Session 29: Jeremiah
Hear and pay attention,do not be arrogant,for the Lord has spoken. Give glory to the Lord your Godbefore he brings the darkness, before your feet stumbleon the darkening hills.You hope for light,but he will turn it to utter darknessand change it to deep gloom.If you do not listen,I will weep in secretbecause of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly,overflowing with tears,because the Lord's flock will be taken captive. Jeremiah 13:15-17
Jeramiah, Key verses: Jer. 13:8-17; 20:9-14; 23:9; 31:33
Key personalities: Jeremiah, Manasseh, Josiah, and Zedekiah
Timeline: About 650-586 B.C. This is during the time of the Divided Kingdom-Israel, the northern kingdom, is conquered by the Assyrians (the areas were ruled by the Assyrians and then the Babylonians conquered the Assyrians). The Iron Age is the main reason for the vast armies; however, bronze is still in the majority of weapons and farming tools. The Greeks were at their pinnacle of power and influence with their philosophy, economic and legal reforms, tragedy plays and poetry and building ships to explore and conger. The Olmecs built Mexican pyramids, and Nebuchadnezzar rebuilds a magnificent wonder of the world--Babylon and its hanging gardens. Aesop writes his fables and the Lao Tsu founds Taoism. Rome is growing by the destiny of Romulus and Remus who become builders of the first city sewer, the "Cloaca Maxima."
How would you like to have a job or ministry where you work for decades with all your might, do your best, face extreme opposition, were alone, and yet are totally unsuccessful? Well, this is Jeremiah's life. Obedient, passionate, takes it to the end, but the results are absent. In any business, corporation, or church, he would be fired after a few days, let alone decades. But, this Book is not about how to be successful in numbers; rather, Jeremiah is about what is far more important--how to be faithful, even and especially against opposition in the extreme.
The Book of Jeremiah comes about a hundred years after Isaiah. This is an epic account of courage under fire. It is set at the end of the age of kings in Judah in the southern kingdom as it falls. It is about a reluctant, humble and godly prophet who speaks truth and warns the kings and the people of their apostasy, and he warns that their nation will end, they will be plundered, warred upon, the survivors will be taken from their land and homes to a foreign county as cheap labor. It portrays a prophet who loved God and did not understand why others did not and chose instead to be arrogant and fight against Him. Yet, like Isaiah, he delivers messages of hope, that they will return, and God will grant a New Covenant with His people. Their religion will no longer be based as a nationality; it will be an individual and spiritual encounter with God fulfilled in, with, and by Christ.
Jeremiah Chapters 1-38: The warning of doom.
Jeremiah Chapters 39-52: After the fall of Jerusalem.
The book is not in a chronological order, as it follows the Jewish storytelling tradition of highlighting events, fast-forwarding and flashing back to make the point; he also gives several messages at once (as if he had ADD or like writing out a scroll then coming back to write and edit more encounters back in). Jeremiah mixed his messages with passion to make very sure that God's commands, love, and precepts are given with nothing left out or left to chance. Jeremiah has put into the Bible exactly what God has willed in the order and manner that He intends.
Key Happenings: True faithfulness in the midst of extreme hostility and opposition!
Jeremiah, the 'weeping prophet', did not like to give bad news; he pleaded to and for his people. Called at age 20, he is the last-chance prophet of Judah. He is the personification of servant leadership with courage and faithfulness and a contemporary of Ezekiel, both of whom are both God's chosen spokesmen. He is the weeping prophet because of his broken heart for delivering the warning of the judgment of God. Jeremiah kept getting kicked when he was down, and he faced extreme discouragement. Yet, he gave messages not just of doom, but also of hope. Personally, he deeply wanted the love of a woman--a wife--but God told him to never marry and cut himself off from sinful others; Jeremiah obediently did this, and he no true friends or support. He had only the work. So, Jeremiah laments and pleas for people to come back to God.
