O.T. Handout #42: Jeremiah, Timeline, metaphors, similes, gathering, Rachel, restoration, letter to exiles
It was Jeremiah’s privilege (or burden) to predict and then live through the fall of Judah to Babylon. One of the first things the Lord told Jeremiah was, “I will hasten my word to perform it” (Jer 1:12). Jeremiah, like Mormon, was called to labor among a people for whom there was no hope because they refused to repent, and “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Morm 2:15). Mormon, after witnessing the destruction of the Nephite nation, cried out for his people (see Morm 6:17–19). Here was a righteous man, one of the best, lamenting over his people who were so blind, so foolish, so spiritually dead. Jeremiah, too, mourned his people’s wickedness. You may think of Jeremiah as a harsh man as you read his scorching denunciations of the Jewish people and the lives they were living, but he was not. His motivation, like Mormon’s, was love.
Jer 16 1-12: He was told not to marry or father children, not to lament those in Judah who died by sword, famine, not to eat with friends in Jerusalem, but was to explain his actions and their coming punishment.
Jer 16:13-21: He saw the day when the Lord would call for many fishers and many hunters: and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks: Jer. 16:16. They are the missionaries of this church, and those who have preceded them from the time that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the truth and sent the messengers out to share it with the world.
Jeremiah 17:1–18. Metaphors and Similes
This chapter is full of metaphors and similes with which the prophet Jeremiah illustrated Judah’s fallen state.
Their sin is written “with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond” (Jeremiah 17:1). These metaphors speak of how deeply sin was imbedded in Judah’s consciousness.
“O my mountain in the field” (v. 3) is likely a reference to Jerusalem, which is nestled in the hill country of Judea.
The focus of one’s trust determines whether he is cursed or blessed ( vv. 5, 7).
“The heath in the desert” (v. 6) represents Judah as a withered tree without moisture or sustenance.
The Lord searches the heart and tries the reins (the inner self) to determine directions ( v. 10).
Like a bird (partridge) that sits on eggs that will not hatch, so those of Judah who get rich by dishonest means will leave empty-handed ( v. 11).
Jesus Christ (Jehovah in the Old Testament) is the very “hope of Israel,” the “fountain of living waters” (v. 13; also John 4:9–14). Jesus is the Good Shepherd, a Pastor to those who follow Him ( v. 16; also John 10:14; Psalm 23:1).
Ch 23 is primarily a scathing denunciation of the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day, but in the midst of this condemnation is a remarkable prophecy relating to Israel’s future. A great gathering is predicted (vv. 3–4, 7–8) in which the “righteous Branch” (the Messiah) will become the king over Israel (vv. 5–6;
Jeremiah showed that the pastors (religious leaders) of Judah had not fed and protected the sheep (Israel), but had scattered them and driven them away (enticed them away from God). That is why Jeremiah prophesied that sometime in the future righteous shepherds will be found to gather Israel again so they can serve their true king, Jehovah.
The balance of Ch. 23: catalog of the sins of Jewish religious leaders, priests and the “prophets:
• Both prophets and priests are profane (v. 11).
• They prophesied in the name of Baal and led the people into error (v. 13).
• The prophets are adulterers, liars, and supporters of evil men. They are as evil as Sodom and Gomorrah in God’s sight (v. 14).
• They speak their own words, not those of the Lord (v. 16).
• They tell the wicked they can have peace and that there is no evil in what they are doing (v. 17).
• They called themselves to the ministry and prophesy without revelation (v. 21).
• They say “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord has not spoken through them (v. 31).
Jer 29: Letter to exiles: A letter which Jeremiah wrote to the captives in Babylon, against their prophets (v. 1-3)
• He endeavors to reconcile them to their captivity, to make the best of it
• He cautions them not to give any credit to their false prophets, who fed them with hopes of a speedy release (v. 8, v. 9).
• He assures them that God would restore them in mercy to their own land again at the end of 70 years (v. 10-14).
• He foretells the destruction of those who yet continued, they should be persecuted with one judgment after another, and sent at last into captivity (v. 15-19).
• He prophesies the destruction of two of their false prophets that they had in Babylon, that both soothed them up in their sins and set them bad examples (v. 20-23
• A denunciation of God’s wrath against him for writing such a letter (v. 30-32).
