Week 52 – Book of Jeremiah
Read: Jeremiah Chapter 52
Think about the book of Jeremiah as a “notebook or scrapbook of things” written by the prophet and about his ministry. Including “news clippings” that “piece together the story of his life” along with addressing the “spiritual needs of his generation” and expressing “the emotions of his suffering soul,” these historical recordings tell the story of Jerusalem during one of its most chaotic times. The book of Jeremiah is more than a historical account of those current times, more importantly God’s messages give testimony to the future, both of Israel and all peoples. This is the message of hope, holy and divine in purpose.
Written in the form of narratives, poetry, laments, and prayers, these ancient words declare the power and plans of God. Expectations that come with a covenant can fail, fall apart, fold under the pressures of the carnal world. Like shiny and bright trinkets, the idols lure the people away from God, false prophets reinforce the myths. Faithful to God, Jeremiah delivers God’s truth, despite the rejection of the people. Still, hope remains. The Messianic message of the new covenant emerges in the turmoil. God’s purpose will never be defeated.
The writings of Jeremiah comprise 52 chapters, 1,364 verses, and nearly 50 years of history. Many call Jeremiah the prophet of doom, but he writes about the spiritual and cultural decline of a people who centuries before pledged to follow God and promised to keep His commandments. These holy laws, the Mosaic law, is written to protect the people and provide spiritual reconciliation with God. Agreeing to this promise (covenant), their lives are preserved and through faith and obedience comes blessings. The thread of God’s never-ending faithfulness weaves a tapestry of provision and protection, as well as righteous judgment.
Our exploring of Jeremiah includes a year of study, over 67,000 written words, and nearly 400 references. While not an exhaustive study by any means, in these chapters God’s character repeatedly reveals His continued faithfulness, love, compassion, and healing. Today, we stand far on the other side looking backward, with the New Testament written some 600 years after Jeremiah and in the 21st century, some 2,500 years later. Trying to understand these ancient times and seeking to find lessons for current times, the realization that humanity rarely changes can be disappointing. Still falling short in our faith, still seeking more in places of less, still exposing our frailties, the world remains very much the same.
Like those false prophets, we live our untruths and then believe our own rhetoric. Dressed in our finest greed and arrogance, we ignore the weak and the weary. Wrapped with our best bows, we offer token gestures of benevolence, offerings that do not require sacrifice. Tucked into our comfort and warmth, we pray that someone will help change the world for better. Perhaps there is just too much brokenness, too much injustice, too much pain in the world.
Some of my favorite words in Jeremiah come in his prayer, words that give us hope, that lead us to the answers we cannot find on our own. “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You.” (32:17) With God, nothing is impossible! This message occurs throughout Scripture, from God to Abraham, the angel to Mary, Jesus to the disciples, the epistles to all. Too much brokenness, too much injustice, too much pain – this is true for you and me, but not for God. God’s grace covers all the sin and comes as “an indescribable gift” to all. And what about us who Believe? Our lives demonstrate obedience when we share the Good News, love with His compassion, walk among the weary with hope.
Jeremiah tells us there is a future for all people seeking God with their whole heart. Being a faithful servant matters most to God. Like Jeremiah, our faithfulness cannot be limited to religious activities or righteous deeds but must secure its foundation in the faithful promises of God. In Christ, we can love without perfection, have certainty without understanding, experience peace within grief. When God dwells in the hearts of His people, we have new awareness, new insight, and new hope. The Holy Spirit empowers us to see those living on the margins, to offer Bread of Life to a starving world, and to retell the stories of God’s faithfulness.
Chapter 52 gives an account of the fall of Judah, also described in 2 Kings 24:18-20 and 2 Chronicles 36:11-14. Zedekiah, the official final king of Judah, reigns as a complicated leader. His father, Josiah, brings spiritual revival, but Zedekiah wickedness rebels against Babylon despite having vowed to be be faithful to Babylon. Various historians suggest the final siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar lasted around two and a half years. Although Zedekiah flees Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar’s men find him and Nebuchadnezzar pokes our Zedekiah’s eyes, but only after he is forced to watch his sons executed. (v11) Taken to Babylon in bronze chains, Zedekiah remains in prison until his death.
Jerusalem is plundered, all the best is taken to Babylon, the best people, the best wares, the temple treasures, and all the bronze, gold, and silver works. Nebuchadnezzar burns the Temple of Yahweh, along with the royal palace, and any houses of important people. In verses 24-26, many important leaders of Jerusalem and the temple are rounded up. The number of Jews Nebuchadnezzar sends into exile (v 28-30) say, “4,600 persons in all” from Judah. This number likely only counts the men, not women and children. Recording of this event in 2 Kings 25 gives different numbers, and the true consensus is not officially known.
The final verses describe the kindness to Jehoiachin. His prison release and invitation to eat with the son and successor to king Nebuchadnezzar suggest, “God continued to show kindness to the descendants of King David, even in exile.”
“Back and forth they talked. “Didn’t we feel on fire as He conversed with us on the road, as He opened up the Scriptures for us?” Luke 24:32 MSG
Scripture tells us about two friends, followers of Jesus, who are leaving Jerusalem on the morning of the Resurrection. Jesus begins to walk along side them, talking and teaching them. They do not recognize Jesus until after He blesses the bread, breaks it, and gives it to them. His presence kindles a fire within their hearts.
Life happens in the hurried and the slow, the random and the sure, the desperate and the joyful moments that fill our days. A pattern begins to form as we gather our experiences and passions, our talents and knowledge in trying to see the big picture. Sometimes we want a solution or need direction; sometimes we just need to rest.
Timothy Keller writes, “Build an identity that gets its significance from God.” Too often we try to connect our life-dots through accomplishments or talent or relationships. We attempt to build our own identities through culture or philosophy. We even claim the behaviors of religion, like confession, forgiveness, baptism, communion, worship, giving, prayer, but do we recognize Jesus as God-within-us? Does the presence of Jesus ignite a spiritual flame within my heart?
Blessed Assurance, even before time began, Your beauty danced across the heavens. From the highest peaks to the deepest canyons, from the widest deserts to the strongest rivers. Your glory shines. From forever to forever, Your are Jehovah-Elohim, the Eternal Creator.
Even before I took my first breath, Your plans for me were known. From the sweetest celebrations to the gravest sorrows, from the abundant blessings to the fiercest challenges, Your love abides. From before to after, forever be my dwelling place. Amen.
Food for Thought ~
It isn’t enough for a nation to put “In God We Trust” on its currency, to mention God in its pledge to the flag, or to “tip the hat to God” by quoting the Bible in political campaign speeches. It’s righteousness, not religion, that exalts a nation. What pleases the Lord is that we “do justly… love mercy… and walk humbly with [our] God.” (Micah 6:8) – Warren Wiersbe
 ESV Study Bible Intro to Jeremiah
 Life Application Study Bible notes Jeremiah 52
 Be Decisive, Wiersbe, Warren, p 186-187