Prophetic background - Just as the eighth century B. Especially close is the relationship between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Probably Nahum and Habakkuk were also contemporaries of Jeremiah. Three of the four major prophets were related to captivities: 1 Daniel in Jehoiakim's time Da , 2 Ezekiel in Jehoiachin's time Eze , and 3 Jeremiah in Zedekiah's time Historical background - Events. To understand Jeremiah's prophecy requires close scrutiny of his times because of 1 the critical events in the political world of his day--events in which Judah was directly affected--and 2 the number of kings in Judah who reigned during his career and with whom he had close contact.
Jeremiah was a national and international figure. The times of Jeremiah are among the most important in OT history. Because of their significance, they are the best-documented times in all Israel's history. The book of Jeremiah is so filled with historical, biographical, and autobiographical material that his life can be synchronized with dates and known events to a degree unparalleled in the writings of other prophets.
Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar and conqueror of Assyria, came from Chaldea, a province in the southern part of Babylonia, and reigned from to B. Nebuchadnezzar more properly Nebuchadrezzar , the most famous of the Babylonian monarchs, ruled from to B. Geographically and politically Judah was in a vulnerable position between the power politics of Egypt and Assyria.
In the eighth century B.
By God's protection the kingdom of Judah had escaped Sennacherib's forces. But from the godly reign of Hezekiah, the nation declined to the lowest spiritual depths under the godless rule of Manasseh 2Ki ; If Jeremiah was called in his early twenties, he lived in the reigns of Manasseh and Amon.
Under Manasseh's long, apostate reign of fifty-five years, the reforms of his godly father, Hezekiah, were forgotten. Judah was then under Assyrian power; so to please his overlords, Manasseh introduced syncretistic elements into the temple worship at Jerusalem. The northern kingdom Israel was already exiled B. During the reigns of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, the Assyrian power conquered Egypt; but the latter regained strength under Psammetik I B. Politically, Assyria was under strong opposition from Babylon, fighting to survive. This gave Judah more freedom to throw off Assyrian elements in her worship.
In B. The reforms are detailed in 2Ki ; though widespread and well inaugurated, they did not last, as is evident from Jeremiah's ceaseless condemnation of the nation's sins. Josiah, though he had been warned by Neco, interfered and lost his life at the Battle of Megiddo 2Ki ; 2Ch But Babylon, stronger than Egypt, dominated the world scene under Nabopolassar of Chaldea, ruler of Babylonia by B.
Thereafter Babylon was master of the world. For years Jeremiah steadily counseled against Judah's involvement in world politics. When the people refused his counsel, he repeatedly entreated them to surrender to the superior forces of Babylon, who at that time were an instrument for carrying out God's will.go to site
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In three months of rule he manifested an anti-Egypt and pro-Babylon policy, for which he was summarily deposed by Pharaoh Neco 2Ki , who took him to Egypt and imposed tribute on the country. In his place Neco set on the throne Eliakim, oldest son of Josiah and half-brother of Jehoahaz 2Ki , 36 , changing his name to Jehoiakim 2Ki ; 2Ch Politically, king and prophet were diametrically opposed, the king favoring Egypt and Jeremiah counseling submission to Babylon.
Spiritually, the two were even farther apart. Jehoiakim has been characterized as the worst and most ungodly of all Judah's kings. He has been labeled a bloodthirsty tyrant, an inveterate enemy of the truth.
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He cared nothing for the worship of the God of Israel, exacted exorbitant taxes, used forced labor without pay, and had no regard for the word or prophet of God ; ch. In Jehoiakim's eleven-year reign, the Battle of Carchemish took place cf. It was an event of permanent significance, for it marked the transfer of power over the Middle East from Egypt to Babylon. This defeat was the final blow to Egypt's aspirations and guaranteed the Chaldeans the supremacy of the West. It was the turning point of the period and had important consequences for Israel's future.
Some scholars consider this first taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar the beginning of the seventy years of Judah's exile in Babylon ; with it the dissolution of the Davidic kingdom had begun.
