Over the last month I’ve been my devotions in the book of Jeremiah. He’s a favorite of mine for various reasons: his call story (Jer 1), his feeling that his call to ministry is like a “fire in his bones” that won’t leave him alone, and even his message have been good friends for a long time for me. I love the book named after him, and wanted to share with you my snapshot summary of the book as a whole. If your devotions have you hunkered down in one book this summer, give us a sneak peak of what you’ve been learning! Marty Troyer
Jeremiah is the story of God’s Lordship, Israel’s allegiance and rebellion, and one prophets life of faithfulness.
YHWH God will pluck nations, and plant nations, at will for YHWH alone is God. Radical ethical monotheism demands justice/righteousness and obedience from God’s people. We see God’s sovereignty being played out in the ministry and soul-wrestlings of Jeremiah; who has been swept up in the movement of God like a flowing river. Indeed, Jeremiah experiences God’s message of allegiance as a “fire in his bones” that, no matter how much he might dislike the messsge itself or fear its rebuttal, he cannot stop preaching.
Jeremiah 7 and 29 form two polls around which Jeremiah and God’s people are to perform. In his chapter 7 Temple sermon Jeremiah calls the people to allegiance, saying only justice will save: “Amend your ways and your doings, act justly, do not oppress the alien, the orphan, the widow or shed innocent blood (7:5-6).” God will act based on their response; either through blessing/salvation or curse/destruction. The kings of the earth are pawns under God’s lordship, coming and going to interact with Israel at God’s discretion.
But the people choose poorly, and God “breaks the pot” (Jeremiah 19:11) like he had earlier done with Shiloh (7:14), sending the people into exile. Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles again demands justice and peace from God’s people. The only difference is that they are to seek the peace/welfare of Babylon, not Jerusalem. In preaching both these difficult messages, God functions for Jeremiah as a “fortified city, a bronze wall, and an iron pillar” (Jer 1:18) strengthening him for his message.