For a people with strong nationalistic pride with expectations of entitlement from their Covenant-keeping God, the exhortation to surrender to the deserved judgment of the Babylonian captivity was abhorrent. Jeremiah was called to bring a message that was more heavily weighted towards punishing than restoring, towards breaking down than building up. But Josiah’s reforms had been short-lived and the Lord’s patience with a nation of idolatry and apostasy had expired. Ultimately there would be restoration under the reign of the Messiah and the enjoyment of the blessings of the New Covenant, but in the short term certain judgment was looming. Despite his sensitive personality and love for his people, Jeremiah was attacked and vilified for his faithful proclamation of God’s message.
The promise of divine retribution against enemy nations as well as ultimate restoration and the blessings of the New Covenant for Judah are set against the dominant background of indictment and judgments against Judah for repeated covenant disobedience.
“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
– To pluck up and to break down,
– To destroy and to overthrow,
– To build and to plant.”
I. (1:1-19) INTRODUCTION
A. (:1-3) Prologue
B. (:4-19) Call of Jeremiah
II. (2:1 – 25:38) PROPHECIES OF DIVINE JUDGMENT ON JUDAH AND JERUSALEM
(ALTERNATING MESSAGES OF INDICTMENT AND COMING JUDGMENT)
A. (2:1 – 3:5) Message #1 – Indictment for Idolatry, Immorality and Incomprehensible Apostasy
B. (3:6 – 6:30) Message #2 – Judgment is Coming and Will Yield Devastating Destruction
C. (:7:1 – 10:25) Message #3 – Indictment for Hypocritical Worship
D. (11:1 – 12:17) Message #4 – Judgment is Coming — but Jeremiah Must Persevere
E. (13:1-27) Message #5 – Indictment Against Pride – Pride Perverts Privileged Position Into the Shame and Humiliation of Degrading Domination
F. (14:1 – 17:27) Message #6 – Judgment is Coming — but Jeremiah Needs Encouragement and God Will Remain Faithful to His Covenant
G. (18:1 – 20:18) Message #7 – Indictment Against an Independent Spirit — Sovereignty, Shock and Struggles
H. (21:1-14) Message #8 – Judgment is Coming – The Connection Between Social Justice and God’s Deliverance
I. (22:1 – 24:10) Message #9 – Indictment Against Judah’s Faithless Kings and False Prophets
J. (25:1-38) Message #10 – Judgment is Coming – Judgment Begins with the Household of God and Progresses Against All Nations for Their Stubborn Rebellion
III. (26:1 – 29:32) CONFRONTING FALSE PROPHETS
A. (26:1-24) The Dangers of Faithfully Proclaiming God’s Word
B. (27:1-22) The Yoke of Submission – Submit to God’s Authority – Even When It Is Administered In Surprising Ways
C. (28:1-17) Dueling Prophets – God’s Sovereign Plan Will Prevail When False Prophets Oppose True Prophets
D. (29:1-32) Oppressed Believers Must Reject False Promises and Pursue God’s Will While Clinging to Future Hope
IV. (30:1 – 33:26) BOOK OF CONSOLATION – PROMISE OF RESTORATION / NEW COVENANT
A. (30:1 – 31:1) Promise of Restoration For Israel and Judah
B. (31:2-40) Restoration Blessings and Promises – New Covenant Focus
C. (32:1-44) Bank on the Future of God’s Redemptive Agenda – Buy the Land and Bury the Deed
D. (33:1-26) Restoration Guarantee
V. (34:1 – 45:5) HISTORICAL LESSONS REGARDING OBEDIENCE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
A. (34:1 – 35:19) Priority of Obedience to God
B. (36:1-32) Futility of Resisting Divine Accountability – Scroll of Calamity – God’s Message of Judgment Cannot be Erased or Denied
C. (37:1 – 39:18) Protection of God’s Faithful Prophet
D. (40:1 – 41:18) Preserved and Protected Remnant in the Midst of Chaos of Ignoring God’s Counsel
E. (42:1 – 44:30) Foolish Choice of Refuge in Egypt
(45:1-5) Aside – Caution Against Selfish Ambition in the Ministry – Oracle to Baruch
1. (45:1-3) Burned Up and Burned Out – Lament of Baruch
2. (45:4-5) Baruch Cautioned and Encouraged – Lessons From the Lord
VI. (46:1 – 51:64) JUDGMENTS ON THE NATIONS
A. (46:1-28) Egypt (restoration, :26b)
B. (47:1-7) Philistines
C. (48:1-47) Moab (restoration, :47)
D. (49:1-39) Many Nations
E. (50:1 – 51:64) Babylon
(52:1-34) – EPILOGUE – FALL OF JERUSALEM
A. (52:1-11) Jerusalem’s Fall and Zedekiah’s Blinding
B. (52:12-23) Destruction of the Temple
C. (52:24-30) Exiling of the People
D. (52:31-34) Continuation of Davidic Lineage
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To document the righteous judgment of our faithful God who will not excuse persistent covenant disobedience in the form of idolatry and apostasy and moral corruption
• To exhort God’s people to repentance and a life of obedience against the backdrop of understanding the depths of our sinfulness
• To provide rich insights into the blessings of the New Covenant
• To see how God is sovereign in dispensing judgment against nations that oppose His kingdom agenda
• To contrast true and false prophets of the one true God and appreciate the uniquely emotional personality of Jeremiah himself
Charles Swindoll: The prophecies of Jeremiah offer us a unique insight into the mind and heart of one of God’s faithful servants. The book includes numerous personal statements of emotional engagement, painting Jeremiah not merely as a prophet brought on the scene to deliver God’s message but also as a red-blooded human being who felt compassion for his people, desired judgment for evildoers, and was concerned about his own safety as well.
