The book of Jeremiah consists of prophetic messages in addition to historical information dealing with the last events of the kingdom of Judah. The prophet Jeremiah gave a message of heart religion to the people. He invited the Israelites to steer away from that which is superficial to that which is sincere.
The prophet tried to stop Judah’s rapid decline in morality which led to its ruin. Like other prophets, Jeremiah cautioned against having foreign alliances (ch. 2:36). He advised Judah to yield to the Babylonian dominion. And he warned them that rebellion would lead to national disaster. But his efforts for the nation were mostly futile. The people rejected his messages of warning.
The nature of man
Jeremiah preached that sin has its root in a wicked heart. He wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (ch. 17:9). This explains the reason that leads a sinful man to choose to be a barren “heath” (v. 6) in the desert of sin rather than to be a fruitful “tree planted by the waters” (v. 8) of saved life. The sinful nature of man pulls him down (Ps. 51:5; Eccl. 9:3; Rom. 7:14–20; Eph. 2:3).
So, the prophet called for transformation of life for without a new heart, man is powerless to do good. He wrote, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil” (ch. 13:23).
God empowers man to overcome
Thankfully, a change in heart could be achieved only by the grace of God. For the Lord promised, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart” (ch. 24:7; 31:31–34).
The Israelites had been unsuccessful in obeying God’s commands because they attempted to be righteous by their own useless efforts. Recognizing this inherent human tendency, the Lord promised them, “a new covenant.” By this promise, man becomes righteous through faith in the Redeemer and Sanctifier (Gal. 3; Heb. 8:8–10; Eze. 16:60). It was God’s wish that the returned exiles should have a living relationship with Him and a “new covenant” experience. Unfortunately, the Israelites didn’t seize their spiritual opportunities.
A message of hope
Beyond the unavoidable destiny of Israel, the prophet foresaw a hopeful future for those that would be faithful to God. He predicted a return for both houses of Israel as Jehovah’s children (Jer. 32:37–41). And he added that a righteous Branch from the stock of David would be their King (ch. 33:14–17). Thus, through the seed of David, a Savior will do what David and his descendants on the throne of Judah had thus far failed to achieve.
In His service,