6. Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the Lord's Vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.
6. Fugite e medio Babylonis, et servate quisque animam suam, (vel, eripite,) ne excidamini (vel, pereatis) in iniquitate ejus; quia tempus hoc ultionis Jehova, mercedem ipse rependet ei.
He goes on with the same subject, but illustrates it by various figures; for otherwise he would not have penetrated into the hearts of the godly. Were any at this day to predict the destruction of Rome, it could hardly be believed; and yet we know that it has in our life been stormed, and now it hangs as it were by a thread, though hitherto it has been supported and fortified by the greatest forces. But the dignity of the city so confounded the minds of men, that it was hardly credible that it could have been so soon subverted. How, then, was it possible for such a thing to have happened at that time? for Babylon was the mistress of the East. The Assyrians had previously possessed the empire; but they had been subdued, and had, as it were, been brought under the yoke. As, then, Babylon now flourished in power so great and invincible, Jeremiah seemed to be labeling when he spoke of its approaching destruction. It was hence necessary that what he said should be confirmed, as it is now done. And so he now turns to foreigners and guests, and exhorts them to flee lest they should perish in the accursed city.
Flee, he says, from the midst of Babylon. But there was then no safer place in the land; for had all the regions of the world been shaken, yet Babylon would have been deemed beyond any danger. But he says that all guests were to flee from the midst of it, if they wished to save their lives. Then he adds, lest ye perish in her iniquity. He assigns a reason why those who then dwelt in Babylon could not be safe except they fled, even because God was about to punish the city for its iniquities. He then sets the iniquity of Babylon in opposition to the multitude of its men, as well as to its wealth and defenses, and other means of strength. Babylon was populous; it might also be aided by many auxiliaries; and there were ready at hand those who might hire their services. As, then, there was nothing wanting to that city, the Prophet here shows that wealth and abundance of people, and all other helps would be of no moment, because it was God's will to punish her iniquity. This is the reason why Jeremiah now says, lest ye perish in her iniquity; that is, "do not mingle with those ungodly men whom God has given up to destruction."
And for the same purpose he adds, For it is the time of the vengeance of Jehovah. Here, again, he obviates an objection; for as God had suspended his judgment, no one thought it possible that a fire could so soon, and, as it were, in a moment be kindled to destroy Babylon. Then the Prophet says, that it was the time; by which he intimates, that though God does not immediately execute his judgments, yet he does not he down as it were idly, so as to forget what he has to do, but that he has his own times. And this doctrine deserves to be noticed, because through our intemperate zeal we make much ado, except God brings us help as soon as we are injured; but if he delays even a short time, we complain and think that he has forgotten our welfare. And even saints, in depositing familiarly their cares and anxieties in his bosom, speak thus,
"Arise, O Lord, why sleepest thou" (Psalm 44:23)
As, then, we are by nature inclined to impatience, we ought to observe what Scripture so often inculcates, even this -- that God has his certain and fixed times for punishing the wicked. Hence Jeremiah now teaches us, that the time of God's vengeance was come.
He then adds, A reward will he render to her; as though he had said, that though Babylon would not have to suffer punishment immediately, yet she would not escape from God's hand, for the reward which God would render her was already prepared. And this doctrine arises from a general principle, that God will ever render to every one his just reward. We now, then, perceive the design of the Prophet.
We have said that the words were addressed to the strangers and the guests who were in Chaldea, or in the city Babylon. They then pervert this passage, who think that the faithful are here exhorted immediately to depart from Babylon, That is, to withdraw themselves from superstitions and the defilements of the world; for the Prophet means no such thing. A passage might, however, be made from one truth to another. It now follows, --