Jer 31:10–14. “They Shall Not Sorrow Any More at All” These verses picture the great joy and happiness that will accompany the return of Israel. The promises of great abundance ( v. 12) and rejoicing ( v. 13) and the end of sorrow ( vv. 15–16) are exactly opposite to the promises given in other chapters of tragedy, desolation, and lamentation for Judah. Though Judah did not heed Jeremiah’s warning and his dire predictions came to pass, the hope of a brighter day was clearly given here.
Jer 31:15–17. Rachel Weeping for Her Children Rachel, the beloved spouse of Jacob, earnestly desired children. She is here depicted as bitterly weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because she had none, for they had been taken captive. The destruction of the people of Israel by the Assyrians and Chaldeans is a type of the massacre of the infants at Bethlehem [as cited by Matthew in his gospel (Matthew 2:18)], in so far as the sin which brought the children of Israel into exile laid a foundation for the fact that Herod the Idumean became king over the Jews, and wished to destroy the true King and Saviour of Israel that he might strengthen his own dominion.
Jeremiah 31:22. Many times in Hebrew writing Israel is described as a woman and sometimes as a bride. The marriage relationship between the woman (Israel) and her husband (the Lord Jesus Christ) is used to depict a very tender, intimate association. He will “compass them”.
Jeremiah 31:31–34. The Restoration of the Gospel Verses 31–34 deal with the restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith and the day when God’s covenant will truly be established with His people. Joseph Smith said of that day: “The time has at last arrived when the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has set His hand again the second time to recover the remnants of his people . . . and establish that covenant with them, which was promised when their sins should be taken away. [ Isaiah 11; Romans 11:25–27; Jer 31:31–33.] This covenant has never been established with the house of Israel, nor with the house of Judah, for it requires two parties to make a covenant, and those two parties must be agreed, or no covenant can be made.
Jer 31:36. A Warning to Israel. The Lord, who has worked so long and hard to establish His righteous people, said that if those saving and exalting priesthood ordinances cease to exist, then Israel also will cease to exist—forever. This statement surely indicates the importance of ordinances in the Lord’s plan.
Jer 33:3–14. Prophecy of the Latter Days The Lord knows all things, including the future. Prophecy is future history, that is, history in reverse. In Jeremiah 33:3–14 the Lord again spoke of the restoration of Israel and Judah in the latter days. Notice the language He used to describe the process:
“I will cure them . . . I will cleanse them . . . I will pardon all their iniquities” (vv. 6, 8). In the latter days even the desolate land will be restored to its former condition (see v. 12). The cities that were once desolate will again be full of people and their bounteous flocks (“to tell” means “to count”) (see v. 13). In the latter days the Lord will perform all that He has promised to the house of Israel and the house of Judah (see v. 14).
Jer 33:15–16. The Branch of David “The Branch of righteousness” that will “grow up unto David” and “execute judgment and righteousness in the land” (v. 15) is Jesus Christ (see Isaiah 11:1; Jer 23:5–6). When this millennial event occurs, the Jews will dwell safely in Jerusalem. The last part of verse 16 should read: “And this one who shall call to her is the Lord our Justification,” that is, Jesus Christ Himself, the Branch of David.
Jer 33:17–26. Becoming Sons and Daughters of Christ The seed of David are those who repent of their sins, accept the ordinances of the gospel, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and follow the new David, Jesus Christ. King Benjamin explained this concept to his people, after they had signified their willingness to covenant with God to do His will and be obedient to His commandments (see Mosiah 5:7).
Abinadi also explained what it meant to see the seed of Christ ( Mosiah 15:11–13).
Jeremiah 46. The Conquest of Egypt by Babylon: Israel to Be Saved The “brigandines” in verse 4 were a coat of mail or armor, usually made of overlapping metal scales like the scales of a fish. The “day of the Lord” (v. 10) refers to the Second Coming (Joel 1:15; Amos 5:18). It will be a “day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries” (v. 10). Verses 14 and 25 mention Egyptian cities. No is a name for Jupiter’s city, or Thebes. Egypt is described as a fair heifer, but destruction would come to her from the north (Babylon) (v. 20). Amidst all this turmoil, however, Israel was promised that the Lord would save her and her seed and that she would return, for the Lord Himself would be with her. The last two verses are the only ones in chapter 46 that were not fulfilled in Jeremiah’s time or shortly thereafter. The Lord Himself will gather Israel.