I trust that if you’re reading this, you’re already convinced that the book of Jeremiah is worthy of our study. So now we’ll work to break up the book into its narrative units.
And by the way the book of Jeremiah is notoriously difficult to break up into units. But here we go – giving my best to give a breakdown of this book.
1:1-51:64 Jeremiah’s Words
Let’s start with Jeremiah 1:1. Jeremiah 1:1 starts a unit that runs all the way to Jeremiah 51:64. That’s most of the book. But at Jeremiah 51:64 you have this assertion – “Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.” And then you have the final chapter – chapter 52 that we’ll get to. So from Jeremiah 1:1 – Jeremiah 51:64 you have the words of Jeremiah.
And within that 51 chapter section you have thankfully smaller sections.
Jeremiah 1 | Intro & Jeremiah’s Commissioning
Jeremiah 1:1-3 contains an introduction that just explains who’s speaking and when. Then Jeremiah 1:4 to the end of the chapter is basically Jeremiah’s commissioning from the Lord to be a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah 2:1-3:5 | God Forsaken, Judah Unshaken
In Jeremiah 2:1-3:5 we have what I’ve labeled God Forsaken, Judah Unshaken. Here’s a summary of that section.
Chronic spiritual unfaithfulness from Israel has led to God’s chastisement which was intended to produce repentance in Israel. But it has not produced that intended response. In fact, Israel has constantly done evil at the very same time that she pretends as if nothing is wrong. And instead of returning to the Lord, Israel seeks help from Egypt and Assyria to deal with their problems. Because of this total lack of repentance, God will have to send Israel into exile.
That’s the first major section of this book after the intro and commissioning. We’re off to a sobering start!
Jeremiah 3:6–6 | Future Restoration, Current Punishment
From Jeremiah 3:6 to the end of chapter 6 we have a message of Future Restoration but Current Punishment.
Here – in the days of Josiah, God holds out the possibility of restoration and blessing for Israel and Judah if they only repent. But as things are currently, God simply cannot bless them but must rather punish.
This shift in extremes causes Jeremiah to accuse God of deception. God ignores Jeremiah’s comment and continues to foretell punishment for Israel’s continued disobedience. God accuses Israel of chronic falsehood and adultery (spiritual and physical) and yet they continue their meaningless religious exercises. For this there must be punishment unless they repent.
The prophets have played a devastating part in perpetuating the falsehood and they will be dealt with.
God threatens an invasion from a northern enemy and the eventual exile of his people.
God can’t find one good man in the whole nation that would cause him to relent, but he will continue to use Jeremiah as his spokesman, despite his earlier outburst.