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by Gary H. Everett
STUDY NOTES ON THE HOLY SCRIPTURES
Using a Theme-based Approach
to Identify Literary Structures
By Gary H. Everett
THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
January 2013 Edition
All Scripture quotations in English are taken from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Some words have been emphasized by the author of this commentary using bold or italics.
All Old Testament Scripture quotations in the Hebrew text are taken from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Westminster Hebrew Morphology, electronic ed., Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society, Westminster Seminary, 1996, c1925, morphology c1991, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All New Testament Scripture quotations in the Greek text are taken from Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology), eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, M. Robinson, and Allen Wikgren, Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (United Bible Societies), c1966, 1993, 2006, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
All Hebrew and Greek text for word studies are taken from James Strong in The New Strong's Dictionary of Hebrew and Greek Words, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, c1996, 1997, in Libronix Digital Library System, v. 2.1c [CD-ROM] Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp., 2000-2004.
The Crucifixion image on the book cover was created by the author’s daughter Victoria Everett in 2012.
© Gary H. Everett, 1981-2013
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form without prior permission of the author.
Foundational Theme How to Serve the Lord with All Our Mind
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
Secondary Theme - Israel’s Redemption Through God the Father’s Foreknowledge
For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you,
and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,
saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures supports the view of the verbal, plenary inspiration of the biblical text of the Holy Scriptures, meaning that every word originally written down by the authors in the sixty-six books of the Holy Canon were God-breathed when recorded by men, and that the Scriptures are therefore inerrant and infallible. Any view less than this contradicts the testimony of the Holy Scriptures themselves. For this reason, the Holy Scriptures contain both divine attributes and human attributes. While textual criticism engages with the variant readings of the biblical text, acknowledging its human attributes, faith in His Word acknowledges its divine attributes. These views demand the adherence of mankind to the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures above all else. The Holy Scriptures can only be properly interpreted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an aspect of biblical scholarship that is denied by liberal views, causing much misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
The Message of the Book of Jeremiah - Perhaps the most striking parts of the book of Jeremiah are found in the loving patience of the God of Israel as He calls out to them in love, giving them every opportunity to repent, up until the very day of their destruction. How often have I had to take a decision to spank one of my precious children. I knew that I must minister discipline, but my heart sought every opportunity to avoid carrying out this discipline. I did not want to see them cry and sorrow. Yet, I understood that if I withheld needed spankings, my children would grow up without discipline and restraint and fall into problems. This is the way God dealt with the children of Israel as He spoke to them by His prophet Jeremiah. He spoke to them up until the day of their visitation of judgment, pleading with them all the way. He spoke to them after their judgment, still asking them to return to Him and receive His love.
One recurring event in the book of Jeremiah is the series of confrontations between the prophet of God and the false prophets. Jeremiah confronted this issue more so that any other person in the Scriptures. This is why God referred to this in His commission and calling to His servant in Jeremiah 1:4-10 (Jeremiah 1:8).
Jeremiah 1:8, “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.”
As Paul the apostle's commission is recorded in Acts 9:15-16, so is Jeremiah's commission recorded. As the book of Acts records accounts of Paul fulfilling his commission, so does the theme of the book of Jeremiah follow the commission of this prophet of God.
Acts 9:15-16, “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.”
In hearing a few false prophets through the years, I have learned that they all give off the same sound. They will prophesy great promises upon others that only obedience to God will bring (Isaiah 30:9-10).
Isaiah 30:9-10, “That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things , prophesy deceits:”
For example, I have heard these false prophets say, “If you will give such and such amount into this offering, then you will never be sick again”; or, they will say, “I decree that every prayer that has been prayed in this room today shall come to pass.”
False prophets thrive on the supernatural. Their ministries will focus on supernatural events with no balance of proper teachings. They will claim to have invoked the miraculous into their meetings in an attempt to get others focused on them. They avoid dealing with issues of obedience, sin and the judgment of God. They only focus on the blessings of God, and claim to be the source of God's blessings. A false prophet will always try to please his hearers, as did those during the time of Jeremiah.
