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Where has this book been all my life? Seriously. I have been a serious follower of Jesus for a LONG TIME and have never studied this book. Sure, there’s a couple of passages that are underlined, you know…I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord. Plans to give you a hope and a future. But why have I never studied the book of Jeremiah until now?!
As I’ve gone through my Christian walk, I’ve leaned heavily on my pastors, teachers and mentors. They share which books are good to study. I remember being encouraged to read a Proverb a day. Who doesn’t love the book of Psalms. Then of course, I’ve studied every book of the New Testament–some several times. I’m a sucker for a great story which is why I’ve read through them all in Genesis, Esther, Ruth, Job, and Jonah. But why has no one ever encouraged me to read the book of Jeremiah?
The Old Testament is confusing at times.
First there’s the names, ugh the names. I only know a handful of people who can ever pronounce them. I asked one of these people and she said she makes it up and says it with confidence. She fooled me! Then it’s the story. I like a story I can follow from beginning to end. What kid doesn’t know the story of Noah? Heck, what non-believer doesn’t know the story of Noah? The biggest stumbling block for me and the Old Testament has been the culture/Jewish religion. So much is implied between the lines. We westerners are not the intended audience which is why so much is left out. For years, I have struggled with understanding those gaps. Today, I feel much more confident but realize there is more out there to learn.
So what if I told you that studying one book could help you better understand 5 other Old Testament books? Would the study of this book be worth the effort? That, my friend, is what the study of the book of Jeremiah gives you! And what are these book? They are Lamentations, Daniel, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. ALL of these books, the story, the plot, the characters, have their foundations in the book of Jeremiah.
Here’s a teaser…
Most of us are familiar with the story of Daniel. The story opens with the tragedy of the best and brightest of Israel being carried off to Babylon against their will. What is left out is that this capture was a result of years of misbehavior on the part of the Jews. Nobody worshiped God anymore. The hills were filled shrines to other gods. Over and over, Jeremiah begged the people to stop the worship of these false gods! As a result, God’s wrath was poured out over His people in the form of Nebuchadnezzar’s army overtaking Jerusalem and carrying away its people.
Read Jeremiah 24
After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the skilled workers and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Lord showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the Lord.2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten.
3 Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”
4 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 5 “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, whom I sent away from this place to the land of the Babylonians. 6 My eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land. I will build them up and not tear them down; I will plant them and not uproot them. 7 I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.
8 “‘But like the bad figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the Lord, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt. 9 I will make them abhorrent and an offense to all the kingdoms of the earth, a reproach and a byword, a curse and an object of ridicule, wherever I banish them. 10 I will send the sword, famine and plague against them until they are destroyed from the land I gave to them and their ancestors.’”
It was the Lord’s provision of BLESSING and PROTECTION that they were taken to Babylon. Chew on that for awhile.