Incredible Jeremiah

A life changer, this book ushers you before a hurting God and his wounded prophet. “Night and day my eyes overflow with tears. I cannot stop weeping, for my virgin daughter-my precious people- has been struck down…” (Jer. 14:17).

As a reader said, “But, again and again, Reggie, I see now just why you wrote this book. I feel in many ways a very foolish and self-centered slob in the realization of how I, like most of us I guess, am so self-centered in never ever thinking about the Lord’s deep hurt and pain for being ignored and not treated as a Father, as I long myself to be treated by my own daughter.”

260 pages of challenging, transformational presentation of an outstanding historical figure, and his ultra-outstanding God.

“I simply don’t have the words, Reggie, to express my gratitude to you for opening up my understanding of God’s heart towards His “Chosen People” and us, His kids grafted into His Olive Tree.”

Available on Amazon and all other book and eBook sellers worldwide.

For a discount on the print book, click the link below and enter the code “5off” and it will be shipped direct from the printer.

Happy encounters with incredible Jeremiah!

Diverse Reading

Let me confess at the start that I am not a very good reader. I do not enjoy reading, but I do hunger to learn and grow in my understanding of many things. So, reading, for me, is a semi-painful means to an important end.

Our brains benefit from exercise. Reading in multiple fields of knowledge is of great benefit. These past weeks have found me diving into diverse readings; from the scientific study of light, to mental constructs referred to as paradigms, to numerous mental health issues, to numerous areas of theology and Biblical studies, etc.   

The book shown here is actually easy reading, but it has affected me so much that it caused me to change my sermons these past few weeks. Hats off to Doug Newton. He has done a great service with his “Fresh Eyes” series. I suggest you take a look.

Happy reading.

The Champion

Amidst darkness, confusion, and uncertainty, who do you want with you as you enter the new year?  May I offer a suggestion? Let’s go with the CHAMPION!

The newly announced “Beloved Son of God”[1] was handed over to the Diabolical One.[2]

Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days. Luke 4:1-2.

Understand! This adversary is a thoroughly venomous, maniacal, self-consumed “hater of God” (and all that is good). His hatred burned especially toward God’s perfect Son.

There must have been parameters set by God, as we find he did regarding Job (Job 1:8-12; 2:3-6). But Diabolos was given 5 ½ weeks to wear Jesus down, emaciate him, and hit him hard from every angle.

We can read about the final three attacks that took place on the 40th day.

First of all, think for a minute what was required for this 40-day fast to happen.  Jesus had to be super healthy: physically, mentally and spiritually. It is possible for people to fast for 40 days or more, but it is an extremely rare – and very fit person – who can handle it.  Jesus was fit, strong and disciplined.[3] 

Imagine being alone for 40 days.  No conversations.[4] No stories, jokes, news, no media, nothing.  It is a rare person who can handle such isolation, let alone when accompanied by 40 days without food.  Add to this a hostile environment: Rugged, barren, burning during the day, cold during the nights.  Hyena’s howling, scorpions hiding, vipers brooding… Jesus was put through a real test![5]  

The curious, active mind we catch a glimpse of at age 12[6] certainly didn’t shut down during these 40 days of testing.  He had no scrolls to read.  No newspaper deliveries, no sports magazines.  Oh yes, and no social media. But he no doubt had a disciplined regimen of meditation which he followed through that long period of time.  He knew large contents of the Old Testament by rote and could work progressively through chapter and verse as he meditated on such grand things as his identity, his mission, and of course, the character and grace of His Father.

This was an opportune time to think through all these things.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

Note: Satan’s challenge (If you are the Son of God) is directly related to perhaps the last words Jesus had heard spoken (from heaven 40 days earlier), “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

There is strong innuendo in the Tempter’s question/statement/challenge: “That Father of yours has forgotten all about you! He doesn’t respect you enough to treat you the way you deserve!  Why should the “Son of God” be left destitute like this?  Do something about it!  Assert yourself!  Here’s some stones, at least make yourself some bread to eat!”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 

Jesus directly answered the innuendo. “I’m doing just fine!  My Father is supplying exactly what I need.  I am being fed, morning through night, on the bread of life, my Father’s word.  I am not looking for some silly bread to eat.  When my body absolutely needs it, I can trust my Father to provide in whatever way he chooses.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 

We don’t know the mechanics involved, but the sudden relocation from the barren, desolate no-mans-land of Judea to a high point overlooking the big city of Jerusalem had to have been a shock to Jesus’ already depleted system!  Visual stimulation, noise, smells, humans!  Internally, emotionally, Jesus could not have been prepared for this sudden and dramatic change.

and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off”

And did Satan encourage that jumping by standing him right on the edge, with a strong unsteady wind (and even rain?) blowing at his back?  Did he leave him in that dangerous position for a long time?  Did he time it so that crowds of people were down there waiting?  We don’t know. But in his weakened physical and emotional state Jesus must have been dizzy, somewhat confused, and groping for help in knowing what to do.