Therefore, when God does raises up a man to prophesy, the people become confused when they hear the conditions of obedience being put upon the promises of God. The people of Jeremiah's time heard him as a prophet of doom, instead of the prophet of blessing that he really was.
As God raises up men who walk in ministries of signs and wonders today, there are those people who are confused about how faith, obedience and judgment are relate to God's blessings. This is because the messages of the false prophet today have made great, swelling promises interwoven with false signs and wonders; however, God's servants bring miracles, signs and wonders, balanced with teachings about faith, obedience and judgment. It takes wisdom from God to sort out the two very different messages. God has always been a God of the miraculous, but His blessings have always been conditioned upon obedience to Him.
Introductory Material - The introduction to the book of Jeremiah will deal with its historical setting, literary style, and theological framework.  These three aspects of introductory material will serve as an important foundation for understanding God’s message to us today from this divinely inspired book of the Holy Scriptures.
 Someone may associate these three categories with Hermann Gunkel’s well-known three-fold approach to form criticism when categorizing the genre found within the book of Psalms: (1) “a common setting in life,” (2) “thoughts and mood,” (3) “literary forms.” In addition, the Word Biblical Commentary uses “Form/Structure/Setting” preceding each commentary section. Although such similarities were not intentional, but rather coincidental, the author was aware of them and found encouragement from them when assigning the three-fold scheme of historical setting, literary style, and theological framework to his introductory material. See Hermann Gunkel, The Psalms: A Form-Critical Introduction, trans. Thomas M. Horner, in Biblical Series, vol. 19, ed. John Reumann (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Fortress Press, 1967), 10; see also Word Biblical Commentary, eds. Bruce M. Metzger, David A. Hubbard, and Glenn W. Barker (Dallas, Texas: Word Incorporated, 1989-2007).
“We dare not divorce our study from understanding the historical setting of every passage of Scripture
if we are going to come to grips with the truth and message of the Bible.”
(J. Hampton Keathley) 
 J. Hampton Keathley, III, “Introduction and Historical Setting for Elijah,” (Bible.org) [on-line]; accessed 23 May 2012; available from http://bible.org/seriespage/introduction-and-historical-setting-elijah; Internet.
Each book of the Holy Scriptures is cloaked within a unique historical setting. An examination of this setting is useful in the interpretation of the book because it provides the context of the passage of Scripture under examination. The section on the historical setting of the book of Jeremiah will provide a discussion on its title, historical background, authorship, date and place of writing, recipients, and occasion. This discussion supports the Jewish tradition that Jeremiah was the author of the book of Jeremiah, with him and others, such Baruch, recording his prophecies during his ministry.
The evangelist Matthew was familiar with the title of the book of Jeremiah (Matthew 2:17; Matthew 27:9)
Matthew 2:17, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,”
Matthew 27:9, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;”
II. Historical Background
A. The Prophetic and Historical Times of Jeremiah the Prophet - Jeremiah the prophet ministered to the nation of Judah during the reigns of Josiah (640-609), Jehoiakim (609-598), and Zedekiah (597-587) (see Jeremiah 1:2-3). The time in which Jeremiah and his contemporary Ezekiel lived and ministered was a time of transition for world power. The Assyrian Empire that had so devastated northern Israel in 722 B.C. had grown weak after two hundred and fifty (250) years of international dominance. The Neo-Babylonian Empire, founded by Nabopolassar, was quickly advancing across Assyria’s old empire. The Babylonian Empire took control of this region in 612 B.C. by defeating the Assyrians. What was left of the Assyrian army retreated to Haran and remained there until 609 B.C., when Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt came to rescue them. It was during this march northward through Judah that King Josiah came out to resist Pharaoh and was killed in battle. At the decisive battle of Megiddo, Babylon strengthened its position as a world power by defeating both Egypt and the remnant of Assyria’s army.
