Jeremiah 31-32

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.

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Jeremiah 28-30

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.

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Jeremiah 25-27

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.

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Jeremiah 20-24

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.

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Jeremiah 16-19

Good morning! Today in Jeremiah 16-19 we continue to see the cost of prophecy on Jeremiah and his family. Nevertheless, he recalls the people of Jerusalem to their religious roots, while also giving his certainty that reformation of their wickedness is impossible. We see this manifest most directly in the back-to-back metaphors of clay reshaped and clay broken forever.

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Jeremiah 10-12

Good morning! In what might now seem to be a familiar pattern, today’s passage (Jeremiah 10-12) expresses disgust at idolatry, promises the vengeful wrath of God through military defeat, and then permits a periodic prose reminder that not all will be destroyed. Along the way, we get more of a sense that this calling costs Jeremiah dearly, alienating him from both people and God in the peculiar pinch that comes with prophecy.

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Jeremiah 7-9

Good morning! Today’s passage (Jeremiah 7-9) declares the injustice of God’s people and the insufficiency of temple worship alone to please God. The prophet (speaking with God’s voice) counters hypocritical religious practices of the day with fierce denunciation and warning of impending calamity. Biblical scholars believe that Jeremiah’s original verses (in poetic form) were later supplemented by the prose sections during exile and post-exile times. These paragraphs try to explain why the exile happened and how to avoid further bad news from God.

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Jeremiah 3-4

Good morning! Today’s gloomy reading in Jeremiah 3-4 foreshadows the total eclipse of Judah before much longer. The prophet contends that the people have been unfaithful, and calls them to repentance. If Judah does not repent, God will let them be overrun as a sovereign nation. Jeremiah is so sure that Jerusalem will fail to repent that he announces their impending doom, even while calling for them to change their ways.

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