How to study Jeremiah
Chapter 1: Understanding Jeremiah's Message
To understand Jeremiah's message you must understand Jeremiah's call commission from the Lord. To do so, become thoroughly familiar with Jeremiah 1 before reading the instructions for Jeremiah 2 through 38.
Read the chapter , asking God for insight and understanding. Then read the chapter and mark any of the key words: nations, word of the Lord and word (s) when it refers to the word of the word of the Lord, destroy (pluck, uproot), plant (built, restore), listen (heart), return (repent, turn), wickedness (sin, iniquity, wicked), heart, forsaken (forsake), heal (healing, healed), covenant, concerning, north, Babylon (Chaldeans from chapter 20 on), calamity (wrath), woe, famine.
The first three verses give the historical setting of Jeremiah.
The exile (1:3) refers to the final siege and destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in 586 B.C.
Jeremiah contains many references to time, such as in Jeremiah 1:1-3. When you read one, try to determine who was reigning at the time and what his relationship was to the other kings. The book of Jeremiah is not chronological, so this will help you keep the timing of events in perspective. Mark every reference to time with a clock ¹ and color it green for easy reference.
Fill in "Author" and "Date" on Structure of Jeremiah.
Read Jeremiah 1 again. As you do, ask the "5 W's and an H." Ask questions such as: Who was Jeremiah? What was Jeremiah called to do or be? To whom was he appointed and by whom? When was he called and why? How did he respond? How will he be appointed and by whom? When was he called and why? How did he respond? How will he be able to fulfill his appointment? What was he to say? How would the people respond? What was Jeremiah to do? What if the people didn't respond? What would God do?
In your notebook, jot down your answer to these questions and any others you think of while observing the text. Don't read anything into the text; simply let it speak for itself.
In your notebook, you may want to list the main points about Jeremiah, his call, and the specifics of his commission. Record what you observe from examining the chapter in light of the "5 W's and an H." Be as specific as possible.
Mark references to God with a ∆, and note insights into His character, sovereignty, power, and ways. Draw a ∆ in the margin so you can note what the test tells you about Him.
Record the theme of this chapter on Structure of Jeremiah and in your Bible.
The rest of Jeremiah revolves around Jeremiah's call and commission as a prophet to the nations. Everything Jeremiah says and does is rooted in chapter 1. Remember this as you study! Jeremiah critical and passionate message consists of discourses and narrative accounts of events in Jeremiah's life and in the history of Israel, Judah, and the nations.
Chapters 2 -38: Judah's Sin and God's Warning to Return
Read all the instructions before you begin. Every now and then refresh your memory, since Jeremiah is a long book.
Study this segment chapter by chapter, doing the following:
When Jeremiah spoke he was to do two things - one negative and one positive. First, in respect to the nations, he was to pluck up, break down, destroy, and overthrow. Second he was to build and plant. As you read, observe how Jeremiah does these in regard to Judah.
In your notebook, list their sins, their "wickedness" (1:16), which God has to deal with by plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing.
Also note any promise of building and planting - restoration Record what God will do on their behalf, when He will do it, and why.
Jeremiah had the assurance that God would perform His word (1:12). As you read, note what God says will happen to Judah in the way of Judgment.
Watch for how God will bring about this judgment. In several places God has Jeremiah do some symbolic acts in order to get His point across to the people. Watch for these
Watch for any verse that shows that God performed (accomplished or carried out) what He said He would do. Also note what God has to do because of the covenant (the law) He made with them.
Jeremiah was told to speak all God commanded him and that he would be opposed by kings, princes, priests, and people.
When you see Jeremiah encountering any opposition, write the word "opposition" in the margin. Observe Jeremiah's struggles and how he handles these. Also note how God delivers Jeremiah as He said He would in 1:8, 18-19. (The height of Jeremiah's physical suffering is described in chapters 37-38.)
Also note what you learn about the leaders, the shepherds (spiritual), and the prophets.
As you noticed, Jeremiah prophesied during the reigns of the five kings of Judah, starting with Josiah. Jeremiah 1-20 basically covers Jeremiah's ministry under Josiah's reign. Jeremiah 21-28 contains prophecies from the time of the other four kings. These are not chronological order.
In chapter 20 the king of Babylon appears on the scene, for "out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land" (1:14). From this point on, Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar are prominent. You might want to mark every reference to Babylon (Chaldeans) from this point onward and summarize your insights about them in the margin under the heading "Babylon."
Make a list of the key words, writing them o n an index card. On the card, mark the words the same way as you will mark them in the text. Mark references to time with a clock ¹ and color them green for consistency and easy identification.
As you mark every reference to nation or nations (except Babylon), observe which nation it is and record it.
Watch for any words or synonyms that have to do with plucking up, uprooting, destroying, building, planting, or restoring. Mark these in a distinctive way or underline them in the text.
As you come to Jeremiah 31, you are going to find an exciting reference to the New Covenant. Record in your notebook what the New Covenant accomplished. Compare with Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:17-20.
As you finish observing each chapter, marking its key words and putting notes in the margin, record the theme of that chapter on Structure of Jeremiah. Also record it in your Bible next to the chapter number.
Chapters 39-45: Jeremiah's Fall and Judah's Uprooting
Except for chapter 45, this section is narrative. Therefore, as you read each chapter:
Note what happens, when it happens (mark references to time), where it happens, and why. Double-underline in green all the geographical reference.
Note who is involved. Mark in a distinctive way the main characters in each chapter. Then you might want to record who they are and anything significant you want to remember about them.
Chapters 46-51: Jeremiah's Prophecy Concerning the Nations
As you read, note what the Lord says will happen and why. Also note the end result and if the Lord gives any hope for the future. Watch for and mark time phrases.
Pay attention to the references to the north and to the Medes. Also observe what you learn about Israel from these chapters.
These chapters contain critical information about Babylon that will help when you study prophecy and/or the book of Revelation. In your notebook, list what you learn about Babylon.
Chapter 52: Judah's Final of Exile
As you observe this chapter, mark the time phrases and note what was done to the kings, the city, the temple vessels, and who did it.
Record the theme of this chapter on Structure of Jeremiah and then complete the chart. Record the segment divisions of Jeremiah.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Jeremiah
Sin—Israel’s sin demanded punishment from God (2:1–13, 23–37; 5:1–6; 7:16–34; 11:1–17; 17:1–4; 18:1–17; 23:9–40; Exod. 23:33; Deut. 9:16; 1 Kin. 11:39; Ezra 6:17; Job 1:22; Ps. 5:4; Mic. 3:8; Matt. 5:30; Luke 17:1; Rom. 1:29)
Judgment/Punishment (4:3–18; 9:3–26; 12:14–17; 15:1–9; 16:5–13; 19:1–15; 24:8–10; 25:1–38; 39:1–10; 44:1–30; 46:1–51:14; Exod. 12:12; Ps. 1:5; Hos. 5:1; Amos 4:12; John 12:31, 32; Rom. 14:10; 2 Thess. 1:7–10)
Restoration of Israel (23:3–8; chapters. 30–33; Deut. 30:1–5; Ps. 71:20, 21; Is. 49:6; Nah. 2:2; Acts 1:6–8; 15:16; 1 Pet. 5:10)