Jeremiah’s Ministry and Ours -- By: Kenneth L. Barker

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 127:507 (Jul 1970)
Article: Jeremiah’s Ministry and Ours
Author: Kenneth L. Barker

Jeremiah’s Ministry and Ours

Kenneth L. Barker


[Kenneth L. Barker, Assistant Professor of Semitics and Old Testament, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah (cf. 1:4) in a period of history when conditions were strikingly similar to our own.2 Politically, it was a time of upheaval in the ancient Near Eastern world—an upheaval involving the great world powers of Assyria, Egypt, and Babylonia, and also involving such momentous events as the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C., the battle of Carchemish in 605 (in which Babylon was victorious over Egypt), and the fall of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, including the first temple, i.e., Solomon’s Temple, in 587 or 586. Religiously, there was moral and spiritual decay. Even in little Judah, society was rotten to the core. The ultimate reason for this appalling condition was given by God himself in Jeremiah 2:13: “For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” Now this indicates that Josiah’s reform was apparently only superficial, external, and temporary. No real repentance or inner change in the national character had resulted from it. Many were foolishly and erroneously reasoning that because of these outward religious reforms, Judah would now be secure and exempt from divine judgment. The reform itself, then, seems to have actually contributed to the general attitude of complacency, along with the dangerous notion of the people that the presence of the temple, the house of God, in Jerusalem automatically brought security with it. All of this meant that judgment was now certain, that Judah as a country or separate national entity was soon to die.

At such a time as this, then, God called a man whom we know as both the weeping prophet and the prophet of loneliness,3 a weeping prophet because he was a man of pathos, feeling, and compassion. This aspect of the nature, personality, and emotion of this man of God may be ascertained from such references as 9:1; 14:17, and the entire book of Lamentations. He was the prophet of loneliness because God Himself commanded him never to marry as a sign of the impending disruption of the whole social life of Judah (16:2ff). Thus, he was never to know the joys of ...

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