10-11 You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out. What delusion! Smugly telling yourself, ‘I’m Number One. There’s nobody but me.’ Ruin descends—you can’t charm it away. Disaster strikes—you can’t cast it off with spells. Catastrophe, sudden and total—and you’re totally at sea, totally bewildered!
God condemns any confidence Babylon placed in human wisdom; it is useless. Ultimate disaster has been concealed from the Baby-lonians by their smug attitudes of superiority. But it cannot be held back by incantations; it is certain to come, and quickly.
*When dealing with God—or when seeking to serve God through service to each other—the only appropriate approach is one of humility. This was taught by the Prophets (Micah 6:8) and reiterated by Jesus (Luke 9:23).
12-13 But don’t give up. From your great repertoire of enchantments there must be one you haven’t yet tried. You’ve been at this a long time. Surely something will work. I know you’re exhausted trying out remedies, but don’t give up. Call in the astrologers and stargazers. They’re good at this. Surely they can work up something!
God’s tone turns to mockery. No methods will prove helpful in determining the details of what will happen. The Babylonians had for a long time depended on astrology and astronomy to predict the happenings on their world. But God now emphasizes that any effort to predict the future by those means will achieve nothing.
According to Jeremiah 43:11, Babylon was to mete out a threefold judgment on Judah and Jerusalem: Pestilence, sword and famine. But here, Babylon is told that they will experience evil, ruin and disaster, for which her magic will yield no protection.
* Probably one of the worst features of our late western culture is a naivetè about monotheism. We presume that everyone knows that there is one God. Yet, we engage in a kind of polytheism on several levels: consumerism, egotism, political tribalism, and feelings of moral superiority, to name a few. The Babylonians made no effort to conceal their polytheistic beliefs—and perhaps their transparency has benefits over our continued duplicity, where we claim to follow the Lord, yet invest ourselves in things and philosophies that are antithetical to Christ’s ethic of limitless love, sacrificial service and unfettered forgiveness.
14-15 “Fat chance. You’d be grasping at straws that are already in the fire, a fire that is even now raging. Your ‘experts’ are in it and won’t get out. It’s not a fire for cooking venison stew, not a fire to warm you on a winter night! That’s the fate of your friends in sorcery, your magician cronies you’ve been colluding with all your life. They reel, confused, bumping into one another. None of them bother to help you.”
The coming of the great judgment is likened to a consuming fire. Fire, which was often the source of goodness—cooking, warmth, etc.— is not their friend in this instance. It is an enemy.
The history of Babylon’s long flirtation with astrology is bluntly dismissed; it will all come to nothing! There will be no redemption at all. The judgment will be swift, sure and without exception.