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Jehoiakim sponsored idolatry and had no concern for the widespread social injustice in his realm ; 2Ki Of all the kings under whom Jeremiah prophesied, Jehoiakim was the most inveterate foe of the message and messenger of God cf. In Jehoiakim's time, Jeremiah was persecuted, plotted against, maligned, and imprisoned. The king destroyed his written prophecies, but the prophet did not swerve from his divine commission cf. Jehoiakim died violently in Jerusalem in B. But this teenage king ruled long enough to reveal himself as a wicked monarch, whom Jeremiah strenuously denounced Jehoiachin's father's rebellion against Babylon forced Nebuchadnezzar to besiege Jerusalem in B.
He was exiled to Babylon with many of Judah's upper class among them the prophet Ezekiel [ Eze ] , and the temple was plundered 2Ki Jehoiachin was a prisoner in Babylon for thirty-seven years He was released by Evil-Merodach, son and successor of Nebuchadnezzar 2Ki Strangely, the Jews long held a hope of his restoration to the Davidic throne; and Ezekiel refers to him, not to Zedekiah his successor, as king.
After the exile of Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar set on the Judean throne Mattaniah, a son of Josiah, full brother of Eliakim and uncle of Jehoiachin, and changed his name to Zedekiah 2Ki ; ; 2Ch ; Jer , a fact confirmed by the Babylonian Chronicle.
The situation in Judah at the outset of Zedekiah's reign was that a series of sieges and deportations with changes in rulers had depleted the small kingdom of some of its best minds. Zedekiah, weak, vacillating, deficient in personality, found it beyond him to exert effective governing leadership. A puppet of Babylon, to whose king he had sworn fealty in the name of the God of Israel, he was checkmated in every decision by the pro-Egyptian policy of his officials. Zedekiah's relationship with Jeremiah was closer than any previous Judean king, with the probable exception of the godly Josiah.
But he was powerless to protect Jeremiah from the vicious designs of the nobles and to follow the God-given counsel that Jeremiah ceaselessly reiterated about submitting to Nebuchadnezzar. In the fourth year of his reign, Zedekiah plotted rebellion against Babylon with a confederacy of the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon This was their object in sending representatives to Jerusalem. The plot was denounced by Jeremiah and ultimately came to nothing. Perhaps Zedekiah's visit to Babylon that same year was intended to assure Nebuchadnezzar of his loyalty The end, however, was not far off.
In the ninth year of his reign B.
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Babylon responded with an invasion of Judah, which ended when the city fell in the summer of B. Throughout the siege, Jeremiah urged Zedekiah to surrender ; , ; , ; At one point the approach of the Egyptian army compelled the withdrawal of Babylon's forces, but the siege was resumed Meanwhile, because of the cowardly attitude of Zedekiah, Jeremiah was mistreated by his enemies in Judah ; ch. The destruction of Jerusalem at this time, annually observed in mourning among Jews the world over on the ninth of the month Ab, was the greatest judgment of God on Israel in the OT.
Zedekiah, captured as he tried to escape, his sons slain before him, and his eyes blinded, was carried to Babylon with a company of his subjects. After the destruction of the city and temple, the king of Babylon appointed Gedaliah governor of Judah. After a brief period which, in the absence of evidence, could be three months or a few years , Gedaliah was murdered by a scion of the Davidic house, possibly at the instigation of pro-Egyptian sympathizers. Fearing reprisal from Babylon, the survivors of this tragedy fled to Egypt, taking Jeremiah and Baruch by force with them.
So was completed a cycle begun with deliverance from Pharaoh by Moses centuries before. Strange, too, that Jeremiah, who counseled throughout his ministry against confidence in Egypt, should end his earthly days there against his will. Thus an important era in the theocracy in Israel was ended.
The destruction of the sanctuary at Shiloh had closed the age of the Judges. The destruction of Solomon's temple marked the end of the period of the monarchy in Israel. The fall of the second temple by Titus A. Theological Emphases. The dominant elements of Jeremiah's message are of paramount significance for his day and ours.