The Tempter continues, “…For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 

The innuendo is again almost deafening: “So you say the word of God is all that is important to you.  Why don’t you show the whole world how much you trust in that word.  Jump!  God says he will catch you.  Let’s see how much you trust him!”  (Satan is wily).

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 

This answer of Jesus is most clever.  He didn’t just extract a scripture text to answer the situation, he addresses the very heart of Satan’s challenge.  “I don’t need to prove that I trust God’s word.  I trust my Father implicitly – always have and always will.  For me to jump here is totally unnecessary, it would be a lack of faith on my part, it would be a “test” of God. That is unbelief, not faith.” (Consider Gideon in Judges 6:36-40).

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain

Another sock to the system.  Another sudden change of environment, climate, stimulation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Evil One took his time here (as well as on the temple).  Why should he hurry?   This was his chance to get the upper hand.  Let Jesus feel the cold.  His emaciated body with no resistance; shivering, shaking, looking for warmth and protection. 

and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory.  

I would think Satan started this diabolical video presentation with scenes of warmth, comfort, hot freshly-cooked food, (even if the video didn’t come complete with smells – and I wouldn’t put it past him to provide such a thing – Jesus’ human system would add the smells, the sounds, and create the cravings that Satan aimed for).  Satan is cruel, vicious, vindictive.  He was raving mad at being defeated twice already.  There is nothing good about him.  He had no mercy on our Lord.  After racking Jesus’ system with such sights and sounds and smells as would make any of us go mad in that situation, he must have continued to show wealth, comfort, opulence, and companionship, with the message being “join me and you will never suffer again!”

“I will give it all to you,” he said,

Innuendo: “Unlike your neglectful father, who raised your hopes at Jordan only to abandon you, I, yes I, will give you all of this.  You will never be short of food, clothes, and companionship ever again. No more suffering for you! The whole world is mine and I give it all to you for one small price.”

“…if you will kneel down and worship me.” 

The Tempter has given his best shot.  He weakened Jesus as much as he possibly could.  He offered him all that he could deliver, and packaged it in the best way.  The future of the universe now laid in the hands of the second Adam.  The first Adam was the one who handed control of the world over to Satan in the first place (1 John 5:19), Jesus is being asked to accept that ownership as legitimate.  Something that even in his tortured, weakened, very vulnerable state Jesus was not willing to do.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”  Then the devil went away,

Do we appreciate what a great victory this was?  God allowed these 40 days for Satan to test Jesus.  Satan used all that was in his power to break him down, weaken him, and set him up for the fall.  Satan had witnessed starving Esau give up his birthright for a bowl of soup (Gen 25:29-34).  He arranged for Jesus to get more physically and emotionally desperate than Esau ever was, then he pumped him with visual stimuli to whip up all sorts of cravings, and then he offered Him far, far more than soup.  Satan tried his very best to bribe Him, to crack Him, but he failed totally, and had to leave in shame and rage.

and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Why the angels?  This shows how weakened and needy Jesus had become.  His very life was on the line.  He was in desperate need of help, of warmth, nourishment, and rest (Psa. 91:9-16).  Satan left him up there on the mountain.  Why should he have done otherwise?  But as soon as Jesus completed the test, God sent Him the help He needed (as he did with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5-8, and countless other heroes through the ages and around the world).  This victory was no small accomplishment on Jesus’ part.  It exhausted Him, brought him near death.  But Jesus conquered! What a man Jesus is!  If you don’t have the utmost respect for Jesus then you don’t yet really know Him.

We are about to enter a new year. Amidst darkness, confusion, uncertainty,  who do you want to enter the new year with?  I choose Jesus, the champion over all that is contrary to God.

N.B. Lest you get a wrong idea from this story, Jesus was not a loner, he was the ultimate people-person. He will not attach himself to just you. He will give you his full attention, yes. But he will also give his full attention to your family members, your neighbors, the homeless, the widow, the orphan, your rivals or “enemies.” No one can walk with Jesus and not be challenged into massive transformation. The most annoying and obnoxious person in your life is loved by Jesus just as much as you are. You need to love that person too.

[1] Mat. 3:16-17, Luk. 3:21-22.

[2] Briefly described below.

