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  1. 1. Jeremiah
  2. 2. Structure • The call of Jeremiah – Jeremiah’s struggle and call in the tradition of the Hebrew people • Oracles in the Days of Josiah – God loves his people with tenderness; sin disturbs the covenantal relationship • Oracles against the nations – God is in control and will overcome all those who are opposed to him and his people.
  3. 3. Sources • Jeremiah’s own words • Writings of his scribe, Baruch • Sermons of Jeremiah’s disciples, reflecting on Jeremiah’s words and actions
  4. 4. Biography of Jeremiah • Jeremiah was born, perhaps about 650 B.C., of a priestly family from the village of Anathoth, two and a half miles northeast of Jerusalem. • The name, Jeremiah, means: The Lord raises up
  5. 5. • He was called to his task in the thirteenth year of King Josiah (Jer 1:2). Josiah’s reform, begun with enthusiasm and hope, ended with his death on the battlefield of Megiddo (609 B.C.) as he attempted to stop the northward march of the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco, who was going to provide assistance to the Assyrians who were in retreat before the Babylonians.
  6. 6. • Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, fell in 612 B.C., preparing the way for Babylon, which was soon to put an end to the independence of Judah. • The prophet supported the reform of King Josiah (2 Kgs 22–23), but after the death of Josiah the old idolatry returned. Jeremiah opposed this as well as royal policy toward Babylon. Arrest, imprisonment, and public disgrace were his lot.
  7. 7. • In the nation’s apostasy Jeremiah saw the sealing of its doom. Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem (598 B.C.) and carried King Jehoiachin into exile (Jer 22:24).
  8. 8. • During the years 598–587, Jeremiah counseled Zedekiah in the face of bitter opposition. The false prophet Hananiah proclaimed that the yoke of Babylon was broken and a strong pro-Egyptian party in Jerusalem induced Zedekiah to revolt. Nebuchadnezzar took swift vengeance; Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 and its leading citizens sent into exile.
  9. 9. • The prophet remained in Jerusalem, but was later forced into Egyptian exile. We do not know the details of his death. The influence of Jeremiah was greater after his death than before. The exiled community read and meditated on the lessons of the prophet; his influence is evident in Ezekiel, some of the psalms, Is 40–66, and Daniel.
  10. 10. Main Players • Jeremiah, The Prophet • Josiah: king of Judah (641–609 BC), who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.
  11. 11. • Jehoiakim – Son of Josiah, King of Judah who revolted against Babylon, which led to capture of Jerusalem in 597 • Nebuchadnezzar -was king of the Babylonian Empire c. 605 BC – 562 BC. He is credited with the construction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylonand for the destruction of the First Temple.
  12. 12. • Jehoiachin – king of Judah dethroned by Babylon and taken into captivity • Zedekiah – warned by Jeremiah not to join the Egyptians in revolt against Babylon, which led to destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 587. When he and the people were carted off to Babylon, Jeremiah remained and wanted to stay in Jerusalem. He was physically dragged to Egypt where he later died.
  13. 13. • Gedaliah – governor of Judah, appointed by Nebuchadnezzar who encouraged the cultivation of fields and vineyards to bring stability to Judah. He was attacked and killed by a group of Jews, further angering the Babylonians.
  14. 14. Main Sections • Poetry sermons focused on Exodus and the covenant – very personal, agonizing • Confessions – arguments with God over his call as a prophet • Narrative sections compiled by Baruch that outline Jeremiah’s theology.
  15. 15. Purpose of the Book • Jeremiah’s writings provided a voice of compassion and prayer to a tumultuous age. • Linked fidelity to covenant to one’s own heart • Jeremiah’s life is the message.
  16. 16. Central Themes • • • • New Covenant Sin and Atonement Faith and Prayer True and false prophecy
  17. 17. Jeremiah, in his life, shows us: • • • • • • Joyful Optimism Honest, painful struggles with God Courage in confronting rulers Agony over the fate of Jerusalem Perseverance amid continuous rejection Irritability, and sometimes a desire for revenge • Sensitivity to the beauty of nature • The joys and struggles of celibacy
  18. 18. Jeremiah’s Journey • Jeremiah changes, adapts to work out God’s purpose in his life and the life of the community. • His discernment is much like our own, and the life of everyone who seeks God sincerely.
  19. 19. Jeremiah’s Message • The New Covenant – Suffering, coming days, completion – Covenant that is written on hearts, not stone – Influences understanding of what it means to be a member of God’s family
  20. 20. Jeremiah’s Message • Sin and Atonement – Sin brings its own sorrow – People are transformed, for good or ill, by the things they seek – Punishment for sins can bring purification and change – God’s compassion leads us to hope in forgiveness and restored life in grace.
  21. 21. Jeremiah’s Message • Faith and Prayer – Wrestling with God, baring soul and heart before God – Confronting God with bold questions, but never wavering in his reliance on God’s faithfulness and care for him and the community. – God’s relationship is the only one he can really count on.
  22. 22. Jeremiah’s Message • True and False Prophecy – Jeremiah’s message was not popular or acceptable. – Classic example of rejected prophet – Lasting impact.
  23. 23. In the Lectionary • 33 appearances – 9 Sunday – 25 weekday – 12 Ritual Masses