THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
Responsible for what I do with what God has given
Jeremiah 1 SCC 8/21/16
The internal condition of Judah was the result of 52 years of rebel rule of King Manasseh. Manasseh, and King Amon, who ruled after him for two years, set up pagan altars all over Judah. These kings encouraged idolatry of every sort, even in the Jerusalem temple. The next king Josiah tried to turn the people back to the Lord. There was reformation, but not revival. The people just did not want to submit to God. Drifting for so long they viewed following the Mosaic Law as a step backward rather than forward. Jeremiah began to minister during Josiah's reign. The four kings who followed Josiah were all weak men who lacked spiritual conviction. Three of these were sons of Josiah: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah. The fourth was Josiah's grandson, Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim. The last of these kings was Zedekiah, the most spineless of them all. For 42 years Jeremiah preached in Judah, trying to awaken the nation to what was about to happen and save the nation from the judgment of God. During all those 42 years, never once did he see any sign of encouragement. Never did he alter for one moment the headlong course of this nation toward its own destruction. Never did he see any sign that what he was saying had any impact at all upon these people. Yet he was faithful to his task.
GOD PREPARES HIS SERVANTS TO BE USED BY HIM
Verse 1: Who was Jeremiah
The son of Hilkiah, of the priests: Jeremiah was of the family of Aaron and his father was of the priests.
Priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: Anathoth was a village northeast of Jerusalem. The territory of the tribe of Benjamin bordered Judah on the north side.
Verse 2-3: When did Jeremiah Prophecy
God’s call of Jeremiah came in the 13th year of the reign of Judah’s King Josiah v 2. Jeremiah continued to be God’s spokesman through the time of Josiah’s son King Jehoiakim, his son King Jehoiachin, and Josiah’s son King Zedekiah and the exile of Jerusalem in 586 B.C v 3. Jeremiah’s ministry lasted 50 yrs.
Application: Some things Jeremiah could not change about himself, his nationality (Jewish), his country (Southern Kingdom of Judah), his family (priestly bloodline), the time in which he was born (just prior to and during Babylonian Exile). God does not hold you responsible for those things. He chose those things for you. But you will be held accountable for what you do in light of those.
GOD ORCHESTRATES HIS PLANS TO USE HIS SERVANTS
Verses 4-5: Jeremiah’s appointment from God
The word of the Lord came to me saying, so God initiated the call. It wasn’t Jeremiah’s idea. I formed you in the womb, reminds us of Psalm 139:15. I knew you, not only did God form us in the womb, He knows us, who we are, what we are like. We are a person to God, not just an embryo or fetus. I consecrated you, to set apart as holy. Ephesians 1:4 says we too, are set apart as holy to God. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations; Jeremiah had a specific assignment from God as a prophet. We know this because it is written in the Word of God.
Application: We do not have a specific appointed assignment that we know of. We do have general assignments, such as Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19); present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to (Romans 12:1-2); let us not lose heart in doing good (Galatians 6:9); this is the will of God, your sanctification, that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8); ... handling accurately the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15); just to mention a few. All believers are called to salvation. Walking worthy of that calling is assessing realistically where God has planted us, who we are, how we can best use that for His kingdom with our personality, opportunities, talents, convictions and desires.
Verse 6: Jeremiah says he is unqualified
(1) I do not know how to speak; He claimed he lacked eloquence and a speaking ability. Moses gave the same excuse when God appointed him as leader of Israel (Ex 4:10). (2) I am a youth; He was probably referring to his lack of experience. So what’s your excuse for tampering with your calling?
PT: We see that this is a conversation between Jeremiah and God not prayer. Prayer is never displayed, described, or experienced as a conversation in the Bible. Whenever anyone did pray, and it was called or described as a prayer, there was never a conversation going on. Conversations with God were never called prayer. Prayer is communicating messages to God not having a conversation with him.
