Conflict At The House Of God: Orthodoxy Versus Orthodoxy Jeremiah 7:1–15 -- By: Thomas Smothers

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 01:2 (Spring 1984)
Article: Conflict At The House Of God: Orthodoxy Versus Orthodoxy Jeremiah 7:1–15
Author: Thomas Smothers

Conflict At The House Of God:
Orthodoxy Versus Orthodoxy
Jeremiah 7:1–15

Thomas Smothers

Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew,
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Jeremiah received a call to a prophetic ministry in 627 B.C.E., the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign. According to 2 Chronicles 34:3, Josiah had instituted a reform in the preceding year, a reform aimed at removing from the land all evidences of the worship of foreign gods. The reform was intensified as the result of the discovery in 622 of a book of the Law during the renovation of the temple (2 Kg. 22:8–13; 2 Chr. 34:14–33). Jeremiah’s attitude toward the reform while it was in progress is unclear, and scholarly opinion remains divided. Many exegetes believe that most of Jeremiah 1–6 represents his early preaching, perhaps for the years 627–22. If that is the case, then Jeremiah showed that he stood in the line of the prophets of judgment who had preceded him. He sounded the typical themes: apostasy, immorality, injustice, the folly of foreign alliances, the coming invader. The people were accustomed to such prophetic messages, expected nothing different from a man like Jeremiah, and probably were not overly disturbed by his pronouncements.

In 609, however, Judah found itself suddenly in a crisis. The resurgent nationalism fostered by Josiah was dealt a grievous blow by his death at the hands of the Egyptians. Necho deposed Jehoahaz, the people’s choice as king, and installed Jehoiakim as king in Jerusalem. A new world order was emerging, with the Babylonians and their allies set to replace Assyria as the dominant power. The people of Judah sought security and a basis for the continuation of the nationalistic hope. Some of the religious leaders proposed that a return to temple and cult would guarantee the safety of the nation.

Jeremiah’s temple sermon in 7:1–15 must be understood in the context of that crisis. The sermon represents a new departure in his ministry: a direct challenge to the popular religion in a way which could not be ignored. As far as we can tell, this is the first of his sermons to place his life in jeopardy.

The temple sermon is contained in 7:1–15. That 7:16–34 was not a part of this sermon is indicated by the parallel passage in 26:1–6. The sermon is a judgment speech. It is in prose form, and consequently some have v...

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