The Authority of Scripture in the Book of Jeremiah

Introduction

  • Jeremiah “combined the fearlessness of Amos, the loving concern of Hosea, and the stern grandeur of Isaiah.”[1]
  • The Word of God is one of the major themes of the Book of Jeremiah.
“‘And those who escape the sword will return out of the land of Egypt to the land of Judah few in number. Then all the remnant of Judah who have gone to the land of Egypt to reside there will know whose word will stand, Mine or theirs. ‘And this will be the sign to you,’ declares the LORD, ‘that I am going to punish you in this place, so that you may know that My words will surely stand against you for harm.’” (Jer 44:28–29)

 

  • 168 out of 1364 verses (over 12%) refer directly to the Word of God.[2]
  • “The word of the LORD”/”The word of Yahweh” occurs 52 times in Jeremiah.

Outline of the Book

I.  Preparation and Commission of Jere

miah (1:1–19)

  1. Divine Preparation (1:1–5)
  2. Divine Provision (1:6–8); cf. chapters 2–25
  3. Divine Power (1:9–10)
  4. Divine Purpose (1:11–16); cf. chapters 37–45
  5. Divine Promise (1:17–19); cf. chapters 26–36

II.  Prophecies Concerning Israel (2:1–45:5)

A. Jeremiah’s Faithfulness (2:1–25:38)

  1. Judah’s Degeneration Proclaimed (2:1–3:5)
  2. Jerusalem’s Destruction Prophesied (3:6–6:30)
  3. Judah’s Deportation Projected (7:1–10:25)
  4. Judah’s Deception Proclaimed (11:1–13:27)
  5. Judah’s Drought Probed (14:1–17:27)
  6. Jehovah’s Dominion Pictured (18:1–21:14)
  7. Judah’s Demagogues Prosecuted (22:1–24:10)
  8. Jeremiah’s Dedication Proclaimed (25:1–38)

B. Jeremiah’s Foes (26:1–36:32)

  1. Sermon in the Temple (26:1–24)
  2. Servitude to Babylon (27:1–28:17)
  3. Statement to the Exiles (29:1–32)
  4. Salvation of Israel (30:1–33:26)
  5. Subversion of Israel (34:1–36:32)

C. Jerusalem’s Fall (37:1–45:5)

  1. Jeremiah’s Detention (37:1–38:28a)
  2. Jerusalem’s Destruction (38:28b–39:18)
  3. Jeremiah’s Release (40:1–6)
  4. Judah’s Reorganization (40:7–12)
  5. Ishmael’s Rebellion (40:13–41:9)
  6. Johanan’s Revenge (41:10–16)
  7. Judah’s Refugees in Egypt (41:17–44:30)
  8. Baruch’s Reassurance (45:1–5)

III.  Prophecies Concerning the Nations (46:1–51:64)

  1. Egypt (46:1–28)
  2. Philistia (47:1–7)
  3. Moab (48:1–47)
  4. Ammon (49:1–6)
  5. Edom (49:7–22)
  6. Damascus (49:23–27)
  7. Kedar and the Kingdoms of Hazor (49:28–33)
  8. Elam (49:34–39)
  9. Babylon (50:1–51:64)

