Jeremiah is the largest book of the Bible. Though the Psalms have more chapters, they are not generally as long as those found within the book of Jeremiah.

The Author

Jeremiah introduces himself as the author of this book at the very outset.

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. (Jeremiah 1:1-2).

From this introduction we can see that Jeremiah was "of the priests." We have already noted the difference between the office of the priests versus that of prophet. A prophet went to the people about God. A priest went to God about the people. Jeremiah did BOTH.


Jeremiah has been known as the "weeping prophet." It isn’t that he was a crybaby. It is that he loved his countrymen and saw what they were going through and it brought him to tears.

We also read in the Bible that Jesus wept (John 11:35). There is a lesson here. It is that God calls us to be involved in the lives of PEOPLE. That implies an emotional involvement.





Saw the Northern Kingdom of Israel taken into Captivity at the hands of Assyria

Saw the Southern Kingdom of Judah taken into Captivity at the hands of Babylon

Isaiah foretold of the judgments that would come in the future

Jeremiah explained the reasons for the judgments that Judah was experiencing

Looks primarily to the future

Looks primarily to the present

Bold and fearless

Gentle and compassionate

Was married to a prophetess and had children with prophetic names

Was commanded not to take a wife or have any children



Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

6 Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth."

7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.

9 Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. 10 See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:4-10).

Jeremiah did not choose for himself the career of being a prophet. It was not a job that he desired. The Lord came to him and called him with a calling that transcended his own life.

From a human perspective, Jeremiah was unsuited to the job of prophet. He seems to have been by nature a timid and reserved man. But he was faithful to the calling of the Lord. His ministry is a testimony to the fact that God delights in using unqualified men.



Jeremiah was a man of his times. You cannot understand the message of Jeremiah apart from an understanding of the world in which he lived. This setting is described in the first three verses of the book.

The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2 to whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month. (Jeremiah 1:1-3).

These were tumultuous times for the tiny kingdom of Judah. It was a time of clashing empires and of world unrest. For those in Judah, it began with a bright beacon of hope.

1. Josiah’s Reforms.

Jeremiah’s ministry began during the days of good king Josiah. Josiah was the last of the good kings of Judah. When he came to the throne as an 8-year old child, the worship of Yahweh had been all but forgotten. The Temple lay in disarray. The sacrifices were no longer offered. He ordered that they begin again and that the Temple be reopened.

As the Temple was put back in order, a copy of the Scriptures was found. It may well have been the book of Deuteronomy. These writings were brought to the king and he read them and he read the blessings and the curses of the law that were promised to those who obeyed and to those who broke the covenant. He quickly recognized what had taken place in Judah.

Josiah led the nation back to the Lord in repentance. He ordered that the temples to pagan gods be destroyed and he put a stop to the popular ritual prostitution cult and the child sacrifices. Because of his faithfulness, the Lord promised that He would withhold the destruction of Judah until after Josiah had died.

2. The Fall of Assyria.

There was a new power growing in the east. It came from Babylon. The Chaldean king Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar formed a coalition of nations that banded together to attack Assyria.

In 612 B.C. this coalition sacked Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. The remnants of the Assyrian army fled westward.

3. Pharaoh Necho and the Battle of Megiddo.

With Nineveh fallen, the neighboring kingdoms surged forward to fill the power vacuum that was left. One such kingdom was Egypt. Pharaoh Necho II was the leading monarch of the 26th dynasty and he set forth to claim his share of the spoils. While en route, he sent for permission from Josiah to pass through the land of Israel.

After all this, when Josiah had set the temple in order, Neco king of Egypt came up to make war at Carchemish on the Euphrates, and Josiah went out to engage him. 21 But Neco sent messengers to him, saying, "What have we to do with each other, O King of Judah? I am not coming against you today but against the house with which I am at war, and God has ordered me to hurry. Stop for your own sake from interfering with God who is with me, that He may not destroy you."

However, Josiah would not turn away from him, but disguised himself in order to make war with him; nor did he listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God, but came to make war on the plain of Megiddo. 23 And the archers shot King Josiah, and the king said to his servants, "Take me away, for I am badly wounded." 24 So his servants took him out of the chariot and carried him in the second chariot which he had, and brought him to Jerusalem where he died and was buried in the tombs of his fathers. And all Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).

