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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 1

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-3

JEREMIAH

AN HISTORICAL DIRECTORY (to the times of Jeremiah the Prophet)

Josiah, King of Judah 639-609 B.C.

626 B.C. Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry begins.

625-585 B.C. Cyaxares reigns over Media.

625-605 Nabopolassar founds the Chaldean Dynasty of Babylon.

611-606 B.C. Ashuruballit II rules to the end of the Assyrian Empire.

609 B.C. Josiah slain in battle at Megiddo.

Johoahaz (Shallum, son of Josiah), King of Judah. 609

B.C. - Ruled 3 months

Jehoiakim, King of Judah 608-598 B.C.

605 B.C. Battle of Carchemish where the Egyptian army was crushed.

604-562 B.C. Rule of Nebuchadnezzar II over Babylon.

604 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar interrupted his campaign of expansionism - returning to Babylon to succeed his father as King, and then resuming his campaign in Syria.

601 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar’s drive halted in a bloody battle with Egypt.

598 B.C. (Dec.) Siege of Jerusalem

Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Jeremiah 24:1; or Coniah, Jeremiah 37:1, Son of

Jehoiakim), King of Judah -ruled 3 months in 598 B.C.

597 B.C. (2 Adar, or March 16) Jerusalem surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin taken captive.

Zedeklah, King of Judah 597-586-ruled 11 years.

593-588 B.C. Psamtik II ruled in Egypt.

588-568 B.C. Hophra (Apries) ruled in Egypt.

548 B.C. The City of David again placed under siege due to Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon.

586 (Aug. 16) The fall of Jerusalem. Zedekiah taken captive and led to Babylon; his sons, advisors, etc. are slain. Jerusalem and the temple are destroyed.

586 B.C. Gedaliah appointed governor over Judah.

585 B.C. Gedaliah slain by Ishmael.

585 B.C. The remnant of Judah (including Jeremiah and Baruch) compelled, by military leaders, to take refuge in Egypt.

561 B.C. Evil-Merodach enthroned in Babylon, and Jehoiachin set free-

INTRODUCTION TO JEREMIAH’S PROPHECY

Jeremiah was preceded in the prophetic office by such men as: Joel, Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah and Nahum. His contemporaries, in the land, were Zephaniah, Habakkuk and Obadiah. For a brief time his ministry overlapped that of Daniel and Ezekiel in Babylon. He was officially placed in the prophetic office during the thirteenth year of Josiah, king of Judah -continuing through the rule of his four successors on the throne of David, and then in the land of Egypt, where he was taken as a captive by his own self-willed people.

Five years after his call, the long-lost "book of the law" was found in the Temple, (2 Kings 23). Its reading brought grief to the tender heart of young king Josiah, who knew that his people had wandered far from God’s appointed pathway for His covenant-community. Thus, he instituted reforms in Judah which were designed to rid the land of its idol­ worship, and to restore the true worship of Jehovah.

Jeremiah dearly loved young Josiah, and was to him what Isaiah had been to king Hezekiah. Though he sympathized with Josiah’s reforms, he knew that they had no depth; the hearts of the people were not in them -though they went through the motions of compliance, out of respect for the king whom they all loved.

Variously described as: courageous, loyal, patient, retiring, sensitive, severe, sympathetic and tender; Jeremiah stands so near to us, in a human sense, that one may almost feel his heartbeat. The weight of his task would have been unbearable apart from the faithful promise of divine support, (Jeremiah 1:10-19). He was to be the very voice of Jehovah to a stubborn, stiff-necked, presumptuous, self-willed and hard-hearted people determined to follow a path that led to inevitable destruction! He would put forth an heroic effort to turn the nation back from spiritual suicide - only to fail and to watch her leap over the precipice to such misery as she so richly deserved l

The attitude of the nation toward the man of God, and the message he proclaimed, ranged from that of tolerance, to resentment, resistance, antagonism, hatred, violence and attempted murder. Yet, through it all, Jeremiah remained true - to his God, to his people, to himself, and to his task. His message was not his own; it was the word of Jehovah that he was sent to deliver to a thankless and gainsaying people, (Romans 10:21).

