25 Feb The Big Book–Cover to Cover: Jeremiah
Michael teaches an overview of the book of Jeremiah.
The book of Jeremiah is the second-longest in the Bible. We know more about Jeremiah’s life, experiences, and the pain he endured than we know of any other prophet – and we’re prompted to ask ourselves:
Am I ‘called’ the way Jeremiah was called?
Join us as we rediscover how relevant this text is to our present day.
Jeremiah: The Prophet of Judgement.
For 40+ years, Jeremiah ministers to Judah and to Gentile nations, announcing God’s judgement due to their apostasy, idolatry, false worship, and overall decay as God’s people.
Unfortunately, the recipients of his message chose to “beat the messenger” rather than heed the message.
The meaning of Jeremiah’s name is uncertain, but may be YHWH Establishes. Literally in Hebrew it means YHWH throws – as in throws down or throws over. We don’t know for sure what the meaning is, it seems to be a bit lost in translation.
Jeremiah’s father was Hilkiah, a Levite and priest who lived close to Jerusalem.
Jeremiah’s ministry spanned 41-45 years during the last decades of Judah’s history.
Jeremiah 1:2 – the name Josiah gives us a timestamp. Josiah was Judah’s last good king who had instituted many good reforms to tear down the multiplication of foreign gods and idolatrous practices.
2 Kings 23:25
The nation was entrapped in the idolatry of king Manasseh. Meanwhile, forces in the ancient world were shifting power. Assyria lost its battle to regain land while the Egyptians and Babylonians become super-powers; Babylon emerging as the force to be reckoned with.
Some refer to Jeremiah as the weeping prophet. Wilkinson and Boa refer to him as, “a heartbroken prophet bearing a heartbreaking message.”
Jeremiah endures enormous personal suffering – more than we know of other prophets.
Jeremiah 1:19, Jeremiah 15:18, Jeremiah 20:1-2, Jeremiah 20:7-8
We know more about Jeremiah’s life, experiences, and the pain he endured than we know of any other prophet; and we see his courage and compassion toward God’s people.
The book of Jeremiah is not strictly arranged chronologically. There are a number of distinct sessions which lead some to call it a collection of anthologies, including sermons or prophetic messages, prose, poetry (the book is almost 50/50 poetry and prose), and narrative.
There are some 13 messages arranged into 5 books.
Jeremiah is the 2nd longest book in the Bible.
When reading any book of the Bible, one of the most important and easiest tools to use is watching for key terms, phrases, and repetition.
Repetition and restatement are universal in learning and retention.
Repetitions of note in Jeremiah:
- The Word of the Lord occurs 52 times in Jeremiah
- Speak occurs 39 times, most often God commanding Jeremiah to communicate the prophetic word He gives.
- Listen occurs 49 times: they would not listen, refused to listen v. listen and give heed. The contrast shows that God’s people had a choice to heed God’s Word, and they chose sin and rebellion instead.
God’s Word is our ultimate foundation.
It is authoritative, true, and good. The Word of God transcends culture, experience, and opinion.
Don’t let the world teach you theology.
It follows that if you are listening to the Word of the Lord, you are implicitly obeying God’s Word. It’s not just a head-nod: “yeah, I agree with that, but I don’t live that way-” that’s not listening.
The Bible is God’s Word revealed to you and me.
“He gave us His Word and He did not stutter.” – Howard Hendricks
Morning by morning new verses I read. That’s the joy of staying in Scripture – no matter how many times you’ve read it, you’ll read something new.
Jeremiah’s Call (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
Two important terms:
- Consecrated: set apart
- Appointed: set in place
God chose Jeremiah before he was formed in the womb. Many struggle with the Bible’s teaching regarding election and predestination – but God has been choosing people before the foundation of the world.
David knew it (Psalm 139:13-16)
Paul knew it (Ephesians 1:4-5)
God clearly tells Jeremiah that He chose him for this task – consecrated and appointed.
Like other prophets, Jeremiah doubts and resists the call. Jeremiah 1:6 sounds a bit like Moses, but God’s word stands. God has chosen, appointed, and equipped Jeremiah to speak His word.
God’s Word is our ultimate foundation.
Jeremiah was to deliver it, and God would deliver Jeremiah.
If God knew Jeremiah before he was formed, does it follow that He knew/knows you?
We look at people from the Scriptures as somehow super-human. David, Jeremiah, Paul…but I think we make this more difficult than it needs to be.
Are you as commissioned and designed as Jeremiah? Or the apostle Paul?
Certainly, the doctrines of predestination and election are heady subjects. What the doctrine states is that all men and women are headed to hell. None of us deserve heaven. Grace is undeserved favor in the place of deserved wrath.
But you and I, if we indeed submit to the word, come to grasp there are some eternal truths that our fallen finite minds can’t grasp.
When we begin a sentence with “I could never believe in a God who–” we’ve just shown our pride and made God in our image.
I struggled with this for years and one day realized, “Michael, you’re not smart enough to figure this out.”
So I started looking at what Scripture says, and what it doesn’t say, which is always a safe harbor.
I’m going to lean on the text, even when it’s difficult.
Once we get past the pride of thinking we know better, we grow up into asking a more pertinent question: am I clear about my calling?
Am I called – like Jeremiah, or David, or Paul?
I don’t mean some mystical “call to ministry” or “call to medicine” or “call to _____”. Again, I may be wrong but I think we make this far too difficult, too “religious”, too over spiritualized.
If you are gifted, talented, and have certain abilities – if you love to use those gifts, talents, and abilities – are you using them to the glory of God?
Your calling is to evaluate: Am I using my gifts, talents, and abilities for the Kingdom of God?
Jeremiah’s message: God’s judgement is sure.
The broad theme of the prophet Jeremiah’s message is that God has called His people to repent, but they wont. God’s judgement is sure. He will use Babylon, Israel’s enemy, to judge their apostasy, idolatry, immorality, perverse worship, and rejection of God.
“An avalanche of judgment is coming, and Jeremiah is called to proclaim that message faithfully for forty years. In response to his sermons, the tender prophet of God experiences intense sorrows at the hands of his countrymen: opposition, beatings, isolation, imprisonment. But though rejected and persecuted, Jeremiah lives to see many of his prophecies come true. The Babylonian army arrives; vengeance falls; and God’s holiness and justice are vindicated, though it breaks the prophet’s heart” (1)
I can only wonder, does this message apply to present day believers?
- Do we run to obey as quickly as we run to sin?
- Are we going backward or forward?
God’s judgement was sure and complete – and yet, mercy prevailed.
Without question, the redemption chapter (31) provides the remedy man cannot accomplish. Man has broken the covenants, embraced sin, and shunned God. So God will enact a New Covenant.
Bruce Wilkinson and Kenneth Boa, Talk Thru the Bible(Nashville: T. Nelson, 1983), 197.