Jeremiah continued to warn his people to submit to Babylonian rule, which message was rejected by the kings of Judah. During the years following 609 B.C., Egypt placed Judah under tribute and replaced King Jehoahaz with his brother Jehoiakim, who ruled for eleven years. In what is considered one of the most decisive battles in history, King Nebuchadnezzar confronted the combined forces of Egypt and Assyria in 605 B.C. at the battle of Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and gained an overwhelming victory against two former world powers that would never rise to significance again. The Babylonian forces continued to move southward after this battle, driven by the hunger for more victory. At this time, Judah was invaded and many young men were taken captive by this army. The environment in this region became very unstable during this transition of world powers, being terrorized by roving bands of rebels that refused to come under the subjection of Babylon, Chaldeans, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites all fighting among themselves (2 Kings 24:2). In order to conserve their resources, the king of Babylon attempted to negotiate as many cities into subjection as possible without having to exhaust his energies to destroy them. For these cities was his source of tribute to finance his kingdom.
Jehoiakim became a reluctant vassal of the king of Babylon after Egypt was defeated at the battle of Carchemish. When it appeared that Egypt might have renewed its strength because of a stalemate battle in 601 B.C., the king of Judah revolted and withheld tribute from Babylon. This brought further retaliation and deportation upon the city of Jerusalem. During Babylon’s attempt to regain control of Jerusalem in 598 B.C., Jehoiakim died and was succeeded by his son Jehoiachin. However, the city of Jerusalem fell within three months and this young king was carried off to Babylon along with his entire family.
Zedekiah, his uncle was then appointed as the regent vassal by King Nebuchadnezzar. Zedekiah’s refusal to hearken unto Jeremiah’s warnings along with the king’s faith in his false prophets who encouraged such rebellion ultimately brought the armies of Babylon down upon Jerusalem for the final blow and destruction of the nation of Judah in 586 B.C.
Thus, we see how Jeremiah ministered during an era of tremendous international turmoil and unrest. He experienced the great reforms under Josiah and watched as his nation fell back into great apostasy. He message became unpopular and resulted in him being persecuted by his own people, while being recognized and ultimately rewarded by Babylon. There was very little to encourage such a man of faith except a hope that the God of Israel would one day bring his people back and into a place of eternal rest, if but for no other reason, because God would be faithful to His covenant with Abraham and David and to His Messianic promises of a coming Savior.
B. The Biography of Jeremiah the Prophet - There is an ancient tradition that Jeremiah was a descendent of Rachab the harlot. John Lightfoot, commenting on Matthew 1:5, says, “Concerning this matter, the Babylonian Gemara hath these words: ‘Eight prophets and those priests sprung from Rachab, and they are these, Neriah, Baruch, Seraiah, Maaseiah, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Hanameel, and Shallum.’”(Megilla, folio 14.2) 
 John Lightfoot, The Whole Works of the Rev. John Lightfoot, D.D., v ol. 11, ed. John Roger Pitman (London: J. F. Dove, 1823), 12.
Josephus tells us that Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, was a priest by birth, “Now these two prophets were priests by birth, but of them Jeremiah dwelt in Jerusalem, from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, until the city and temple were utterly destroyed. However, as to what befell this prophet, we will relate it in its proper place.” ( Antiquities 10.5.1)
The opening verse of Jeremiah confirms that he was of the priests that lived in Anathoth, “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:” (Jeremiah 1:1)
We find a reference to the death of prophet Jeremiah in one of the New Testament apocryphal books entitled The Vision of Paul. In this ancient document Jeremiah tells Paul the apostle that he was stoned to death by the children of Israel.
“When he had spoken thus far, there came other twelve, and seeing me said: Art thou Paul the glorified in heaven and on earth? And I answered and said: What are ye? The first answered and said: I am Esaias whom Manasses cut asunder with a wooden saw. And the second said likewise: I am Jeremias who was stoned by the children of Israel and slain. And the third said: I am Ezekiel whom the children of Israel dragged by the feet over a rock in a mountain till they knocked out my brains, and we endured all these toils, wishing to save the children of Israel: and I say unto thee that after the toils which they laid upon me, I cast myself on my face in the sight of the Lord praying for them, bending my knees until the second hour of the Lord's day, till Michael came and lifted me up from the earth. Blessed art thou, Paul, and blessed the nation which believed through thee.” ( The Vision of Paul, chapter 49) 
 The Vision of Paul, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 9, ed. Allan Menzies (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1906), 165.
