Sunday, February 28, 2010

90 Day Bible Update- Timeline perspective on Jeremiah

When I was first reminded that Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, I was a little perplexed. Remember, Josiah led Judah in a renewal of their covenant with the Lord and Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.” (2 Chronicles 34:2) So, in order to satisfy my curiosity about how Jeremiah’s ministry coincided with the reign of King Josiah, I went back and looked at some dates of important events. I’ve gained a whole new perspective on both the ministry of Jeremiah and the reign of King Josiah. Please refer to the timeline showing the major events during the reign of King Josiah as outlined in the book of 2 Chronicles.

Indictments such as the following one that are prevalent throughout the book of Jeremiah must have been spoken during the first 5 years of Jeremiah’s ministry, before the book of the Law was found and Judah renewed its covenant with the Lord, or after his death during the reigns of Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. In fact, it is specifically said of Zedekiah that “he did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. (2 Chronicles 36:13)

“The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the Lord. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears My Name and have defiled it. They have built high places of Topheth in the Valley of Ben Hinnom to burn their sons and daughters in the fire.” (Jeremiah 7:30-31)

It makes more sense that the “prophets prophesy lies, and the priests rule by their own authority” (Jeremiah 5:31) when we understand that for the first 18 years of Josiah’s reign, the first 5 years of Jeremiah’s ministry, the book of the Law was lost. It’s mind-numbing to conceive of the fact that God’s law was so inconsequential to the priests that it had been set aside and allowed to be “lost”. Yet, the fact of God’s Law being lost explains why the priests ruled “by their own authority”, and not according to the Law. Also, Jeremiah’s reference to the unfaithfulness of the leaders of the priests is echoed in 2 Chronicles 36:14. “Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which He had consecrated in Jerusalem.” (This occurred during the reign of Zedekiah- more than 11 years after the death of Josiah.)

Constructing this timeline helped me to see that there was a brief interlude during the ministry of Jeremiah when Judah renewed its covenant with the Lord and returned to Him. It is said of Josiah that when he first heard the Law and the word of the Lord about the impending disaster that God was going to bring on Judah, that his heart was responsive to it and he humbled himself before God and wept in the presence of the Lord. So God heard him and decreed that Josiah would not live to see His outpouring of wrath on Judah. (2 Chronicles 34:27-28). This is consistent with Jeremiah 18:8, “and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.” Perhaps the Lord used Jeremiah to bring about this interlude of revival in the land of Judah. It’s interesting that the Lord called Jeremiah to be a prophet one year after Josiah started to purify the land and rid it of all idolatry. God was gracious and gave Israel an extra 40 years of calm before the storm (there’s that number again! 18 yrs overlap of Jeremiah’s ministry and Josiah’s reign plus 22 yrs of the kings Jehoiakim and Zedekiah) that was probably due in large part to the repentance of Josiah and his renewal of the covenant.

God is merciful and hears the outcry of the repentant heart, but ultimately the people of Judah “made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” (Jeremiah 5:3) Even the remnant that had witnessed God’s wrath on Judah and swore to obey the Lord, ended up disobeying Him yet again and fleeing to Egypt instead of staying in the land! (Jeremiah 42) “Will you not learn a lesson and obey My Words?” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 35:13) God is gracious to give us His Word, but how often do we follow in the footsteps of the people of Judah who “did not listen or pay attention, but followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts”? (Jeremiah 7:24 & 35:15) There will be a day of reckoning for us, too. Let us learn from God’s judgment of Judah and not be guilty of the same rebellion against the One True God. Rather, let us humble ourselves now before God and be obedient to His Word.
You can read more 90 day updates at Raising Olives and Mom's Toolbox.


  1. Thanks for doing that research and laying it out like that for me.

    I love how we each pull something different away from the readings and how we can learn from each other.

  2. Thanks for all that detail, I'm behind so I'll be re-reading this post when I get to Jeremiah.

    May God continue to bless you with such knowledge as you read.

  3. Remarkable. I have been doing Bible in a Year, so to see all this effort you have put into this is amazing! God bless and have a good week! :-)



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.