[3] It is very unlikely this was the first time he fasted. Fasting is something that is learned through repeated practice, and Jesus was ready when this very long fast came up.

[4] And Jesus was no introvert. He was a people person in a society of people persons.

[5] If you don’t have the highest respect for Jesus then you really don’t know him. 

[6] Luke 2:46,47.

No Recluse

Jeremiah was no recluse. His upbringing as a priest, and his calling to be a prophet, rules out such behavior. His business, his focus, his attention was people.

Yes. He was commanded to not marry (16:1-4). He was forced to stay away from funeral gatherings (16:5-7) and happy feasts (16:8-9). The Lord had specific reasons for this,[1] but it may have given him a reputation as uncaring and self-absorbed.[2]  His writing and his prayers, however, show otherwise (4:19, 8:18, 9:1,[3] 13:17,[4] 14:17, 23:9).

Jeremiah functioned amidst political turmoil, religious delusion, social unrest, severe injustice,[5] and wide-spread fear and suspicion. Rather than going “high brow” and judgmental, he did the opposite and identified with the people on all levels.[6]

Five different kings warmed the throne during his time of service. Two foreign powers invaded, deposed kings, and imposed taxes on their vassal state. And things got worse. The events surrounding Jeremiah’s lifetime formed one continuous downward spiral. His first assignment was to scour the streets of Jerusalem to find one honest person (5:1); he came up empty-handed.  For 40 years he fought with all his wisdom and strength to avert Judah and Jerusalem from destruction. But his efforts were not enough (25:3; 32:1-5), due to the impetulance of his people (32:30-31).  He wept and grieved not for himself, but for his beloved people.

[1] His life was to be a living picture of the severity of God’s deserved anger. Jeremiah was told the reasons behind the restrictions. The people were digging their own graves and the Lord wanted them to see this and change their ways. He had better plans for them but they were refusing to cooperate (16:12-18).

[2] Us modern people probably can’t understand the full burden and strain these restrictions caused him.

[3] In the next verse Jeremiah vents the feelings that could drive him away from society, but he did not act on it.

[4] “And if you still refuse to listen, I will weep alone because of your pride. My eyes will overflow with tears, because the Lord’s flock will be led away into exile.” 13:17.

[5] One example: The laws God gave his people called for mercy and justice. Those who went bankrupt would indenture themselves to a wealthy person. They served in a slave-like capacity, but this situation could only last a maximum of 6 years, because every sabbath (7th) year, slaves were to be freed with pay (Exo. 21:2, Deu. 15:2). But the wealthy of Jeremiah’s days refused to do so, and no leaders enforced it. (34:13-16).

[6] “My grief is beyond healing; my heart is broken. Listen to the weeping of my people; it can be heard all across the land. ‘Has the Lord abandoned Jerusalem?’ the people ask. ‘Is her King no longer there?’” “I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief… Why is there no healing for the wounds of my people?” 8:18-19, 21-22.

God’s Incredible Respect

Jeremiah is a tough, tough book to read and to grasp, but so very worth the effort.

Its message is broad and deep. It ties back to the rest of the Old Testament, and it undergirds and foretells the New Covenant. It is MUST reading for followers of Christ and students of God’s Word.

Of great importance, it documents, explains, and illustrates – over and over again – how God has chosen to operate in this world. The strength of this message is startling. It is different than advertised,[1] and its implications are far reaching.

What becomes clear is that God respects human freedom. He maintains a strict “non-interference” policy toward us. We are granted the God-given right to make our own decisions and choose our paths. This started with Eve and Adam and continues today. Yes, God maintains a noninterference policy toward human decision making. Blame for the horrors on this planet rests entirely on us.

From start to end, Jeremiah reinforces the terms of God’s covenant with the people of Israel. Leviticus 26 is the essential context for understanding the prophecies and events recorded there. It is well worth your time to read it. The people, through their centuries of rebellion, have reached the 5th, the severest stage of God’s corrective judgement. But the Lord still offers escape through repentance.

If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. 18:7-8

Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, “This is what the LORD says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.”  18:11.

This theme of non-interference underpins the whole message of Jeremiah and how the book interprets God’s actions throughout history. God’s offers of relief are woven throughout Jeremiah’s scroll (5:1, 7:3, 11:4, 17:24-25, 22:4-5, 26:13-15, 27:12-13, 38:17-18,20, 42:10). He is in no way belligerent or bullying. He is “slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” The book of Jonah also highlights God as a responder to human choices.

