Jeremiah has been called “the weeping prophet.” Why? Because he brought mostly bad news. It grieved him even more that God’s people did not respond with repentance. They continued to sin, and judgment inevitably arrived. No wonder he wept!
As we begin the study of this Old Testament prophet, it is helpful to understand the time when Jeremiah’s ministry took place. It lasted more than 40 years, from about halfway through the reign of King Josiah in 626 B.C. to sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (vv. 2–3). During this time, Babylon defeated Egypt and Assyria. A new superpower was rising in the ancient Near East, looming large in Jeremiah’s prophecies.
Jeremiah was a member of the priestly household of Hilkiah (v. 1). Hilkiah was probably descended from Abiathar, a deposed priest from the line of Eli exiled by Solomon (1 Kings 2:26– 27). So the prophet’s family heritage was...complicated. Because of the times he lived in, God commanded him not to marry (Jer. 16:2).
Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible, both the word count in Hebrew and the number of verses in English (1,364). The content is not in chronological order, but most chapters include a reference date or historical clues. The book features both poetry and prose, including narrative, sermons, object lessons or parables, laments, and a letter. Key themes include God’s judgment, justice, sovereignty, righteousness, faithfulness, sin and the need for repentance. The Moody Bible Commentary summarizes the character of this important prophet: “Jeremiah was a man of outstanding courage, who boldly and unwaveringly proclaimed the Lord’s message.”
>> Since this is a lengthy book, you have two choices: You can read the shorter focus passages for each day. Or, starting on April 3rd, you can read longer passages noted in the application. The longer passages will enable you to read the entire book of Jeremiah.
Prophetic books can be difficult to read because of their themes of sin and judgement. Father, prepare us for the study of Jeremiah this month. Teach us to treasure each word of Scripture, for You are the source of it all.