IV. Theological Significance
According to Jeremiah, there is a clear connection between the spiritual condition of God's people and the events that happen in their political history. Yahweh is the sovereign Lord of history. His plan is “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow” those who do not acknowledge his lordship and “to build and to plant” those who are faithful to him” (1:10, et al.). Jeremiah reminds Judah that Yahweh is their creator (5:22), husband (2:2), father (3:19), and the source of life (2:13). In spite of repeated prophetic warnings, God's people, called to live in the experience of a circumcised heart (4:4; cf. Dt 30:6), remain desperately ill with a corrupt and sinful heart (5:23; 17:1, 9). Their sickness is terminal because of the stubbornness of their evil heart (9:14; 11:8; 16:12; 18:12), which refuses to be healed (8:22). Therefore they are under the curse of the law (see Dt 28:15ff.). This theological interpretation of history is the major goal of Jeremiah.
Judgment is not Yahweh's last word to his people. God's grace is at work even in the midst of sin and judgment to give the people of God a hope and a future. Judah's restoration is pivotal to Jeremiah's eschatology (chs. 29-33), not only so that there will be a new beginning, but also that there will be a new covenant (31:31-34). God's people will live under the faithful leadership of a Davidic king (33:14-16). Jerusalem will once again be called the throne of the Lord to which all nations will make their pilgrimage (3:17).
Jeremiah's theology is rooted in the past saving events of Israel's history. True worship is an expression of gratitude to God for his salvation. Judah has religion but no remembrance of their deliverance from Egypt, the Sinai covenant, the wilderness, and the gift of the land. This forgetfulness of the past is caused by their failure to internalize (circumcise your hearts, 4:4) the laws of the Sinai covenant. Yahweh's plan, therefore, is to establish a new covenant relationship, the laws of which will be placed in the inner being of the redeemed people of God (31:31-34).
Jeremiah's book is a vital link between the people of God in the OT and the church in the NT. Its place in the canon is a clear evidence of the hope expressed by exilic and postexilic Judaism in the restoration of their nation as a new covenant people of God. This promise of God through his prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled through his Son, the mediator of the new covenant (Mk 14:22-24). The book challenges the new covenant community (the church) to learn a valuable lesson from the history of the old covenant community and truly to become the kingdom of God in the world.