Jeremiah: The Weeping ProphetTitle
The Book of Jeremiah is named after the author (Jeremiah 1:1). The name can mean several things, including “Jehovah establishes” and “Jehovah appoints.”
Like Isaiah, Jeremiah worked in the southern kingdom of Judah when a foreign power threatened to destroy Jerusalem and Judah. Unlike, Isaiah, Jeremiah was unable to prevent the destruction or the subsequent carrying away of the people into captivity. By Jeremiah’s day, the hearts of the people were hardened; God’s patience had run out.
Jeremiah had a long ministry, spanning five kings. His ministry started in the days of Josiah, a time of reform. The reform did not last long, however, and the kingdom quickly degenerated, in spite of Jeremiah’s efforts. Worthy of special note is Jeremiah’s prophecy that the Babylonian captivity would last seventy years (25:11; 29:10). (Note: The seventy years began with the first deportation in 605 B.C., not with the destruction of Jerusalem in 596 B.C.)
When it was obvious that destruction was inevitable, Jeremiah urged the leaders to submit to the Babylonians, to accept the punishment they deserved. In this way Jerusalem would be spared. Delivering such a message branded Jeremiah as a traitor.
More biographical information is given on Jeremiah than on any other Old Testament character, including David. His writings, arranged not chronologically but for effect, are difficult to read. Jewish tradition says that the Book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah; internal evidence in the book agrees with that authorship. In the Septuagint, Jeremiah and Lamentations were one book.
I. DURING JOSIAH’S REIGN (1-12)
II. AT AN UNDETERMINED TIME: PROPHECIES IN SYMBOLS (13-20)
III. DURING JEHOAHAZ’ REIGN (nothing specifically attributed to this period)
IV. DURING JEHOIAKIM’S REIGN
A. Beginning of reign – Jeremiah tried (26).
B. Fourth year of reign – Babylon approaching (25).
C. Also fourth year – the king burns the book (36).
D. Also fourth year – follow-up (45,46).
E. During reign – example of Rechabites (35).
V. DURING JEHOIACHIN’S REIGN (nothing specifically attributed to this period; perhaps some of the symbolic prophecies were during this time.)
VI. DURING ZEDEKIAH’S REIGN
A. Beginning of Zedekiah’s reign; Jeremiah’s yoke, a letter,
B. Seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem; a reference to the fall of Babylon (50,51).
C. Beginning of the siege (21-24).
D. Tenth year of Zedekiah’s reign; Jeremiah in prison (32-34).
E. Ninth to eleventh years: Siege and burning of Jerusalem (37-39).
VII. DURING THE EXILE (40-44).
VIII. AT UNDETERMINED TIMES: PROPHECIES AGAINST THE NATIONS (47-49).
IX. FINAL REVIEW (52).
Lessons from Jeremiah
Do “real men” cry? Jesus wept (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). Jeremiah is known as “the weeping prophet” (Jeremiah 9:1), but he did not weep for himself. He wept over the lost condition of his people. Some think weeping proves a man is weak, but Jeremiah was not weak. How many of us could persevere for more than forty years without seeing any lasting results of our work? Real men are sensitive; they can cry.
The Book of Jeremiah is filled with object lessons, such as the soiled linen sash (13), the potter and the clay (18), the broken flask (19), wearing a yoke (27,28), and tying a stone to a message and throwing it in the Euphrates (51).
Jeremiah’s statement about the new covenant is significant (31:31-34). The old covenant was a temporary covenant that was to be replaced. Hebrews 8:6-13 quotes Jeremiah 31, noting that the first covenant was being replaced by the New Testament (covenant) of Jesus Christ.
There are several references to the Messiah in Jeremiah (cf. Jeremiah 31:15 with Matthew 2:16-18). Especially note Jeremiah’s references to the “Branch,” a term for the Messiah (Jeremiah 23:5,6; 33:14-18). When people saw Jesus, they thought of Jeremiah (Matthew 16:14).
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