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Why read Jeremiah: This book is arguably the most confrontational of all the prophets with its constant direct challenges to Judah – both people and rulers – to face their sin, apostasy, abandonment of the living God who had originally delivered them and made them a nation in covenant with Him.

One of the most remarkable things about this book – especially in the light of the three invasions of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in the north – is the number of times Jeremiah prophesies about the invader coming from the north as God's judgment on their unrelenting, unyielding rebellion against the God who had been so much part of their early life as a nation. Amazingly they superstitiously turn from Him to wooden or metal idols.


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The following are the start of some of the main references that highlight the key thrusts of Jeremiah's ministry:


References to the invader coming from the north: 1:13-15, 3:18, 4:6,15-17, 6:1,22, 8:16


References to the coming destruction: 4:7,16,20,25-29, 5:6,15-17, 6:2,19, 7:20, 9:10,11,19-22, 11:11, 12:12, 14:12,16, 15:2,3,7-9, 16:16, 25:9-11


References to their idolatry: 1:16, 2:8,23-25,27,28, 3:13,23, 4:1, 5:7, 7:9,18,31, 9:14, 13:10, 16:18, 17:2


References to a coming exile: 5:19, 10:17,18, 13:19, 16:13-15, 17:4, 23:8, 25:9-11, 29:10


References to a hope for a new future: 3:16-18, 12:14-17, 16:15, 23:8


References to prophetic pictures given to Jeremiah:

•  the almond branch [1:11,12]

•  the boiling pot [1:13,14]

•  the linen belt [13:1-11]

•  full wineskins [13:12-14]

•  the Potter [18:1-11]

•  the smashed clay Jar [19:1-15]

•  the two baskets of figs [24:1-10]


References to growing Opposition to Jeremiah:

•  plotting starts against him [11:18,19]

•  they plot to slander him [18:18]

•  Pashhur has him beaten and put in the stocks [20:1,2]

•  threatened with death by the people [26:7-9]

•  thrown in a cistern [38:1-13]

•  kept in house arrest [38:28]


Dates: Because so much of Jeremiah must be seen in the context of history, it is important that we try to anchor his words and activities, wherever possible in the history of his day.


1:2,3 tells us that, “ The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.

Josiah had come to the throne in 639BC and so it was about 626BC that Jeremiah received his first word from the Lord. Twelve appears to so often be the age of maturity for a Jewish family and so it is possible that Jeremiah was born about 638, possibly about a year after the start of Josiah's reign. To get a picture of the context of Jeremiah's ministry we need to note both the last kings of Judah before the Exile, and the international politics of that time.


The early days of Jeremiah's ministry: From above we note

639 – start of Josiah's reign at 8 years old

638 – possible year of Jeremiah's birth

627 – Josiah starts his first restoration moves [2 Chron 34:1-8] – in the 12 th year of his reign when he must be about 20.

636 – Jeremiah gets his first word for Judah – see 3:6- that presumably further encourages Josiah in his reforms. Perhaps more as a word to the people it is aimed at touching their hearts to go along with the reforms that young Josiah [now 20] is instigating. Perhaps it is difficult for us to understand the resistance of the pagan idol-worshipping to Josiah who needed all the help he could get to carry through that which the Lord has obviously put on his heart.

It took him another six years before he started cleansing the temple [2 Chron 34:8] and established the first Passover for a long time [2 Chron 35:19]


Reigns of the kings of Judah:



– came to the throne in 639BC aged 8.

- Eight years later [about 631], Josiah sought the Lord (2 Chron 34:2)

- Four years later he went on to cleanse the land (34:3,4)

- When he was about 26, he restored the temple (34:8-13), later renewed the Covenant (34:14-33) and celebrated the Passover (35:12-19).

- Sadly he became involved in a battle with the Egyptians and died in battle in 609BC


- son of Joash – only reigned 3 months [and was thus not mentioned in 1:2,3] after being deposed by the king of Egypt.


- son of Josiah – replacement by the king of Egypt, reigned 11 years. [2 Chron 36:5,6]

- for the last three years of his reign he became a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar but rebelled and was put in chains to be taken to Babylon in 598 BC [2 Kings 24:1] where he died


- his son, ruled for just three months [therefore not mentioned in 1:2,3] before Nebuchadnezzar overthrew Jerusalem for the first time [ 597BC ] when he took large numbers – including Daniel and his three friends – to Babylon.

Zedekiah – youngest son of Josiah – made king by Nebuchadnezzar [2 Chron 36:10], ruled for 11 years but, having rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar suffered a nearly two-year siege of Jerusalem before it fell in 587BC , when he fled, was captured, and taken to Babylon where he eventually died.


The ‘International Politics' of the time:



In the north, this empire grew & focused on the Tigris and upper Mesopotamia. It went through many phases through ancient history, but was strong and started to expand about 900BC, lasting until the fall of its capital, Nineveh, at the hands of the Medes/Persians and Babylonians, Chaldeans in 609 BC.



Had earlier been part of Assyria, but the rise of the city state under Nabopolasser [625-605] meant the end of Assyria in 609 and the ascension of Babylonia under Nebuchadnezzar [605-562] and subsequent kings.