IV.  Postscript: Historical Appendix (52:1–34)

Thoughts about Prophets and Prophetic Revelation

  • What is the essence of prophecy? What makes a prophet? Were OT and NT prophets preachers? Are present day preachers prophets?
  • Neither Old Testament nor New Testament prophets were ever merely “foretellers.”
  • Moses is clearly identified as a prophet (Deut 34:10), but the bulk of the divine revelation he imparted dealt with the past (for example, the book of Genesis) and the present (especially most of Deut 5–31).
  • We see glimpses of “foretelling” in Genesis 49 (which contains Jacob’s words, not Moses’) and Deuteronomy 17–18 and 33.
  • Large sections of both Isaiah and Jeremiah deal with their own time rather than future times.
  • Both OT and NT Prophets “forthtold” (declared or proclaimed or taught) the prophetic revelation God had granted them. However, that proclamation was distinct from the reception of the revelation.
  • A biblical prophet was one who “believed that he had been the recipient of an objective revelation. . . . that he had received a message which God had given to him.”[3]
  • A “classical definition of a prophecy was given by Micaiah . . . when he responded . . . : ‘As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me’ (1 Kgs 22:14; cf. 2 Chron 18:13).”[4]
  • “The cardinal sin of the false prophets amounts to bringing words that are not the Lord’s (Deut. 18:20), issuing oracles they did not receive from him (Jer. 23:18–32), speaking ‘out of their own hearts’ and following their own ‘spirit’ (Ezek. 13:1–2).”[5]
  • “The prophet’s position and stance is that of the royal herald: the typical ko ’amar YHWH ‘“Thus says the LORD”’ borrows the messenger’s introductory formula ‘Thus says the king . . .’ (1 Kgs. 2:30; 20:2, 5; 2 Kgs. 18:19), with little if any emphasis on the herald’s own personality.”[6]
  • Old Testament prophets were ones to whom God revealed Himself in visions or spoke with in dreams (Num 12:6). Prophets were ones in whose mouth God had placed His words (Deut 18:18). Prophets were sometimes sent with a message with reference only to the present (Judg 6:8; 1 Sam 22:5; 2 Sam 12:24–25). Divinely revealed songs of praise and thanksgiving (1 Chron 25:3) could also be prophetic revelation.
  • Peter was crystal clear in writing that “no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet 1:21, NAU). This is not a definition of preaching.
  • According to the New Testament, prophecy was a gift of the Spirit distinct from the office or function of the pastor-teacher (Eph 4:11). In fact, Paul placed the prophetic gift within the category of the miraculous gifts that have ceased (1 Cor 12:10; 13:8).
  • It is illogical to identify the gift of pastor-teacher and today’s preaching with the New Testament gift of prophecy. If such an identification should be correct, then preaching and pastor-teacher should have ceased along with the other temporary miraculous gifts. Direct divine revelation has ceased — the Scriptures are now closed.
  • Apostles and prophets were “the foundation” of the church (Eph 2:20), because God was still providing direct revelation throughout the formative decades of the early church.
  • With the completion of the New Testament around A.D. 100, prophecy ceased. There are no more prophets and no more apostles. They are no more because there is no more direct revelation to receive. Ephesians 3:5 ties apostles and prophets to direct divine revelation. When God stopped direct revelation, apostles and prophets also ceased. Today’s preachers are not prophets.

Notes

[1] R. K. Harrison, Jeremiah & Lamentations, TOTC (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1973), 36.

[2] 1:2, 4, 9, 11, 12, 13; 2:1, 4, 8, 31; 3:12; 5:13–14; 6:10, 19; 7:1–2, 22–23, 27; 8:8–9; 9:13, 20; 10:1; 11:1–3, 6, 8, 10; 13:2–3, 8, 10, 12; 14:1, 17; 15:16; 16:1, 10–11; 17:15, 20; 18:1–2, 5, 18; 19:2–3, 15; 20:1, 8; 21:1, 11; 22:1–2, 5, 29; 23:9, 18, 22, 28–30, 36, 38; 24:4; 25:1, 3, 8, 13, 30; 26:1–2, 4–5, 7, 12, 15, 20–21; 27:1, 3–4, 12, 18; 28:7, 12; 29:10, 19–20, 30; 30:1–2, 4; 31:10, 23, 33; 32:1, 6, 8, 23, 26; 33:1, 14, 19, 23; 34:1, 4–6, 8, 12, 18; 35:1, 12–13; 36:1–2, 4, 6, 8, 10–11, 13, 16–18, 20, 24, 27–28, 32; 37:2, 6, 17; 38:1, 4, 21; 39:15–16; 40:1; 42:4–5, 7, 15; 43:1, 8; 44:1, 10, 16, 23–24, 26, 28–29; 45:1; 46:1, 13; 47:1; 49:14, 34; 50:1; 51:59, 60–61, 64.

[3] Edward J. Young, My Servants the Prophets (reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), 175.

[4] Pieter Verhoef, “Prophecy,” in The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, 5 vols., ed. by Willem A. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997), 4:1071–72.

[5] Henri A. G. Blocher, “God and the Scripture Writers: The Question of Double Authorship,” in The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, ed. by D. A. Carson, 497–541 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 502.

[6] Blocher, “God and the Scripture Writers,” 502.