Last Sunday we completed our sermon series on The Ten Commandments. This morning we turn to the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah.
God calls Jeremiah to the prophetic office during the declining days of the southern kingdom of Judah. The Babylonian empire is bearing down on God’s people of promise, threatening their very existence.
But far worse is the enemy within. Good King Josiah sits on the throne when Jeremiah begins his ministry. But the kings that follow have shown their backs to God with a vengeance.
Jeremiah sees fulfilled in his lifetime many of the ugly things the prophet Isaiah foretold, most notably the destruction of Jerusalem, the Lord’s temple in flames and the people of Judah in chains trudging off to 70 years of captivity in far-off Babylon.
The book of Jeremiah is made up of 52 long chapters. It will be our goal on Sunday mornings to capture the broad sweep of the book while focusing more intensely on specific passages. God-willing, we will cover these “Gems From Jeremiah” by mid-June.
There is no strict chronological order to the book. The Holy Spirit is pleased to have His prophet move backward and forward in a way that reflects the very chaos and disorder of the times in which He lived and preached.
A basic outline of Jeremiah would look something like this:
Chapters 1-25 Prophecies about the kingdom of Judah
Chapters 26-45 The personal life of the prophet in the midst of a hardened people
Chapters 46-51 Prophecies against other nations
Chapter 52 Historical Epilog
Jeremiah is sometimes called “the weeping prophet.” His sad sequel, Lamentations, shows the prophet sitting on a heap of rubble that used to be the holy city of Jerusalem. His warnings of impending doom, and his gospel invitations to fall back into the arms of the God who would remember their sins no more – all went unheeded.
But we must not picture Jeremiah as some limp-wristed, whiney cleric, sobbing softly into a lace hanky.
He is a prophet of iron, uncompromising, utterly loyal to God and God’s word. Flesh and blood that he is, he finds it painful to be the most hated guy in town, persecuted, mocked, disobeyed.
If we have the Spirit-given eyes for it, we will see in this book of the Bible a token of our own times. The description of a back-sliding people, the summons to repent before things have gone too far, the phony religious slogans which masquerade as the faith, the promise of a Savior – the Branch of David and the Lord our Righteousness are as timely as today’s newspaper, but infinitely more lasting. For it is still true: The Word of the Lord abides forever!