Us followers of Jesus today must get this right. Its implications and applications are seismic for us personally, and for corporate gatherings of churches, missions, etc. It sharpens our understanding and approach to God. Shakes up our prayer life. Heightens our responsibility to know, understand, and assist those around us.

[1][1] Much preaching and writing today does not go deep enough into what this paper presents.

Reading the Bible with God at your side

This heading may seem strange, unusual, perhaps irreverent. Yet, reading the Bible while conscious of its Author’s physical presence will make a huge difference to your reading. He becomes the proverbial “elephant in the room.”[1] You can’t ignore Him. He doesn’t go away. You are obligated to relate everything you read to HIM.  You must respond.

An Example

Words that have become so familiar suddenly take on a new light. What is your response to Genesis 1:1 (when the Creator is there in the room with you)?

                “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

You might start with a simple “Thank you Lord, for creating this universe and giving me the opportunity to live in it.” 

But have you really recognized the “elephant in the room”? 

Isn’t the above response rather flippant and casual? 

Fall on the ground before Your/The Creator!  Be in awe! Stay on the ground for a few hours in the presence of such a One! Recognize this Living, Personal Being who created all things and is aware of little-ol’-you, and is there at your side!

This is a taste of what “Reading the Bible with God at your side” is about. The Bible is His book, His message, His truth, His word to you and everyone else on this planet.

[1] Large, out-of-place, unavoidable, can’t get out of your mind, makes one feel awkward, small, vulnerable,….

Intro to my Book

Indomitable Spokesperson for DEITY – Prophet Jeremiah

Where to start?

This book portrays a most remarkable human being. Vulnerable, strong, brash, funny.[1] Derided then, misjudged today.

Meet him. Get to know him. You will never look back.


He is called “indomitable” and here is why. His Divine message enraged the powers of his day. They boiled. Religious leaders publicly insulted him, stripped him, whipped him, locked him in stocks. Neighbors he grew up with wanted him gone. Crowds rioted for his death. Kings hunted him, jailed him, destroyed his work, threw him in a muddy pit, jailed him again. But he never quit!

What motivated him?

He was desperately trying to prevent his nation and people from disappearing.

Does Deity Communicate?

Yes, the Bible describes God as a communicator. He speaks in the Bible as early as the third verse(Gen. 1:3, “Let there be light.”) and is still speaking in the second to last verse (Rev. 22:20, “Yes, I am coming soon”).


He pursues connection; meaningful, interactive engagement with His human creatures. He craves to bless everyone through mutually beneficial, interactive relationships.[2] Yes, God is above all else a Relational Being.[3] His relational nature permeates Jeremiah’s prophetic work. Meet the Living God!

Deity weeps. Deity pleads. Deity rebukes. Deity warns and disciplines. And through his spokesperson he repeatedly, tirelessly, works for reconciliation with his rebellious people.[4]

Note a few of the Lord’s statements:

She [Jerusalem] spouts evil like a fountain. Her streets echo with the sounds of violence and destruction. I always see her sickness and sores. 6:7.[5]

Am I the one they are hurting? Most of all they hurt themselves to their own shame. 7:19.

Why do these people stay on their self-destructive path? 8:5.

And responses the people fired back:

Save your breath. I’m in love with these foreign gods, and I can’t stop loving them now! 2:25.

At last we are free from God! We don’t need him anymore! 2:31.

Let’s destroy this man and all his words… Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever. 11:19.

The Lord, through his chosen spokesperson, spoke for decades, reaching out in love and compassion; aiming to woo his beloved people back to relationship. “With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” 31:3.


The Divine Communicator is passionate[6], relentless[7], and demanding.[8] His spokesperson is swept into the harrowing task of mediating between Him and the belligerent recipients[9] of these communications.

There is a dynamic, massive, 3-party “tug-a-war” erupting throughout the book of Jeremiah. Recognizing and tracking these dynamics illuminates the book and the parties involved. There is nothing flat or boring when the book of Jeremiah is permitted to speak for itself.[10]

What’s Ahead?

Detailed and comprehensive study of Jeremiah’s scroll awaits later publication.[11] It is a massive labyrinth that takes courage and endurance to scope out. Yet, it is packed with gold, diamonds and precious stones that demand multiple coverage.

The starting point is to get to know the remarkable man himself. The environment he lived and breathed and served. The duties he was asked to perform. And the callus, vengeful responses of those in power and in all strata of society.

Let’s endeavor to encounter the wily character himself, spokesperson for Israel’s God, Prophet Jeremiah.

