Why should we as New Testament Christians study the Old Testament book of the Jewish prophet Jeremiah? I have several reasons.
Jeremiah is Scripture
The normal answer of 2 Timothy 3:16 applies here, of course. The book of Jeremiah is part of the all Scripture which is inspired or breathed-out by God. And because of that, it’s profitable for us to know and believe and practice.
Jeremiah is Applicable
But beyond that and probably because of that first point, the book of Jeremiah is very much applicable for us today.
Judah Was Greatly Blessed by God
Jeremiah was ministering in a culture that had seen great blessings from God. The Jews had God’s Scripture, his ministers, and times of prosperity sent by him.
Our western culture is similar. Beyond the material blessing with which God has showered us, he’s also sent religious revivals in times past. He’s allowed us great access to his word. He’s given us good ministers.
We’re blessed, just like — and maybe more so than — the nation of Israel was in the Old Testament.
Judah Rebelled Greatly Against God
But amazingly, Jeremiah also found himself in a day of almost total apostasy. God’s people were in bad shape. True and undefiled religion had fallen upon hard times in his days.
And we find ourselves in exactly that position. You do believe that, don’t you? We’re in the midst of a nation that is openly antagonistic to God — on the one hand — or at best a nation that holds to a form of godliness but denies its power.
Apostolic teaching is mocked.
Just like happened to Jesus on the Sea of Galilee after casting out the legion of demons from that man, our leaders have urged God out of our presence.
Judah Deserved Punishment
And any time you have a nation which has been given unusual blessings — and has responded with unusual rebellion against the giver of all of those gifts — you are going to have punishment. That’s obviously what Jeremiah was living in and experiencing. God was punishing his nation.
And again we know what that’s like. We are a nation that is experiencing God’s punishment.
Our nation seems more divided than ever. Do you think that just happens? No, it’s a result of the Lord letting us go to have our own way.
The church is less and less influential. The church is more and more worldly and – for the purpose of glorifying God in this world – near worthless. The salt has by-and-large lost its savor.
Sexual perversion. Infanticide. Economic instability. Threats of violence at home and abroad.
Unless we’re all a bunch of atheists reading this, we cannot deny that God is in some way or another bringing these things to this nation because of our rebellion against him.
Let’s Learn from the Past
And this is why the book of Jeremiah is so helpful to us. How did the godly Jeremiah respond to the troubling realities of his day? We’re experiencing some troubles that are strangely similar to what Jeremiah experienced. Maybe the way that Jeremiah responds to these things can inform our response.
Maybe the progression (or regression) of things in Jeremiah’s day will inform our thinking regarding what to expect in the coming days.
And I hope that all of it moves us to trust the Lord more and walk with him closer.
Jeremiah is Biographical
The book of Jeremiah is so biographical. It seems that he expresses so much more of his experience and his feelings about what’s going on around him than his fellow-prophets.
For example, we don’t really know much about how Isaiah felt about certain things happening around him. Ezekiel is similar.
But there’s something about the book of Jeremiah that just seems to let us in more on the author’s thoughts and emotions.
Jeremiah is Structured as Narratives
And here’s my theory on why that is — why the book of Jeremiah seems so personal. Why it draws the reader in so much.
I think it’s because it’s structured like a narrative — a story, or rather a number of different stories.
In Jeremiah we’re given details about people and places and events. We’re often given plot lines with good guys and bad guys. There are stories with climaxes. There are scenes and characters and actions. And that — in a nutshell — is a story.
The book of Jeremiah is not all stories, though. There are long stretches of straight prophetic utterances. But even most of those long utterances are framed within the structure of a story — with plot or characters or a scene which is set for us.
So, for all these reasons and more we should be encouraged concerning the value of studying the book of Jeremiah