Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

For years I’ve wanted to sort the Bible into chronological order. Not just by book, but by verse.

Some of it’s obvious – Genesis comes first, Revelation comes last – that’s easy.

Then there are the four gospels, which would obviously require quite a bit of cutting and pasting. As for where it appears to contradict itself, well, that’s where the fun would surely lie.

And then you get books like Jeremiah, which, frankly, reads like the Biblical equivalent of a Chris Nolan movie.

Somewhere in the middle (around about the 30s) we get the invasion of Judah by the Babylonians, and most of it is in reverse order.

Frankly, this is a quite brilliant means of telling a story from a prophet's point of view.

Jeremiah is in the courtyard of the guard. Then he’s not. Then he’s sent there. The Babylonians are invading the city, then they’re breaking in, then they’re approaching and people are asking Jeremiah to prophesy what will happen. To me, these chapters honestly read as though Jeremiah had simply placed each new prophesy on top of all his previous ones, and his secretary had copied (redacted – whatever) them all out in the order in which he’d left them there, starting with the most recent one on the top, of course.

I was waiting for a chapter to open with his words “Now, where was I? Oh, we’re invading these guys. No... they’re invading us.”

But I’m wrong. The account of his writing his prophesies down is actually in here. And just to further stir the narrative, it's in here TWICE!

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.

- Jeremiah 36:32 (NIV)

I guess those ‘similar words’ must have included the verse above…

But hey, what kind of straightforward timeline can you expect from a book of prophesies that, in its fourth verse, is already coming out with:

The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew [Or chose] you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."
"Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."

- Jeremiah 1:4-6 (NIV)

The Good News translators even moved some of chapter 38 into chapter 39...

If this is the order in which events transpired for Jeremiah, then no wonder God picked him to be a prophet.


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