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Reading Jeremiah
April 14 2016
April 14 2016


As you know, we as a church are reading through the Bible in four years. (If you would like to join us, our current reading plan is on the last pages of the prayer devotional guide which can be downloaded here.)
This week, we began reading Jeremiah. I thought it might be helpful to remind us of some of Jeremiah's context. Jeremiah 1:2 tells us that Jeremiah prophesied during the kingship of three kings of Judah (Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah) and " until the captivity of Jerusalem". Though more could be said, here are four reminders:
  1. He mentions Judah | Remember that after David's son Solomon reigned, God's people divided into two kingdoms: Israel (in the North) and Judah (in the South.). Jeremiah will sometimes address each nation individually and at other times speak of them as a unit. [Jeremiah 3:8 is an example of where he addresses the Judah in the South and their King (Josiah) and asks them to learn from what happened to Israel in the North.]
  2. Judah is a small, struggling nation | By the time Jeremiah is prophesying, Israel has already been conquered by Assyria and is no more. Judah is hanging on to its land and nationhood but is a small nation surrounded by more powerful ones - especially Babylon.
  3. II Chronicles 34-36 | If you want the historical background on what is going on in Judah at the time, it might be worth looking at 2 Chronicles 34-36. Notice that these chapters cover the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah whom are mentioned in Jeremiah 1:2.
  4. Jeremiah as Covenant Lawyer | Prophets like Jeremiah are God's covenant lawyers or litigators. They take God's covenant and hold God's people accountable to it. So, for example, Jeremiah 2:9 says "Therefore I still contend with you." The word "contend" is a technical phrase basically saying, "I am bringing a lawsuit against you." Plus, lawsuits always require that one look at and refer to the law! (duh!) That means that another thing that will be informing Jeremiah are books like Deuteronomy. (Specifically Deuteronomy 28 & 30). Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings and curses. So for example, Deuteronomy 28:24 says that rain will be withheld if Israel disobeys. And Jeremiah 3:3 says that 'showers were withheld'. Or take Deuteronomy 28:64-68 which states that a disobedient nation would go into exile. By the end of Jeremiah (Jer.52), that is exactly what we see! And a final example that illustrates how Jeremiah relies on Deuteronomy is the shocking phrase "whoring after other god's"... It is in Deuteronomy 31:16! So Jeremiah is applying God's law to the situation in front of him.
In all of it, however, we can see Jeremiah clinging to Deuteronomy 30:1-10 which talks about forgiveness offered to the nation when it repents. Jeremiah, as a covenant lawyer, is trying to call God's people to change and repent.
It will be a long book ... and it is not the easiest one in the Bible... but may God form us into his faithful people as we read it!


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