A. Internal Evidence Internal evidence supports Jeremiah as the author of the book of prophecy bearing his name.
1. The Text Itself Claims Jeremiah’s Authorship - The book itself claims Jeremiah as the author. On twenty-three occasions the text reads, “The word that came to Jeremiah,” or “The words of Jeremiah,” etc.
2. The Scriptures Claim Jeremiah’s Authorship There are a number of passages in the Scriptures that support Jeremiah as the author of his prophecies. Daniel refers to the prophecies of Jeremiah.
Daniel 9:2, “In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet , that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”
The book of Chronicles refers to Jeremiah as a prophet of the Lord.
2 Chronicles 35:25, “And Jeremiah lamented for Josiah: and all the singing men and the singing women spake of Josiah in their lamentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Israel: and, behold, they are written in the lamentations.”
2 Chronicles 36:12, “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD his God, and humbled not himself before Jeremiah the prophet speaking from the mouth of the LORD.”
2 Chronicles 36:21, “To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.”
2 Chronicles 36:22, “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,”
Ezra the scribe refers to Jeremiah as a prophet of the Lord.
Ezra 1:1, “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,”
The Gospel of Matthew reveals that the nation of Israel during the time of Israel saw Jeremiah as a prophet of God and even quotes from his prophecies by using his name.
Matthew 16:14, “And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias , or one of the prophets.”
Matthew 2:17-18, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet , saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”
B. External Evidence - If we look outside of biblical literature for clues to authorship and into other ancient Jewish literature from which much Jewish tradition is found, we find support that Jeremiah authored his book.
1. The Babylonian Talmud - The Babylonian Talmud says that Jeremiah wrote his own book, Kings and Lamentations, “And who wrote all the books? Moses wrote his book and a portion of Bil’am [Numbers, xxii.], and Job. Jehoshua wrote his book and the last eight verses of the Pentateuch beginning: “And Moses, the servant of the Lord, died.” Samuel wrote his book, Judges, and Ruth. David wrote Psalms, with the assistance of ten elders, viz.: Adam the First, Malachi Zedek, Abraham, Moses, Hyman, Jeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korach. Jeremiah wrote his book, Kings, and Lamentations. King Hezekiah and his company wrote Isaiah, Proverbs, Songs, and Ecclesiastes. The men of the great assembly wrote Ezekiel, the Twelve Prophets, Daniel, and the Book of Esther. Ezra wrote his book, and Chronicles the order of all generations down to himself. [This may be a support to Rabh’s theory, as to which, R. Jehudah said in his name, that Ezra had not ascended from Babylon to Palestine until he wrote his genealogy.] And who finished Ezra’s book? Nehemiah ben Chachalyah.” ( Babylonian Talmud, Tract Baba Bathra (Last Gate), 1.Mishna 5) 
 Michael L. Rodkinson, New Edition of the Babylonian Talmud, vol. 13 (New York: New Talmud Publishing Company, 1902), 45.
2. Old Testament Apocrypha - We find Jeremiah the prophet mentioned in the book of 1 Esdras, one of the Old Testament apocryphal books, as a prophet of Israel.
1Es 1:28 , “Howbeit Josias did not turn back his chariot from him, but undertook to fight with him, not regarding the words of the prophet Jeremy spoken by the mouth of the Lord:”
1Es 1:57 , “Who became servants to him and his children, till the Persians reigned, to fulfil the word of the Lord spoken by the mouth of Jeremy:”
3. Josephus - We are told by Josephus that Jeremiah composed an elegy to lament the death of King Josiah, as well as a description of the destruction of Judah.
“But all the people mourned greatly for him (King Josiah), lamenting and grieving on his account many days; and Jeremiah the prophet composed an elegy to lament him, which is extant till tills time also. Moreover, this prophet denounced beforehand the sad calamities that were coming upon the city. He also left behind him in writing a description of that destruction of our nation which has lately happened in our days, and the taking of Babylon; nor was he the only prophet who delivered such predictions beforehand to the multitude, but so did Ezekiel also, who was the first person that wrote, and left behind him in writing two books concerning these events. Now these two prophets were priests by birth, but of them Jeremiah dwelt in Jerusalem, from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, until the city and temple were utterly destroyed. However, as to what befell this prophet, we will relate it in its proper place.” ( Antiquities 10.5.1)
Jeremiah prophesied to Judah during the reigns of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (Jeremiah 1:1-3).
