What Does Jeremiah’s Book Have to Do with Today? 

In today’s study time I completed reading through the Old Testament book of Jeremiah again. It remains one of my favorite books of Scripture. Why?

There are several reasons, but here are three: 1) It demonstrates the human heart played out in real historical events; 2) It shows how God uses sinful nations and people as means of executing judgment upon people who said they were God’s people; and 3) It shows God’s sovereignty/rule, thereby reminding me that the world, crazy as it seems most days, has God as Ruler, and the dissolution we see is part of God’s cosmic plan to both redeem a remnant of people through grace and to leave others to justice.

In sum, what does Jeremiah’s book have to do with today? Everything. Will you stick with me for a moment or two?

Context: 500s B.C. in the ancient Near East (Israel, Judah, Babylon, Egypt, etc.) To use modern geography, the book of Jeremiah initially addressed audiences that today are the countries of Israel, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, parts of Saudi Arabia, and more. 

Cultural Crises of Jeremiah’s Time:  There were several crises of the time, brought about because of the people’s sin and unrepentant spirits, their hardheartedness towards God’s messenger (Jeremiah) and God’s message (the gospel). A primary crisis in the 500s was the fall of Jerusalem, the burning of the temple, the exiles to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar, and more. In simple terms, God used other wicked nations to judge Judah for its wickedness. 

Judgment came by way of military invasion by foreign nations and foreign armies. Judgment came by way of deportation. Judgment came by way of God’s truth-teller (Jeremiah) being persecuted and mocked. Judgment came by way of letting people see what depths to which a culture can and will sink when the people are given over to paganism. 

One of the refrains pervading Jeremiah is the lament, “Terror on every side!” (6:25; 20:3, 10; 46:5; 49:29). The people see their civilization crumbling. Yet truth-tellers like 
Jeremiah were exiled, mocked, cast into the mud, deprived of sustenance, and threatened (Jeremiah 26 and 38, e.g.). 

Connections: Any similarities to today? Any chance that if you’re a truth-teller you may be cast into the cistern or “cancelled” or mocked or uninvited or de-platformed? “Beuller, Beuller? Anyone?” 

Any chance there are truth-tellers like Jeremiah today saying, “The walls are being broken down and invasion is taking place”? “Beuller, Beuller? Anyone?” 

Any chance that God is judging wicked nations by way of other wicked nations because of our rejecting his messenger (Jeremiah in the 500s B.C. in Judah and truth-tellers today) and his message (the gospel)? 

But God and His Sovereignty: In Jeremiah’s ministry, God reminded all those with ears to hear that he was revealing a remnant, a covenant people, who would be given a new heart. Listen to these words:

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33, ESV). 

God was bringing good out of/from the evil choices of men.

God was using wicked rulers for his sovereign purposes. 
God was using invasion by foreigners, military defeats, wicked politicians, the people’s paganism, the people’s folly—God was using it all for his own glory to show that he is good and he is gracious to redeem anyone. 

Left to ourselves, we’re a sad and foolish lot, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Why do so few hear that message and respond to it in repentance and faith? Jeremiah addressed that, too: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). 

When I read of current events and I see the moral rot, and when I see the coarsening of social interactions that fill our days; when I see generations coming up who are so foolish as to think that men are “birthing persons” and judges are so terrified of the D.C. swamp that they won’t even admit what a woman is, well, you know you’re living in a time of divine judgment.

We’ve sunk to a level where it’s okay to have taxpayer-funded “Drag Queen Story Hour” but we mustn’t read and teach the Classics or read the U.S. Constitution. Now we have grievance studies, where the urchins can be indoctrinated with self-esteem and educate us, the taxpayers, on how offended they are by patriarchy and speciesism. 

But through all this folly, God is judging. God is refining. God is heating up crucibles to purify, to separate, to distinguish, to make distinctions between good and evil.
He is, to use Jeremiah’s language, the Potter, and we are the clay. And he is the good, holy, sovereign Potter, and when he shapes vessels, be on the lookout. Why? Because it matters. You will be made to care.

2 thoughts on “What Does Jeremiah’s Book Have to Do with Today? 

  1. Thanks Jon for your continual reminder of our living Hope with Christ in our lives. In spite of this changing world and culture, we know God is in control and our future is firmly in His hands.

    Liked by 1 person

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