“Although it is not an easy task simply to read the Book of Jeremiah… nevertheless it is an indisputable fact that… a partial but striking picture of the prophet emerges from the pages of the book named after him. Unlike many of the biblical prophets, who remain perpetually as figures in the shadows of history, Jeremiah stands out as a truly human figure. He is torn between faith and doubt, he is deeply involved in the contemporary affairs of his time, and, in the pages of this book, he passes from youth to old age against the backdrop of the history of his era.”[12]

Three Parts of This Book

Jeremiah “the man” is ample study. His life was unique and diverse; its study is therefore multifaceted. This book comprises three major sections:

I. Stumbling onto the National Stage

Jeremiah started his work with a sterling ally sitting on Judah’s throne.[13] But catastrophe struck, and he was asked to contribute to the late king’s funeral by composing the dirges. Now he finds himself in the national spotlight.

This section gives an easy-access “brief” on the life and times of Jeremiah. Areas of background include the historical, political, social, religious, and economic conditions of those times. Creative Nonfiction[14] is used in chapters 1, 4, 5, and 7, for enjoyable reading and better retention.

II. Waves of Opposition

God’s spokesperson met trauma and abuse for much of his 40 years of service. It came from his Master’s rebellious people and their leaders. Priests, prophets and kings contributed. Creative Nonfiction is again the medium for chapters 2-7. The prophet never withdrew from his people or society, nor from speaking out on behalf of the marginalized and neglected. His predicaments drew him closer to the Living God; the theme of the next section.

III. Dialogues with Deity

Nowhere else in scripture is there such a gold mine; cataloging 40 years of interactive, growing relationship between the Living God and his fallible ambassador. These interactions are interlaced deliberately into the text of Jeremiah; but overlooked by most of the Christian world.[15]

Here lies a 2-party dialogue that progresses throughout Jeremiah’s large book. Relationships have difficulties, ebbs and flows, but mature individuals value relationships above the “costs” involved. And this is what we find, both parties commit to success in the relationship. Turbulence strains, conflict arises, but the relationship supersedes.


These three sections are followed by 10 Appendices, covering a range of important and related topics.

“Let’s try to discover Jeremiah, this deeply human and attractive prophet, whose oracles comprise struggle and courage, torments and happiness, rejection and solidarity, disappointment and hopes, doubts and passion.”[16]

[1] Yes, funny.

[2] God is by nature one who “blesses”. He seeks relationships not for selfish reasons but because he desires to bless and improve everyone’s existence.

[3] “The relational God of Jeremiah is no aloof God, somehow present but detached. God is a God of great passions (pathos); deep and genuine divine feelings and emotions are manifest again and again. Sorrow, lament, weeping, wailing, grief, pain, anguish, heartache, regret, and anger all are ascribed to God in Jeremiah.” Fretheim, Terence E. Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary: Jeremiah. Macon, Georgia: Smyth & Helwys, 2008. p. 33. To ponder the complexities involved here, please read Appendix 7, Two Sticky Issues: Weeping and a Conditional Future.

[4] “God is jealous for your heart, not because he is petty or insecure, but because he loves you. The reason why God has such a huge problem with idolatry is that his love for you is all-consuming. He loves you too much to share you.” Kyle Idleman, @KyleIdleman [Twitter], 11, 26, 2018.

[5] Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from: New Living Translation, second edition. Copyright © 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

[6] Jer. 14:17; 44:6.

[7] Jer. 31:3; 44:4.

[8] Jer. 7:5-7.

[9] Jer. 44:16-17.

[10] “It is often easy for us to read millennia-old accounts that describe death and devastation, misery and grief, suffering and tears, and to remain unmoved. After all, the written text can seem so impersonal and distant, and we do not actually hear the cries of the wounded and dying – in reality, the people involved are complete strangers to us – nor do we smell the smoke rising from the flames of destruction … We tend to demonize the villains, lionize the heroes, and seek primarily to gain theological or practical insight from the (sometimes) stern dealings of God with his people, forgetting that these were real people, too, with real hopes and dreams and all too human disappointments and hurts.” Brown, Michael L.; Ferris, Paul W. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah, Lamentations. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010, Kindle Edition, Location 1742.

[11] This book is produced as part 1 of a trilogy. The second book title: Masterful Communication from DEITY – The Book of Jeremiah. Third title: Urgent, Critical, Paradigm-Shifting Communiques from DEITY – Via Jeremiah.

[12] Craigie, Peter c., Kelly, Page H., Drinkard, Jr., Joel F. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 26, Jeremiah 1-25. Dallas TX: Word Inc., 1991, p. xxxvii.

[13] King Josiah receives the highest endorsement of all the kings of Israel and Judah. “Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” 2 Kin. 23:25.

