Aug 9, 2010

Reflections from Teaching Jeremiah

I recently wrapped up a twenty-hour exposition of the Book of Jeremiah. Although I have taught surveys of this book, this was my first detailed exposition of the book. As I think through this experience here are five reflections.

1. I found the narrative sections easier to exposit than the prophetic oracles. This may not at first seem all that revelatory, but narratives can be tricky, especially by way of application. The narratives related to the symbolic acts (e.g., the visit to the potter's house) are helped by the fact that the purpose and/or the meaning is given.

2. I think that I would have been better served to spend a bit more time on the front end discussing some recurrent phrases (e.g., "sword, famine, and plague," used around twenty times in the book) and some difficult concepts (e.g., the imprecatory statements).

3. I struggled more than I expected with identifying the person speaking (the prophet, God, the city, the people, the invaders, etc.) in a given oracle. Knowing Hebrew is of some help here, but there are still a number of places where it is ambiguous.

4. Working through the book again has led me to the conclusion that there were at least three recurring sins committed by Judah: (1) rejecting God's Person (idolatry), (2) rejecting God's presence (social injustice), and (3) rejecting God's power (relying on foreign nations rather that the Lord for protection).

5. Working through the book again also helped clarify that Judah failed to remember three important facts involving the past, present, and future: (1) Past: Judah failed to remember what God had done for them (e.g., the Exodus, Conquest), (2) Present: Judah failed to remember that keeping covenant was the responsibility of every generation, and (3) Future: Judah failed to remember that the covenant curses (Deut 28
29) would be a future reality for breaking covenant.


Jason said...

How did you interpret references to "the branch"? Single king, line of kings, or messianic figure? Or other?

Charles said...

Hi Jason:

I interpreted the Branch as a messianic figure. What is your view?

Jason said...

Charles: I interpret it as reference to a line of kings, i.e. restoration of the Davidic dynasty, that would ultimately point to/lead to a messiah.

Charles said...


If you don't mind two follow-up question, I am curious as to who you think fulfilled/or will fulfill this line of kings exactly? Also, am I correct in assuming that the you understand the singular person to be collective?