching exile to Babylon, and even as Egypt was later judged for how they had treated his people, even so judgment would also come one day upon Babylon. God has always sovereignly used men and nations to punish others, including his own covenanted people, and at the time these nations reveled in their position. However, this in no way absolves them of guilt and judgment themselves. Just like some “party” to drunkenness and then vomit, what these nations love will be their regret. “Fall and rise no more, because of the sword which I will send among you” (v. 27). The nations, leaders and people, may refuse to accept the word of the LORD God, but drink the cup they shall (v. 28). Again, this calamity will begin with “the city which is called by” his name, that is Jerusalem. None will go unpunished, for he will call for a sword on all the inhabitants of the earth, “says the LORD of hosts” (v. 29). The LORD on high shouts from “His holy habitation,” roaring “mightily against His fold” (v. 30a).
The shout is to the treaders of the grapes of wrath, “against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will come to the ends of the earth-For the LORD has a controversy with the nations; He will plead His case with all flesh. He will give those who are wicked to the sword,’ says the LORD” (vv. 30b-31). All the wicked in the earth will be as refuse on the ground (vv. 32-33). The shepherds, the so-called leaders of the flock, were the false prophets, politicians and priests, not unlike the false ministers of our so-called mainline churches, and their friends the statists politicians, who preach a message of peace when there is no peace (v. 34, 37). They may try to flee from the wrath of God but they will fail (v. 35). “The LORD has plundered their pasture” (v. 36). The LORD God is as an angry lion set upon hunting and tearing apart his prey, and so he shall. Jeremiah was not his sword of vengeance, and neither are the true ministers of the word today. God will take care of his own vengeance. As ministers of the word we fulfill our calling when we preach the holy, inerrant, infallible word of true truth.
*“This word is an allusion to Babylon based on the word ‘Babel,’ using a familiar code that substitutes for each consonant the corresponding one from the alphabet written in reverse. In English, ABC would become ZYX.” (NGSB. 1194)