Josiah refused permission to Pharaoh Necho to pass through the land. Their armies met on the plain of Megiddo. There was in that day a narrow mountain pass that ran into this valley. The valley is known today by its more popular name of Armageddon. It was there that Josiah met his end.

It may well be that it is this event that gave rise to the later symbolism used by John in the book of Revelation. It is a symbol for a great and decisive conflict.

4. The Descendants of Josiah.

Following the death of Josiah, the people of Israel placed Jehoahaz on the throne of Judah. His reign was to be short-lived, for Necho of Egypt moved in to place a king of his own choosing in Judah. For this position he selected another of Josiah’s sons.


Installed by the Israelites after Josiah’s death

Removed by Pharaoh Necho after only 3 months

Eliakim (Jehoiakim)

Set on the throne by Necho

Reigned for 11 years and deposed by Nebuchadnezzar

Jehoiachin (Coniah)

Son of Jehoiakim set on throne by Jews

Nebuchadnezzar removed him after only 3 months


Youngest son of Josiah put on throne by Nebuchadnezzar

Reigned 11 years before being taken by Nebuchadnezzar

5. The Battle of Carchemish.

Pharaoh Necho had insisted that is that it was the Lord who had called him to go to war. We learn from Jeremiah that there may have been some truth to these words:

The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, says, "Behold, I am going to punish Amon of Thebes, and Pharaoh, and Egypt along with her gods and her kings, even Pharaoh and those who trust in him. 26 And I shall give them over to the power of those who are seeking their lives, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and into the hand of his officers. Afterwards, however, it will be inhabited as in the days of old," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 46:25-26).

The Lord had indeed called Egypt to come up and fight against Nebuchadnezzar. This calling was given in order to punish Egypt.

The two armies met at a place called Carchemish. In one of the most famous land battles of the ancient world, Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptian armies.

6. Nebuchadnezzar’s First Deportation.

Nebuchadnezzar’s conquests eventually brought him southward to Judah. He took Jerusalem in the third year of Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim was permitted to remain upon the throne of Jerusalem as a vassal to Nebuchadnezzar, but as a guarantee of his good behavior, a number of the young Jewish nobility were taken as royal hostages to Babylon. Among their number were Daniel and his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego.

7. Jehoiakim and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36).

And it came about in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, that this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2 "Take a scroll and write on it all the words which I have spoken to you concerning Israel, and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations, from the day I first spoke to you, from the days of Josiah, even to this day. 3 Perhaps the house of Judah will hear all the calamity which I plan to bring on them, in order that every man will turn from his evil way; then I will forgive their iniquity and their sin." (Jeremiah 36:1-3).

The Lord speaks to Jeremiah and instructs that a scroll is to be prepared that documents all of the prophecies that God has given against Judah. The reason for this is that the nation might be brought to repentance.

Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD, which He had spoken to him, on a scroll. (Jeremiah 36:4).

The use of a scribe was normal for that day. Jeremiah uses a scribe named Baruch the son of Neriah. One of the significant finds that archaeologists have unearthed is a clay signet seal belonging to Baruch the son of Neriah dating to this period. It could well be that this is the same man who served as the scribe to Jeremiah.

Once the scroll is written, Jeremiah instructs Baruch to go and read the scroll to those who have gathered in the Temple.

Now it came about in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, that all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the LORD. 10 Then Baruch read from the book the words of Jeremiah in the house of the LORD in the chamber of Gemariah the son of Shaphan the scribe, in the upper court, at the entry of the New Gate of the LORD’s house, to all the people. (Jeremiah 36:9-10).

Word of the scroll soon gets back to King Jehoiakim and the scroll is brought to him to be read in his presence.

Now the king was sitting in the winter house in the ninth month, with a fire burning in the brazier before him. 23 And it came about, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, the king cut it with a scribe's knife and threw it into the fire that was in the brazier, until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the brazier. 24 Yet the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments. (Jeremiah 36:22-24).

Instead of repentance, the king responded with an act of open defiance and contempt for the prophetic warning.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll and the words which Baruch had written at the dictation of Jeremiah, saying, 28 "Take again another scroll and write on it all the former words that were on the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah burned. 29 And concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah you shall say, ‘Thus says the LORD, "You have burned this scroll, saying, ‘Why have you written on it that the king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall make man and beast to cease from it?’"