Jeremiah 1:1-3, “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.”
The reigns of these kings were approximately:
1. Josiah 637 to 608 B.C. 31 years
2. Jehoiakim 608 to 597 B.C. - 11 years
3. Jehoiachin 597 B.C. - 3 months
4. Zedekiah 597 to 586 B.C. - 11 years
He began his call in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (624 B.C.) and prophesied until shortly after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., a total of thirty-eight years.
Jeremiah 25:1-3, “The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon; The which Jeremiah the prophet spake unto all the people of Judah, and to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, From the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, even unto this day, that is the three and twentieth year, the word of the LORD hath come unto me , and I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened.”
LITERARY STYLE (GENRE)
“Perhaps the most important issue in interpretation is the issue of genre.
If we misunderstand the genre of a text, the rest of our analysis will be askew.”
(Thomas Schreiner) 
 Thomas R. Schreiner, Interpreting the Pauline Epistles, second edition (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, c1990, 2011), 11.
Within the historical setting of the kingdom of Israel, the author of the book of Jeremiah chose to write using the literary style of the ancient prophetic literature. Thus, the book of Jeremiah is assigned to the literary genre called “prophecy.” Included in the genre of prophecy are the three books of the Old Testament major prophets and twelve minor prophets.
“Scholarly excellence requires a proper theological framework.”
(Andreas Kösenberger) 
 Andreas J. Kösenberger, Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2011), 161.
Based upon the historical setting and literary style of the book of Jeremiah, an examination of the purpose, thematic scheme, and literary structure to this book of the Holy Scriptures will reveal its theological framework. This introductory section will sum up its theological framework in the form of an outline, which is then used to identify smaller units or pericopes within the book of Jeremiah for preaching and teaching passages of Scripture while following the overriding message of the book. Following this outline allows the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to take his followers on a spiritual journey that brings them to the same destination that the author intended his readers to reach.
VIII. Thematic Scheme
A. Foundational Theme of the Books of Prophecy (How To Worship the Lord With All thy Mind) - While the book of Psalms and other Hebrew poetry move us to worship God with all of our hearts and the historical narratives and writings inspire us to serve the Lord with all of our strength, the Prophets stir us up to seek God with all our mind as they reveal to us God’s eternal plan and destiny for Israel and the Gentiles. The Prophets teach us the future so that we will serve the Lord now in hope of obtaining our eternal, divine destiny. We find several examples in the New Testament as to the purpose of the books of prophecy. In 1 Peter 1:10-12, we are told that these Old Testament prophets did a mental search in order to understand the meaning of their prophecies of the future. They realized that they were speaking of events that would not happen to themselves, but to a future generation.
1 Peter 1:10-12, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”
One story that illustrates the theme of prophetic literature is found in the New Testament. In Acts 8:30-31 we find Philip the evangelist meeting the Ethiopian eunuch in the desert while reading the book of Isaiah. This eunuch was inspired by reading this book of prophecy to seek a deeper understanding of its meaning and of the ways of God. Philip then took the opportunity to instruct him in the ways of righteousness by faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 8:30-31).
Acts 8:30-31, “And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.”
In John 12:14-16 we see how the Holy Spirit brought the Old Testament prophecies to the remembrance of the early Church so that they could understand the events that took place in the life of Jesus Christ.
John 12:14-16, “And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.”
In these three New Testament passages, the prophetic books were used to stir up the minds of men to seek God. In other words, it inspired men to seek God with all of their minds.
1. The Central Theme of Daniel: The Times of the Gentiles The theme of the book of Daniel is God’s Plan of Redemption during the Times of the Gentiles. The book of Daniel stands alone in the Old Testament in its structure and content in much the same way that the book of Revelation is unique to the New Testament. Both are apocalyptic in nature, using symbolic figures to prophesy of future events. Daniel is structured different than the three major prophets, being similar to the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther in its narrative material, while containing a large amount of prophecy. The book of Daniel takes us through the Times of the Gentiles when God divinely works in this group of people to carry out His divine plan of election and redemption. He makes mention of the Kingdom of Heaven from the view of the ages of the worldly kingdoms. Thus, the theme and prophecies of Daniel focus upon the “Times of the Gentiles” from the fall of Jerusalem until the full restoration of the nation of Israel at Christ’s Second Coming. Daniel’s prophecies encompass the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, so that it serves as a foundational book of prophecy.
