Tri-County church of Christ, Watertown, NY, North Country

April 15, 2003, Vol.3, No.8.
Two new articles every two weeks. Bible Question? E-mail us.
THIS ISSUE: "Introduction to Jeremiah" (see below)
and "
If 'Faith Alone' Saves, will Satan be Saved?"

Overview of the Bible:
Introduction to Jeremiah

by Keith Sharp

Jeremiah Introduction, Outline, Overview, SummaryAuthor

The book of Jeremiah was written by the prophet whose name the book bears (1:1). He was a priest from the village of Anathoth in Benjamin just a few miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jeremiah's prophecies were written down by Baruch, his scribe (36:4,27-28,32). Perhaps chapter fifty-two was written by Baruch after Jeremiah's death, but at Jeremiah's previous direction.

Life of Jeremiah

More is known of the life of Jeremiah than of any other literary prophet. He began prophesying in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah (1:2; 25:3), i.e., 627 B.C., when Jeremiah was but a youth (1:6). Jeremiah was a reluctant prophet, but felt compelled to speak God's word (20:9). He prophesied until after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (39:1-10; 43:7-8; 44:1), and his ministry lasted a total of about fifty years.

Josiah's great religious reformation came in the early part of Jeremiah's work (cf. 2 Kings chapters 22-23), but the reforms did not reach the hearts of the people, for they were still rebellious (25:1-7).

The Jews opposed Jeremiah and his work from the very outset. First, the citizens of his native Anathoth tried to stop his work and even attempted to kill him (11:18-23). Even his kinsmen opposed him (12:6). Jeremiah later moved to Jerusalem, but he endured inveterate opposition there also.

When King Josiah died, Jeremiah lamented his death (2 Chron. 35:25).

Jeremiah prophesied against Josiah's wicked successors: Jehoahaz (also called "Shallum") (22:11-17), Jehoiakim (22:18-19), and Jeconiah (i.e., Coniah or Jehoiachin) (22:24-

In the very year Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, Jeremiah announced both his coming and the seventy year captivity of the Jews (25:1-14).

Under the rule of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah preached a great sermon in the temple in Jerusalem (chapters 7-9). After this the princes, prophets, and priests of Judah called for his death (26:8-11). However, Jeremiah was delivered at that time (26:24).

At the Lord's direction, Jeremiah dictated his prophecies to Baruch, who wrote them on a scroll (36:1-8). However, when King Jehoiakim read the scroll, he was so angry he cut it with a scribe's knife and threw it into the fire (36:20-25). The king commanded that Jeremiah and Baruch be seized, but the Lord hid them (36:26). Jeremiah dictated the prophecies to Baruch again and added others (36:27-32).

Jeremiah urged King Zedekiah to be faithful to Nebuchadnezzar, but Zedekiah refused (27:12-22). The Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, and great suffering resulted.

Later, Jeremiah was accused of trying to defect to the enemy and was placed in prison (37:11-15). Subsequently the king transferred him from the dungeon to the court of the prison and gave him a daily ration of bread (37:17-21).

When Jeremiah again prophesied against Jerusalem, the king turned him over to the princes, who threw him into a dungeon, the bottom of which was filled with mud, into which Jeremiah sank (38:1-6). Jeremiah would have died there, had he not been rescued by Ebed-Melech, an Ethiopian eunuch of the king's house (38:7-13).

When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he let Jeremiah go free to his own home (39:11-14).

A mutinous band of Jews murdered Gedaliah, who had been appointed governor by Nebuchadnezzar (41:1-3). They decided to flee to Egypt for safety, taking Jeremiah with them as a hostage (43:1-7). They took Jeremiah to Tahpanes in Egypt, where he continued to prophesy against them (43:8 - 44:1).

The life of Jeremiah was one of sorrow upon sorrow. His people whom he loved and with whom he pleaded unceasingly for fifty years continually refused to hear him, rewarded his labor with rejection and persecution, and eventually perished as the result. His life is well summarized in his own melancholy lament:

"I would comfort myself in sorrow; my heart is faint in me. Listen, the voice, the cry of the daughter of my people from a far country: 'Is not the Lord in Zion? Is not her King in her?' 'Why have they provoked Me to anger with their carved images and with foreign idols?' The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!' For the hurt of the daughter of my people I am hurt. I am mourning; Astonishment has taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead, Is there no physician there? Why then is there no recovery for the health of the daughter of my people? Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people! Oh, that I had in the wilderness a lodging place for wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! For they are all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men." (8:18 - 9:2)

Truly is Jeremiah called "The Weeping Prophet."

Condition of Judah

During Jeremiah's ministry Judah had rejected the Lord for idols (2:13,32; 5:19; 7:18,31; 17:1-2; 19:4-5). They were guilty of gross personal unrighteousness (5:1,7-8,25-28; 6:13). The Jews hypocritically claimed to be God's people (5:2; 7:9-11), but they refused God's word (6:16-19; 7:25-26; 25:3-7; 36:20-24), refused to be corrected (5:3,21; 6:15; 17:23; 44:15-18), and followed false prophets who spoke what the people wanted to hear (5:30-31; 6:14; 7:8; 14:13-14).

Jeremiah's Message

The Lord's call to make Jeremiah His prophet summarized the message of the man of God:

"See, I have set you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant." (1:10)

It was primarily a message of doom, but it included hope.

Jeremiah was the prophet of DOOM. He called Judah to repent (3:1; 7:4-7), but they refused (6:16-17; 20:1-2; 32:2-5; 37:11-21; 38:1-13; 43:1-7). Thus, Jeremiah foretold their destruction (5:9-10,14-18,29; 6:22-26; 7:16,32-34; 14:15-16; 25:8-10). Israel was to be so destroyed as a nation that they could never be made whole again (19:10-11). This forever answers the premillennial claim that national Israel will someday be restored.

But Jeremiah was also the messenger of HOPE. He preached that Israel should place their trust in the Lord (9:23-24). A faithful remnant would be restored (23:3; 31:7-9). Ezra's record of the fulfillment of the restoration promise means this prophecy has been fulfilled, and one should not look for a future restoration of Israel to the land of Canaan. Jeremiah also prophesied salvation in Christ (23:5-6; 33:15-16).

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