"‘Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. 31 I shall also punish him and his descendants and his servants for their iniquity, and I shall bring on them and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the men of Judah all the calamity that I have declared to them -- but they did not listen."’" (Jeremiah 36:27-31).

Because of the continued rebellion of Jehoiakim, not only would Jerusalem be destroyed, but also Jehoiakim himself would be punished so that his descendants would not be permitted to sit upon the throne of David.

8. Jehoiakim’s End.

Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the house of the LORD to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon. (2 Chronicles 36:5-7).

The Bible is not specific to tell us how Jehoiakim died. Josephus relates the Jewish tradition that he was put to death in Babylon and that his corpse was cast out upon the fields to be picked over by scavengers.

9. Jehoiachin and the Second Deportation (2 Kings 24:8-16).

With Jehoiakim taken away by Nebuchadnezzar, his son Jehoiachin now came to the throne. He is known by several different names:

His reign was to be a brief one. He reigned for three months and 10 days. Apparently his ascension to the throne was in itself an act of rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, for it brought a quick siege against the city of Jerusalem.

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem; and his mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. 9 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

10 At that time the servants of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon went up to Jerusalem, and the city came under siege. 11 And Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon came to the city, while his servants were besieging it. 12 And Jehoiachin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he and his mother and his servants and his captains and his officials. So the king of Babylon took him captive in the eighth year of his reign. 13 And he carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king's house, and cut in pieces all the vessels of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, just as the LORD had said.

14 Then he led away into exile all Jerusalem and all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and the smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land. 15 So he led Jehoiachin away into exile to Babylon; also the king's mother and the king's wives and his officials and the leading men of the land, he led away into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 And all the men of valor, seven thousand, and the craftsmen and the smiths, one thousand, all strong and fit for war, and these the king of Babylon brought into exile to Babylon. (2 Kings 24:8-16).

Jerusalem fell in 597 B.C. and both Jehoiachin as well as all of the nobility and the warriors and the craftsmen of Judah were taken into captivity. Among these captives was the prophet Ezekiel. Only the poorest of the poor were left in the land.

10. Zedekiah and Jeremiah (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

Before leaving Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar placed the youngest son of Josiah upon the throne of Judah to rule over those who had been left behind. His name was Mattaniah, but Nebuchadnezzar changed it to Zedekiah.

At the very outset of his reign, Jeremiah prophesies and warns Zedekiah against attempting rebellion.

In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying-- 2 thus says the LORD to me-- "Make for yourself bonds and yokes and put them on your neck, 3 and send word to the king of Edom, to the king of Moab, to the king of the sons of Ammon, to the king of Tyre, and to the king of Sidon by the messengers who come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 And command them to go to their masters, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, thus you shall say to your masters, 5 "I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. 6 And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and I have given him also the wild animals of the field to serve him. 7 And all the nations shall serve him, and his son, and his grandson, until the time of his own land comes; then many nations and great kings will make him their servant. 8 And it will be, that the nation or the kingdom which will not serve him, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and which will not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, I will punish that nation with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence," declares the LORD, "until I have destroyed it by his hand.

9 "But as for you, do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your dreamers, your soothsayers, or your sorcerers, who speak to you, saying, 'You shall not serve the king of Babylon.’ 10 For they prophesy a lie to you, in order to remove you far from your land; and I will drive you out, and you will perish. 11 But the nation which will bring its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let remain on its land," declares the LORD, "and they will till it and dwell in it."’" (Jeremiah 27:1-11).

Instead of heeding the warning of Jeremiah, Zedekiah allows himself to be swayed into entering a rebellious treaty with Egypt against Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar was furious. He marched back to Jerusalem and besieged the city.

Meanwhile, Pharaoh’s army had set out from Egypt; and when the Chaldeans who had been besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they lifted the siege from Jerusalem.

Then the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, 7 "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Thus you are to say to the king of Judah, who sent you to Me to inquire of Me: "Behold, Pharaoh's army which has come out for your assistance is going to return to its own land of Egypt. 8 The Chaldeans will also return and fight against this city, and they will capture it and burn it with fire."’" (Jeremiah 37:5-8).

