Read Jeremiah 51
Focus on verse 7
I can honestly, and thankfully declare that I have never been staggering drunk. Probably the closest I have ever come to that might be when I was in the hospital with what turned out to be an ulcer and the doc gave me an intravenous dose of Demerol for the ambulance ride from a rural hospital to the hospital in the city. I remember very little of that trip, other than that I don’t care much for the feeling of being inebriated to that extent though I was very thankful for the relief from the pain that it provided.
The drinking to get drunk culture that some folk get caught up in is not one that I understand. In the limited exposure that I have had to it, I have never really understood what the draw is. The prospective negative consequences just seem to vastly outnumber any conceivable benefits, yet thousands of people deliberately plan to spend entire weekends in such a state.
In today’s reading we find a description of the judgment that is pronounced on the nation of Babylon. God describes Babylon as “a golden cup in the Lord’s hand, making all the earth drunk”. (v. 7) It goes on to describe how the nations that drank from this golden cup went mad resulting in their own destruction.
In eschatological writings such as the Apostle John’s book of Revelation, Babylon is described as the center of all that opposes God. It is the place where the Antichrist will apparently set up his throne during years of the great tribulation. Babylon will then be known for its unbelievable wealth and luxury as well as unabashed and lurid debauchery, but it will all come to an end just as Jeremiah describes it here. “Thus says the Lord of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.” (v. 58)
In some ways this could be a fitting description of people who live only to party and be drunk. They labor for nothing and weary themselves for what? To find another drink…to get drunk one more time? People who get caught up in this are not evil, though I am convinced they have been deceived, they have become lost in a maze of darkness, which is less frightening when they can somehow medicate their pain and fear with a drug of some kind. They are however, not without hope. I have seen the light of Christ penetrate this dark maze and rescue those who thought they had no hope. It is the Jeremiah’s of the world – the people willing to carry the light of Christ into that darkness – that make it possible for some to be rescued. This can at times seem like a losing proposition, just as it seemed for Jeremiah. The people he spoke God’s truth to most often did not appreciate it. Most often the response involved ridicule and abuse, yet it is important to persist for the sake of the few that may otherwise never have the opportunity to hear the truth. It is tempting for us to dehumanize people who fall into this lifestyle and abandon them to the choices they appear to have made, but God is a God of second chances. In every staggering drunk God sees a person that He loves as much as he loves those who choose to follow Him.