Home » Jeremiah » Introduction to Jeremiah – Part 3

Introduction to Jeremiah – Part 3

As we continue to prepare for our adventure through the book of Jeremiah, we need to set our expectations about what we will find in the book – the structure of the book itself.

When you think about what you might find in a book, especially a longer one like Jeremiah, you might expect some modern story structure – an introduction to the characters and the plot, a conflict of some sort, and final resolution of that conflict.  You might expect the story to have a chronological flow.  If the writer jumps from current context to something in the past, the author prepares the reader for the switch.

Well, take those ideas and throw them out the window.

If we were to judge the book of Jeremiah by modern standards, we would say it is poorly organized, with a scattering of thoughts and events and very limited organization.  As one commentator stated, “He [Jeremiah] would have had his manuscript returned with a rejection slip from any modern publisher.” (Robert Davidson, “Jeremiah Volume 1”, p. 1.  Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1983).

In the days of Jeremiah, prophets and preachers communicated via oral tradition.  They told stories, they talked to one another, they preached in public places, all by word of mouth.  Scholars have done the math and determined that Jeremiah did not start writing down his thoughts and teachings until he was at the halfway point in his ministry (20 years into his 40+ year recorded prophetic history).  It was only after Jeremiah was banned from preaching in the Tabernacle that he dictated his words to his scribe, Baruch.  Jeremiah then sent Baruch to the temple to read his words, since he could not deliver them in person.

The book of Jeremiah, for the most part, has a chronological flow.  There are a few places where the timeline jumps back in time with no warning to the reader. In other places, the timeline jumps forward to future events, again without warning.  As we walk through the book of Jeremiah, I will do my best to point out when the timeline jumps from current context to an event either forward or backward in time.

With all the above being said, the book of Jeremiah does have some major divisions and sections:

  1. Division #1 (chapters 1 – 25)
    1. Introduction (chapter 1)
    2. Divine judgments on Israel and Judah (chapters 2 – 24)
    3. Summary of judgments (chapter 25)
  2. Division #2 (chapters 26 – 52)
    1. Israel and Judah’s rejection of God’s Word (chapters 26 – 36)
      (Note:  Chapters 30 – 33 contain prophecies to the forward-looking restoration of Jerusalem and Israel)
    2. The fall of Jerusalem (chapters 37 – 44)
    3. Divine judgments against other nations (chapters 45 – 51)
    4. Historical notes related to 2 Kings 24:18 – 25:30

 

As we consider the structure of the book of Jeremiah, we need to remember that its chief purpose is to communicate a well-rounded view of this dark time in Israel’s history, and the call of God on Jeremiah to speak to God’s people and bring them back into fellowship.

May we see God’s hand of invitation and love extended to Israel, even when they are wayward and in open rebellion to His ways.

And the same God who beckoned Israel to return to Him is the same God today who welcomes back anyone who will respond to Him with open arms and an overflowing, joyful heart.

 

Blessings,
~kevin

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