Verses 7-8: The Lord promises that you will be useful to Him
(1) Everywhere I send you, you shall go, God would pick the audience. (2) All that I command you, you shall speak, God would give Jeremiah the words to speak. (3) Do not be afraid of them for I am with you to deliver you, Jeremiah must have been aware of his times because the people did try to get rid of him several times (11:18-23; 12:6; 10:1; 16:11; 37:15-16; 38:4-6). Notice God didn’t say He would keep Jeremiah from suffering, only that He would “deliver” him.
PT: When God has new things in mind for us, we usually experience anxiety, fear, or trepidation of some kind. God is a God of newness not sameness. Discipleship requires newness in order to mature. Maturity is the purpose of discipleship of which newness is essential.
Application: We are to be faithful witnesses of the Word of God, pray for open doors and speak with wisdom toward outsiders (Colossians 4:3-6), but God chooses the audience; it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts 16:8). Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”. And He gave us His promise; “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Verses 9-10: The Lord instills confidence to perform
This was a visible manifestation of God to Jeremiah, to give Him confidence that He was really sent from God with God’s message: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth, these would be God’s words, not Jeremiah’s. I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms: God selected Jeremiah for a particular job: To pluck up and to break down, to announce God’s judgment on Judah. To destroy and to overthrow, the nations would be completely destroyed. To build and to plant: but there would be God’s future blessing on His people.
GOD’S SPECIFIC PLANS WILL BE ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH HIS SERVANTS
Verses 11-12: God’s performs His Word—the blossoming almond branch
The word “almond tree” is named the “awake tree” because in Israel it is the first tree in the year to bud and bear fruit. Its blooms precede its leaves, as the tree bursts into blossom. God used a play-on-words to associate the almond branch with His activity. As people “watch” the almond tree to indicate the coming harvest, so God is “watching” His Word to perform it.
Application: Jesus said, “I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (John 13:19). It is the very essence of prophecy; events happen to confirm what God has said, so we’ll believe in the Living God.
Verses 13-16: God’s specific plans performed—the boiling pot
The boiling pot was boiling and it was facing away from the north—it’s contents were about to be spilled out toward the south v 13-14. God made the point that He is responsible for this invasion, for, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north”, declares the Lord; “and they will come” v 15. These Gentile nations will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, showing the city would fall to them. Judah’s fall to Babylon would be God’s judgment on her: They have forsaken Me Have offered sacrifices to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands v 16, violating their covenant with God (Deuteronomy 28), worshipping the creature rather than the Creator (Romans 1).
Application: God is not calling his servants to failure. God intends for his plans to be accomplished. The point is recognizing that service for the Lord is designed for specific outcomes not generalities. For God it it ready, aim fire not ready fire aim!
GOD PROMISES TO FORTIFY HIS SERVANTS AS THEY PARTICIPATE WITH HIM
Verses 17-19: God’s got your back
Gird up your loins, the idea of getting ready to move. Speak to them all, which I command you; don’t leave any detail out. Do not be dismayed before them, lest I dismay you before them; Jeremiah was to be bold in his message before the people with confidence or courage, or God would cause him to be alarmed. I have made you today as a fortified city, and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze they will fight against you but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. He would make Jeremiah as impregnable as a fortress, as irresistible as a fortified city, as durable as an iron pillar and as resistant to attack as a bronze wall. Jeremiah would not be popular.
Application: In Jeremiah there are many times when he thought his life was in danger but not overcome. It was a promise specifically to Jeremiah sending Jeremiah out on a specific task to God’s specific people of Judah at the specific time in their history just before and during the Babylonian Exile. Others did not have that promise Hebrews 11:36-37. Be careful what promises you claim. Ask: Is this really a promise God is making to me? Even if it is in the New Testament, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a promise for you. What happens when you claim promises that are not yours to claim and God doesn’t fulfill the promise because He never made the promise to you? Either (1) you become angry with God for not doing what you thought He said He would or (2) you begin to question your own faith.
1. Our background and heritage is God’s way of preparing each disciple individually for their calling in life. We should not despise these but deploy them for the kingdom.
2. God’s plan for us is to be useful for the kingdom. That plan includes preparing us, using us, and fortifying us. The greatest achievement of a disciple is participating with God in what he is doing.
