Brian Brames

Old Testament 103

The life of Jeremiah

Jeremiah may be one of the most intriguing and revealing of the Old Testament prophets. With his continual return to god and the constant struggle between his heart and the voice of god. This elevates him as a human being and not just as an instrument of god (Paterson 144). He is one of the most human of prophets mentioned in the Old Testament and at the same time most Christ like in aspects of his sermons and works. His story has intrigued many for it is of human weakness and strength (Paterson 139). Let us now take a look at his life and at his works.

To fully understand the meaning behind his sermons and predictions we must first look at what a prophet is and what he holds true.

The word prophet means to speak by delegated authority (Paterson 3). Prophets speak because they are commanded to by a higher power (Paterson 4). Their beliefs were the beliefs of the living god and to make god visible to their people (Paterson 8). They also believed that “life was unity and every thought and activity had to be brought into subjection to god (Paterson 9).” The prophets also stood for religious integrity (Paterson 10).

With this understanding of what a prophet is we can now take a look at his life.

Jeremiah was born in Anathon a small village six miles from Jerusalem. He was born to a priestly family whose origins have been traced back to Moses. Jeremiah was heir to many spiritual heritages and riches. “He was steeped in the finest Hebrew piety and nourished on its sacred traditions (Paterson 141).”

Jeremiah began his prophecy during the reign of Josiah. During this time there was much prosperity and political independence. He was very concerned with the social injustices and felt that worship had been put second to a life of attentiveness and righteousness. Jeremiah often compared Israel to an unfaithful wife.

Jeremiah was one of the few who challenged the orthodoxy of Zionist theology. With his Temple sermon he condemned the people for being immoral and because of this nothing could save them not even the temple that was so sacred to them. Another reason was that the temple was held as superstition. Almost as a certain security because theology claimed that Yahweh dwelt in the temple and as long as he was there nothing bad could happen to Israel. But as Jeremiah countered only such securities could come from their faith. In this sermon Jeremiah was pitting Mosaic traditions against Zionist-Davidic theology. After the priests and heard of this condemnation they pressed the king to have him executed. Instead he was barred form entering the temple.

Jeremiah had instituted the help of his friend and secretary, Baruch, to take dictations. Together they created a scroll that warned of Babylonian danger. When the scroll was sent to the Jehoiakim, the king, He ripped the columns off with a knife and had them burned. Shortly after Jeremiah and Baruch started on another scroll, this one they did not send to the king. After warnings from Jeremiah Jerusalem was subdued by Babylon in 598B.C.E. Many were taken into Exile including the newly appointed king Jehoiachin. In 594B.C.E Babylon seemed vulnerable due to a revolt in King Nebuchadnezzer’s army. Jeremiah was sent to Jerusalem by Yahweh to discourage this optimism; and to reinforce this he put an ox yolk on his shoulders and declared that Babylon would reign over them for a while. He also denounced any prophet who said otherwise. The Jews who were in exile also had such false hopes, which Jeremiah was determined to end. He had sent a letter to the leadership them telling them to not expect a swift return to Jerusalem, but to build homes and starts businesses. During the worst days of the siege in 588B.C.E. Jeremiah purchased some ancestral land. With this act he was affirming his deepest faith in Yahweh that he would not abandon his people and remove them from the Promised Land forever. Jerusalem finally fell in 587B.C.E. actualizing Jeremiah’s fears and predictions. Jeremiah was captured during the fall but was later released to travel where he pleased. After the assassination of Gedaliah in 582B.C.E., Jeremiah was forced to travel with refugees to Egypt where he continued to prophesize until his death.

Jeremiah is one of many prophets spoken about in the Old Testament. Many of his prophecies and sermons were controversial but they had a meaning and these meanings can still be put to use today.

Word Count: 767

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