1. It was a message of DENUNCIATION: they had forsaken the One who had delivered them from bondage in Egypt - constituting them a holy nation at Mt Sinai, establishing with them His covenant, and marvelously sustaining and protecting them by the faithfulness of His loving grace. They have treacherously turned away from Him to walk in vanity and to trust in lies-worshipping "no-gods"

2. It was a message of VISITATION: judgment MUST COMET Judah’s sin will find her out! (Numbers 32:23). It must be punished. A just reward is always attached to the practice of evil.

3. Nevertheless, Jeremiah’s message was also a divine INVITATION for Judah to REPENT and RETURN; she was still the beloved of Jehovah, (Jeremiah 21:7). While God is just, in the punishment of evil, He is also gracious, compassionate and caring. Will not Judah mend her ways, and return to her first-love? (Jeremiah 7:3; Jeremiah 18:7-10; comp. Revelation 2:4-5).

4. Included in Jeremiah’s task was a message of CONSOLATION, (ch. 30-33). Through fiery trials, suffering, and humiliation, Judah will repent and learn to obey the voice of the Lord her God! Even midst the fury of the storm one may catch glimpses of light and hope. There will dawn a new day in which the nation will be liberated from the captivity toward which she is heading. Having broken and forsaken the covenant of Jehovah, Judah has forfeited all claim to its blessings; but, the Messiah Himself (the Branch) will ultimately come and restore such blessedness as, in her disobedience of unbelief, she had never thought possible.

In Jeremiah one beholds THE MAN OF SORROWS - who loses all thought of himself in grief over the willfulness of a people whom he loves so dearly.

"Oh that my head were waters,

And mine eyes a fountain of tears,

That 1 might weep day and night

For the slain of the daughter of my people!” , 9:1

JEREMIAH - CHART

I. Message of Warning Against Disobedience, ch. 1-25.

li. A Mixture of Judgment and Hope, ch. 26-36.

Ili. Judah, A Nation in Crisis, ch. 37-45.

IV. Prophecies Against Foreign Nations, ch. 46-51.

V. An Historical Postscript, ch. 52:1-34.

CONTENTS

PART I

MESSAGES OF WARNING AGAINST

DISOBEDIENCE

(Chapters 1-25)

I. THE EARLY MINISTRY OF JEREMIAH (1:1-6:30)

A. Jeremiah’s Call & Induction into the Prophetic Office,

(1:1-19)

B. A Rebuke of Judah’s Infidelity Toward God, (2:1-37)

C. A Call for Repentance, (3:1-25)

D. Judgment: Invasion from the North, (4:1-31)

E. The Hopeless Sinfulness of Judah, (5:1-31)

F. Warning of a Coming Siege of Jerusalem, (6:1-30)

11. THE WARNING AT THE TEMPLE GATE - AND

OTHERS, (7:1-10:25)

A. Jeremiah’s Message at the Temple Gate, (7:1-8:3)

B. The Punishment of a Backsliding People, (8:4-9:1)

C. Lamentation over Judah’s Sin, (9:2-26)

D. The Folly of Worshipping Portable Gods, (10:1-25)

III. PERSONAL CRISES IN THE LIFE OF THE

PROPHET, (11:1-20:18)

A. Judah’s Breach of the Covenant, (11:1-23)

B. A Prophetic Complaint & God’s Answer, (12:1-13)

C. Warnings and Lamentations, (13:1-27)

D. Famine and Intercession, (14:1-22)

E. The Prophet Wrestles with God, (15:1-21)

F. Grievous Trouble and Ultimate Redemption, (16:1-21)

G. Warnings and Exhortations, (17:1-27)

H. Learning the Secrets of Divine Government, (18:1-23)

I. A Lesson from an Earthen Bottle, (19:1-15)

J. Jeremiah’s Imprisonment and Complaint, (20:1-18)

IV. JUDAH AND THE NATIONS, (21:1-25:38)

A. The Impending Fall and Destruction of Jerusalem,

(21:1-14)

