Read parts of Jeremiah's writing here (Chapters 1, 6:6-15, 31:27-34)
Prophet Jeremiah was a priest who lived in Jerusalem around 626-586 BC, during the final years of the Kingdom of Southern Judah and the rise of the Babylonian Empire. He lived around the same time as Prophet Daniel.
The people of God had abandoned God's way and broke the covenant God had established with them again and again! Their society was full of injustices and many people even adopted the worship of pagan gods. Jeremiah witnessed his own people commit very serious idolatry against God.
And again, God did not give up on His people.
God called Jeremiah to speak to the people.
Jeremiah recalled how God called him in the opening of the book:
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
The way God sees His people
The book of Jeremiah clearly shows us how God works among His people. What God really cares about is our relationship with Him. Sometimes He needs to uproot, tear down, destroy and overthrow parts of us that stand between Him and us. But God always gives hope, because He also builds and restores.
So Jeremiah spoke against the corruption and social injustice against orphans, widows and refugees. All these were clear violation of the laws of the Torah. He also spoke against their idolatry. Many were worshipping pagan gods and even sacrificing their children to false gods!
They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. (6:14)
The people thought they were doing alright, covering their problems with different activities. But in their hearts, they had no peace because they were far from God.
God's new promise to all His people
Jeremiah accurately predicted a new empire (the Babylonian Empire) would rise and destroy Jerusalem and take God's people into exile as God's judgement.
But God always delivers His people. At the end of his book, Prophet Jeremiah wrote messages of hope for the future.
First, God said He would never abandon His people. Throughout history, God had repeatedly renewed His covenant with His people again and again.
Second, God promised to give His people not only a new chance, but a new heart. Third, God would completely heal their sinful hearts so that one day they could truly love God.
“I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (31:33-34)
In the end of the book, God also promises He will reach out to all people who call out to Him for help.
"Call unto me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (33:3)
Will you call unto God?
The final fulfilment of God's promise: The Messiah!
Like Daniel, Jeremiah saw hope into the distant future because God allowed him to have a glimpse of the coming Messiah:
The Messiah would be from the line of David (23:5-6, 30:9)
The coming of the Messiah would be a whole new covenant between God and His people (31:31-33) and an everlasting covenant (32:40, 50:5)
He would bring true forgiveness of sins (31:34)
Your Response: Listen and Pray to God
1. What does the way God called Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-10) teach you about God's relationship with His people?
2. Have you experienced what Jeremiah wrote, "'Peace, peace,’ they say, 'when there is no peace.'" How does Jeremiah help you understand why God's people sometimes could feel this way?
3. God said He planned to "uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant" in the hearts of His people. Will you invite God to change your heart so that you may know and love Him more? Do you believe He will do it?
4. How has Jeremiah changed the way you know God? What will be your response to God today?
5. Who will you share this story with?