Of all the prophets charged to remonstrate with the Israelite nation to stop their plunge to destruction, none had a more difficult task than Jeremiah. He was still a young man when he was given his mission, and he spent the rest of his life gamely and vainly trying to persuade a people convinced of its rectitude and the invincibility of its temple to change their ways.
Jeremiah began his prophetic career in circa 626BC under King Josiah, one of the most righteous of all the kings of Judah, the one who restored the Temple and its services to their previous glory. Ironically, that made Jeremiah’s task even harder, because the people insisted that the Temple would save them despite their private worship of idols.
Jeremiah was opposed by false prophets who insisted that night was day and day was night. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had conquered and sacked Jerusalem – could there be any greater proof of God’s wrath against his idolatrous people? But charlatans prophesied that the conqueror would soon return the Temple’s looted treasures and go down in defeat.
The mendacious priests of the Temple, in the service of their supporters rather than the truth, disputed him at every turn. The masses, always hungry for reassurance and outraged at Jeremiah’s refusal to say the popular thing, demanded that he be put to death, as the prophet Uriah had been.
King Johoiakim disobeyed him and burned the scrolls of his prophecies. When Jeremiah refused to be silenced, King Zedekiah had him hurled into a dungeon where he remained until the sun set on Jerusalem.
Ultimately, Jeremiah had the bitter task of vindication, as Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and he was set free, not by his own people but by the plunderers of his beloved nation and city. Consumed by his love for Israel, Jeremiah wept and grieved for his beloved brethren as they were led into exile. He encouraged them, telling them that they should bear their ordeal in a hostile, foreign land with fortitude, because they would become the foundation upon which the new commonwealth would be built.
Jeremiah bemoaned his own fate. Why had he been the one chosen to not only foretell the horrors but to witness them, and even to be at the mercy of the people he had been trying to save? But there is no doubt that the exiles in Babylon found strength in his prophecy that there would be redemption and glory seventy years after the destruction of their Temple, city and nation.
Jeremiah did not live to see his prophecy fulfilled, but many of those who had heard his prophecies were among the ones who returned with Ezra and Nehemiah to inaugurate the Second Temple.
|Introduction||Chapter One||Chapter Two||Chapter Three|
|Chapter Four||Chapter Five||Chapter Six||Chapter Seven|
|Chapter Eight||Chapter Nine||Chapter Ten||Chapter Eleven|
|Chapter Twelve||Chapter Thirteen||Chapter Fourteen||Chapter Fifteen|
|Chapter Sixteen||Chapter Seventeen||Chapter Eighteen||Chapter Nineteen|
|Chapter Twenty||Chapter Twenty One||Chapter Twenty Two||Chapter Twenty Three|
|Chapter Twenty Four||Chapter Twenty Five||Chapter Twenty Six||Chapter Twenty Seven|
|Chapter Twenty Eight||Chapter Twenty Nine||Chapter Thirty||Chapter Thirty One|
|Chapter Thirty Two||Chapter Thirty Three||Chapter Thirty Four||Chapter Thirty Five|
|Chapter Thirty Six||Chapter Thirty Seven||Chapter Thirty Eight||Chapter Thirty Nine|
|Chapter Forty||Chapter Forty One||Chapter Forty Two||Chapter Forty Three|
|Chapter Forty Four||Chapter Forty Five||Chapter Forty Six||Chapter Forty Seven|
|Chapter Forty Eight||Chapter Forty Nine||Chapter Fifty||Chapter Fifty One|
|Chapter Fifty Two||Summary|