[14] This is a well-documented genre in modern literature, with guidelines, code of ethics, and taught in Universities. For further information see Appendix 1, What is Creative Nonfiction?

[15] Indeed, these dialogues are among the more difficult threads to uncover and follow in scripture.

[16] Prevost, Jean-Pierre. How to Read the Prophets. NY, NY: Continuum Publishing Company, 1997, p. 73.

Of Metaphors and Wit

Jeremiah’s writing is the product of an extremely clever and active mind. He makes use of picturesque language on every “page” of his scroll.[1] Ponder this extensive quote before proceeding:

“The book of Jeremiah is a cornucopia of metaphor. From the outset it is clear that in order for the reader to properly understand the message of the book, s/he will have to come to grips with its imagery. Chapter two alone contains metaphors of betrothal, first fruits, cisterns, slaves, lions, harlots, vineyards, camels, wild donkeys, thieves, the wilderness, virgins, and immoral women.[2] According to Daniel Bourguet, the number of metaphors in Jeremiah reaches up to nearly 250. It is not an overstatement, therefore, to say that in Jeremiah, meaning and metaphor are inseparably intertwined.”[3]

Metaphors Reproduce like Rabbits [but “rabbits” here is a simile]

Metaphors are a common, world-wide, human phenomena. An integral part of human psyche and expression. So common they are, that even “knuckleheads”, “block heads” and “hot heads” (three metaphors) invent them “on the fly” (metaphor).

Metaphors are common, yes, but there are “blue ribbon” ones. Jeremiah invented good ones. A few will be examined below. The ability to originate superior metaphors can be labelled with the term, “wit.”

What is Wit?

“Wit” in its purest form is creative genius. It requires flexible cerebral acuity, along with a piercing insight into human affairs and human psyche. Wit is inventive thought, cleverly putting two or three things together creating a clash or reverberation of images and concepts both unexpected but clear enough to communicate the point. (Wish there was a good metaphor to define “wit.”).

Jeremiah was an expert. Look at 4 examples:

Metaphors Clash and Produce Spin-Off Ideas

1, In Jeremiah chapter 8, the Lord expresses his frustration over the callous stubbornness of the people. The painful consequences of their sinning should be enough to cause them to change. “Why do these people stay on their self-destructive path?” he asks. “Is anyone sorry for doing wrong? Does anyone say, ‘What a terrible thing I have done?’” This question is then answered with true wit, using vivid imagery:

No! All are running down the path of sin as swiftly as a horse galloping to battle! 8:6b.

Here we have both a vivid picture – horses with armed riders rushing into battle – and a clashing of ideas. Horses don’t choose to rush into pain and danger, they are mastered, trained, and forced to do it. Humans are “out of their minds” to rush into anything as painful and harmful as sin. The point is that the people’s proneness to sin is excessive and nonsensical [anti-sensical? Contra-sensical?].

2, In Jeremiah 50, the great empire of Babylon is described in a future setting. The description of this nation as “the mightiest hammer in all the earth” is a perfect metaphor. Great hammers were used to break open stone walls and knock down stone buildings. Babylon is famous for this. But the metaphor gets carried into the next stage, this “mighty hammer” now “lies broken and shattered.” Carrying vivid imagery into the next statement. “Babylon is desolate among the nations!” 50:23.

3, The Lord’s judgement against the nation of Egypt is peppered with biting wit and only one statement will be examined here. A powerful enemy of Egypt is described as being “as tall as Mount Tabor, or as Mount Carmel by the sea!” They are then told to flee, because the city of Memphis will be totally destroyed. This is then followed by the wittiest, picturesque understatement:

Egypt is as sleek as a beautiful heifer, but a horsefly from the north is on its way! 46:20.

Picture first the nation of Egypt described as young, beautiful, and full of life (the heifer). Now consider the size difference between a cow and a fly. This totally reverses the image from earlier, where the enemy is compared to the size of two mountains. Now picture again this little horsefly pestering the defenseless heifer, biting at it morning to night, driving it mad. This complex image is conjured up through a few brief words. This is wit, and this is masterful use of metaphor and understatement.

4, In Jeremiah 37, Babylon had recently withdrawn from sieging Jerusalem. King Zedekiah sought some assurance that perhaps they were now out of danger, so he sent a couple men to ask Jeremiah about it. Perhaps all our troubles are over!

Jeremiah wanted to douse all false hopes to oblivion. He sends back the message:

This is what the Lord says: Do not fool yourselves into thinking that the Babylonians are gone for good. They aren’t! 37:9.