Jeremiah was a prophet in and to Judah during the dark days leading up to its destruction by Babylon. At the same time, Ezekiel and Daniel were prophets with the exiles in Babylon. Jeremiah’s father Hilkiah was a member of the Levitical priesthood (as was Ezekiel) and lived in Anathoth, a small village about three miles northeast of Jerusalem. This city was one of the cities given to the descendants of Aaron the priest by Joshua (Joshua 21:15-19). There is no evidence, however, to indicate that Jeremiah ever entered the priesthood in Jerusalem.
Jeremiah’s life extended from the 13 year of the reign of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:2) through the fall of Jerusalem (1:3), and beyond to the remnant taking Jeremiah hostage and going to Egypt (Jeremiah 43:7). The dates would be 627 to 562 B.C. There are a large number of chronological references in the book, which help date, many of his prophecies. Unlike Ezekiel, whose prophecies are arranged in chronological order, Jeremiah often placed prophecies together that are dated years apart. His messages were given during times of stress, upheaval, and need. Often the messages seem to be a repeat of previous messages, partly because they are given at different locations to different people, and sometimes given many years apart, to people who had not previously heard them. It seems that the last chapter was appended to Jeremiah’s prophecies by the same author who compiled the Book of Kings.
Jeremiah’s call to ministry was in the 13year of King Josiah. Josiah was a descendant of King David, and he came to the throne when he was 8 years old and remained on the throne for 31 years, dying at age 39. In the 18 year of Josiah’s reign over Judah (at age 26 and 5 years after Jeremiah’s ministry began), a copy of the Mosaic Law was discovered in the Temple. Josiah then began a diligent effort to remove idolatry from Judah. He succeeded in removing the outward forms but did not reach into the people’s hearts. After his death, the people returned to their wicked ways. In fact, there is no mention at all of his reforms in the writings of Jeremiah. However, God told Josiah, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke...and you wept before Me... you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, neither shall your eyes see all the evil which I will bring on this place (see 2 Kings 21–22).
The Assyrian Empire to the North, which had conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C., was defeated by a new empire rising to power, the Babylonians, modern day Iraq in 612. Therefore, under Josiah, Judah threw off the yoke of Assyrian dominion and enjoyed a brief period of national independence until 609. When Assyria collapsed, Egypt sensed an opportunity to reclaim much of western Palestine, including Judah, which it had earlier lost to Assyria. Although Egypt had feared Assyria, she now feared Babylon more, so she entered the conflict between Assyria and Babylon on Assyria’s side.
In 609 Pharaoh Neco II marched with a large Egyptian army toward Haran (just north of the Sea of Galilee) to support the remaining Assyrian forces against Babylon. King Josiah did not want Egypt to replace Assyria as Judah’s taskmaster, so he mobilized his army to stop the Egyptian advance. A battle took place on the plain of Megiddo—and Judah lost. Josiah was killed and the Egyptian army continued on to Haran (2 Chronicles 35:20-24), gaining control of Palestine at the border town of Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Assyria ceased to be a major force in history.
Judah had appointed Jehoahaz king in place of his father Josiah, but after a reign of only 3 months, he was deposed by Pharaoh Neco and taken to Egypt, where he died. Neco then plundered the treasuries of Judah and appointed Jehoiakim (another son of Josiah) as Neco’s vassal king (2 Kings 23:28-36). For four years, the Egyptians and Babylonians faced each other at Carchemish, with neither side able to gain the upper hand. Then in 605, crown prince Nebuchadnezzar led the Babylonian forces to a decisive victory and pursued the fleeing Egyptians south through Palestine to the very borders of Egypt.
Two events in 605 influenced Judah’s history:
King Jehoiakim (appointed king by Pharaoh) switched allegiance to Babylon after the Battle of Carchemish and agreed to serve as a vassal king for Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:1). On August 15 Nabopolassar the king of Babylon died. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to cut short his conquest and return to Babylon to claim the throne. Nebuchadnezzar solidified his rule over this newly acquired territory by appointing kings and taking hostages to assure continued loyalty. During this first campaign through Palestine, he took Daniel captive (Daniel 1:1-6). Judah remained a vassal state until late in 601 when Nebuchadnezzar made another advance through Palestine toward Egypt. His army suffered a major defeat from Egypt and was forced to retreat. It was then almost three years before his army could make another full-scale offensive.