Jeremiah is a man after God's heart who seeks to do his best for God's glory in a prideful nation that seeks and does the opposite. He is in a sea of God-haters--people who pursue false prophets. These people desire only those who would tickle peoples' ears with arrogance and false, empty comforts-bad teachers. Bad teachers cannot and do not give people they need, only what they think they want. Jeremiah confronts them, not like Elijah and Elishua with battle tactics and abrasive in your face dialogue, in pleading and weeping to and for them, so they would see their sin and repent. For this, as you can imagine, people hated Jeremiah, and he was scorned, unaided, imprisoned, mistreated, with even his "friends" turning their backs on him. Yet, Jeremiah perseveres with absolute faithfulness in God and a passion for God to save the lost and warn them of coming doom if they do not turn to God (Jer. 1; 12:1-5; 20; 7-14, 16).
Jeremiah had a way with words and challenges the people with colorful metaphors like, "can an Ethiopian change his skin color" or "can a leopard changes its spots" to help wake people up to their plight and back to God (Jer. 8:20-22; 13:23; 31:15).
Prophet of the nations means that Jeremiah was called to all people, but forced on Judah. Unlike most prophets, Jeremiah got the chance to see his prophecies fulfilled. Of course, this brought him no joy because the prophecies included the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of the people (Jer. 1:5).
Get yourself ready! God's call of Jeremiah is also a paramount passage on the sanctity of life, a very clear anti- abortion truth of "Before I formed you" and "before you were born" that leaves no doubt that God gave His grace to Jeremiah from the time of his conception in his mother's womb (as He does for us all). This is the definitive truth-unassailable truth--that life begins before conception. Yet, Jeremiah protests, as he states that he is too young and is reluctant. Jeremiah protests perhaps out of fear or humblesness or cultural considerations. As He always does, God does ask Jeremiah to do more than he is able, and God says, "Do not fret, I will put my words in your mouth", and Jeremiah responds. Although he does not (and will never) like giving bad news or receiving the rejection that is inevitable, Jeremiah puts his faith and life into the hands of God, and he works for the Lord. Jeremiah goes to all from the commoners to the kings, and he stands at the gate for the Lord (Jer. 1:1-55:15).
God sends Isaiah to a people with His Message of faultless and undeniable Truth and tells them to be obedient and repent from their sins; the people will not listen or obey. He has a message of a pending apocalypse, and he frames it in extreme language to make his point and coats it with encouragement that, Yes, you can do it. The people still do not repent (Isa. 6:9-10).
Jeremiah points out to us to that God requires real obedience and trust. Judgement and one's problems stem from people's bad motives to remain in their pride and sin. Jesus uses Jeremiah to refocus people to rededicate ourselves to our Most Holy God (Jer. 23:4; John 10:22-42; 17:17).
Sin. In the Hebrew, khat-tat, means we are missing the mark that our Lord has for us or not doing what is expected. Sin is a violation against God and His people. The Hebrew word, awon, means to be rebellious to God's righteousness, and because of sin, we can never conform to His standards. Even if we are not aware of that aspect of the law, we have no excuse. As with the police, ignorance of the law is no excuse. We can't say, "Hey, I did not know the speed limit!" Every time we sin, we incur greater guilt and punishment than before (Gen. 3:1-24; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 2:1-11; 3:10-26; 5:12-19; Titus 1:15; James 1:12-15; 1 John 1:8-10).
Jeremiah is the most hated, rejected, ignored prophet, and he lives his last days by being taken captive, is bound in chains, is imprisoned and taken to Babylon. His own people did not want him released; however, the guard let him go, and he lived out his life with a Jew named Gedailiah and helped him govern the Jews, settle them, rebuild them, encouraged them, and prepared them for their 70-year stay and readied them for the return. Jeremiah leaves no family or descendants, only a work that points to Christ in a nation that hated God and him. Yet, in God's eyes (and in our's), Jeremiah is the pinnacle of success and achievement that echoes for thousands of years to humanity and into eternity. There can be no doubt that Jeremiah is one for the ages.
