Moving on to the next major juncture in our story, we come to the time of exile, a time into which the major prophet Jeremiah was commissioned to speak. Through this exile, God intended that his people (under the Mosaic administration) learn that they–like Adam–had broken the covenant, and were now subject to the weight of its curse. However, unlike the ultimate reality of hell (the curse-sanction of the Adamic covenant), this national and typological curse meant the removal of God’s people from the temple and land, as they were taken into Babylonian captivity.
The trauma of this exile lay primarily in that while according to the Mosaic covenant, they were under a period of theocracy; at the same time they were now being kept from living according to its covenantal arrangement. They had no access to the temple; they were no longer a distinct geo-political people. While it is hard for us to appreciate, this in and of itself made for a time of deep-seated and ongoing trauma for the people of Israel. Indeed this very trauma it is well reflected in Psalm 137:1-6(ESV);
1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 On the willows there we hung up our lyres. 3 For there our captors required of us songs, and our tormentors, mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” 4 How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? 5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! 6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy!
It is in preparation for this difficult time then, that the prophet Jeremiah is called to minister. And the way that he prepares them is very surprising indeed.
In the next post, we will look at what Jeremiah says, and why it is significant.