This Advent season, we invite you to journey with us through the Book of Jeremiah to get a deeper glimpse of the man known by some as the weeping prophet. Over the course of these five weeks, we’ll move through the Book of Jeremiah, following the pattern of the biblical prophecy of sin, judgment, and renewal. Jeremiah speaks out against the people’s sin. Jeremiah warns them of God’s coming judgment, which would come through exile by Bablyon. And Jeremiah preaches that God’s punishment would be for the purpose of renewal, to restore the people to God. Jeremiah weeps, yes, but he also hopes. There is hope in the upheaval because of God’s covenant with his people and his commitment to keep his promises.
During these five weeks, we’ll read selections from the Book of Jeremiah that follow the book’s outline according to The Bible Project videos. As you read Jeremiah, you’ll notice that the book isn’t necessarily organized in chronological order; in some ways, it might feel like a topsy-turvy jumble of prophecies that don’t follow a linear timeline! This is because Jeremiah is a refugee, and so the book looks a lot like refugee literature. Take a moment to check your timeline in the printed guide when you hear the name of a king or other historical figure and know that Jeremiah’s point was less to tell the linear story of the rise and fall of Judah and more to tell us the story of God’s people, of their faithlessness, and of God’s faithfulness.
The Book of Jeremiah can also be challenging because of all that is happening in the world during his lifetime. In 722 BC, Assyria conquers Israel, the northern kingdom, and is the dominant world power. But things quickly change with Babylon’s rise to power. Judah, the southern kingdom, struggles to maintain independence in the wake of the world superpowers vying for control over that part of the world. Jeremiah speaks to Judah and warns Judah’s kings against making political alliances for the purpose of self-preservation, declaring that God has sent Babylon to judge their nation.
As you read about Jeremiah’s own journey of faith and ministry, about his message of uprooting and breaking down, of destroying and overthrowing, of planting and rebuilding, my prayer is that you would see Jeremiah as more than just a weeping prophet. Rather, my prayer is that you would see him as a prophet who sees the depths of despair and yet chooses to hold out hope that God isn’t finished yet with his people. I pray for you to see him as a prophet who refuses to allow sin to have the final word and who believes God will come again to rebuild what had been torn down, for our good and for God’s glory. Jeremiah’s hope points us forward to when hope will come down to live among God’s people in the person of Jesus Christ, who put on flesh to dwell among God’s people to enact a new covenant, to write the law on our hearts, and to bring eternal peace.
This is the message of Advent, that even in the depths of despair, even in the lowest points of the story of Judah (and even in the lowest points of our story, too), God isn’t finished yet. God uproots sin so that he might plant hope. Hope can exist, even in the dark, even in the upheaval, even when it seems as if all hope has been lost, because of Jesus.