***NOTE*** The Book of Jeremiah takes place right before the Babylonians come and conquer Jerusalem. This occurs during the reign of King Sedecias, the last king of Judah. Thus, the events in the Book of Jeremiah take place alongside the events described at the end of 4 Kings. The ending chapters of 4 Kings describe the reign of Sedecias, the conquest of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the exile of the Jews into Babylon. The Book of Jeremiah tells the same story.
A. Jeremiah was a prophet and priest in Jerusalem, who prophesied immediately before Nebuchadnezzar besieged the city and took the Jews into exile. He was a holy man of God who called upon the Jews (his people) to protect the innocent and weaker among them, particularly the aliens, the widows and the fatherless children. The main message of Jeremiah was that the Babylonians were going to come and destroy Jerusalem, and take the Jews into exile.
“Thus saith the Lord of hosts the God of Israel: Make your ways and your doings good: and I will dwell with you in this place. Trust not in lying words, saying: The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, it is the temple of the Lord. For if you will order well your ways, and your doings: if you will execute judgement between a man and his neighbor, If you oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, and walk not after strange gods to your own hurt, I will dwell with you in this place: in the land, which I gave to your fathers from the beginning and for evermore.” – Jeremiah 7: 3-7
B. The King of Judah, Sedecias, was torn about Jeremiah. He was under great pressure by the princes of Judah to get rid of Jeremiah, but King Sedecias believed Jeremiah’s prophecies as coming from God. King Sedecias, in an effort to please God and avert His just wrath, made a proclamation that the slaves in his kingdom were to be freed! The people of Judah ultimately did not obey the decree, and continued to keep their slaves. – Jeremiah 34: 8-11
C. Jeremiah’s message was not welcome by the Jews. Jeremiah is accused by the princes of weakening the ability of Judah to wage war, and thus was accused of being a traitor to Judah. Jeremiah was put into the dungeon by the princes, and he was beaten. When King Sedecias heard about this, he called Jeremiah before him, and asked him secretly if Jeremiah had any word from the Lord (he believed Jeremiah). Jeremiah asks the King what he has done to the King or to Judah that he should be cast into prison. Sedecias ordered that Jeremiah be committed back to prison, but in a better spot than the dungeon, and he should be given food and water to eat (so he could stay alive). – Jeremiah 37:17
D. The Princes of Judah wanted Jeremiah put to death, and they pressured the king to have Jeremiah killed. The king could not withstand the pressure of the princes, and he delivered Jeremiah to the princes, who lowered Jeremiah down into the dungeon to sink into the mire, that he might die. Here are the words of King Sedecais to the princes. “And king Sedecias said: Behold he is in your hands: for it is not lawful for the king to deny you any thing.” – Jeremiah 38:5
E. Jeremiah was rescued by King Sedecais from the dungeon again, and was put back into prison (a place where he would be detained, but remain alive, unlike the dungeon). He remained in prison until after Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered Jerusalem. (much more about Nebuchadnezzar will be explored in later posts of the BLUE period) – Jeremiah 38: 10-28
F. After the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar, conquered Jerusalem, Jeremiah was released from prison. Jeremiah was set free, and given the choice if he wanted to go as a guest to Babylon (not a prisoner) or if he wanted to be left free to live in the land of Judah. Jeremiah chose to stay in Judah among the small amount of his people that were left behind. – Jeremiah 40: 4-6
***CHURCH HISTORY (NEW TESTAMENT)***
A. In the 1760’s, the Industrial Revolution was starting throughout the western world. Throughout the beginning and into the middle of the Industrial revolution, child labor was rampant. The children were exposed to unspeakable abuses and the most horrible working conditions. This persisted for over 100 years before the papacy ever condemned the practice 🙁
Further, throughout the 1700’s, the New World was being settled both in North American and South America by various European nations. The native peoples were not treated very well by the European settlers, and many abuses of African slaves were also unfortunately very commonplace. Perhaps the best friend that the native peoples had in Catholic colonies were the Jesuits. They founded settlements called “Reductions” which are also known as “Missions”. The native peoples were given the ability to work, and to keep much of their earnings, and were also protected from the exploitation of other Europeans. The Jesuits also instructed the natives in the Catholic Faith in the simple and straightforward way of the past centuries.