B. Judgment Upon the Royal House, (22:1-30)

C. A Denunciation of Judah’s Leaders, (23:1-40)

D. A Vision: Two Baskets of Figs, (24:1-10)

E. The Wrath of God Upon All Nations, (25:1-38)

PART II

A MIXTURE OF JUDGMENT AND HOPE

(Chapters 26-36)

I. CONFLICT WITH THE LEADERS OF JUDAH,

(26:1-29:32)

A. Jeremiah Indicted for Treason, (26:1-24)

B. Jehovah Counsels Judah’s Neighbors, (27:1-22)

C. The False Prophecy and Death of Hananiah, (28:1-17)

D. Jeremiah’s Message to the Exiles of Babylon, (29:1-32)

II. MESSAGES OF HOPE, (30:1-33:26)

A. A Song of Deliverance (30:1-22)

B. A New Covenant (31:1-40)

C. Redeeming Property at Anathoth (32:1-44)

D. Assurance of Restoration (33:1-26)

III. A MIXED RESPONSE TO JEREMIAH’S

MINISTRY, (34:1-36:32)

A. The Profanation of Jehovah’s Name (34:1-22)

B. A Lesson from the Rechabites (35:1-19)

C. Reacting Rashly to God’s Word (36:1-32)

PART III

A NATION IN CRISIS

(Chapters 37-45)

I. JERUSALEM BESIEGED AND TAKEN, (37:1­ - 40:6)

A. Jeremiah Beaten and Imprisoned, (37:1-21)

B. Counselling Judah to Surrender, (38:1-28)

C. The Fall of Jerusalem, (39:1-18)

D. Jeremiah Remains in Jerusalem, (40:1-16)

il. EVENTS FOLLOWING THE FALL OF

JERUSALEM, (40:7-45:5)

A. The Murder of Gedaliah and Flight of Ishmael, (41:1-18)

B. Jeremiah’s Counsel Sought by the Remnant, (42:1-22)

C. Rejecting the Counsel of God, (43:1-13)

D. Jeremiah Prophesies in Egypt, (44:1-30)

E. A Word for Baruch, (45:1-7)

PART IV

PROPHECIES AGAINST FOREIGN NATIONS

(Chapters 46-51)

I. AN ORACLE CONCERNING EGYPT, (46:1-28)

II. AN ORACLE CONCERNING PHILISTIA, (47:1-7)

III. AN ORACLE CONCERNING MOAB, (48:1-47)

IV. ORACLES CONCERNING VARIOUS PEOPLES, (49:1-39)

A. Concerning Ammon, (49:1-6)

B. Concerning Edom, (49:7-22)

C. Concerning Damascus, (49:23-27)

D. Concerning Kedar and Hazor, (49:28-33)

E. Concerning Elam, (49:34-39)

V. AN ORACLE CONCERNING BABYLON, (50:1­ - 51:64)

PART V

AN HISTORICAL POSTSCRIPT

(Chapter 52)

FROM THE REIGN OF ZEDEKIAH TO THE LIBERATION OF JEHOIACHIN, (52:1-34)

PART I

Messages of Warning Against

Disobedience

(Chapters 1-25)

JEREMIAH - CHAPTER 1

JEREMIAH’S CALL & INDUCTION INTO THE

PROPHETIC OFFICE

It is remarkable that, after Judah’s repeated disobedience to the words of His former prophets, God should raise up another one to plead for their repentance and the reformation of their national life. But He cared for the people whom He had called into covenant fellowship with Himself - and would not give them up easily. Nor could He have found a more faithful, zealous and courageous message-bearer than what He found in the tender-hearted Jeremiah of Anathoth.

