By Barry Huff

Categories: Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, Old Testament


What is the point of the book of Jeremiah?


When reading any of the major prophetic books (Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel), it is helpful to remember that early portions of the book convey the prophet's message to the people in Jerusalem before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BCE, while later portions of the book convey the prophet's message after 587 BCE to the Jews who were dragged into exile in Babylon. (In the case of the Book of Isaiah, different sections of the book reflect the voices of prophets from different centuries.) This dual message of the prophet is announced in the opening chapter of Jeremiah, where God tells Jeremiah, "See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant" (Jer. 1:10). Much of the first 28 chapters of the book are dedicated to overthrowing the false hopes of inhabitants of Jerusalem who claim that God will protect them even though they treat their neighbors unjustly. In chapter 29, however, the tone changes as Jeremiah builds up the hope of hopeless exiles in Babylon by promising them that in seventy years they will return home to Jerusalem. Thus, the Book of Jeremiah is designed to walk people into and out of exile.

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