Jeremiah (Jer)

Book 24 of the OT, having 52 chapters. Jeremiah was the author of this major prophetic book during his ministry from 627-586 BC. It was addressed to the Southern Kingdom of Judah urging them to turn from their sin and back to God. Jeremiah ministered during the reign of Judah’s last five kings before they were conquered. Habakkuk and Zephaniah also had similar ministries about this time.

Key people: Josiah and Zedekiah (two of Israel’s kings); Nebuchadnezzar (king of Babylon). Time to read: 3hrs 55 mins.

Outline.  This book is the account of another of Judah’s prophets who faithfully brought God’s message to the nation urging them to turn from sin and follow God wholeheartedly to escape judgment. (Ezekiel was speaking a similar message to those in exile in Babylon).  Idolatry and immorality were rife. The lack of response to the many warnings left Jeremiah discouraged.  God’s judgment came in several forms including drought and famine, then ultimately the Babylonians (under King Nebuchadnezzar) captured Jerusalem (Jer 5:24,25, 14:1-6, 39:2).  A few people were left to look after the land including Jeremiah, who had been imprisoned some years earlier; the remainder were deported.  It was decided they would move to the peace and security of Egypt and Jeremiah was taken with them (Jer 43:4-7).  In Egypt, the Israelites continued to reject God (Jer 44:10). However even before their captivity, God promised hope for His people – that after a period of 70 years punishment they would again be restored to the land.  The last few chapters give Jeremiah’s prophecies against foreign nations. The announced restoration of Israel included, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jer 31:33). The events and messages of this book are not presented in chronological order.

Main lesson. God pleaded with the wayward people time after time with the message, “return to me”. The prophesied calamities could have been averted if they had listened and acted on them rather than ignoring the clear advice given to them by God’s spokesman.

Key verses and thoughts: * “You have brought this on yourselves…Your wickedness will punish you” (Jer 2:17,19). Sin is serious business, the payday will eventually come when there will be a reaping of the consequence of your evil ways if you don’t repent. Do I play with sin, thinking I can get away with it, planning to repent at the last minute or having the attitude that God won’t hold me accountable?

* The people trusted in deceptive words, presuming they were safe, “This is the temple of the Lord. He won’t allow it be destroyed” (Jer 7:4,14). The people had a false sense of security thinking that the temple would be their protector against any form of attack, and their outward rituals were acceptable to God. However, He wants obedience, not religiosity and hypocrisy, hiding behind His grace and mercy, thinking that there are not serious consequences for sin. Yet God will fulfill what He has said.

* “After the period of discipline I will come to you, for I have plans to prosper you, to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:10,11). God didn’t wipe His hands of the Israelites, but after the time of discipline for their continual sin He promised to give them yet another opportunity to walk in His ways. Thank God, for the grace He extends to us – giving us numerous second chances too.

See also: Babylon, Egypt, exile, Jeremiah, Lamentations (Lam), Nebuchadnezzar, prophets, second chance.