Prophet. The main prophets of the OT during the time of Jesus were the main examples of faith in the midst of extreme adversity. Their call was to reform and make sure that God's precepts were heard, known, and applied. What does this really mean? It is simply this: To acknowledge and understand the reality of God and choose to let God's Message be internal AND external. Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah--the main prophets--and the others-minor prophets to include Elijah, Elishua, and those who have books titled for them-usually faced serious persecution from their own people who refused to heed God's call and warnings; the people were intent on focusing on their own desires and transgressions instead. Real Prophets represented God's Law, and they are true examples of how God delivers and cares for His people. God's real prophets, like Elijah are 'forth tellers' as they make predictions that come true. This is the antithesis, the very opposite of a fortune-teller who makes predictions based on chance and worldly aspects and cannot predict truth so much as they predict "the odds of…". Much of what the prophets foretold was pointed to Christ who fulfilled this prophecy and He is no mere Prophet (Deut. 18:15-18; 33:4-5; Matt. 16:14; John 1:20-21; 6:1-15; 7:40-41; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37; James 5: 7-12;).
False prophets refer to people who make up stories about future events, claim to have visions and God's words when they did not, or confuse a vision from their imaginations as being from God. They can sincerely believe that God has given them visions, but they are still false. For Jeremiah and so many, these false prophets seem only to make attempts at drowning out the voice of God presented through Jeremiah, because the people did not want to hear real Truth! In contrast, real prophets were humble and proclaimed what God had clearly revealed, His heart to ours without contradiction or personal gain and power. Fake prophets always point to themselves and are prideful. God tells Jeremiah not to pay attention or worry about them, only focus on his mission (2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 9:13-17; Jer. 5:31; 14:14; 23:16-32, Ezek. 13:3-10; 2 Peter 2-3).
The point is, that God wants to make sure we honor and live for Him and do not break His commands or betray His trust by living foolishly or in sin! The Gospel today is the Good News that Christ intervenes into our deepest recesses to save us, then molds, shapes, and uses us for our betterment and His glory. He makes intercession; the question is: How are we responding? Does our faith touch us so deeply that we can be mediators and intercessors in the lives of others as well? Or, are we so focused on our hurts and circumstances that we only see ourselves and have no gratitude for Christ and no application of our faith to others? Take a look at your life and your circumstances; how do you see them in the Light of His love and Word? Are we affected by our circumstances or by Christ as Lord over them and us?
Key Takeaway: This is a paradigm shift for a Hebrew nation--a call to go from the 'external' that honors God in ritual to the 'internal' to worship God by trusting and obeying God. Prophetic words from Divine inspiration were never from the prophet's own mind or interpretation, nor should any teaching in the Church be so. All Biblical teaching must be rooted in God's solid precepts; if it is not, it is not of God. Even with the limits of human vocabulary and understanding, speaking the real truth must be sought with all diligence, as God will protect His truth (1 Cor. 5:13; 7:40; 12:4; 14; 1 Pet. 1:10-12; 2 Pet. 2:1).
The foreshadow of Jesus Christ? Jeremiah also foretells the coming Eternal King who brings a New Covenant that is Who Christ Fulfills. The New Covenant has no place for the old in it because it is filled entirely with, by, and through Christ Jesus. The New Covenant will be based on our inward motivation-this was written in our hearts at Creation--to place God first over a collective nation to honor Him as written on tablets.
All of these events were prophesied hundreds of years prior to Jesus (Jeremiah 23:). Know that Jesus' attack on the Temple indulgences was similar to that of Jeremiah (Ps. 2:2-3; 22:6,8; 69:11,19; Isa. 11:1; 53:2-4; Jer. 9:23-24; 23: 1-6; 31:15; 29-34; 33:15-16; Hos. 11:1; Zec. 3:8; 6:12; Matt. 12: 6; 24:1-2; Heb. 10:22).
1. When the world sees success, they might see big houses, fancy cars, designer clothes and fame. What does God see? What does God see as success?
© 2013 R. J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries www.intothyword.org