Lift up a banner in the land! Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations for battle against her; summon against her these kingdoms: Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz. Appoint a commander against her; send up horses like a swarm of locusts. Prepare the nations for battle against her— the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their officials, and all the countries they rule. The land trembles and writhes, for the Lord ’s purposes against Babylon stand— to lay waste the land of Babylon so that no one will live there. Babylon’s warriors have stopped fighting; they remain in their strongholds. Their strength is exhausted; they have become weaklings. Her dwellings are set on fire; the bars of her gates are broken. One courier follows another and messenger follows messenger to announce to the king of Babylon that his entire city is captured, the river crossings seized, the marshes set on fire, and the soldiers terrified.” – Jeremiah 51:27-32
This passage describes the end of the the siege that God has directed at Babylon. Many armies will come and “lay waste to the land of Babylon so that no one will live there”. It sounds like a pretty bleak and dark time for the Babylonians. They are exhausted and beaten. A parade of messengers inform the king of Babylon that the city is lost, “the river crossings seized, the marshes set on fire, and the soldiers terrified.”
The water reference here is to the “river crossings” that are seized. In this part of the world if you seize the river crossings you win the war. The river crossings represented a victory over nature and God is saying that these will fall. This is consistent with the tone of yesterday’s passage about God being the creator of everything and ruler of all creation. He controls all the river crossings, both spiritual and physical.
God has used the idea of crossing a river several times before to represent a new covenant with the people of Israel as they crossed over the Jordan into the promised land. Crossing over has also been used metaphorically to allude to crossing from this life into death as was the case when Moses crossed over before crossing over the Jordan River. In a sense God is reminding the people of Babylon, and us, that He ultimately controls whether, and how, we “cross over” from this physical life to undiscovered country to come. Even when we think we have constructed earthly “bridges” that will last forever they are subject to seizure.
In the not to distant future God will “cross over” for all of us to form a final bridge which can never be seized. The bridge that God creates when He is pierced for our transgressions is unlike any human bridge over earthly rivers. This bridge has no gatekeepers to prevent our crossing. The only thing that can prevent our crossing is our own unwillingness to faithfully follow God across the bridge. We can choose to remain on the far side of the river – apart from God.
Prayer: God thank You for providing a bridge that can never be seized and path that we can follow.