“Look around at the godless nations. Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. Something’s about to take place and you’re going to find it hard to believe. I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you, Babylonians, fierce and ferocious— World-conquering Babylon, grabbing up nations right and left, A dreadful and terrible people, making up its own rules as it goes. (THE MESSAGE)
God will sometimes use ungodly means to achieve a godly end. We have one example here. The prophet asks God what he is going to do about the ungodliness of his chosen people. He gets a surprise answer. God is going to use corrupt pagans to purge the corrupt believers. God will use his enemies to cleanse those who claim to be his friends.
The Babylonians are not the good guys, yet will be God’s instruments. But we must not assume God approves of these people. We must never be supportive of those who are cruel and corrupt even as we acknowledge their cruelty and corruption may be used by God as a means of judgement. Acknowledging that God may use human wickedness does not mean we approve of such wickedness.
And we are reminded that while it may seem our world is at the mercy of various tinpot dictators or power hungry tyrants or insipid politicians, it is not so. At times our world is like a school playground where bullying and intimidation seem to run free. But the head of the school is watching, and waiting to act. Justice will eventually be done despite appearances to the contrary.
Empires rise and fall, leaders come and go. Evil seems to win much of the time. God even uses such evil for good purposes. But there will come a day when God says “enough”, and his glory does fill the whole earth. And all our playground squabbles won’t even be a memory as his shalom floods us with benevolent peace and grace.