Because of the unpopularity of this message, Jeremiah was arrested as a traitor to the Jews and thrown into prison.

Meanwhile Nebuchadnezzar quickly set the Egyptians to route and was soon back to surrounding the city of Jerusalem. Jeremiah advised surrender and for this he was taken and thrown down into a cistern, a deep pit full of mud.

Then they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchijah the king's son, which was in the court of the guardhouse; and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. Now in the cistern there was no water but only mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. (Jeremiah 38:6).

A eunuch intercedes on Jeremiah’s behalf and once more he is brought before the king. Again he advises Zedekiah to surrender and again Zedekiah refuses.

11. The Third Deportation to Babylon (Jeremiah 39).

Now it came about when Jerusalem was captured in the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and all his army came to Jerusalem and laid siege to it; 2 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, in the ninth day of the month, the city wall was breached. (Jeremiah 39:1-2).

Jerusalem was taken after an extensive siege -- that seems to be the period described in verses 1-2.

Then all the officials of the king of Babylon came in and sat down at the Middle Gate: Nergal-sar-ezer, Samgar-nebu, Sar-sekim the Rab-saris, Nergal-sar-ezer the Rab-mag, and all the rest of the officials of the king of Babylon.

4 And it came about, when Zedekiah the king of Judah and all the men of war saw them, that they fled and went out of the city at night by way of the king's garden through the gate between the two walls; and he went out toward the Arabah.

5 But the army of the Chaldeans pursued them and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho; and they seized him and brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon at Riblah in the land of Hamath, and he passed sentence on him. 6 Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes at Riblah; the king of Babylon also slew all the nobles of Judah. 7 He then blinded Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him in fetters of bronze to bring him to Babylon. (Jeremiah 39:3-7).

The last thing that Zedekiah ever saw was the sight of his own sons being put to death. Then he was blinded at taken in chains back to Babylon.

The Chaldeans also burned with fire the king's palace and the houses of the people, and they broke down the walls of Jerusalem. 9 And as for the rest of the people who were left in the city, the deserters who had gone over to him and the rest of the people who remained, Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard carried them into exile in Babylon. (Jeremiah 39:8-9).

The Temple was burned to the ground along with the palace of the king. The walls of the city were pulled down and the city of Jerusalem effectively ceased to exist. The survivors were rounded up and hauled away to Babylon.

Jeremiah was set free and offered a place to stay in Babylon. He instead chose to remain in Judah.

12. Gedaliah and the Final Rebellion.

Now that all claimants to the throne of Judah had been effectively removed, Nebuchadnezzar appointed Gedaliah to be the governor of that land. Since Jerusalem was now only a ruin, Gedaliah set up his government at Mizpah. This government was short-lived, for it was not long before still another insurrection had sprung up. Gedaliah was murdered along with the rest of his officers.

Fearing the wrath of Babylon, the inhabitants of the land determine to flee to Egypt. Jeremiah warns against this decision and urges them to remain in the land. Ultimately they flee to Egypt, taking Jeremiah with them.



Chapter 1

Chapters 2-20

Chapters 21-45

Chapters 46-51

Chapter 52


From Josiah to the first year of Nebuchadnezzar

From Josiah’s sons to the Captivity

Oracles for the Nations


Call of Jeremiah

Fall of Jerusalem

Judgment against Judah


The book of Jeremiah can be divided into two major portions.

The following chiastic arrangement has also been suggested for the book:

Call of Jeremiah. (1)

Prophecies of Judah and Jerusalem (2-35)

Historical Narrative: Prior to the Fall of Jerusalem (36-38)

Historical Narrative: Fall of Jerusalem (39).

Historical Narrative: After the Fall of Jerusalem (40-45)

Prophecies of other Nations (46-51)

Fall of Jerusalem (52)

This arrangement sees both the pivotal point as well as the climactic ending in the historical description of the Fall of Jerusalem.



4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, 5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

6 Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth."

7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. 8 Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 1:4-8).

Jeremiah's call did not begin with Jeremiah. It began with the Lord. Jeremiah was set apart by the Lord for a special purpose and a special ministry. He was appointed as a prophet to the nations. The scope of his prophecies would be directed, not only toward Judah, but also to the rest of the nations.