While the other thirty-eight books of the Old Testament focus upon the nation of Israel, the prophecies in the book of Daniel focus upon the period of human history called the “Times of the Gentiles” and upon the destiny of the Gentile nations from the fall of Jerusalem up until the time when the nation of Israel is fully restored at Christ’s Second Coming. Thus, its primary theme is about the period of history called the “Times of the Gentiles”. The fall of Jerusalem to King Nebuchadnezzar began this period of human history and it will last until the time when Christ returns again and usher the world into the thousand-year Millennial Reign. At that time Christ will rule and reign from the holy city of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel will again take center stage and be restored to its fullness. The prophet Daniel ministered directly to the Babylonian kings. As a result he was given insight into the “Time of the Gentiles.” However, this Jewish Old Testament writing ministers to the Jews as well in that it tells them when their nation will be fully restored and when their Messiah will come to deliver them from the oppression of the Gentiles. Thus, we can then see the importance of Daniel’s understanding of the seventy-year prophecy of Jeremiah. He understood by a vision that a temporary restoration would take place in a seventy-year period, but that a full restoration would not be accomplished until a seventy-week period was fulfilled.
The book of Daniel weaves the theme of God’s sovereign power and destiny for mankind within the revelation of the Times of the Gentiles. Despite the historical setting of the destruction of Jerusalem and enslavement of God’s people, these prophecies clearly show that the God of Israel is still on the throne and determining the outcome of mankind. Thus, the foreknowledge of God the Father is the underlying theme of the Old Testament with the book of Daniel being given special emphasis upon the destiny of the Gentile nations as they are a part of God’s redemptive plan for mankind.
The prophet Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel. While Daniel was ministering to the kings of the Gentile nations, Ezekiel was providing comfort and hope to the Jews in Babylonian captivity. If we compare their two ministries, we see that they both served to provide to the Jews a hope of future restoration. Daniel’s prophecies emphasize their restoration from the time frame of the Age of the Gentiles, while Ezekiel’s prophecies reveal Israel’s restoration from the perspective of a clear understanding of divine judgment upon His people Israel, His pending judgment upon their enemies and their future restoration. Although Ezekiel did prophesy about the judgment of those nations surrounding Israel, his main focus reveals the rebirth and establishment of Israel, while Daniel focused upon the rise and fall of the Gentile nations. In addition, both prophets show us that all nations will one day be made subject to the Ancient of Days, the King of Kings, when Jesus Christ will rule and reign over this earth with His saints. The book of Daniel plays an important role in the books of the prophets in that it sets a framework and timelines for all other prophetic events to take place. Daniel literally predicted the year A.D. 27 as the year of the Messiah’s atonement. Although the prophet Isaiah, as well as King David in Psalms 22:0, described the coming and death of the Messiah, Daniel established the timeline for Christ’s first and second Coming.
If we compare the three prophetic books of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation, we can make the following observations. Regarding the end-time events, Daniel addresses the Gentiles, Ezekiel addresses the Jews on these same events, and the book of Revelation addresses the Church on this subject. The book of Ezekiel was written to the people of Israel to help them persevere through their time of persecutions during the Babylonian Captivity; but the book of Revelation was addressed to the Church, and not to the Jews, to help them persevere until the end. Therefore, Ezekiel speaks of three major events that relate to the nation of Israel leading up to the ushering in of the Millennial Reign of Christ Jesus, which are the restoration of Israel (36-37), the great battle with Russia and its allies (38-39) and the rebuilding of the Temple with its institution of worship (40-48). These are the three important events that will involve Israel during these last days leading up to and through the seven-year Tribulation Period. Thus, Ezekiel tells of these end-time events from the perspective of Israel. In contrast, the book of Daniel tells of Christ’s Second Coming from the perspective of the Gentile nations. Finally, the book of Revelation tells of the end-time events from the perspective of the Church.
