JEREMIAH: The Lonely Prophet
It was a time for reform in Israel. Josiah was cleaning up the land. Jeremiah had just begun prophesying. Things seemed to be going in the right direction. The prophets were saying all was merry and bright. But everything wasn’t as it seemed - or so said God and his prophet, Jeremiah. Everyone in Jerusalem from prophet to priest, to king and citizen felt as though times couldn’t have been better. The temple was standing. Alliances were solid. What could be wrong?
Everything. The temple was beautiful, but it was the place where the unjust gathered to feel safe. The prophets spoke oracles constantly, but they were seeing peaceful visions from their own head. The kings were sons of David, but after Josiah, they were nothing like David. Idolatry was rampant and injustice was widespread. The temple was standing, everyone was “going to church,” but nobody was really close to the Lord.
Jeremiah was forced by God to prophesy as a young man, but once he started, he couldn’t stop no matter how many death threats he received. Jeremiah prophesied for about 40 years, but few listened to him. He preached during the days of Josiah until Jerusalem was destroyed and the remnant left (with Jeremiah) to Egypt. Jeremiah proclaimed his message by both sermon and prophetic demonstrations (smashing jars, burying underwear, etc.). While the Book of Jeremiah includes many of Jeremiah’s messages, this book is unique to the other prophets because we are told so much about the actual prophet through the narratives of Jeremiah’s interactions with the people. It contains oracle, lament, and narrative. This book truly takes us into the heart of a prophet who really struggled with both God and his people.
The Upshot. The Book of Jeremiah challenges us to consider whether we love the Lord as much as we say we do. It convicts us as it shows how people responded to God’s word in dishonest ways. It motivates us as we see the faithfulness of a heavily persecuted prophet. It comforts us as God gives Jeremiah dreams of a future that gave “pleasant” rest to a very troubled prophet. Whether oracle, narrative, lament, or prophetic demonstration, will seek to submit to and receive encouragement from the worldview presented by the text.