Reading Jeremiah in two days
By Vanessa Rigby, 01 Mar 2021
Half term was a little bit different because of current restrictions and it was also different because it was the first time I remember having the whole half term off with my boys. So I set myself a challenge, and for some I guess this would be easy but not for everyone and not for me, because I’m dyslexic: to read the whole of Jeremiah.
For the North West Gospel Partnership training course I was preparing a talk on Jeremiah chapter 2. One of the things I’ve really found helpful from the course is the importance of context for any passage you are reading, let alone preparing a talk from. Context is massively important and so it is good to read the whole book your passage is in so you know how it fits within that book’s structure.
So I decided to read the book of Jeremiah in the ESV (English Standard Version). I started reading the 52 chapters on the Monday of half term and finished on the Tuesday. I really enjoyed reading large sections all at once as it helped me see the patterns and themes and style of writing in the book of Jeremiah.
A helpful tool is using Bible Gateway’s read aloud feature (Listen to British actor David Suchet here). I used this over the week and listened to the whole book again read aloud over 5 nights in the NIVUK (New International Version, Anglicised).
This is the first time I’ve set about reading a larger book of the Bible in a couple of days. This is because I thought I wouldn’t be able to get much from it, without spending the time meditating on it. But I found it so helpful to see how all the chapters fit together and the structure of the writing. It also meant when I was ready to start writing my talk I knew how my chapter fits into the context of Jeremiah.
What struck me about Jeremiah is how, as God’s promised people, rescued from Egypt, with all of God provision for them, they turned to false gods around them. Even when God brought judgement on them in the form of enemy attacks they still didn’t turn back to him. And when he sent Jeremiah as a prophet they rejected him and still didn’t turn back to him . They turned from the only true God to false gods around them,
'11 But my people have exchanged their glorious God
for worthless idols.
12 Be appalled at this, you heavens,
and shudder with great horror,”
declares the Lord.
13 “My people have committed two sins:
They have forsaken me,
the spring of living water,
and have dug their own cisterns,
broken cisterns that cannot hold water.'
(Jeremiah 2:11 -14)
How easy it was for them to forget their first love for God and to replace him with worthless things that can’t satisfy! How powerful the pull of sin is! But God kept warning, and God brought God’s just judgement on them. And he also gave a promise of hope to build and plant:
‘10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms
to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.’
God’s word through Jeremiah to his people then, is so relevant to his people today!
It was a joy to take the time to get stuck into God’s word. I’m looking forward to reading another large Old Testament book soon.