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Jeremiah Essentials

Jeremiah Essentials

A little more than a century after Isaiah preached in Jerusalem, Nebuchad­nezzar king of Babylon launched his final invasion into the southern kingdom of Judah. After a terrible siege, he destroyed the city and its temple, wiped out its royal house, and deported its citizens as slaves and exiles to his own capital city. And Jeremiah the prophet was there in Jerusalem to witness it all and to explain to the people of Judah precisely why it was all happening: because they had broken faith with the Lord their God, shattering the covenant he had made with them and thereby calling that covenant’s curses down on their own heads.

Jeremiah’s book is very different from Isaiah’s. Where Isaiah is highly structured around a definite and easily recognizable plotline, Jeremiah’s book is more like an abstract painting. Images, oracles, visions, sermons, and narrative are thrown (somewhat chaotically and not always in chronological order) against the canvas, and the result is not so much a linear story as an impression of truth and emotion and meaning. But even if Jeremiah’s literary approach is somewhat unusual, his message comes through loud and clear: Judah has sinned by disobeying and ignoring the Lord’s word, and just as with her sister kingdom Israel to the north, the hammer blow of God’s wrath and justice is about to fall on them.

Theme: Jeremiah reminds us that faith demands action. Covenant living requires a faithful response to God in the form of proper worship and of helping, not exploiting, the weak and vulnerable.

Author: The book itself states that its contents are “the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah” (Jeremiah 1:1). The prophet Jeremiah dictated most of his prophecies to his secretary, Baruch, who wrote them down word for word. Chapter 52 may have been added by a later editor.

Date of Writing: Jeremiah wrote these words over the course of his ministry (626–585 BC). Chapter 52 was added sometime after King Jehoiachin’s release from captivity (approximately 560 BC).

Encouragement From Jeremiah: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11). God gives this promise to Israel while they are in captivity in Babylon- though they are in the midst of judgment, the Lord has not forgotten them and He reminds them that their chastisement is for their good. They are still God’s covenant people.

Challenge From Jeremiah: “‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13–14).

Reflection From Jeremiah: “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps. Discipline me, LORD, but only in due measure—not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23–24).

 

Storyline

On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus (the foretold “righteous Branch”) ate a final meal with his twelve disciples; during their time together, He declared that the new covenant spoken of in Jeremiah had arrived. Unlike the old covenant, which gave merely a picture of forgiveness through the sacrifice of bulls and goats, the new covenant, established through the precious blood of Christ, would accomplish true, enduring salvation. As the Lord declared through the prophet, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Key Verses: Jeremiah 7:23, 24 and 8:11, 12—“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward” (7:23, 24).

“For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? No! They were not at all ashamed, nor did they know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; in the time of their punishment they shall be cast down, says the LORD” (8:11, 12).

The Christ of Jeremiah

The Messiah is clearly seen in 23:1–8 as the coming Shepherd and righteous Branch who “shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (23:5, 6). He will bring in the new covenant (31:31–34), which will fulfill God’s covenants with Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3; 17:1–8), Moses and the people (Deut. 28–30), and David (2 Sam. 7:1–17).

The curse on Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) in 22:28–30 meant that no physical descendant would succeed him to the throne. Matthew 1:1–17 traces the genealogy of Christ through Solomon and Jeconiah to His legal (but not His physical) father, Joseph. However, no son of Joseph could sit upon the throne of David, for he would be under the curse of Jehoiachin. Luke 3:23–38 t races Christ’s lineage backward from Mary (His physical parent) through David’s other son, Nathan (3:31), thereby avoiding the curse. The righteous Branch will indeed reign on the throne of David.

 

Key People in Jeremiah

King Josiah —sixteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah; attempted to follow God (1:1–3; 22:11,18)

King Jehoahaz —evil son of Josiah and seventeenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (22:9–11)

King Jehoiakim —evil son of Josiah and eighteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (22:18–23; 25:1–38; 26:1–24; 27:1–11; 35:1–19; 36:1–32)

King Jehoiachin (Coniah) —evil son of Jehoiakim and nineteenth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (13:18–27; 22:24–30)

King Zedekiah —evil uncle of Jehoiachin and twentieth king of the southern kingdom of Judah (21:1–14; 24:8–10; 27:12–22; 32:1–5; 34:1–22; 37:1– 21; 38:1–28; 51:59–64)

Baruch —served as Jeremiah’s scribe (32:12–16; 36:4–32; 43:3–45:4)

Ebed-Melech —Ethiopian palace official who feared God and helped Jeremiah (38:7–39:16)

King Nebuchadnezzar —greatest king of Babylon; led the people of Judah into captivity (21–52)

The Rechabites —obedient descendants of Jonadab; contrasted to the disobedient people of Israel (35:1–19)

Key Doctrines in Jeremiah

Sin —Israel’s sin demanded punishment from God (2:1–13, 23–37; 5:1–6; 7:16–34; 11:1–17; 17:1–4; 18:1–17; 23:9–40; Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 9:16; 1 Kings 11:39; Ezra 6:17; Job 1:22; Psalm 5:4; Micah 3:8; Matthew 5:30; Luke 17:1; Romans 1:29)

Judgment/Punishment (4:3–18; 9:3–26; 12:14–17; 15:1–9; 16:5–13; 19:1–15; 24:8–10; 25:1–38; 39:1–10; 44:1–30; 46:1–51:14; Exodus 12:12; Psalm 1:5; Hosea 5:1; Amos 4:12; John 12:31–32; Romans 14:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:7–10)

Restoration of Israel (23:3–8; chapters 30–33; Deuteronomy 30:1–5; Psalm 71:20–21; Isaiah 49:6; Nahum 2:2; Acts 1:6–8; 15:16; 1 Peter 5:10)

God’s Character in Jeremiah

God fills heaven and earth —23:24

God is good —31:12,14; 33:9,11

God is holy —23:9

God is just —9:24; 32:19; 50:7

God is kind —31:3

God is long-suffering —15:15; 44:22

God is loving —31:3

God is merciful —3:12; 33:11

God is omnipresent —23:23

God is powerful —5:22; 10:12; 20:11; 37:27

God is a promise keeper —31:33; 33:14

God is righteous —9:24; 12:1

God is sovereign —5:22, 24; 7:1–15; 10:12–16; 14:22; 17:5–10; 18:5–10, 25:15–38; 27:5–8; 31:1–3; 42:1–22; 51:15–19

God is true —10:10

God is unequaled —10:6

God is wise —10:7,12; 32:19

God is wrathful —3:12–13; 4:8; 7:19–20; 10:10; 18:7–8; 30:11; 31:18–20; 44:3

 

 

Teaching Outline

  1. JEREMIAH’S SPECIAL APPOINTMENT (1:1-19)
  2. THE PROPHET DELIVERS GOD’S MESSAGES (2:1–45:5)
  3. God’s Warnings to Judah (2:1–29:32)
  4. The Coming Exile and Restoration (30:1–33:26)
  5. The Fall of Jerusalem (34:1–45:5)
  6. GOD’S JUDGMENT ON THE NATIONS (46:1–51:64)
  7. A PAINFUL REMINDER OF PAINFUL DAYS (52:1-34)

 

 

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