This was clear enough, but Spokesperson knew these people and wanted to expel any-and-all vestiges of misplaced hope, so he uses vivid, hypothetical exaggeration:

Even if you were to destroy the entire Babylonian army [a total impossibility], leaving only a handful of wounded survivors [oops], they would still stagger from their tents and burn this city to the ground. 37:10.


This is a small sampling of Jeremiah’s acumen. He had the mental wit, the pragmatic knowledge of people’s innards, and a mind-blowing message to communicate.

“The book Jeremiah wrote is a massive labyrinth, the largest (and certainly the most complicated) book in the Bible. He did, however, spike his tome with protein bars and energy drinks at appropriate places to edge the reader on through the maze.”[4] Gems shine brighter when you find them yourself. Happy digging.

[1] There may be a debate as to how much of the messages “from the Lord” are recorded verbatim from Divine speech and how much human personality and choices influence word choice, forms of expression, etc. This is not a forum for such a debate.

[2] 13 metaphors in just the second chapter of the book!

[3] Foreman, Benjamin A. Animal Metaphors and the People of Israel in the Book of Jeremiah. Gottingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2011, p. 1.

[4] Howard, Reggie, ���l�������s���G4

Book Like No Other

A Book like no other, about a most underappreciated man: Indomitable Spokesperson for Deity – Prophet Jeremiah.

Not a commentary. Not a normal biography. It is starts as a “life and times of Prophet Jeremiah” but goes much beyond this. The greatest thing we find in the Biblical Book of Jeremiah is the record of a 40 year relationship. Stormy interactions between God and His chosen Spokesperson.

The conflict comes not because God is ornery or Jeremiah selfish. Conflict comes because the people of Judah are ornery and selfish and a whole lot more. God wants to help them, Jeremiah wants to help them, but things only go from bad to worse.

The Book of Jeremiah catelogues 10 dialogues between God and Prophet. Much of it is stormy, but there is so much to learn. Unfortunately, commentaries and other books in print have missed this treasure trove. It needs to be seen.

Available worldwide through Amazon and other retailers, in both print and eBook formats. 275 pages. You can also click below and buy direct from the publisher.



Continue reading “Book Like No Other”

Clashing Value Systems – Western vs Majority World

A significant awakening or realization is spreading around the globe. People recognize a major divide between how societies understand life, how they interpret the world around them, and upon what foundation they base their values and morals. The desire is there to understand and connect across this divide.

Two main issues create this divide between what can be called “Western Cultures” (which form Western Worldviews)[1] and a “Non-western Cultures” (which form Non-western World views). These two issues can be labelled as follows:

  1. Collective Identity (Collectivism) differentiated from Individual Identity (Individualism).
  2. Honor/Shame values and morals distinguished from Guilt/Punishment values and morals.[2]

Collective Identity and Honor/Shame values conjoin in Non-western Cultures.

Individual Identity and Guilt/Punishment values conjoin in Western Cultures.

Human beings are inherently blind to our deepest assumptions, gained unawares from early childhood through enculturation. These assumptions are so pervasive and integral they create blind spots and selective learning that colors most everything we do, even as we approach the Word of God.

Which Side of the Divide?

Research clarifies which side of the divide original authors and readers of the Bible functioned. Therefore, readers of the Bible who grow up on the other side must add an extra step to their study and interpretation of God’s Word.

The Bible expresses its messages almost exclusively in the vocabulary and thought forms of Collective Identity and Honor/Shame values.

Consider for a moment the book of Romans and its themes, then consider this statement:

“Did you know the words ‘shame’, ‘honor’, and ‘glory’ appear 40 times in Romans (while ‘guilt’, ‘innocence’, and ‘forgiveness’ appear only twice in Romans)?”[3]

Yet, much writing and preaching on Romans in the western world emphasizes guilt and punishment with God as judge. Commentators and preachers of Romans present the gospel primarily as a forensic message, yet a brief vocabulary count doesn’t back this up. Let this be a wake-up call.

Understand the Divide

Every human being is born into things bigger than themselves. Everyone is born into a family, consisting of a nuclear family and a larger extended family. Each individual and their families are part of larger connections, perhaps a clan and a tribe, but certainly a community, a society, and a nation.

People in the majority world focus more on these bigger things – these connections – while the western world does less so.

Western societies place great focus on the individual. A child must learn to “think for themselves.” Know right and wrong, good and evil, and how to be a good and productive citizen. They are being prepared to eventually “be on their own,” i.e., be independent, self-aware, and carve out their own unique identity and niche in life.

