Our Bible study class has just begun a four month journey through the book of Jeremiah. I love the beginning of a study. To me it is like the beginning of a new relationship. You spend time with the person, you get to know their personality, and at some point you start to feel like you understand them. After doing inductive Bible studies for over four years (we use Precept Ministries materials) I know that by the time this study ends I will be so attached to Jeremiah that it will feel like moving away from my best friend. I love the daily, systematic time in God’s Word. I would probably go so far as to say that I crave it.
Because of the time it takes to study and prepare for class each week it is very likely some of my thoughts about Jeremiah (the book and the man) will leak out here in this space. Since our class meets on Thursdays I will try to hold back my Jeremiah overflow until Fridays, but I can’t really promise anything.
I do consider the overarching theme of this blog to be about grace. The truth about grace, how it affects me, and how it then impacts those around me. So my
partner in crime teaching partner and I have been discussing grace in the book of Jeremiah. If you haven’t read the book, let me summarize:
“I love you. You’ve been disobedient. Repent or destruction is coming.”
I don’t want to minimize the importance of studying all 52 chapters of this book (I am in fact the LAST person who would minimize the importance of Bible study), but if you could boil it down this is God’s message to His people. So why did He take 52 chapters to say it?
Consider the opening verses of Jeremiah 1:
“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month.”
I believe the grace of God and the reason it took 52 chapters are hidden right there in those first three verses (the one’s we usually gloss over quickly because we don’t recognize or can’t pronounce the names) and all you need are a couple of cross-references (Hint: 2 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 34-36) and probably a timeline to decode it. If you translate the reigns of the three kings mentioned in the first three verses to dates in history what you find is that Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry lasted over 50 years.
The 52 chapters of Jeremiah were over a very LONG period of time. It is God’s grace that He repeated His call to repentance over and over and over again, in many different ways. His desire was that Israel return to Him, not that they would be taken captive. There is also grace in the life of Jeremiah. In many ways he laid down most of his life for a message that no one wanted to hear and openly rejected.
Today God’s message is the same, repent and return to me. His desire is that none should perish. Isn’t this essentially the call to follow Christ? One question for us to consider is, “Am I willing to obey God and be a Jeremiah for the sake of others?”