Thanks for joining our Memorial Day weekend Bible study. While enjoying a BBQ or shopping for a new mattress, never forget the solemn reason for this holiday – to honor those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. That said, let us begin.
Today’s title reflects the third installment of a greatest hits mini-series within this study. The first was “Jesus’s Greatest Hits” Vol. 56, the second was “St. Paul’s” Vol. 61, and now Jeremiah joins that distinguished group.
If you wonder what inspired this topic, there is the pop culture answer. My husband spotted the 1998 movie “Jeremiah” on Amazon Prime starring Patrick Dempsey. Watching the movie piqued my interest since I knew little about Jeremiah, but I had quoted from his self-titled Hebrew Bible/Old Testament book on numerous occasions.
A brief introduction provides context for Jeremiah’s “greatest hits.” The book of Jeremiah is an account of his prophetic ministry that spoke of Divine judgment for nations marred by sin, including Judah (approximately the same area as modern Israel.)
Jeremiah was born around 650 B.C in Anathoth, Judah, near Jerusalem. It is believed that he died in Egypt around 570 B.C., giving him a life span of about 80 years.
Jeremiah is often called the “prophet of doom” or a “weeping prophet” since he repeatedly warned against idol worship, wicked rulers, false prophets, and nations' destruction. While very young, the Lord called Jeremiah into His service:
“ ‘The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations ’ ” (Jeremiah 1: 4-5). (Note the phrase, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,” is often requoted by the pro-life movement.)
Jeremiah’s answer to the Lord immediately follows those verses with an inspiring exchange that is a concise summation of what Jeremiah would need to know in order to be God’s prophetic mouthpiece.
“ ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.’ But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” ‘You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the Lord.’ ”
“ ‘Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant’ ” (Jeremiah 1:6-10).
God’s appointment of young Jeremiah gave him the confidence to speak for the Lord, especially when Jeremiah issued warnings that powerful rulers did not want to hear.
Jesus also quoted Jeremiah in the gospels of Mark and Luke when Jesus was exasperated by his apostles' lack of understanding about his Divinity. First, let’s examine what Jeremiah said:
“Hear this, you foolish and senseless people, who have eyes but do not see, who have ears but do not hear ”(Jeremiah 5:21). Then Jesus channeled Jeremiah:
Here is the second time in Mark that Jesus quotes God’s words to Jeremiah:
“ ‘Has this house, which bears my Name, become a den of robbers to you? But I have been watching! ’ declares the Lord” Jeremiah 7:11. And in the temple Jesus said:
“And as he [Jesus] taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ ” (Mark 11:17)
Luke’s gospel also records Jesus’s quotes from Jeremiah as He scolds the temple money changers:
“ ‘It is written,’ he [Jesus] said to them, ‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers’ ” (Luke 19:46).
Now we examine two Jeremiah passages that are considered Messianic prophecies:
“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior’ ” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Jeremiah’s second Messianic prophecy speaks of a “new covenant” that Jesus mentions during the Last Supper: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” (Luke 22-20). I requote the most pertinent verses in this prophecy:
“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.”
“ ‘This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,’ declares the Lord. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
“ ‘No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33). (Entire passage is linked.)
For the end, I have saved Jeremiah’s most familiar passage, which has comforted generations of believers:
“ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Since Jeremiah is the longest book in the entire Bible, there are too many noteworthy verses for this short study. But read here and turn to the book of Jeremiah for more Divine inspiration and His Words. Amen!
Myra Kahn Adams is a conservative political and religious writer with numerous national credits. Her book, "Bible Study For Those Who Don't Read The Bible," reprints the first 56 volumes of this popular study. Myra is also Executive Director of SignFromGod.org, a ministry dedicated to Shroud of Turin education. SignFromGod was a proud sponsor of the Museum of the Bible's opening events for its high-tech exhibition about the Shroud of Turin, open through July 31. Contact: MyraAdams01@gmail.com or Twitter @MyraKAdams.