In our last visit I introduced the phrase, “Standing at the crossroads,” taken from Jeremiah 6:16: “Stand at the crossroads and look, ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”
I mentioned three contexts that you need to take into consideration to understand what God is saying in this verse: the big picture, background context; the immediate context; and the context you bring to your meditation. Let’s look at the big picture, background context.
Jeremiah prophesied during the reign of king Josiah through to the exile according to 2 Chronicles 34-35. Josiah initiated a national revival after having God’s Word read to him by those who found it during a renovation of the temple. God saw the genuineness of Josiah’s repentance and promised him He would stay His judgment on Judah until after Josiah’s reign. The people publicly repented and participated in the restoration of the temple and religious worship. Josiah planned a Passover celebration that was unique in the history of Judah and provided the animals for the sacrifices. He led the charge forward.
Something spectacular took place, but it isn’t clear how deep the repentance went in the hearts of the people. Later even Josiah seemed to rebel against God’s direction when he went to fight king Neco of Egypt. He was killed in the battle. Then all hell broke loose as his son and successive son’s who ruled Judah did what was evil in the sight of God.
That is the big picture context in which Jeremiah did his prophetic work.