Jeremiah’s Broad Interests

Observant and Caring toward People

From Appendix 8 it should be clear that Jeremiah’s interests included the needs of marginalized people: Orphans, widows, poor, slaves, foreigners, and oppressed. These were not “issues” to him, these are flesh-and-blood people who are not being cared for as their Lord demands.

Note: These four areas below were revealed to this author by R. E. O. White, and rather than rewrite them in my own words (as if deserving any credit) it seems best to quote verbatim with him getting the recognition.[1]

Studious of God’s Created World

“Nature, too, taught Jeremiah much. He observed with care the returning stork “who knows her times,” turtledoves, swallows, cranes, the “deaf’ uncharmable adders, the lairs of jackals, the speckled bird ostracized by its mates. He saw wild asses panting for water, gadflies tormenting cattle, “bristling” locusts, “slithering” serpents, “restive” young camels in heat “interlacing their tracks,” and the eagle’s enormous wing-span high above her lofty nest.”[2]

“Jeremiah shared the popular belief that the partridge gathers a breed it did not hatch. He seems to have watched a forest lion breaking cover to scatter a panic-stricken flock across the hillside. He described the desert wolf, the “watchful” leopard, the owl (NIV; “ostrich,” RSV) inhabiting ruins with hyenas. All this, of course, without any of the aids to accumulated knowledge that we now take for granted. And he responded to what he saw. He was deeply impressed by the orderliness of the universe, the “covenant” of day and night, the fixed order of the stars’ movements, the limits set for the sea, the immeasurable immensity of the heavens, and the immovable foundations of the earth. He was a remarkably well-informed man.”[3]

Studious of Peoples and Places

 “But whence came Jeremiah’s extensive knowledge of the personalities, policies, geography, and religions of the Middle East? He knew so much, not only of former northern Israel (“Samaria” or “Ephraim”) and Lebanon, but of Damascus, Tyre, and Sidon, and further north, even to Hamath; of the Scythians invading Asia Minor; of the river Euphrates, Babylon, Chaldea, Media, and Elam at the head of the Persian Gulf; of Egypt and Ethiopia to the far south; of Philistia and Cyprus to the west; and of Gilead and distant Kedar and Hazor on the edge of the eastern wilderness, with Edom, Moab, Ammon, and the Arab tribes.

“Nor were these mere names to Jeremiah. He listed their many cities, revealing knowledge of their position. He knew the rocky heights of Edom, the deep glens of Moab, the rising and falling of the Nile, the massive walls and wide moats of Babylon. He knew the names of foreign kings, the outlandish titles of foreign officers of state. He knew of the salt lands beyond the Dead Sea, the winds of the Euphrates delta, the dark skins of the Ethiopians – and all without a map.”[4]

Knowledgeable of Religious practices

“Jeremiah knew the varying customs and religions of different lands, the names of many gods and goddesses, the feasts observed, the sacrifices required, the rituals followed, the trimming of hair and beards and other strange rites practiced. The book of Jeremiah provides a well-informed handbook of comparative religion for the Near East of his time. Trade, travel, military expeditions, and civil organization of a great empire all served to foster the flow of information and the international ‘commerce of thought.’ Jeremiah evidently took great advantage of his opportunities.”[5]

Observant of Various Employments

“Nearer home, and with profit to his poetry, Jeremiah watched or heard of metal refiners, shepherds, archers, horsemen, potters, reapers, fowlers, fishers, hunters, craftsmen, smiths, woodsmen, Arabs waylaying travellers in the deserts, and thieves. He knew that debtors’ gratitude turns easily to hatred of their creditors; he knew the ways of grape gatherers and wine makers; he understood the unscrupulous use that scribes could make of their skill.”[6]

No “Loner” Was He

Never regard Jeremiah as a recluse or loner. Far from being detached from society, he mingled with common people, visited the poor and distressed, and addressed the powerful. He abstained from marriage and stayed away from such gatherings as funerals and feasts, not because he wanted to, but because his Commander forbade him. But as the statements above show, he was no recluse. He mingled with people of all walks of life. His mind was learned and alert. The knowledge he gained was not from a monastery or seminary, but rather through intentional interactions with people from all strata of society. He was a “people” person.

Conclusion

Jeremiah spent over 40 years fellowshipping with the Biggest, Most Caring Heart in the universe. His own heart was pried open as he saw the Lord’s hurt and tears.

Jeremiah learned to weep not for himself, but for his people and even his God. Deity is deeply, most deeply hurt as His love is spurned and trampled upon by mere mortals.

The severest blunder of all is human beings misjudging their astounding Creator. Learn to live with your eyes wide-open in this beautifully created world.


[1] Permission has been granted by Eerdmans to provide these quotes. White, R.E.O. The Indomitable Prophet: A Biographical Commentary on Jeremiah: The Man, the Time, the Book, the Tasks. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1992.

[2] White, p.5.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, p.4.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid. pp. 4-5.

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