Good morning! Today’s reading (Jeremiah 39-43) covers a lot of ground (so to speak) with refugees from Jerusalem, describing what happens as and after Babylonian forces overwhelm the walls of the city. What most catches my attention on this reading is the absolute chaos that ensues after Jerusalem falls. One wishes this were required reading for any military commander contemplating “regime change”, as though it were as simple as replacing a lightbulb.
Good morning! Prophets and kings have had rocky relationships for generations in the Hebrew Scriptures, going all the way back to Nathan confronting David about his treatment of Bathsheba and Uriah. At issue is the power that kings have over all their subjects (including prophets), and conversely, the unusual but essential liberties that prophets take to confront the powerful, even those with the ability to take their lives. Today in Jeremiah 36-38, we read how the prophet endured the consequences of conflict with the kings Jehoiakim and Zedekiah.
Good morning! As today’s passage (Jeremiah 33-35) opens, we find the prophet confined to house arrest, likely because of disfavor with King Zedekiah. (More on him in a moment.) Imprisonment doesn’t hinder Jeremiah’s prophecy though, for either ill or good. He gives the residents of Jerusalem a preview of the coming slaughter by Chaldeans (another word for the Babylonians), but then a promise of restoration by God’s power. Jeremiah reiterates God’s faithfulness to the covenant with David—the idle musings of those who presume God abandoned Israel and Judah are entirely false.
Good morning! Yesterday we recounted the history that led up to Jerusalem being captured by the Babylonians, and the Judean people taken mournfully into exile to Babylon. Today we jump ahead to a time seen by this same Jeremiah (or another seer in his name) of freedom from captivity and the Hebrew return to Jerusalem. Both chapters 31 and 32 contain descriptions of hope, God’s promises that will withstand even the most terrible calamities.
Good morning! Let’s start today by remembering the broad historical context behind this part of the Hebrew Scriptures. After the divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, Israel is overtaken by the Assyrians. Roughly a hundred years later, the Babylonians have defeated the Assyrians and conquered their old territories, then press further by conquering Judah and taking its elites into exile. It is this part of Hebrew history that Jeremiah lives through, but much of the book also has in mind what happened seventy years later: the Persians defeated the Babylonians and let (descendants of) the Hebrew exiles migrate to Judah as their ancestral heritage. Today’s passage (Jeremiah 28-30) has this context in mind as it describes a debate between prophets, and a concern for how the exiles are to assimilate (or not) once they are relocated to Babylon.
Good morning! Nearly all of today’s passage (Jeremiah 25-27) was written after the return from exile, as the prose writing and references to historical events can attest. Keeping this in mind, we can see how the words put in Jeremiah’s mouth give a theological explanation for suffering, and work through the delicate task of determining true versus false prophets.
Good morning! By this time we’ve read enough of Jeremiah to understand his main arguments against idolatry and self-righteousness in Judah. Today in Jeremiah 20-24 we see how those prophetic challenges lead to pushback against Jeremiah from other leaders, and then evoke his own denunciations of authority figures, specifically kings and other (self-proclaimed) prophets.