Date: 6th century BC
The prophet Jeremiah as a person is one of the most obvious characters of the Old Testament. This book contains a lot of bibliographic information. Usually the person is subordinate to the message, but with Jeremiah, life and work are closely intertwined. It can hardly be separated from each other.
Jeremiah was active during the darkest period in Judah's history, under the last five kings before the fall of the city of Jerusalem in 587 BC. In the days of King Josiah (640-609 BC), Jeremiah called for a national renewal of faith in God. He had partial success with his call. Josiah was killed in battle and was succeeded by a king who gave in to international blackmail. Jeremiah continued to preach his message of repentance and acceptance of the strong hand of God because of the sin of the people. As a result, he was imprisoned, where he stayed for many years. The evil that surrounded him destroyed Jeremiah. He often complained about the impossible situation he was in. When the land was finally taken by the kingdom of Babylon, Jeremiah was spared. In the midst of the ruins of the city of Jerusalem, he continued to preach, only to be taken as a hostage to Egypt, where he died.
Jeremiah is a great example of faith and courage. Even in the most difficult of circumstances, he was able to carry his message with strength and conviction. He was literally the only one who saw what was going on. His devotion to the task God gave him was so great that, no matter the hardships, he never wavered. That makes him a monumental example for the faithful life in the darkest times.
The foundation of Jeremiah's message was God as the sole creator and ruler of all that exists. God acts autonomously, according to his own will. He knows man from within and helps those who trust him, he loves his own. He demands obedience and faith from his people. God knows what he is doing and the hopeless situation Judah found themselves in was not beyond his knowledge or plan. He would redeem Judah in his time, if only the people would recognize him as Lord and accept his judgment upon them.
Jeremiah places great emphasis on human responsibility to God. The people of Judah had to admit that they were to blame for the whole plight. They tried to blame the ancestors, the neighbors, the prophets who pointed out their mistakes, even God but never themselves. Jeremiah wanted them to see that recovery is only possible when we take responsibility for our lives. Of course, all the things mentioned can affect us, but they can never excuse our own mistakes.
Jeremiah urged Judah to trust only in God. For too long the people had put their trust in their military might, their money, or even their piety. By attending the worship, the people thought they were doing enough to please God. It was a real shock to hear that God was not impressed by their faithful church attendance.
Finally, Jeremiah went to war against the false prophets and religions of his day. The truth had to live in the heart. And one day God would make a new covenant with his people (31:31), where the law would be written in the hearts of the people, instead of on tablets of stone. With Jesus that new covenant has come and true religion is established forever.
1. The Calling of Jeremiah (1:1-19),
2. The Sins of Judah (2:1-13:27),
3. The preaching of Jeremiah to Judah (14:1-33:26),
4. The Last Days of Judah (34:1-39:18),
5. Jeremiah after the fall of the city of Jerusalem (40:1-41:18),
6. Jeremiah in Egypt (42:1-52:34).