Dialogues with Deity

Someone with a military background might balk at this title. No one is permitted to “dialogue” with the Supreme Commander! And here’s the point. It is absolutely, entirely, 100% astonishing to see a human being and DEITY engage in true conversation. This is what the book of Jeremiah chronicles; multiple conversations between Almighty God and his very human spokesperson, Jeremiah.

Value of The Book

In the natural world, things of great value (gold and diamonds) hide in rugged and difficult locations. In Biblical literature, the Book of Jeremiah compares well to those rugged landscapes. Rough, tough reading. And “buried” within the book are insights of tremendous value.

The book of Jeremiah affords the remarkable opportunity to gaze into a dynamic, 40-year relationship; the relationship between a human being and Almighty, Living God.

Dialogues may not dominate the text, but they are present, woven in at appropriate places. They provide meaning, practicality, and embodiment of how God chooses to operate in this world. He works in and through genuine relationships; through true interpersonal communication.

Jeremiah displays the Living God doing this; it is incredible to behold.[1]

The Relationship

Private conversations between God and his spokesperson enter the public domain through Jeremiah’s book. Things aren’t always smooth between the two parties. It is a growing, dynamic, interactive, two-party, give-and-take relationship. Things get turbulent; but they work things out. Insights abound.[2]

Catch the turbulence. Listen to a complaint Jeremiah articulates against his Maker and Commander:

Yet I curse the day I was born!

I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news – you have a son!” Let him be destroyed… because he did not kill me at birth.

Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave!” 20:14-18.

What induced Jeremiah to such anger and despair? Is a human being allowed to rail against God?

The following 10 chapters aim for a “full-disclosure” presentation of this God-man, man-God relationship as revealed in Jeremiah’s tome. The disclosure of this relationship is intentional; deliberately included in the text of the book. This explains part of the Book’s non-chronological organization. Relational issues between God and prophet, and between God and the people, take center stage.[3]

God initiates most of the dialogues, others originate from Jeremiah. Note the words, the interchanges, and even the silences (sometimes glaring silences).

The ongoing dialogues in Jeremiah divide into 10 parts:

  1. Conscripted into the Lord’s Army, 1:4-19.
  2. On-The-Job Training, 3:1 – 6:30.
  3. Growing Deeper, 7:1 – 10:25.
  4. Conspiracy Leading to Understanding and Empathy, 11:1 – 12:17.
  5. Sharing in God’s Greater Heart-Pain, 14:1 – 15:21.
  6. Full, Unreserved Compliance, 16:1 – 17:27.
  7. A Most Important Revelation, 18:1 – 20:18.
  8. Theaters of Operation, 24:1-10.
  9. An Adult Prayer, 32:1-44.
  10. Choose Your Zip Code, 39:11 – 45:5.

God and Jeremiah converse back and forth throughout much of the book. Jeremiah’s life and ministry was difficult and confusing, and seemingly without positive results. Through submission and obedience, Jeremiah traded comfort and ease for something much greater – a raw, genuine, developing relationship with Almighty God. We tend to think a “right relationship with God” will make life prosperous and glowing, but the relationship between God and Jeremiah pops this false bubble.[4] “The lasting value of Jeremiah’s book lies … also in its being a wonderful handbook for learning the art of having fellowship with God. Here is personal faith at its highest in the OT.”[5]


[1] “It was the intensely individual, person-to-person experience of God that was Jeremiah’s epoch-making discovery. It was not merely emotional, ecstatic, or mystical; it was a strong, undergirding, and fruitful relationship that engendered profound thought, a social conscience, a high personal ethic, and a comprehensive view of the divine purpose.” White, p. 175.

[2] “The prophet and God are often in lively and urgent communication, with regard to both personal and community matters (e.g., 12:1-6; 15:15-21); though God’s word begins the relationship (1:4-5), both take the initiative in the ongoing interaction. The God of Jeremiah not only speaks, but listens, and is open to taking new directions in view of what is heard (e.g. 18:7-10).” Fretheim p. 6.

[3] This emphasis on relationships cannot be stated strong enough.

[4] “The root of our problem is that we want God to hand us a magic apple and send us on our way. Meanwhile God wants to be generous and share parts of his will with us in the context of an ongoing, loving dialogue. Our hunger to know God’s will is an invitation, placed deep within us, to encounter God and to know his love.” Shallenberger, Larry Divine Intention: How God’s Work in the Early Church Empowers Us Today. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook,Kindle Edition, pp. 120-121.

[5] Zondervan NIV Study Bible Commentary Vol. 1, Old Testament, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994, p. 1155.

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