ImmerseProphets - Page 213



IMMERSED IN JEREMIAH
T H E B O O K O F J E R E M I A H is
the longest book within the Prophets, containing oracles and stories drawn from a period of more than thirty
years. But a single historical situation looms over the whole book: The
Babylonian Empire threatens and then destroys Jerusalem, leading to
the exile of its people. This constitutes the single biggest crisis that
God’s people had ever encountered.
God calls Jeremiah to be a prophet when he is still young (Jeremiah
actually protests that he’s “too young”), and God tells him to renew the
warning that earlier prophets had sounded. The people of Judah confidently think they will never be conquered because the Lord has made
his home in the Jerusalem Temple. But Jeremiah warns them: “Do you
really think you can steal, murder, commit adultery, lie, and burn incense
to Baal and all those other new gods of yours, and then come here and
stand before me in my Temple and chant, ‘We are safe!’—only to go
right back to all those evils again?”
But the more Jeremiah insists that disaster is imminent, the more
the leaders and people resist him. He is mocked and hated and even
accused of treason against the nation. Finally, he is thrown in prison,
where he nearly dies. But through it all—even in the midst of deep depression—Jeremiah faithfully fulfills his calling. For the Lord had told
him, “Today I appoint you to stand up against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow. Others
you must build up and plant.”
The material in the book of Jeremiah is organized into four major parts,
each marked off at the end by a reference to Jeremiah’s words being
written down and then read. The first part is a collection of his oracles
about Judah (pp. 203-254), spoken at different points in his career.
In the second part of the book (pp. 254-274), Jeremiah recounts
stories and messages related to events in Jerusalem during the reigns
of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah in the years just before the final Babylonian
invasion. More stories like these make up the third part of the book
(pp. 274-284), where they concentrate on the final years of the kingdom
of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem.
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