KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel.” (Jeremiah 18:6)
As Jeremiah gave the six discourses recorded in these ten chapters, he faced many challenges. Not only were the messages delivered to an unresponsive and rebellious people, but he also dealt with personal agony, pain, and discouragement.
The domestic lives of the prophets were often used by God as examples to the people. Chapter 16 opens with several of God’s commandments to the prophet regarding aspects of his personal life. Obedience brought loneliness, and Jeremiah became a social outcast.
In chapter 17, the prophet described Judah’s sins, and presented a series of meditations built around the theme of the heart. After appealing to God as his place of refuge, the prophet warned the people that disregard for the Sabbath was a sign of their rebellious and idolatrous spirit.
Chapter 18 begins a three-chapter discourse centered on the sovereignty of God. Jeremiah was commanded to go to the potter’s house for a spiritual lesson. God’s message was that if the people would repent, He would deliver them. However, the rejection of the prophet’s message was immediate, and the people formed a conspiracy against Jeremiah. Their hostility drove the prophet to the Lord, where he poured out his soul in what some writers describe as the bitterest prayer for vengeance recorded in the whole book.
In chapter 19, Jeremiah was commanded to shatter an earthen bottle to demonstrate the coming judgment and destruction. This was a sign that Jerusalem and its people would be broken because they had forsaken God, worshiped idols, desecrated the Temple, murdered the innocent, and offered their children to altar fires dedicated to Baal.
The reaction to Jeremiah’s pronouncement is recorded in chapter 20. Pashur, chief governor of the Temple, was so enraged at Jeremiah’s words that he had the prophet beaten and put in stocks until the next day. That night God met with Jeremiah and gave him a special message and a new name for Pashur — Magormissabib, which meant “terror on every side.” This was descriptive of the fear that would ultimately overtake Judah.
In chapters 21 and 22, the prophet gave a discourse directed against Judah’s rulers, addressing one king after another with dire pronouncements. In chapter 23, he denounced the false prophets whom he likened to shepherds that scattered the sheep. In verses 5 through 8 of this chapter, he contrasted the corrupt leaders of that day with the coming Messiah, giving one of the great Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
The prophet was commanded to offer another visual sign through the two baskets of figs, a vision described in chapter 24. The exiles in Babylon, who would receive God’s blessing, were represented by the good figs, while the rotten figs portrayed those who would remain with Zedekiah in Jerusalem.
The message contained in chapter 25 was a prediction of the Babylonian invasion and the captivity of the people of Judah.
Through the words of Jeremiah and other prophets, God had given His people repeated opportunities to admit their guilt and repent, but they refused. At this point in Judah’s history, it was too late.