Vs. 1-3: THE AUTHOR, AND THE EXTENT OF HIS PROPHETIC MINISTRY

1. The words here written are those of Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, (vs. 1).

a. His descent was from a line of priests in Anathoth (four miles NW of Jerusalem), in the land of Benjamin - a people who certainly were not loyal to the prophet that God raised up among them. (Jeremiah 11:2).

b. It is quite likely that Jeremiah was a descendant of Abiathar, whom Solomon banished to Anathoth because of his complicity with Adonijah - the brother of Solomon, who attempted to seize the throne of David in an effort to frustrate the purpose of David to have Solomon succeed him on the throne, (1 Kings 2:26).

2. The prophecies of Jeremiah cover a period of more than 40 years - during the reigns of Judah’s last five kings: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah.

a. The word of the Lord first came to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (approximately 627 B.C.).

b. He continued as God’s spokesman to Judah - calling upon her to repent and turn to the Lord her God - until the carrying away of the captives to Jerusalem during the eleventh year and fifth month of Zedekiah’s reign, (or until approximately 587 B.C.).

Verses 4-10

Vs. 4-10 THE PROPHETIC CALL AND COMMISSION OF JEREMIAH

1. Though he questioned a great many things, for which he received no adequate answers, Jeremiah’s faith in God, and the genuineness of his call to the prophetic office were never in doubt; ’The word of the LORD" came, spoke and moved him in the way of God’s appointment, (vs. 4).

a. A Comparison of the calls of the various prophets will reveal that no two calls were identical, (Moses, Exodus 3-4; Samuel, 1 Samuel 3; Elisha, 1 Kings 19:19-21; Amos, Amos 7:14-15; Isaiah, Isaiah 6; and Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1).

b. Every call was at God’s instigation, and compelled the man to ACCEPT or REJECT it - giving new direction to the life of the one who readily yielded to the divine call.

2. There is a sense in which Jeremiah, as every man of God, was a divine creation - supernaturally designed and prepared for his divinely-appointed role in life, (vs. 5; comp. Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 49:5; Galatians 1:15).

a. He was "known of God" before his divinely-arranged conception - "formed," as a potter shapes his clay, (Jeremiah 18:4; Psalms 139:15­-16).

b. He was divinely "sanctified" (set apart for holy service) while still in his mother’s womb. (The abortionists might well consider this!)

c. In fact, before his birth ever occurred, God had ordained (designated and given) him as a prophet to the nations!

3. Overwhelmed by a sense of personal inexperience and inadequacy for such a task, Jeremiah answered: "Ah, Lord GOD!" ("Sovereign, Lord, JEHOVAH!) "Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child," (vs. 6). Morgan was surely right when he said that this was the "the response of willingness, expressing itself in an almost agonized cry of weakness."

a. In a similar way Moses had considered himself ill-equipped to give adequate expression to the message of Jehovah, (Exodus 4:10).

b. Isaiah considered himself too unclean to bear a holy message, (Isaiah 6:5).

c. So, Jeremiah views himself as unfit for the prophetic task -being young, immature, unenlightened and totally inadequate to bear such weighty responsibility!

4. Instead of rebuking the child, whose heart is smitten with awe in the presence of the Almighty, the gracious Lord assures him of His own presence, direction and sufficient endowment for every appointed task, (vs. 7-8).

a. The Lord’s direction will be clear-telling him when to go and when to speak.

b. Nor is he to be afraid of those who oppose him, (comp. Genesis 15:1; Daniel 10:12; Luke 1:30; Acts 27:24); the Lord is with him, to deliver him, (Exodus 3:12; Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; Acts 26:17; Hebrews 13:6).

5. As the lips of Isaiah were touched and cleansed by a live coal from off the altar, (Isaiah 6:6-7); and, as Ezekiel was given a scroll to eat -signifying his identification with the words of the Almighty, (Ezekiel 2:8;­3:3); so, the Lord Himself touched the lips of Jeremiah as a symbol of divine endowment whereby he would be an effective spokesman for His cause, (vs. 9; comp. Mark 7:33-35).