Jeremiah has been known as "the weeping prophet," but at the outset, he was also a timid prophet. His ministry started when he was a young man and he thought himself too young. The Lord responds by saying, "Your ministry started when you were even younger than you think -- it started before you were even born."

9 Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

10 "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

Jeremiah is thus given the authority and the ability to speak God's words. His message will not merely be his own opinion, but rather will come from God.

To confirm his calling, Jeremiah is given two brief visions:

  1. Vision of the Almond Rod.
  2. 11 And the word of the LORD came to me saying, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "I see a rod of an almond tree."

    12 Then the LORD said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it." (Jeremiah 1:11-12).

    The first vision that Jeremiah sees is a rod. The rod is from the wood of an almond tree. There is a play on words here, for the word for almond tree (shaqad) is a homonym for the word translated "I am watching" (shoqed) in verse 12.

    The point is that the events taking place in the days of Jeremiah are not an indication that God has gone on vacation. He is watching and He is involved in history and He is bringing His word to fulfillment.

  3. Vision of the Boiling Pot.

13 And the word of the LORD came to me a second time saying, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north."

14 Then the LORD said to me, "Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. (Jeremiah 1:13-14).

The judgments of God had been simmering for a long time, but now they were coming to a boil. Jeremiah sees a boiling pot. It is from the north. It is about to boil over everyone living in the land.



11 "Has a nation changed gods,
When they were not gods?
But My people have changed their glory
For that which does not profit.

12 "Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
And shudder, be very desolate," declares the LORD.

"For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns,
That can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:11-13).

Here is the basis for judgment against Judah. It is because the people of God had done something that was unheard of, even among pagans. They had departed from the God of their fathers.

This is described in the symbolic terms of a cistern. A cistern was a large opening normally carved out of rock. It was designed to catch water to see people through the dry season. The problem would come if the cistern cracked. All of the water would leak out.

This is contrasted with the concept of "living waters." This was a reference to moving waters that would flow in the form of a stream.

The departure of the Jews from the Lord was tantamount to leaving a never-ending source of flowing water to obtain broken cisterns from which all the water had long since leaked out.

In chapter 5, the Lord instructs Jeremiah to go on a quest for a righteous man.

Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem,

And look now, and take note.
And seek in her open squares,
If you can find a man,
If there is one who does justice, who seeks truth,
Then I will pardon her. (Jeremiah 5:1)

In the book of Genesis, Abraham had asked God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah if there were ten righteous people in the cities. Jeremiah is told that Jerusalem will be spared if there is a single righteous man. The fact that Jerusalem is ultimately destroyed is in itself an indictment against the sinfulness of the city.

15 "Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar,
O house of Israel," declares the LORD.
"It is an enduring nation,
It is an ancient nation,
A nation whose language you do not know,
Nor can you understand what they say.

Their quiver is like an open grave,
All of them are mighty men.

And they will devour your harvest and your food;
They will devour your sons and your daughters;
They will devour your flocks and your herds;
They will devour your vines and your fig trees;
They will demolish with the sword your fortified cities in which you trust. (Jeremiah 5:15-17).

The nation which is destined to come up against Judah is Babylon. Over the next few years, the armies of Babylon would come and gobble up the kingdom of Judah, taking its people away into captivity.



10 "For thus says the LORD,

'When seventy years have been completed for Babylon,

I will visit you and fulfill

My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.

11 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:10-13).

The themes of deportation and restoration had been a familiar one in the prophets prior to the exile. But now for the first time, the Lord sets forth what is to be the duration of the deportation. It is to be a period of 70 years.

This period is explained briefly in a passage from 2 Chronicles that alludes to the prophecy of Jeremiah. In chapter 36 of that book, we read of Nebuchadnezzar's taking of Jerusalem into captivity to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it kept sabbath until seventy years were complete (2 Chronicles 36:21).

Under the terms of the Mosaic Law, every seventh year, the Jews were required to allow the land a time of rest. A part of their rebellion had been to ignore the Sabbatical Law, so the Lord says in effect, "I am going to impose a rest upon the land by taking you out of the land."



And Jeremiah said, "The word of the LORD came to me, saying, 7 'Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle is coming to you, saying, "Buy for yourself my field which is at Anathoth, for you have the right of redemption to buy it."' (Jeremiah 32:6-7).