***(also, as a side note, Elizabeth Anne Seton was suffering as a poor widow during this same time, the late 1700’s. She was left without any help by her family when she converted to Catholicism. I mention this, because Jeremiah admonished the Jews for not supporting the widows).***
B. The Catholic monarchs and rulers of Europe were very upset with the Jesuits, abused them horribly and expelled them from their realms. They were pressuring the papacy to terminate the order completely. (see below C & D).
In 1741 AD, Pope Benedict XIV released a papal bull “Immensa Pastorum Principis” which spoke against the enslavement of the native peoples of the Americas, and elsewhere. This papal bull was largely ignored by the Catholic rulers and their subjects throughout the world.
C. In the late 1750’s AD, the “Age of Reason” had taken it’s toll on Traditional Catholic piety and belief. The Jesuits stayed true to solid and ‘old fashioned’ Catholic teachings and beliefs, and the Jesuits passed that Faith on to the native peoples and lay Catholics of whom they served both in Europe and in the Americas. This did not please the ‘enlightened’ Catholic rulers of South America and Europe, whom have come to see themselves as having progressed beyond the Middle Ages, and had adopted many secular and liberal ideas.
Additionally, the Jesuits were affecting the economies of Catholic European kingdoms, because they were operating very efficient and successful missions, in which much of the profit from the natives was kept both by the Jesuits and by the natives themselves. This weakened the finances of the Catholic kingdoms of Europe, because the Jesuits had an extensive international network that operated outside of their control, and was only answerable to the pope himself.
As a result, starting in 1759 AD, the Catholic rulers of Europe started to fiercely persecute the Jesuits. The Jesuits were beaten, imprisoned, tortured, killed and ultimately expelled from almost every kingdom. (the bad treatment of the Jesuits varied from location to location). The start of the persecutions occurred in Portugal in 1759 AD. A prominent Jesuit, Gabriel Malagrida, was declared guilty of treason, beaten and thrown into the dungeon beneath the Tower of Belém.
Pope Benedict XIV, yielding to mounting pressures, agreed to investigate the alleged crimes of the Jesuits, of which the Catholic rulers were accusing them. The Pope thought that the accusations were groundless, but yielded to the pressure, and ordered an investigation none the less.
D. After the death of Pope Benedict XIV in 1758 AD, the Catholic rulers of Europe increased their pressure on the new Pope, Clement XIII, for him to terminate the Jesuits. The Jesuits were cruelly treated and expelled from Mexico, Spain, France, Austria, Portugal and other smaller kingdoms, and the pope was powerless to stop them.
E. As the Jesuits were being horribly persecuted and exiled from all over the Catholic world, a large amount of them fled to Rome for safety and protection by the papacy. Pope Clement XIII championed the Jesuit Order, and was the greatest defender of the Jesuits at that time. However, upon the death of Pope Clement XIII, the new pope, Clement XIV was forced by the Catholic rulers of Europe (who threatened to leave the Church), to finally suppress the order and abolish it completely. In 1773 AD, Pope Clement XIV issued the papal document “Dominus ac Redemptor”, which terminated the order. There was no theological basis for the termination given in the document.
F. After their order was suppressed, he Jesuits were able to operate in Russia and the United States, because the pope had no authority in those countries. Thus, the Jesuits were able to stay alive, and hope and await the day for their official restoration. This would come after Napoleon’s wars in Europe, in 1815 AD, when Pope Pius VII officially restored the Jesuit Order. All the old rulers of Catholic Europe had been deposed by Napoleon, and the enemies of the Jesuits were gone. Thus, the Jesuits, although severely weakened, went back to work. The Jesuits stayed close to the people, especially in France, which had suffered through the burning and destruction of their churches and priests during the French Revolution. There wasn’t much left of the Church in France.
***NOTE*** (The French Revolution is paralleled with the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple. And, the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar is paralleled with Napoleon Bonaparte. We will see these parallels in the next section “BLUE – INVASION & EXILE”.)