Jeremiah’s 50-year prophetic career is astounding. He lived in an era when Judah experienced threats from Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. He ministered under the reigns of five kings of Judah. He saw both Assyria and Egypt defeated by a new superpower and became an exile during the Babylonian captivity. His work was contemporaneous with the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel and Ezekiel.
Four centuries earlier, Solomon had erected shrines to false gods and idolatry had taken its toll on the nation. Sins included: apostasy, idolatry, moral depravity, and hypocrisy. Superficial reforms could not avert God’s judgment. Radical spiritual surgery was inevitable and Babylon was God’s instrument.
Jeremiah’s book divides itself into three parts. In the first 33 chapters, Judah is in focus and prophecies center on the impending fall of Jerusalem. In the next segment, surrounding nations are prophesied against during the fall of Jerusalem (Ch. 34-45). The final chapters center on prophecies regarding Babylon after the fall of Jerusalem.
Jeremiah had a “zero-tolerance” policy concerning the religious bigots of his day. He preached to princes, paupers, kings, servants and beggars. Jeremiah revealed the true character of the nation and as a result suffered great opposition. He was persecuted, ridiculed, cursed, betrayed, threatened, ignored, rejected, publicly humiliated, starved, beaten and imprisoned.
Conflict was the watchword of Jeremiah’s career. His own home town turns against him. A coalition of priests and false prophets charge him with blasphemy. He is branded as a traitor. People plan to kill him. He is put in the stocks. He is left to die in a muddy cistern. But through it all, Jeremiah never compromised. He continued to prophesy through times of great national and personal stress. The prophet was always faithful, but he was not always happy. Although he is tempted to give up his mission, he never does.
His messages are marked by a hatred of social injustices, idolatry and false prophecy. Jeremiah was a selfless man of faith, courage, and prayer. He was a heart-broken man with a heart-breaking message. He was willing to suffer for and with his people. He was gentle, meek, patient, compassionate, honest, and devoted to his ministry.
The personality of “the weeping prophet” did not match his task, for he was a timid person with bold words to share. He had great empathy for the people’s sufferings, but knew their wounds were self-inflicted. He is called to predict the downfall of his own nation and the divine imperative prompted him to preach a straightforward message. However, his speeches are sprinkled with the messianic hope of a better future. During the darkest days of Judah, the brightest star shining was Jeremiah.
This series of questions is designed to take the student on an inductive journey through the book of Jeremiah. This exercise will allow the student to read and interact with virtually every verse in this magnificent prophetical book. All questions and answers are based on the KJV and NKJV.