What sustained him throughout a lifetime of grief and opposition was that he had an undying confidence in God and his promises ; ; The two foci of his life and ministry were God--his goodness, his claims on humankind, his requirements of repentance and faith--and his wayward people--their welfare, both physically and spiritually. Jeremiah enjoyed a high concept of God as Lord of all creation The gods of the nation are nonentities [the only verse in the book in Aramaic], 14 ; God knows the malady of the human heart ; yet he loves his people deeply , longing to bless those who trust him Idolatrous worship and heartless, impenitent service are alike an abomination to him ; No greater insult can be offered God than to represent him under the form of dead idols.
Idolatry was the special sin Jeremiah tirelessly preached against. Three kinds of falsehood stirred him: 1 false security that refused all calls for repentance, 2 false prophets who lulled the people into dangerous complacency, and 3 the false worship of idols. Images of these deities were even placed in the temple ; cf.
Immorality always accompanies idolatry. In Jeremiah's time moral corruption was widespread and social injustices abounded ; ; Priests and prophets were as culpable as the rest of Judah Yet the nation carried out its religious rites. But God was not to be placated with these merely external services.
Jeremiah preached that judgment was inescapable. God had already used drought, famine, and foreign invaders ; ; he would yet bring the culminating visitation through Nebuchadnezzar But God's love and faithfulness to his covenants would not permit the judgment to be fatal or final. There was a future hope. Jeremiah foretold the return from captivity in Babylon ; as well as the doom of Babylon itself chs. He did not hesitate to give Israel's hope tangible manifestation Jeremiah also had a ministry to the nations , He saw Nebuchadnezzar as God's agent in the events of that day He warned the other nations against resisting Nebuchadnezzar In God's name he demanded righteousness of all nations chs.
He voiced God's concern for the welfare of all peoples , esp. Probably the outstanding emphasis in Jeremiah's ministry was the priority of the spiritual over everything else.
He saw how secondary the temporal features of Judah's faith were. He saw his coreligionists trusting 1 an outward acceptance of the covenant of the Lord , 2 circumcision , 3 the temple , 4 the sacrificial system ; , 5 outward possession of the law of Moses , 6 false prophecy , 7 prayer ; , 8 the throne , and 9 the ark Jeremiah preached more about repentance than any other prophet.
His overarching concern at all times was the condition of the individual heart. His exposition of the new covenant is outstanding in Scripture The NT shows us how deeply this truth entered into the work of our Lord. As for Jeremiah's predictions of the distant future, Israel will return in penitence to the Lord The Messiah will rule over her in justice and righteousness The remnant of the nations will enjoy blessing at that time ; As for messianic prophecy, Jeremiah does not describe messianic times in detail.
The person of the Messiah is not so prominent in his book. But Jeremiah does give some significant messianic passages: 1 the proclamation of a revelation of God that will outshine the ark of the covenant ; 2 the disclosure of a new covenant ; 3 the realization of the Mosaic ideal Ex with the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant The lasting value of Jeremiah's book lies not only in the allusions between forty and fifty of them in the NT over half are in Revelation but also in its being a wonderful handbook for learning the art of having fellowship with God.
Here is personal faith at its highest in the OT, a veritable gateway to understanding the deeper meaning of the priesthood and the monarchy under the Davidic dynasty ; Indeed, the abundance of bright promises for the nation in chs. He does not speak of personal resurrection but of the restoration of Israel. Because Jeremiah is so unlike any other OT prophet, and because his writings are so inextricably bound up with his life and thought, the student of his prophecy must consider in depth the inner life and characteristics of this man of God, some elements of which have already been lightly touched on.
Besides the features of his natural abilities, his emotions, his motivation, and his personal relationship to the Lord, there are the so-called Confessions of Jeremiah, his dialogues with the Lord, his imprecations on his enemies, and especially his prayer life. No OT prophet has disclosed more of his heart and spiritual yearnings than he. Though he was gentle and timid but never effeminate, as some have charged , because of the call and commission of God he adamantly held to his duty. He could not be swayed. No one in Judah was more patriotic; yet he never allowed himself to gloss over Judah's sin.