As we arrive at Week 5 in Jeremiah, we come to a section (11:1–20:18) where the prophet struggles with Judah, himself, and YHWH. As a result he is surprised by opposition (11:1–12:17), stunned over feeling betrayed by God (13:1–15:21), renewed by God (16:1–17:18), burdened by opposition (17:19–18:23), and prepared to continue serving (19:1–20:18). Throughout this section Jeremiah rides a roller coaster of frustration, desperation, and restoration.
One of the many gospel glimpses we see in this section is that God intended his people to “be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen” (Jer 13:11). Yet because of their sin they failed to reflect God’s glory. But the good news of the gospel is that “God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). As believers see the glory of Christ, we “are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).
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In Jeremiah 7:1–10:25, the prophet gives further evidence of God’s charges against Judah. They hypocritically take comfort in having the temple while living in open disobedience to God (7:1–8:3), reject YHWH’s torah (8:4–17), grieve Jeremiah by living deceitful lives (8:18–9:26), and continue to practice idolatry (10:1–16). As a result, exile awaits them (10:17–25). In this section of Jeremiah, we see that YHWH wants his people to know him for who he truly is and as a result live a life of covenant faithfulness.
Along the way we see glimpses of the gospel. God delights in his people knowing him, and he wants to ensure that we know him as he truly is (Jer 9:24). He wants us to know him as “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod 34:6–7). Despite our rebellion against him, God took on flesh and dwelled among us in the person of Jesus Christ, who was full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Because of what he has done for us, we can experience “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” and “the power of his resurrection” (Phil 3:8, 10).
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As we reach week 3 in our study of Jeremiah, we now move into Jeremiah’s prophecies. Our section was Jeremiah 2:1–6:30, which contains a series of five messages that describe Israel’s breaking of their covenant with the Lord. Israel is an adulterous wife who has pursued other gods (2:1–3:5), so God is calling her to repent (3:6–4:4) because disaster is coming (4:5–31). Judah’s stubborn refusal to repent will bring serious consequences (5:1–31) and result in God rejecting his people (6:1–30). Throughout this section God reminds Israel of his particular love for them—he is Israel’s husband who redeemed her out of slavery in Egypt and entered into an exclusive covenant with them. Such extraordinary grace makes Israel’s unfaithfulness all the more shocking. Jeremiah 2:1–6:30 vividly describes Judah’s persistent idolatry as spiritual adultery that violates Yahweh’s covenant with them.
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The opening chapter of Jeremiah introduces us to the prophet and foreshadows the kind of ministry he will have. After setting the historical stage (1:1–3), God calls Jeremiah to be his prophet to the nations (1:4–16). By putting his words in Jeremiah’s mouth God appoints him “over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (1:10). Fulfilling this ministry will cause Jeremiah great suffering, but God promises to protect him (1:17–19). Jeremiah 1:1–19 shows us Jeremiah’s commission to speak God’s words of judgment and restoration for both Judah and the nations.
Just as God promised to deliver Jeremiah by being with him, so too God has delivered us by taking on flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. As great as it was for Jeremiah to have the Word of the Lord come to him, we have the far greater blessing of having the Word who became flesh dwelling in us.
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Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He is also a member of Christ’s Covenant Church, where he serves on the Preaching Team, leads a small group, and teaches regularly in their Life Education classes.
Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).
Follow him on Twitter: @DocHarmon