Steven Smith: The story of God’s judgment is told in Jeremiah and Lamentations through Jeremiah’s sermons, his journal, and his songs. The chronology is less important to to the author. The sermons extract his message, the songs express his weeping, and the journals expose the private thoughts of a public man.
Richard Baxter: Jeremiah was the prophet of Judah’s midnight hour. . .
His sorest inward trial was the tearing of his heart between two rival sympathies – on the one hand, a sympathy with God such as few men have entered into, and on the other hand a grieving, yearning, loving sympathy with his fellow-countrymen, which made him suffer with them. In all their afflictions he himself was afflicted. Somehow, in his relation to God, Jeremiah was a prophet, and something more; and similarly, in his ardent identification of himself with his people he was a patriot, and something more. He entered both into the life of his people and into that of Jehovah. He did not merely speak for God; he felt with Him: and he did not merely speak to the people; he felt with them. . .
The central thought of the book may be expressed by bringing together the two recurrent expressions, “I will punish” and “I will restore.” While there is present failure through the sin of man, there shall be final triumph through the love of God. There is wrath to the full, but there is love to the end.
Mackay: Jeremiah’s ministry involved the proclamation of impending doom. What was to befall the people would not be a chance occurrence in the flow of human history, nor even the outworking of fundamental, underlying economic and social forces. It was an expression of the sovereign rule of the God who determines the flow of human history and whose covenant had been violated. If the people would not respond in repentance to the situation that had arisen because of their sin, then they would be swept into exile. Over the years repeated calls for repentance were spurned, and so catastrophe became increasingly inevitable for the nation. But even then there were still opportunities for individuals to escape or mitigate the impact of what was happening. What was looked for was faith – a commitment to the Lord and a personal acceptance that his purposes were determinative for life.
G. Campbell Morgan: The permanent values of this book constitute its living message. I utter that in briefest sentences. First, it teaches us that sin is its own destruction. No policy can outmaneuver God. National rebellion is national ruin. Sin carries within itself the force of its own punishment and its own retribution. Secondly, it affirms that the heart of God is wounded by sin. Judgment is His strange act. He weeps over the doom of a city. Finally it declares that the ultimate victory is with God, “He made it again.” The Branch is appointed. The King-Priest has come. We are to learn that God must punish sin, that the most awful fact of sin is that it wounds God; and finally, that if we will but have it so, if we will but turn to Him and listen to His call, He overrules by canceling, and breaking the power of sin, makes again the vessel marred in the hand of the potter.
Donald Curtis: The sentence on Judah and Jerusalem was their destruction and deportation of its people. During the critical last days, Jeremiah spoke a message by which the godly within the besieged walls of Jerusalem could escape. He also wrote letters, encouragement, and instruction to those carried into exile with Jehoiachin. Most significantly, Jeremiah proclaimed a future New Covenant that did not have the weakness of the first.
These are the charges that Jeremiah brought against the nation. It would seem as if the nation as a whole, not in part, was guilty of:
• Love of other gods, which included child sacrifice
• No love for the truth
• False prophets
• Kings and princes who do not seek justice
• Adultery, theft, and murder among the people
• Exploitation of the poor.
Homer Heater Jr.: Judah deserves to be punished. Had she repented in the earlier years, the punishment could have been averted. However, with the passing of time and the hardening of hearts, the captivity became inevitable. As a completed whole, the book of Jeremiah is an apologetic for God’s action against and in behalf of His people. The argument of the book progresses from the call of Jeremiah in chapter 1 to the removal to Egypt after his message had again been rejected in chapter 43.
J. Hampton Keathley III: In keeping with the suffering Jeremiah experienced, chapter 1 is surely a key chapter in that it records the call of the prophet. Then chapter 23 is key in that it gives the prophecy of the Messiah, the righteous branch who is seen in contrast to the wicked shepherds and lying prophets described in this same chapter. Twenty-four is another important chapter because it prophecies the Babylonian captivity which will last for seventy years. Finally, chapters 31-32 are key in that they speak of restoration, the New Covenant when the Lord will “Put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; …” (31:33)
Gleason Archer: By nature, Jeremiah was gentle, tender, and sympathetic; yet he was charged by God to proclaim a stern message of irreversible gloom. Loving his people with a deep affection, he constantly found himself the object of hatred, reproached with treason. Although he was sensitive to the extreme, he was forced to undergo a constant barrage of slander and persecution that would have crushed the most callous spirit. Introspective and retiring by nature, he was ever thrust into the limelight. Occasionally, he attempted to throw off his prophetic responsibility as a burden too heavy for him to bear, but again and again he returned to the call of duty, and by the power of the Lord stood indeed as a “tower of bronze” (1:18).