Individualism: People raised in an “individual oriented” family and society have within themselves a set of assumptions and outlooks-on-life (world view) that they may be unaware of and are dramatically different from the majority people on this earth. These people (the author being one of them) need to look over the fence and study those majority people and how they tick (Collectivism).

This is of great importance for someone studying Jeremiah (both the person and the book) because neither Jeremiah nor any of the people he dealt with were British or American or 21st century or individualistic. The writer of Jeremiah had no awareness of individualistic assumptions and values that Westerners now bring to his text. He addressed his writing to a population that shared his non-western assumptions and worldview and values and interests. We, as educated readers, are obliged to go the extra mile to bridge the gaps of time and culture and understand the ancient text as originally intended.[4]

Understand Collectivistic (rather than Individualistic) Thinking

There are two parts to understanding the ancient world (and current majority world) who see and think collectively.

  1. Group-interest Outweighs Self-interest

People who grow up and flourish in collectivistic cultures are not self-centered; their ethics and values do not emanate from themselves. They are self-aware, but their awareness tells them they are a part of a larger group of people that is more important than themselves as individuals. Group-interest far outweighs self-interest. Their identity, focus, and confidence is gained as a member of their group.

  1. Two Audiences in View

It is within this strong Collectivistic thinking that Honor/Shame (HS) dynamics function.

Honor/Shame oriented people navigate each day not focused on their own happiness or welfare. They look outside themselves, to the whole group or groups (starting with the family) in which their identity rests.

They are ever aware of two audiences.[5]

  1. The first and most important group watching them is the people within their own identity group. Each individual in the group wants to please and honor and strengthen their group through their behavior, words, and their physical and monetary contributions.
  2. The other group consists of everyone outside their group. Outsiders are constantly watching and appraising them. The HS person wants their own behavior and words to reflect well on the reputation and status of their group. Each individual wants to contribute favorably to their group’s honor, importance, and strength in the eyes of all outsiders.

These perceived audiences are very real and their influence goes deep to the core of HS orientated people.[6] Awareness of these audiences directs the individual’s behavior and decisions constantly and such a lifestyle is normal in their eyes.

Children are not taught an abstract list of right and wrong, they are directed to bring joy and honor to their people. Moral accountability is found in this desire to honor and bring honor. HS ethics are not abstract, they are concretely relational.

Two Guiding Priorities

Honor/shame people are certain of two things:

  1. They belong to a group (or groups) of people and need that group more than the group needs them. The group will stand by them just as they must stand by all others in the group. Fulfilment comes in making favorable contributions. And the primary people appraising them is their group themselves, not outsiders.
  2. They know they represent their group in the eyes of all outsiders. What they do as an individual should always honor and strength the group.

Therefore, the priorities are this: 1, The group is imperative, and I am a small part. I increase my worth as a contributing member. I must always be loyal to my group. 2, My group must appear good and honorable to all those outside the group. The strength and health of my group is of prime importance to myself and everyone in it.


What this means for understanding Jeremiah

Jeremiah’s call to be spokesperson for the Living God caused an upheaval within him. Submission required a major paradigm shift. Namely, unquestioned loyalty to family and people must to be exchanged for unyielding allegiance to the Living God.

Jeremiah knew instinctively there would be clashes between these parties. Major clashes. He is impelled to speak against the entrenched behavior and attitudes of his family and people. They will view him with disdain; as disloyal, forsaking their group, shaming them in the eyes of others. Something their son or brother or uncle should ever do.[7]

[1] These are broad categories with subgroups and variables, and only generalities are offered here.

[2] The focus in many circles of Biblical study is very much on this second issue, but it will be argued here that the first one (identity) is foundational and must be the starting point for bridging the gaps in understanding.

[3]6 Places Honor & Shame Hide in the Bible”, Posted on July 31, 2014 by www.HonorShame.Com. [A very informative website, by the way].

[4] Fortunately, Biblical scholars have been aware of this in recent times and have given concentrated study on the issues involved.

[5] This “two audiences” claim is overly simplistic, but it is used here for a purpose. There is elasticity (rather than rigidity) in these two groups/audiences.

[6] The strength of this social, relational “connectedness” is revealed in statements like the following. “Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Pro. 25:18. See also Jer. 18:18.

[7] This is the context and impetus behind Jeremiah’s “awkward” laments. They may be seen by us as self-pity, unfit for a man of his caliber and calling. “Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb.” “Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame.” Jer. 20:17, 18. This is different from self-pity. It is grief over the seeming betrayal and failure in the eyes of those he cared about. It is frustration over knowing what his people need, but them not seeing it. “I hurt with the hurt of my people. I mourn and am overcome with grief.” Jer. 8:21.