Finally, it is interesting to note how the prayers of the saints throughout history determined the outcome of many historical events within God’s framework of His plan of redemption. This reveals the important role of God’s people in shaping history for good by overcoming evil. Thus, both God and men have a role to plan in God’s eternal plan of redemption for mankind.
2. The Three Major Prophets: Israel’s Redemption through the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit - As we study the life of the three Major Prophets, we see how each of them received a divine visitation from the Lord that launched them into their respective ministries. In these visitations, they received their unique commissions. For example, the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel all have a common opening in that each one of them has an encounter with the Lord. Isaiah sees the glory of the Lord upon His majestic throne. Jeremiah was overwhelmed with the word of the Lord as it came to him with visions revealing God’s judgment upon Judah and other nations. Ezekiel saw the living creatures going forth before the throne of God, exalted high in the heaven. In contrast, the twelve Major Prophets did not receive such a divine visitation in order to commission them.
One reason why these three prophets received such a mighty visitation is understood in a comment by Kenneth Hagin, who said that when the Lord gives us a vision or a word for the future, it often precedes a trial, and is used to anchor our soul and take us through the trial.  If we look at the lives of the three Major Prophets, this is exactly what we see. These three men faced enormous trials and objections during their ministries. Their divine commissions certain were the anchor of their souls as it gave them strength and assurance that they were in God’s will despite their difficulties. We see such dramatic encounters in the lives of Moses and Saul of Tarsus, as God gave them their divine commissions for a work that was difficult and even cost them their lives.
 Kenneth Hagin, Following God’s Plan For Your Life (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1993, 1994), 118.
a) The Central Theme of Jeremiah: Israel’s Redemption Through God the Father’s Foreknowledge - The prophecies of Jeremiah emphasizes God the Father’s divine timeline of judgment and redemption for the nation of Israel and Gentile nations, as stated in its opening passage (Jeremiah 1:10). Jeremiah’s prophecy of Israel’s seventy-year captivity serves as God’s remedy for divine judgment upon His people Israel before He can bring about their restoration. God also called Jeremiah to judge the nations (Jeremiah 1:10) in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Thus, we can see how Jeremiah’s prophecies ushered in the Times of the Gentiles.
Jeremiah 1:10, “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”
Jeremiah also spoke of the rise and fall of Babylon and gave prophecies of other nations besides Israel. The prophecy of Israel’s seventy-year Captivity was perhaps the most important prophecy he made because it dealt with the nation of Israel and gave us a timeline of the Last Days. We find a two-fold fulfillment in this prophecy when studying Daniel 9:0. Jeremiah was speaking of the Jews returning to Jerusalem after a literal 70-year period. The angel explained to Daniel that this prophecy also served as a prediction of the time of the Messiah’s First and Second Coming. Thus, Jeremiah places emphasis upon God the Father’s foreknowledge of Israel’s redemption as well as the Gentile nations in that he shows us a time-table for God’s plan of redemption. Thus, God’s remedy for divine judgment is to bring about full redemption to Israel and the nations through the First and Second Coming of the Messiah.
b) The Central Theme of Isaiah: Israel’s Redemption Through Jesus the Son’s Justification - The prophecies of Isaiah emphasize the cleansing of the rebellious nation of Israel, as stated in its opening verses (Isaiah 1:2). The prophet calls them to repentance by saying, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool,” (Jeremiah 1:18). He will explain how this cleansing works later in chapters 52-53 by giving them a lengthy description of Christ’s sacrificial death on Calvary as a reference to Jesus’ first coming. This is because the remedy for rebellion is reconciliation, and God chose Calvary as the means of reconciling Israel and the Gentiles back unto Himself. We may be able to say that Isaiah focuses upon the justification of God’s people which was accomplished by Jesus’ work on Calvary. 
 The book of Isaiah is sometimes referred to as “the Gospel of the Old Testament” or “the Gospel of Isaiah” because the emphasis upon the redemptive work of Jesus Christ is well recognized. Literary evidence is offered by Davies and Allison, who note that half of the Old Testament quotes found in the Gospel of Matthew come from the book of Isaiah. See W. D. Davies and Dale C. Allison, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to Saint Matthew: Commentary on Matthew XIX-XXVIII, vol. 3, in The International Critical Commentary (London: T. & T. Clark Ltd, 1988), 575.
