Jeremiah found his calling at least one hundred years after the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. There is a partial timeline in the entryway of both churches in color for you to look at. We also have ten black and white copies in the back of church for you to take home. It illustrates the split in the Davidic Kingdom, the kings, the prophets and the time the books are addressing. It also has information on who was the ruling power and other historical events that help you put things into perspective. Jeremiah is just before 600 BC, right before the three deportations.
The book of Jeremiah contains history, some biography, and prophecy. Jeremiah starts with giving a personal account of his calling to serve God. He starts with those famous words, “The word of the Lord came to me thus: before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.’ Ah, Lord God!’ I said, ‘I know not how to speak; I am too young…’” (Jer 1: 4-6). Jeremiah is first intimidated about this task, but God reassures him and so he takes up his call to be a prophet. It was during King Josiah’s reign that he heard his call.
Like all the prophets, Jeremiah lived in tumultuous times. He started out with King Josiah who wanted to reform the kingdom. He was a good man, but he died when trying to defend the kingdom from the south (Egypt). Jeremiah supported the reform that was sorely needed. Josiah is of Jesus’ bloodline. After the death of Josiah, things go back in the wrong direction. They do all sorts of things to offend God and so God has Jeremiah prophesy the fall of Jerusalem and captivity.
How all this fits in the book of Jeremiah can be broken down into a simple outline. A) Oracles in the days of Josiah in Chapters 1-6. B) Oracles Mostly in the Days of Jehoiakim in Chapters 7-20. C) Oracles in the last years of Jerusalem in Chapters 21-33. D) The Fall of Jerusalem in Chapter 34-45. E) Oracles against the Nations I Chapters 46-51. F) Historical Appendix in Chapter 52.
In particular, what is offensive to God is when the people go after other gods. Idolatry is a grave sin and the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3-6). Many people have no idea that Idolatry continues today. Idolatry is rampant in our society. Tarot cards, any witchcraft, Ouija boards, palm reading, horoscopes, conjuring spirits to talk to them, worship of images, worship in other religions, reiki, using mantras from other religions, and using exercises from other religions for favors – are all direct offenses against the first commandment and are all mortal sins. The people of biblical time got caught up into worshiping images and following the teachings of other religions and so were condemned. Somehow, we think we can do the same today and be fine with our relationship with God. Maybe we think we have come of age, that we know better. All the more are we responsible because we ought to know better.
Only in Jesus Christ can we be saved. (Acts 4:12) Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church states “The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”(CCC# 432). The kings after Josiah chose not to trust in the true God that could save them. Instead, they looked to other sources for their guidance. Neither can we look to any other God for guidance. As loving as God really is, I cannot thank Him enough.