Babylon fell in 539BC to the Persian, Cyrus, [539-530], who eventually sent the remnant of Israel back [538] to start to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem [537].



In Josiah's time: Although a lessor player on the playing field of politics affecting Judah, pharaoh Neco [610-594] had taken his army onto the Palestinian coastal plain to support the weakening Assyrians against the growing power of the Babylonians. This was what caused Josiah concern and resulted in him joining in battle where he was killed. [609BC].


Jeremiah: Remember, from our age calculations above, if Jeremiah had been born about 638, he was about 29 when Josiah's reign ended. Egypt obtained power over Judah and we have seen Neco was responsible for deposing Jehoahaz and replacing him with Jehoiakim.


Egypt versus Babylon: In the following three years after Josiah's departure, Neco maintained a strong military presence in Palestine and Syria while the Babylonians were regrouping. Seeking to strengthen their status in the north, the Egyptians sought to take cities near the Euphrates but in 605BC were routed by Nebuchadnezzar who came south and invaded Jerusalem, the first of three invasions when Daniel and friends were taken. This was a turning point where the power of the Babylonians became beyond dispute. The Babylonians came south down the Palestinian coastal plain and in 604BC sacked Ashkelon and attacked Egyptian frontier posts but were repulsed.


Babylonian Invasion No.2: They returned home to regroup and re-equip which led Jehoiakim to throw in his lot with Egypt which eventually brought the wrath of Babylon on Judah when Nebuchadnezzar returned in 597BC and when Ezekiel and some ten thousand Jews were deported to Babylon (see 2 Kings 24:12-17).


More Egyptian interference: When Pharaoh Hophra came to the Egyptian throne in 589BC he too turned towards Palestine, offering to help Zedekiah against the possible Babylonian threat entering into negotiations with him. When Nebuchadnezzar heard of this ‘disloyalty', his armies swept through the area, taking Judah and thrusting the Egyptians out, and finally took Jerusalem in 587BC.


Overall: Thus Egypt had been more of a player on the side-lines and causing Israel (Judah) to be distracted from their unique calling and eventually subject to the wrath of Babylon, the cause of their eventual exile.




PART   1: Challenges, Confrontations & Conflicts

Ch.1 – The Setting and Call of Jeremiah

Ch.2 – Israel has forsaken God

Ch.3 – The failure of Judah to learn from Israel

Ch.4 – Call to Repentance & a Warning of Disaster

Ch.5 – Failure to find the righteous in Jerusalem, Certainty of Exile

Ch.6 – God decrees destruction for Jerusalem

Ch.7 – Confrontation at the Temple

Ch.8 – Ongoing warnings at the Temple

Ch.9 – Anguish for Rebellion and Unfaithfulness

Ch.10 – The Folly of Idols

Ch.11 – A Challenge to Obey & a Plot to kill

Ch.12 – Jeremiah's complaint & God's Answer

Ch.13 – Two Parables and another Warning

Ch.14 – Drought, famine, sword

Ch.15 - Condemnatory prophecy, then Jeremiah's pleas

Ch.16 – Instructions for Jeremiah & warnings for the people

Ch.17 – Sin, Salvation possibilities, Cries & a Test

Ch.18 – Prophecy at the potter's house

Ch.19 – The Clay Jar Prophecy

Ch.20 – Jeremiah and Pashhur & Jeremiah's complaint

Ch.21 – God rejects Zedekiah's request

Ch.22 – Judgment against three wicked kings

Ch.23 – Against leaders and false prophets

Ch.24 – Two Baskets of Figs

Ch.25 – Seventy years of captivity & wider judgments

Ch.26 – Jeremiah threatened with death

Ch.27 – Submit to Nebuchadnezzar

Ch.28 – Dealing with the false prophet Hananiah


PART 2: A New Hope: Future Restoration

Ch.29 – Jeremiah writes to the exiles

Ch.30 – Hopeless in Judgment, Hope in Restoration

Ch.31 – The Hope of Restoration explained

Ch.32 – Jeremiah's Prophetic Field Picture

Ch.33 – The Lord's Promise of Restoration Again


PART 3: Jeremiah and the last days of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah

Ch.34 – Warning to Zedekiah, and a broken covenant

Ch.35 – The Example of the Rekabites' Obedience

Ch.36 – Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah's scroll

Ch.37 – Jeremiah imprisoned

Ch.38 - Jeremiah in a well, and counsels Zedekiah


PART 4: Post the fall of Jerusalem, into Egypt

Ch.39 – The Fall of Jerusalem

Ch.40 – Jeremiah returns to Jerusalem

Ch.41 – Rebellion, murder, conflicts & escape

Ch.42 – Jeremiah brings a word to the remnant

Ch.43 – In Egypt another warning

Ch.44 – Coming Disaster in Egypt because of Idolatry


PART 5: Misc. Prophecies, mostly to the nations

Ch.45 – A word to Baruch

Ch.46 – A word against Egypt

Ch.47 – A word against the Philistines

Ch.48 – A Word against Moab

Ch.49 – A Word against five peoples

Ch.50 – A Word against Babylon (1)

Ch.51 – A Word against Babylon (2)


PART 6: An Historical Appendix

Ch.52 – A final recap of the end of Jerusalem at this time




Continue to Chapter 1