Read verses 51:59-64
Q: Why is Zedekiah going to Babylon?
A: There is no reference in Scripture to this occurring “in the fourth year of his reign”, which is still about six years before Babylon will capture Jerusalem. Extra-biblical Jewish sources maintain that this did, indeed, happen when Zedekiah made an effort to make peace with Nebuchadnezzar and took Seraiah as a member of his delegation.
Q: Why might the timing of this be significant?
A: First because God declares the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10), and second because it clearly shows Babylon’s spiritual condition and the intentions of her heart in advance of what she is going to do. However, like Jonah to Nineveh before her, Babylon still might have responded to God’s Word.
Q: But how do we know biblically that Babylon is so far gone that it cannot and will not repent and return to God?
A: In Jeremiah 51:9 it specifically states, “We applied healing to Babylon, but she was not healed”. This is why Scripture repeatedly employs a double use of “fallen” to dramatically emphasize that she is completely and hopelessly beyond redemption. Babylon cannot be healed.
“Now behold, here comes a troop of riders, horsemen in pairs.”
And one said, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon;
And all the images of her gods are shattered on the ground.”
— Isaiah 21:9
And another angel, a second one, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who has made all the nations drink of the wine of the passion of her immorality.”
— Revelation 14:8
Q: If Babylon cannot be healed, what are God’s people supposed to do where Babylon is concerned?
I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;
— Revelation 18:4
Depart, depart, go out from there,
Touch nothing unclean;
Go out of the midst of her, purify yourselves,
You who carry the vessels of the Lord.
— Isaiah 52:11
“Come forth from her midst, My people,
And each of you save yourselves
From the fierce anger of the Lord.
— Jeremiah 51:45
Q: Why do you suppose that Baruch was not directed to read this Word of God in the presence of the Babylonian kings or in some special political setting?
A: Remember, Babylon cannot be healed and will not respond to God’s Word. But the captives present, who were presently in Babylon as the result of God’s judgment, would be receptive to hearing God’s judgment upon Babylon and, perhaps, do what Babylon never did: learn the right lesson from judgment and repent.
Q: What might the action of tying the scroll to a stone and throwing it into the river represent?
A: Something thrown into a great body of water in the Bible often represents something being completely swallowed up by the nations, someone completely losing their identity and never being able to be recovered. (Hence the meaning of Elisha and the axe head in 2 Kings 6:1-7.) Being irretrievably lost at the bottom of such a great river is an allusion to being irretrievably lost spiritually and having to suffer the complete wrath of God’s judgment.
Q: Why might Baruch’s action sound familiar to us?
A: It’s exactly what happens to the final Babylon in Revelation.
Then a strong angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying, “So will Babylon, the great city, be thrown down with violence, and will not be found any longer.
— Revelation 18:21