Jeremiah Introduction

Background

God called Jeremiah to be a prophet when he was a young man. It was in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah (627B.C.). King Josiah was 8 when he became King, so he was 21 when God called Jeremiah. Jeremiah served beyond the fall of Judah for total of over 50 years from Kings Josiah to Jehoahaz to Jehoiakim to Jehoiachin to Zedekiah, and after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.

Josiah was a the last good king of Judah. The rest of the kings, which are his sons and grandsons, were all bad kings.

During Jeremiah time, there were false prophets who prophesied lies (5:31), the priests rule by their own authority instead of God’s authority (5:31).

King Josiah was a good king. He removed the idols and reestablish worship in the temple. Five or siz years after Jeremiah’s call, the Book of the Law was found in the Temple, the reading of which resulted in widespread confession of sin and wholesale destruction of both idols and idolatrous priests. Judah rose to the occasion with Josiah, but at the height of his prospects, he went uncommissioned against Necho, kong of Egypt, and was mortally wounded at the battle of Megiddo. With his death Judah’s hope died.

He was followed by Jehoahaz who reigned but three months; then Jehoiakim came to the throne, and with him the days of folly and idolatry, of injustice and cruelty were revived. The reformation of Josiah had come too late. The work was superficial and therefore only temporary; sin was like a cancer, eating away at the very heart of the nation.

God said the Jews were like well-fed, lusty stallions, each neighing for another man’s wife (5:8).

God said if Jeremiah can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth, He would forgive Jerusalem (5:1). However Jeremiah could not find any among the citizens and the leaders of Judah (5:5).

The people did not want to listen to the true prophets of God, the said: “the prophets are but wind and the word is not with them.” (5:13).

Thus God raised up Babylon, an ancient and enduring nation, a distant nation whose language the Jews could not understand, who were mighty warriors and skilled archers to devour the Jews’s harvests and food, their sons and daughters, their flocks and herds, their vines and fig trees and their cities (4:16; 5:15-17). God called the Babylonians a destroyer of nations (4:7).  It was their own conducts and actions that brought this punishment upon them (4:18).

The Jews forsaken God and served foreign gods in their own land, thus God disciplined them by making them to serve foreigners in a land not their own (5:19).

By God’s mercy, He would not destroy them completely (4:27, 5:18).

Other prophets served in the same time with Jeremiah’s 50 years ministry was Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel and Ezekiel.

Jeremiah

He was son of a priest (1:1). His name means “Jehovah establishes, or appoints, or sends.”

He was a priest and a prophet. God called him to be single, and he remain as such (16:2).

He had coworker, a scribe, named Baruch. Jeremiah would dictate the Words from God and Baruch would write them down on scrolls and read to the people. (36:4, 32; 45:1)

He has been known as the “weeping prophet” (9:1; 13:17; 14:17). He and God weeped because the sins of the Jews. He lived a life of conflict because of his predictions about judgement by the invading Babylonians. He was threatened, tried for his life, put in stocks, forced to flee from King Jehoiakim, publicly humiliated by a false prophet, and thrown into a pit.

Early in his ministry, he called Judah to repent to avoid judgement from God (Ch 7; 26). Once invasion was certain after Judah refused to repent, he pled with them not to resist the Babylonian conqueror in order to prevent total destruction (Ch 27).

He also called on delegates of other nations to heed his counsel and submit to Babylon (ch 27), and he predicted judgements from God on various nations (25:12-38; chapters 46-51).

After the falled of Jerusalem in 586 BC, he was forced to go with a fleeing remnant of Judah to Egypt (Chapters 43 – 44).

A rabbinic note claims that when Babylon invaded Egypt in 568 BC, Jeremiah was taken captive to Babylon. He could have lived even to pen the book’s closing scene in 561 BC, when Judah’s king Jehoiachin, captive in Babylon since 597 BC, was allowed liberties in his last days.

Jeremiah in the rest of the bible

Jeremiah was named and quoted many times outside of his book, in the rest of the bible:

2 Chr. 35:25 Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah, and to this day all the male and female singers commemorate Josiah in the laments. These became a tradition in Israel and are written in the Laments.

2 Chr. 36:12 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the LORD.

2 Chr. 36:21 The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.

2 Chr. 36:22 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

Ezra 1:1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing:

Dan 9:2 in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.

Matt 2:17-18 Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Quoted Jeremiah 31:15)

Matt 16:14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Matt 27:9 Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel,

1 Cor 1:31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (Quoted 9:24)

2 Cor 10:17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (Quoted 9:24)

Hew 8:8-12, 10:16-17 But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (Quoted 31:31-34)

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