This week we are looking at Jeremiah 32: 1-15; 36-44. Yesterday we took a deeper look at who exactly an Old Testament prophet was, and we find that it is not really what we may have thought, the prophet doesn’t so much predict the future; their calling is more about speaking the word of God at that particular time to a particular group of people. Now, there are always exceptions, but that is mainly what they would do. Each prophet is unique, some Isaiah had long times of proclamation and had access to the highest layers of power within the kingdom. Others like Amos arose, said what they had to say, and then quietly went back to what they were doing before.
Today in our World Behind the Text, a little more about Jeremiah and what is happening in Judah at this time.
As you may remember, after Solomon, the nation of Israel divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Judah was ruled by a descendant of David the entire length of its existence. Most did not follow the commands of God, but they would have the occasional king (Josiah, for instance) that would follow God. Israel, the northern kingdom, did not have a single king who followed the commands of God. Most of their kings were wicked and they led the people into sin.
This is the backdrop by which most of the prophets did their ministry. Most of the time they were calling the people, the kings, the priests back to obedience to God. They warned the people about their idolatry, about their disobedience, and about the consequence of their actions. They would constantly call the people back to God. In fact, some of the most powerful parts of scripture are those passages, like Hosea 11, where we see God express His deep love for His people.
Jeremiah, as we mentioned yesterday, is called the weeping prophet, because a great deal of his prophecy deals with God’s judgment for the sin of the people. Now there are also incredibly beautiful parts of the book that deal with the new covenant that God will make with His people (Jeremiah 33). What we read today is among those truly graceful moments. What is happening today is Babylon is getting ready to capture Jerusalem and take the people into captivity. The fall of Jerusalem will truly be awful. It will be painful, one of the worst moments in Jewish history. There is now a hopelessness that has fallen over the people. They know they are defeated and it is going be bad.
In the text, we see that Jeremiah is in prison because the king is so tired of his prophecies of God’s coming judgment that he locks in him in prison. Things look really, really bad for everyone. It is time to give up.
And it is in this hopeless time that Jeremiah buys a field. Why? Because even the darkest, most hopeless time, God still has a hope for his people.
But know, before we get into what is happening in the text, that this moment is one of the most hopeless times in all of the people’s history.
Tomorrow we’ll look at the World of the Text.
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