Jeremiah’s Message of Judgment and Hope for God’s Unfaithful “Wife” -- By: Gary E. Yates

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 167:666 (Apr 2010)
Article: Jeremiah’s Message of Judgment and Hope for God’s Unfaithful “Wife”
Author: Gary E. Yates

Jeremiah’s Message of Judgment and Hope for God’s Unfaithful “Wife”

Gary E. Yates

Gary E. Yates is Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Liberty Baptist Theological College, Lynchburg, Virginia.

Although Jeremiah’s ministry was to warn of the coming Babylonian Exile and the end of Judah as a nation, Allen is correct in observing that hope is the “overruling message” of the Book of Jeremiah and that there is “the purposeful trajectory of overriding grace that stretches over the book like a rainbow.”1 Jeremiah’s message is that Yahweh will replant His people in the land after uprooting them in judgment (1:10; 12:14-17; 18:7, 9; 24:6; 31:28, 40; 42:10; 45:4), and the two halves of the book reflect the movement from judgment (chaps. 1-25) to salvation (chaps. 26-52). The promise of Israel’s return to the land and a new covenant between Yahweh and Israel occupies a place of central prominence in the “Book of Consolation” (chaps. 30-33). The final section of Jeremiah (chaps. 46-51) promises the judgment of the enemy nations that have inflicted abuse and suffering on Israel.2

This study explores how the message in Jeremiah 2:1-4:4 contributes to this trajectory of hope. These verses introduce two themes that shape the message of the book as a whole.3 In his opening sermon the prophet charged that Israel/Judah had become Yahweh’s unfaithful “wife” and must return to Him, her “husband.” The remainder of the book substantiates this accusation, describes the punishment of the unfaithful wife, calls for the wife to change her ways, and promises restoration of her relationship with Yahweh. Jeremiah’s accusation of Israel’s infidelity also introduces a vigorous debate between the people and the prophet. In response to Jeremiah’s charges of unfaithfulness the people wrongly protested, “I am not defiled” (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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