Reading the Bible together – Jeremiah
– The book we are reading this month is Jeremiah, which is the 24th book of the Old Testament.
This will be the 39th book of the Bible we will have read, since commencing this initiative, three years ago in October 2015. (We have actually read Matthew and Joshua twice!)
We will review this month’s book at our Bible Study and Prayer Meeting on Thursday 1st March 2018.
Introduction to the Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah’s prophecies consists of these primary messages:
- The impending destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon.
- The possibility of averting this destruction by repentance.
- The submitting to Babylonian rule after it becomes apparent that domination is inevitable.
- Babylon herself will be destroyed, never to rise again.
- Judah will return from captivity and eventually achieve an unsurpassed glory.
Author – Jeremiah (According to Tradition)
Date – 629 BC Approximately
Summary of the book of Jeremiah
The prophecies contained in the book are not in chronological order, a factor which makes logical analysis somewhat difficult; however, the following general divisions of the material are outlined here:
- Ch. 1 – The call of Jeremiah
- Ch. 2-6 – The depravity of Judah and the inevitability of destruction from the north.
- Ch. 7-10 – The illusions of temple security. In this section Jeremiah weeps over the attitude of the people that their formal observance of the temple services will save them from destruction. He warns them that genuine repentance is their only hope.
- Ch. 11-12 – Jeremiah’s complaint over his own miserable estate and the infidelity of the Jews of the covenant.
- Ch. 13-25 – Further preaching and signs of the impending doom. In Jeremiah 25, Jeremiah predicted that the length of the captivity would be 70 years.
- Ch. 26-39 – Prophecies and events during the reigns of the last kings of Judah.
- Ch. 40-41 – Prophecies and events in Judah after the captivity.
- Ch. 42-51 – Jeremiah’s activity after he is forced to flee to Egypt. After a final exhortation to abandon idolatry (Ch. 44), the bulk of this section consists of prophecies against foreign nations, including a prediction of the eventual fall and desolation of Babylon.
- Ch. 52 – A summary chapter on the captivity of Judah
Outline of the Book of Jeremiah
The prophet Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah, and he prophesied the Word of the Lord until the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC when Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came and destroyed the city and her Temple (Jeremiah 1), and he continued to prophesy even after this event. Jeremiah began ministering in 627 BC during the reign of King Josiah, he was the “son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth” which was a city near Jerusalem. When the Lord called him he was very young (Jeremiah 1:6), and the Lord revealed to him that his word would be rejected and yet he was not to be afraid of their faces. They also learned that an enemy from the North would come and bring about the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:11-16), and this time it would not be the Assyrians as with the northern kingdom of Israel, but it would be the Babylonians. All the kings who reigned during the time of Jeremiah were: Josiah, Jehoa-haz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah and Jerusalem was destroyed in the 11th year of the reign of king Zedekiah in 586 BC. The event of the burning of the city of Jerusalem and of the Temple of Solomon is found in 2 Kings 25:8,9 and Jeremiah 52:12-13.
Jeremiah was quick to obey God and to reveal to the children of Israel in Judah their sins, and as God had warned him he was hated with much hostility both in his hometown of Anathoth and in Jerusalem (Jeremiah 11:18-23). It even indicates that his own family “dealt treacherously” with him (Jeremiah 12:6), but this was a calm before the storm for Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet. Because of his fearless prophesying during the reigns of the next four kings of Judah, and the fact that he predicted the destruction of Jerusalem because of the people’s sins he was hated all the more. He went into hiding because of the wrath of Jehoiakim who had cut up his book of prophecies and burned them. Judah finally went into a first wave of captivity by the Babylonians under Jehoiachin, and they placed Zedekiah in his stead as a puppet king. Eventually Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon but was warned by Jeremiah not to do so (Jeremiah 27:12). Finally the inevitable happened, on the terrifying day of Av 9 in the Jewish calendar Nebuchadnezzar’s forces destroyed the Temple of Solomon and the city of Jerusalem making true all of Jeremiah’s prophecies about the Babylonian invasion.
Jeremiah stayed in Jerusalem but finally was forced to go to Egypt and his companion and secretary, Baruch came with him. They are in Egypt, in the city of Tahpanhes we have the last mention of Jeremiah’s life, and after this there is no information and nothing is certain. His book was completed and he lived a very long life. According to Christian tradition the Jews at Tahpanhes, hating him for his prophecies stoned him to death. There is also a Jewish tradition that when Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Egypt, Jeremiah and Baruch had escaped to the land of Judea where they were allowed to die in peace.
The book of Jeremiah is recognized as his own writings and a complete book just like the book of Isaiah. In Jeremiah 36:1-2, 4, 8, 32 it is written that Jeremiah collected his own writings and prophecies, some speculate that he put the book together with Baruch in the land of Egypt but there is no way to know for certain.
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