We are now in the thick of the warnings and woes of the prophetic call. I used to think that these guys said the same things over and over to the same people. It seemed kind of redundant and way over the top. What I found out was that they were on a preaching tour around the country and that these words were shared with different groups of folks. So what may sound familiar was that the prophet was repeating himself as he moved around. He would just find a different way to say the same thing over and over. Hence the appearance to us that it is so monotonous. There are very few markers that tell us that it is a new group or a new town.
Some stuff about Jeremiah:
By many indications and nearly without exception, students of the Bible consider Jeremiah to be one of the foremost OT prophets. He is not called a sublime figure for nothing. Of all the prophets he is the most autobiographical. More is known about him than any other of his literary associates. Much is accreditated to Jeremiah, in fact, he is noted for the survival of his people in 586 B.C., after the Fall of Jerusalem. Along with Esther, one could say he was a preeminent savior of the Jews. Regardless of these notorieties, this man of God is probably the most misunderstood of the great OT leaders.
Many Bible scholars judge the material in Jeremiah to be the most difficult in the OT. Many of his passages have confounded the reasoning and understanding of lifelong students and professors. Due to Jeremiah’s unclear strategy in timeline and arrangement, it may be the least read and least understood of all the OT books. One needs far too many commentaries and extrabiblical history books to get a picture of what is really happening. Not a surprise then that so many books have been written on it. I have six myself.
The book of Jeremiah is longer than Isaiah and Ezekiel. It is even longer than all the minor prophets combined. Next to Psalms it is the next longest book in the Bible, only when one separates the Samuel, Kings, and Chronicle books. Jeremiah shines great light on the decline and fall of the Judean kingdom and shines great light on humankind for ages to come.
Any study of Jeremiah the person concludes with the understanding that he was a unique man in words, style, and personality. During his ministry period, he was unquestionably the greatest spiritual figure known. In an unparalleled way, he mixes the natural and the supernatural with ease and understanding. Jeremiah’s life is not marked by happiness, at least in his outward language. He is known as the “weeping prophet” with his words marked by constant sadness; his expressions of sorrow are classic. Autobiographically, Jeremiah’s personality shines through. I don’t know that he was any more different than any other prophet of God, maybe we just think so due to the literary nature of his book. I bet all the prophets took Father’s side personally. Who wouldn’t with the constant ringing of their message of decline and doom?
Rather than focusing on how hard it may be to read the book this time around, see if you can get a more intimate picture of Jeremiah as a person. Gravitate towards his love for people and his great desire to warn them of their malfuntional lives and call back to Father. There are great lessons for us. Loving people is preeminent in our quest for advancing God’s kingdom.
Stay faithful my friends. Only 33 more days to the finish line. Pastor Mark.
Done with the help of Charles L. Feinberg, “Jeremiah” in The Expostitors Bible Commentary, vol. 6. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986); R.K. Harrison, Jeremiah and Lamentations in The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973).; Derek Kidner, “The Message of Jeremiah” in The Bible Speaks Today. (Leicester: Inter-Varsity Press, 1987.).