Book summary

Jeremiah was raised in the priestly village of Anathoth. He preached during the last few decades of Judah’s decline and eventual destruction by the Babylonians. It’s worth noting that the book isn’t arranged in completely chronological order.

Jeremiah mainly talks about the judgment coming to Judah (Jeremiah 2-29), and one of the key words is “backsliding” which is used 12 times. It’s a book of stern warnings, but Jeremiah does touch on restoration (Jeremiah 30-33), including a “new covenant” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Chapter 1 — Jeremiah’s call and commissioning

  • Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer. 1:9-10)

Chapters 2-29 — Prophecies on Judah’s judgment

Ch 2-6 — Judah abandons faith and faces judgment

This is what the Lord says:
“What fault did your ancestors find in me,
that they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves. (Jer. 2:5)
This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Cut down the trees
and build siege ramps against Jerusalem.
This city must be punished;
it is filled with oppression. (Jer. 6:6)

Ch 7-10 — Temple sermon

  • Will you steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal and follow other gods you have not known, and then come and stand before me in this house, which bears my Name, and say, “We are safe” — safe to do all these detestable things? (Jer. 7:9-10)

Ch 11-13 — Judah’s unfaithfulness to the covenant

  • Tell them that this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Cursed is the one who does not obey the terms of this covenant — the terms I commanded your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, out of the iron-smelting furnace.’ I said, ‘Obey me and do everything I command you, and you will be my people, and I will be your God. Then I will fulfill the oath I swore to your ancestors, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey’ — the land you possess today.” (Jer. 11:3-5)

  • From the time I brought your ancestors up from Egypt until today, I warned them again and again, saying, “Obey me.” But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jer. 11:7-8)

Ch 14-17 — Drought, judgment, and the Sabbath

Ch 14 — Drought
  • Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.” (Jer. 14:11-12)

Ch 15 — Judgment
  • Then the Lord said to me: “Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go!” (Jer. 15:1)

You have rejected me,” declares the Lord.
“You keep on backsliding.
So I will reach out and destroy you;
I am tired of holding back. (Jer. 15:6)
Ch 16 — Jeremiah’s loneliness
  • “Then the word of the Lord came to me: “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place… And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink.” (Jer. 16:1-2,8)

Ch 17 — Keeping the Sabbath day holy
  • “This is what the Lord says: Be careful not to carry a load on the Sabbath day or bring it through the gates of Jerusalem. Do not bring a load out of your houses or do any work on the Sabbath, but keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors.” (Jer. 17:21)

Ch 18-20 — Two parables and a lament

Ch 18 — First parable of the potter
  • He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.” (Jer. 18:6)

Ch 19 — Second parable of the potter
  • ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired.’ (Jer. 19:11)

Ch 20 — A lament
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the Lord has brought me
insult and reproach all day long. (Jer. 20:7-8)

Ch 21-24 — Condemnation of kings, prophets and Judah

  • ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: … I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm in furious anger and in great wrath.’ (Jer. 21:4-5)

  • Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah: “… The wind will drive all your shepherds away, and your allies will go into exile. Then you will be ashamed and disgraced because of all your wickedness.” (Jer. 22:18,22)

  • This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.” (Jer. 23:16)

  • “‘But like the bad figs, which are so bad they cannot be eaten,’ says the Lord, ‘so will I deal with Zedekiah king of Judah, his officials and the survivors from Jerusalem, whether they remain in this land or live in Egypt.’” (Jer. 24:8)

Ch 25-29 — The coming Babylonian captivity

  • Therefore the Lord Almighty says this: “Because you have not listened to my words… This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jer. 25:8,11)

  • “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever.” (Jer. 25:12)

Chapters 30-33 — Judah’s restoration and the new covenant

Ch 30 — Restoration of Israel
  • ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will bring my people Israel and Judah back from captivity and restore them to the land I gave their ancestors to possess,’ says the Lord. (Jer. 30:3)

Ch 31 — New covenant
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,”
declares the Lord.
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law in their minds
and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)
Ch 33 — A righteous Branch
“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’ (Jer. 33:15-16)

Chapters 34-38 — Jeremiah’s persecution by Jehoiakim and Zedekiah

Chapter 34 — Declaration to King Zedekiah of coming captivity
  • “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Go to Zedekiah king of Judah and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am about to give this city into the hands of the king of Babylon, and he will burn it down. You will not escape from his grasp but will surely be captured and given into his hands.’” (Jer. 34:2-3)

Chapter 35 — The lesson of the Rekabites
  • “‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.” (Jer. 35:13-14)

Chapters 36 — Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah’s scroll
  • After the king burned the scroll containing the words that Baruch had written at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Take another scroll and write on it all the words that were on the first scroll, which Jehoiakim king of Judah burned up. (Jer. 36:27-28)

  • So Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to the scribe Baruch son of Neriah, and as Jeremiah dictated, Baruch wrote on it all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. (Jer. 36:32)

Chapters 37-38 — Zedekiah imprisons Jeremiah twice
  • “That’s not true!” Jeremiah said. “I am not deserting to the Babylonians.” But Irijah would not listen to him; instead, he arrested Jeremiah and brought him to the officials. (Jer. 37:14)

  • Then the officials said to the king, “This man should be put to death. He is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, as well as all the people, by the things he is saying to them. This man is not seeking the good of these people but their ruin.” (Jer. 38:4)

Chapters 39-45 — The fall of Jerusalem

  • There at Riblah the king of Babylon slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes and also killed all the nobles of Judah. Then he put out Zedekiah’s eyes and bound him with bronze shackles to take him to Babylon. The Babylonians set fire to the royal palace and the houses of the people and broke down the walls of Jerusalem. Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard carried into exile to Babylon the people who remained in the city… (Jer. 39:6-9)

Chapters 46-51 — Judgment on other nations

  • Ch 46 — Egypt

  • Ch 47 — Philistia

  • Ch 48 — Moab

  • Ch 49 — Ammon, Edom, Damascus, Arabia, and Elam

  • Ch 50-51 — Babylon

Chapter 52 — Historical appendix

  • [A retelling of the Fall of Jerusalem that was covered in 2 Kings 24 and 25.]