6. Thus was Jeremiah "Set over the nations and over the kingdoms" with a commission for both destruction and construction, judgment and renewal-and in that order, (vs. 10; comp. Ecclesiastes 3:1-3).

a. There could be no renewal, building and fruitfulness in Israel until there had first been such judgment as led to the removal of idolatry, and a multitude of other sins, which hindered the nation from enjoying the fellowship of her covenant-God, (Isaiah 59:1-3; Jeremiah 18:7-10; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 31:28).

b. Nor would the prophet accomplish this tremendous task by any cleverness or natural ability of his own; at the root of his dynamic ministry would be the never-failing word of God, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Verses 11-16

Vs. 11-16: THE LESSON DRAMATICALLY ILLUSTRATED

1. Though it is not certain as to just when he saw them, Jeremiah’s call was reinforced by two visions which, as all biblical visions, were accompanied by a spoken word.

2. To understand the vision of the almond branch, one must recognize the play on words that is used in the Hebrew of verses 11-12.

a. The Lord asks Jeremiah what he sees, (comp. Jeremiah 24:3; Amos 7:8).

b. Jeremiah does not use the regular word for "almond tree," but the symbolic "shaqed," meaning "to be awake, or watchful" - thus designating the tree whose blossoms appear first in the early Spring (even before any leaves appear), while other trees are still dormant.

c. The Lord then declared that He was watching ("shoqed"s over His word to perform it, (vs. 12 ASV; comp. Jeremiah 31:27-28; Daniel 9:14).

d. When, in the Winter of Judah’s spiritual darkness and declension, it may seem to Jeremiah that the word of God has lost its power, he must remember that God is watching over His word; it is still THE WORD OF AUTHORITY! and WILL BE FULFILLEDI (1 Kings 8:56; Isaiah 55:11; Ezekiel 12:25; Matthew 5:18; Luke 21:33).

3. In a second vision, Jeremiah recognizes a boiling pot in the North, but so tipped that its hot, seething, blasting contents are about to be emptied toward the South, (vs. 13-16; comp. Ezekiel 11:3; Ezekiel 11:7­-12).

a. That war was raging in the North was surely no surprise to the prophet.

b. Nor was a vision necessary for him to understand the potential danger to Judah.

c. The word from the Lord, specifically designed to hearten Jeremiah, is that ALL THIS TUMULT, strife and conflict IS UNDER DIVINE CONTROL!

d. God is bringing judgment upon Judah because of her sin In forsaking Him, (Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 2:17; Jeremiah 2:19);

1) burning Incense to other gods, (Jeremiah 7:8-10; Jeremiah 19:4-9; Jeremiah 44:15-19);

2) and worshipping the works of their own hands, (Jeremiah 10:3-5; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 37:15-20).

Verses 17-19

Vs. 17-19: AN ASSURANCE OF DIVINE SUFFICIENCY

1. In essence, Jeremiah is now commanded to ROLL UP HIS SLEEVES, (comp. 1 Kings 18:46; Job 38:3); he must arise and speak whatever the Lord commands (vs. 17).

a. It is no easy task to which he is called; nor will his message be heard without strong opposition.

b. But he must not be terrified by the hard faces of his countrymen, (comp. Ezekiel 2:6; Ezekiel 3:16-18) Lest it be necessary for God to humble him before them.

2. God has made him as secure as a fortified city with iron pillars and bronze walls (Jeremiah 6:26; Jeremiah 15:20-21; comp. Isaiah 50:7; Micah 3:7-8) - able to resist any attack made upon him, (vs.18-19).

a. He must understand from the beginning that kings, princes (Jeremiah 21:4-14; Jeremiah 26:12-15), priests and people will fight against him, (Jeremiah 11:19; Jeremiah 15:10); but, they will NOT prevail!

b. The Lord’s presence with His servant assures his deliverance from the hands of his enemies, (vs. 8; Jeremiah 15:20-21; comp. Matthew 28:18-20).

3. Thus, the young prophet is encouraged to go forth with a consciousness of divine authority and with unwavering confidence in God’s faithfulness to direct, sustain and protect His obedient servant.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/jeremiah-1.html. 1985.
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