In other words, what is the book of Jeremiah really about?
Is it about punishment?
It is. But there’s more to it than that.
After all, we see in Jeremiah 36-52 that both Ebed-Melech and Baruch are singled out for reward in this book – not punishment.
And if the book of Jeremiah could be summed up in the concept of punishment, then where would the Book of Encouragement fall? Much of that section is not about punishment. It’s about deliverance and restoration.
What else? The unfaithfulness of Judah and the faithfulness of God? Those concepts are surely here as well.
But these concepts don’t justify the presence of – for example – the prophecies to the nations.
So, punishment is prominent. God’s faithfulness is on display. His people’s unfaithfulness is also very apparent. But I think these concepts don’t fully describe this book and convey its message.
So let me propose something. Everywhere I look in the book of Jeremiah I see one thing. God’s authority. His authority and control of every situation. And not only his control of the current situation in Jeremiah’s day – but his control of the future.
Think about it…
- God sovereignly calls Jeremiah to be his spokesman.
- God has the authority to call his people to account for their abandoning him.
- God has authority to dole out punishment for those who reject his authority.
- Interestingly enough, God’s authority even allows for people to reject that authority!
- But the people who do reject his authority meet with a bitter end.
- While those who submit to God’s authority live and are blessed.
- In Jeremiah’s day the nations of the world had long ago thrown off God’s authority.
- But God is still ultimately in control and he would punish those nations that rebelled against his authority.
- And what do you know – the very last chapter of this book shows the blessings of one of those kings who actually submitted to God’s authority. King Jeconiah submitted – however imperfectly – to that one authoritative command of God about going over to Babylon. And as a result Jeconiah lived.
So, then I think that God’s authority is undeniably at the heart of this book. And our responsibility as creatures of this sovereign king is to submit to that authority. And we see several instances in this book in which someone actually gets it right and submits to God’s authority. And the result is – life.
And so, I think that’s the message of the book of Jeremiah. Submit to God’s Authority and Live.