Jeremiah’s Accusations and Warnings for Judah
Selections from Jeremiah 1–25
The first 25 chapters of the Book of Jeremiah focus on the prophet’s warnings to God’s people. Jeremiah calls them out for their sinful idolatry and their willingness to trust in other saviors, forsaking their one true God. Jeremiah prophesies the judgment God will bring on his people if they refuse to repent. While his words are harsh, they are warnings for us, too, of the dangers in putting our trust in anyone or anything other than the Lord. Yet even as Jeremiah warns the people, he holds out hope of God’s mercy and grace, of his kindness and forgiveness—if only they will turn to him.
“The Word of Jeremiah, the Word of the Lord”
Who was Jeremiah? What does his prophecy have to do with Advent? These are two questions before us as we embark on this journey. While some biblical prophets revealed few details about their lives, over and over we’ll see Jeremiah reveal much of his story and give us insights into his very soul. Jeremiah is a young priest from Anathoth, a small town just north of Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Judah. His ministry spans 40 years and the reigns of several kings. God calls and appoints Jeremiah before he is formed in the womb to be a prophet to the nations.
Through his account, Jeremiah pulls back the curtain to show us the difficulties of ministering to complacent and obstinate people, bringing to life his joys and his sorrows. Jeremiah models being honest before the Lord about our shortcomings as he confesses to God how incapable he feels. Though he feels unqualified, God gives him confidence—not because of his own abilities, but because of God’s promise to be with him, regardless of what he might face.
But these aren’t only Jeremiah’s words. These are also God’s words, given to his servant Jeremiah to declare. God’s message, delivered through Jeremiah, is relevant for us in this season of Advent. Through Jeremiah, God declares he will pluck up and break down, destroy and overthrow, build and plant. Like other prophets, Jeremiah’s message follows a pattern of sin, judgment, and renewal. Jeremiah will condemn their sins against God, especially their idolatry and self-trust. He will warn them of impending judgment from the nation of Babylon, “a boiling pot, facing away from the north” (Jeremiah 1:14 ESV). God will use Babylon to break down all they hold dear, to overthrow their government, and to destroy life as they know it. But the message won’t end there. The same God who will pluck up and break down, who will destroy and overthrow, will also build and plant again. God’s punishment will be for the purpose of restoration, to draw his people back to him.
We enter into this story on this first Sunday of Advent as we enter into the anticipation for a Savior to come and ransom Israel. Just as the people exiled by Babylon waited, we also wait. They waited for God to deliver them from foreign oppression, to plant them back into their homes, and to rebuild their land. Ultimately, they were waiting for the coming of the long-expected Messiah, who would save them from their sin. We enter into this same kind of waiting, but not for Christ’s first coming. This Advent, we sigh and we lean into the sorrows and difficulty of this last year waiting for Jesus, our Emmanuel, to come again and deliver us. Even in the struggles, Jeremiah makes sure that hope is firmly planted in all of our hearts. Christ will come again.