What is so unusual about this purchase is that it is made at a time when Nebuchadnezzar was besieging Jerusalem. That is not a time when you are normally looking at rising real estate costs.

But the Lord tells Jeremiah to take the deed to the property and to seal it up in an earthenware jar for safekeeping, for there will come a time when this land will against have value and prosperity.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in these sorts of earthenware jars. They remind us of the promise of God for a day of restoration.



"Behold, days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. 33 "But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days," declares the LORD, "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 And they shall not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

This promise is seen in three major parts.

JEREMIAH 31:31-37


Promise of a New Covenant

A New Covenant is coming (31-32a)

· With Israel and Judah

· It is better than the old

The Old Covenant is broken (32)

· Yahweh a faithful husband / Jehovah was a faithful husband

· Israel & Judah adulterous / Israel and Judah were the adulterous wife


Communion of the New Covenant

The Location of the Covenant Laws

The Relationship of the Covenant

The Intimacy of the New Covenant


Dependability of the New Covenant

As dependable as the laws of nature

As dependable as nature is unsearchable

It has been pointed out that verses 31-32 present a chiastic parallel.

"Behold the days will come," declares the Lord

"When I will cut a covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah;

"A new covenant

"Not like the covenant...

"Which I cut with their fathers on the day that I took them by their hands out of the land of Egypt...

"My covenant which they broke while I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.

We have already seen the concept of a covenant introduced in other writings of the prophets. The truth of the Scriptures is that God has entered into a covenant relationship with men.

Throughout the book of Jeremiah, he has continually charged the people with being a nation of covenant-breakers. They have transgressed the covenant and have therefore brought the curses of the covenant upon themselves. They are called to repent, but they continue to refuse. Why? Because of an INTERNAL problem. Jeremiah has already pointed out this problem:

9 The heart is more deceitful than all else

And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?

10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind,

Even to give to each man according to his ways,

According to the results of his deeds. (Jeremiah 17:9-10).

Hebrews 8 quotes this passage to show that the New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant. There are four specific reasons why this is so.

The participant in the New Covenant has something that the believer of past ages never had. He has the Holy Spirit living within him. He has the Keeper of the Covenant indwelling him. And that makes a big difference. It means that God has gifted His people in a special way, working from the inside out.

The Old Covenant was primarily Jewish in scope. It was focused upon the land of Israel and upon the sacrifices that took place in Jerusalem. If you wanted to enter the Old Covenant and were not Jewish, you had to proselyte to Judaism. This called for circumcision and an adherence to the Law.

But this changes with the New Covenant. Even though it is made with the House of Judah and with the House of Israel, it looks outward to the world to invite all men to enter the Kingdom.

The Israelites broke the Old Covenant. God wrote His commands on tablets of stone and when the Israelites disobeyed, Moses took the tablets and shattered them. But the New Covenant is not written upon tablets of stone. It is written in men’s hearts. And because it is written in men’s hearts, it brings with it the means of fulfilling its obligations.

How can you possibly fulfill the obligations of the New Covenant? It is only by trusting in the One who fulfilled them on your behalf. That is what verse 34 says: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.

This was the greatest failure of the Old Covenant. It could not forgive sins. It could temporarily cover sins with animal sacrifices that looked forward to a future fulfillment. But the blood of sheep and goats can never take away sin. For this there needed to be a New Covenant relationship.

When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:13).

All other things being equal, new is better than old. A new dress versus an old dress. A new loaf of bread is better than an old crusty one. People naturally gravitate to that which is new. The fact that a New Covenant was promised indicates that the Old Covenant would be rendered obsolete.

Notice the tense that the writer uses. It is the present tense. It denotes continuing action in the present time. As he was writing these words, something was taking place on the horizon that was making the Old Covenant obsolete and which would eventually cause it to disappear. What is this things that was going to happen? It would be the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Within a few short years, the Roman legions under General Titus would besiege the city and take it. The temple would be burnt to the ground. And the sacrifices and all of its ceremony and ritual would cease.

The days of the Old Covenant are gone. We are to live by the Spirit, trusting in His power and walking in the light of His teaching. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law and has brought us into a New Covenant relationship with Himself. And therefore we are called to hold onto Jesus.