In his commission, Isaiah found himself unclean before the throne of God and received cleansing by the angel from the live coals of fire being placed upon his tongue. He was then told to preach a message of conversion and healing to a rebellions people. We see this message in the preaching of Jesus Christ. Thus, in this vision we see the theme of justification.
God then told Isaiah to speak to a rebellious people that will reject his message so that they are scattered and a remnant allowed to remain (Isaiah 6:9-13). Isaiah’s prophecies were two-fold in application also. They were fulfilled by the carrying away of the Babylonian Captivity. They were also prophetic of the Messiah’s First Coming. Thus, they had a two-fold application. Isaiah places emphasis upon Jesus’ work of Calvary, which offers justification to a sinful world. Thus, the remedy for Israel’s rebellion is provided for in justification through the coming Messiah.
c) The Central Theme of Ezekiel: Israel’s Redemption Through the Holy Spirit’s Sanctification and Future Glorification Ezekiel emphasizes Israel’s future restoration through the rebirth of the nation and building of the new temple that will allow God to once again dwell with men. At his commission the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of four creatures that were sent from the throne of God to set in motion God’s divine plan of the restoration of the nation of Israel. This is why God gave to Ezekiel three major prophecies regarding the role of Israel’s during the times leading up to Christ Jesus’ Second Coming. He closes his prophecies by telling about God’s three-fold method of restoring Israel to its fullness through (1) the restoration of the nation, (2) the battle of Armageddon and (3) the rebuilding of the Temple, for this is the method in which God has chosen to restore His people. In this vision we see the theme of glorification emphasized as Ezekiel seems to focus upon the glorification of God’s people Israel at the time of Christ’s second coming.
3. The Central Theme of the Twelve Minor Prophets The twelve Minor Prophets carry the themes of the three Major Prophets. Hosea reveals the heart of God by showing His unfailing love for His people. Micah emphasizes the birth of Jesus and deliverance of God’s people, and he portrays the Messiah as the Shepherd of Israel. Jonah emphasizes Jesus’ resurrection after three days in the grave, and His provision of justification for the ungodly. Zechariah is the most Messianic of the twelve minor prophets, giving more prophecies of Jesus’ life and passion than any of these others.
Figure 1 Thematic Scheme of Prophet Books
C. Third (Imperative) Theme of the Book of Jeremiah Israel Must Place Their Hope in God’s Promise to Redeem Israel
IX. Literary Structure
X. Outline of Book
Here is a proposed outline of the book of Jeremiah:
Superscription to the Book Jeremiah 1:1-3
Jeremiah’s Divine Commission Jeremiah 1:4-19
Collection of Prophecies Against Jerusalem Jeremiah 2:1 to Jeremiah 33:26
Jeremiah’s 1 st Prophecy Against Jerusalem Jeremiah 2:1 to Jeremiah 3:5
Jeremiah’s 2 nd Prophecy Against Jerusalem Jeremiah 3:6 to Jeremiah 6:30
Jeremiah’s 2 nd Prophecy Against Jerusalem Jeremiah 7:1 to Jeremiah 10:25
Historical Appendix Jeremiah 34:1 to Jeremiah 45:5
Prophecy to Baruch Jeremiah 45:1-5
Prophecies Against the Nations Jeremiah 46:1 to Jeremiah 51:64
1. Prophecy Against Egypt Jeremiah 46:2-28
2. Prophecy Against the Philistines Jeremiah 47:1-7
3. Prophecy Against Moab Jeremiah 48:1-47
4. Prophecy Against the Ammonites Jeremiah 49:1-6
5. Prophecy Against Edom Jeremiah 49:7-22
6. Prophecy Against Damascus Jeremiah 49:23-27
7. Prophecy Against Kedar and Hazor Jeremiah 49:28-33
8. Prophecy Against Elam Jeremiah 49:34-39
9. Prophecy Against Babylon Jeremiah 50:1 to Jeremiah 51:64
The Third Siege Against Jerusalem Jeremiah 52:1-34
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the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29