Jeremiah - Introduction

Through the book of Jeremiah, God speaks of righteousness and judgment. In its primary application the message is directed at Israel, specifically the southern kingdom of Judah. The northern kingdom had already fallen and been carried away captive in fulfilment of the prophetic warnings of Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah and others.

Jeremiah's ministry began during the reign of Josiah, a king known for the great revival which he initiated. His ministry continued through the reigns of the last four kings of Jerusalem (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah), all of whom disregarded his passionate warnings. The judgment which he foretold came to pass before his eyes, as Zedekiah and his countrymen were carried away captive to Babylon.

Interspersed within Jeremiah's message of inescapable judgment upon those who turn from the Lord to serve other gods, are wonderful passages where the Lord promises that He will restore Israel, turning them to Himself and making them truly righteous.

The book of Jeremiah is unique among the Old Testament prophets, because not only does God reveal prophetic truth through him, but He also reveals the prophet's heart to us. Jeremiah stood alone. He was persecuted, imprisoned, mocked, and his message was almost completely disregarded. The emotional pain of his mistreatment weighed heavily upon him. Yet, his personal sufferings were less burdensome to him than the sorrows that he knew must fall upon his neighbors due to their disregard of the Lord. His heartache was deepened still because he often did not fully understand how the Lord would accomplish His purposes through the destruction of His people. This book, like Jeremiah's Lamentations, may be seen as a continual discussion between the prophet and the Lord, whom he served, and whom he knew to be faithful to His Word.

Jeremiah was faithful to proclaim God's Word during a time of deep apostasy. We also live in such a time. There is much that we can learn from him.

Jeremiah is a very difficult book to outline because it is not arranged chronologically. However, it may be seen as two books with a few appendices. The content of each of these sections is chronological, for the most part. The first book consisted of the scroll, recorded by a scribe named Baruch, of all that the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah up to the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer 36:2-4). After Jehoakim destroyed this scroll, the Lord told Jeremiah to again dictate the same words to Baruch. So, the words of the first book were preserved, "and there were added besides unto them many like words" (Jer 36:32) which comprise the second book, written primarily during the reign of Zedekiah. The appendices relate to events following the fall of Jerusalem, including Jeremiah's experiences while living among the Jews who were not carried away to Babylon, and his warnings that they should remain in the land rather than fleeing to Egypt. This word and the subsequent prophecies which he delivered in Egypt, were also rejected by the people. The final chapter is a recap of the fall of Jerusalem including details concerning the effects upon various individuals.

The overall outline of the book is adapted from the outline suggested by J.Vernon McGee. The Book Notes are also arranged in outline form, expanding the overall outline and providing greater detail, as we progress through each chapter.

These notes are supplemental aids to understanding the scriptures. It is very important that you read the passage under consideration before studying the notes. Please read the Keys to Understanding Scripture and the Keys to Using the Notes in the Key & Guide to Notes.


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