Judah’s King Jehoiakim was a political chameleon. After Babylon’s defeat in 601 he again changed
sides and supported Egypt (2 Kings 24:1). This was a fatal mistake. By December 598, Nebuchadnezzar’s army was prepared for an attack and his chief objective was to take Jerusalem to teach it (and no doubt other vassal nations, too) the awful consequences of rebelling against Babylon. Jehoiakim died during the time of Babylon’s attack and was followed to the throne by his son, Jehoiachin. After only a three-month reign, Jehoiachin saw the folly in opposing Babylon and surrendered Jerusalem in March of 597. Jehoiachin was taken prisoner to Babylon, but in the 37th year of the Exile, he was brought out of prison and elevated above other conquered kings and changed his prison clothes and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life (Jer 52:31-34).
Nebuchadnezzar looted Jerusalem and deported 10,000 of the leaders, skilled laborers, and soldiers (2 Kings 24:12-16). Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah (Josiah’s third son—1 Chronicles 3:15) was placed on the throne as Judah’s vassal king.
King Zedekiah was weak and vacillating. During his 11-year reign, Judah continued to decline, both spiritually and politically. Rather than learning from the past, it repeated the past. When another Pharaoh (Hophra) came to power in Egypt in 588, Judah once again revolted from Babylon (2 Kings 24:20–25:1; Jeremiah 52:3-4). A coalition of vassal states (Judah, Tyre, and Ammon) refused to remain under Babylon’s control. Nebuchadnezzar’s response was swift and harsh. The army of Babylon surrounded Jerusalem and began a long siege. In July-August 586, the city fell and was destroyed and the Temple was burned. The Babylonians slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, then put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him with bronze fetters and brought him to Babylon (2 Kings 25:7), where he was in prison until he died (Jeremiah 52:1-15).
The Babylonians left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen (Jeremiah 52:16). Among them was Jeremiah (whom the Babylonians may have protected because they perceived his prophecies as being ‘pro-Babylonian’). They put Gedaliah in charge of the Judeans. Gedaliah was assassinated by an Ammonite named Ishmael, who then took captive the remnant of the people in Gedaliah’s town of Mizpah (just north of Jerusalem). Johanan led forces and rescued the remnant and Ishmael escaped back to Ammon (east side of the Jordan River) (Jeremiah 40–41). Johanan then led the remnant to Egypt, even though the prophet Jeremiah said, The Lord has spoken to you, O remnant of Judah, “Do not go into Egypt!” (Jeremiah 42:19). But they disobeyed God again and, taking Jeremiah hostage, they continued down to Egypt, where evidently Jeremiah died.
Structure and Style
Lack of Chronological Order—As mentioned under “Date”, the book has no chronological progression. For example, many of Jeremiah’s prophecies against the nations were written early in his ministry (25:1, 13) yet the content of these prophecies are recorded near the end of the book.
Logical Arrangement of Material—The basic theme of the book seems to be God’s judgment—first on Judah (chapters 2–45) and then on the Gentile nations (chapters 46–51).
overview of Jeremiah:
Chapter 1—Jeremiah’s Call
Chapters 2–25—Jeremiah’s 13 messages of God’s judgment on Judah
Chapters 26–29—How the people responded to Jeremiah and his message
Chapters 30–33—Before the judgment began, Jeremiah pointed ahead to Judah’s future hope Chapters 34–36—Continues the theme of rejection from chapters 26–29
Chapters 37–45—Judah’s destruction was inevitable because she had rejected the Word of God.
Jeremiah now sketched the events that occurred before, during, and after the fall of Jerusalem. Chapters 46–51—If God carried out His judgment on His people, the nation of Judah, because of their sin, how could the rest of the world hope to escape? Jeremiah here foretold of God’s judgment on the Gentile nations.