Jeremiah 51:20 NIV "You are my war club, my weapon for battle- with you I shatter nations, with you I destroy kingdoms, 21 with you I shatter horse and rider, with you I shatter chariot and driver, 22 with you I shatter man and woman, with you I shatter old man and youth, with you I shatter young man and young woman, 23 with you I shatter shepherd and flock, with you I shatter farmer and oxen, with you I shatter governors and officials.
Jeremiah 51:20 - 23
ESV - 20 You are my hammer and weapon of war: with you I break nations in pieces; with you I destroy kingdoms. 21 With you I break in pieces the horse and his rider; with you I break in pieces the chariot and the charioteer.
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Although the verses cited in the question are separated from their antecedent by several verses, I would say that the reference in Jeremiah 51:20 to God's "war club" pertains to the Medes noted in Jeremiah 51:11, whom God was going to use to overthrow the Babylonian Empire as God's punishment for the manner in which Babylon had exiled Judah from Palestine. This was fulfilled when Cyrus the Great of the Medo-Persian Empire conquered Babylon in 539 BC.
In 605 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar finished his 2 year siege of Carchemish, and most of the Assyrian Empire became the Babylonian Empire. In 586 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar conquered all of Judah and Jerusalem and the Jewish temple. At its most powerful, Babylon ruled the fertile crescent and Arabia. 2Chronicles 36:15-21. 2 Kings 25:1,2 - "Now it came to pass...that Nebucchadnezzar and all his army came against Jerusalem..the city was besieged..." Jeremiah 52:4, "...it came to pass...Nebuchadnezzar...came against Jerusalem..." Babylon had been God's battle-ax for judgement. And Babylon would also receive God's battle-ax of judgement for the evil inflicted on Jerusalem. Isaiah 10:5 - "Woe to Assyria, the 'the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. (6) I will send him against the people of My wrath..'" Jeremiah was the prophet they refused to heed. God used the enemy to turn His people around. His writing ministry began in the forth year of Jehoiakim's reign in 605 B.C.. Jeremiah 35:1,2. The book of Jeremiah was completed sometime after Jerusalem's fall, around 586 B.C.
Previously Assyria had been God’s “rod” (Isa. 10:5-19) but now Cyrus the Mede and later Alexander the Great from Greece would be God’s chosen instrument/commander, His “hammer” (ESV), to break Babylon’s power. The word “break” is used 9 times in Jeremiah 51:20-24. Cyrus and the Medes and Alexander would pay Babylon back with the same treatment Nebuchadnezzar had meted out to others. There is a law of compensation in God’s working in history, and He will enforce it.
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