  1. The lesson of God’s Sovereignty.

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD saying, 2 "Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I shall announce My words to you." 3 Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. 4 But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

5 Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, 6 "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18:1-6).

The point is made that God as the Creator has every right to do with His creation as HE sees fit. He is able to forgive those who repent and He is able to condemn those who do not and nobody can pass judgment on His decisions.

He goes on to say that if a nation or a people will repent of their evil, then God will relent of the calamity that He has prophesied to bring upon them.

7 "At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; 8 if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.

9 "Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it; 10 if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it. (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

We have already examined this sort of language under the heading of conditional prophecies. The point is that there is always hope in light of repentance.

  1. The lesson of God’s Justice.
  2. Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

    God delights in kindness and in justice and in righteousness. He hates sin. That message comes through loud and clear throughout the book of Jeremiah. God hates sin so much that He sent His own Son to die so that sin and death might be defeated.

  3. The lesson of God's Grace.
  4. Though Judah had sinned greatly as a covenant-breaker, God repeatedly gave her people opportunities to repent and return to Him. In spite of all their continued rebellion, there remains a promise of hope for the future.

    "In those days and at that time," declares the LORD, "search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found; for I shall pardon those whom I leave as a remnant." (Jeremiah 50:20).

  5. The lesson of Leadership.

As go the leaders, so also goes the nation. The corollary of this is that nations sometimes are given the leaders that they deserve as a part of His judgment against sin.

The prophets prophesy falsely,

And the priests rule on their own authority;

And My people love it so!

But what will you do at the end of it? (Jeremiah 5:31).

The point is that we should pray for our leaders; both our ecclesiastical leaders as well as the leaders of our nation.


Lamentations is not the most popular book in the Bible. We normally prefer books with happy endings. This isn’t one of them. It is a book about deep sorrow.

There are five chapters to the book, just as there are five books to the Torah. Unlike most chapter divisions in our English Bible, these chapter divisions find their origin in the Hebrew text. They are evidenced by the fact that each chapter forms an acrostic.

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

3rd person plural ("they")

1st person singular ("I")

1st person plural ("we")

Each verse begins with an acrostic

Each line begins with an acrostic

Each verse begins with an acrostic

No acrostic

Writer addresses himself to his readers

Writer prays to God



The author of this book is not named. Jewish tradition has it that it was Jeremiah. There is no reason to doubt that this was the case.

The author never says, "I told you so."

One of the marks of a Christian is his compassion.

The author of Lamentations demonstrates that kind of compassion. He is not gleeful of the destruction that comes on Jerusalem.

If the author is Jeremiah, and I think that it is, he had every right to say, "I told you so." They ignored everything he told them and they treated him harshly.

But instead, we see in this book that he has identified himself with the people of the Captivity. He does not look down his nose at them. Instead he associates himself with the sins of the people.

Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.
We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven;
We have transgressed and rebelled, Thou hast not pardoned (Lamentations 3:40-42)

Jeremiah was a pastor with a pastor’s heart. Even though he was faithful and obedient, he associated himself with the people of God.



  1. God is Sovereign over the Events of Men.
  2. 37 Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass,

    Unless the Lord has commanded it?

    38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High

    That both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:37-38).

    The writer realizes that, even as bad things have taken place and they face great tragedy, God is still in control.

  3. Sin brings forth Tragic Consequences.
  4. 15 The joy of our hearts has ceased;
    Our dancing has been turned into mourning.
    16 The crown has fallen from our head;
    Woe to us, for we have sinned! (Lamentations 5:15-16)

    The writer recognizes that the reason for the sorrow and the heartache and the lament is because of sin.

    The lie of the devil echoes from Eden: "You shall surely not die. Sin will not bear fruit. It has no lasting consequences. It doesn't matter as long as it is between two consenting adults."

  5. There is Hope in the Darkness.

19 Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness.
20 Surely my soul remembers
And is bowed down within me.

21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.

22 The LORD's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Thy faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:19-23)

The writer of this book sees the most bitter afflictions, yet he is able to remember the compassion and the lovingkindness of God. This gives him HOPE.

What is hope? It is faith in the future. It is faith that the God of the past will continue to be faithful in the future.

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