“Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah,
is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin”.
Rev Eric Culler
Reverend Culler has here drawn some compelling parallels between the ancient prophet Jeremiah (including also Elijah) and the great St. John the Baptist who came centuries later: www.splendorofthetruth.org/…/Advent_C_2_-_Baptist.338114608.doc
The New Jeremiah
The greatest danger to Christians today is a type of familiarity with our faith that breeds contempt. We know about the miracles that God worked in the past, we know about the prophecies of Christ fulfilled in Scripture, and we know about the workings of the Holy Spirit in us and in the Church today. But sometimes we say “so what?” We grow bored with the drama of salvation history, and we do not see how God affects our lives. Boredom and contempt have led Christians to give up their faith and embrace strange new religions that keep them entertained with lies.
If we would only read what the Scriptures really say! If we would only study what has really happened in history! We would see the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God carried out to the smallest detail in the life of every human being on the planet, including each of us. We would be ecstatic with His plan to transform us into living reflections of his glory and power like the very angels in heaven by sanctifying us with his own Holy Spirit through our sacramental life in the Church.
And we would appreciate the earth-shattering appearance of St. John the Baptist today.
What began almost 900 years earlier with Elijah finishes with John, who is the last and greatest of the prophets. Elijah appeared suddenly from nowhere, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Ahab and his wicked wife Jezebel. John the Baptist also appears suddenly in the desert, wearing rough clothing and rebuking King Herod and his wicked wife Herodias.
But if we look deeper into God’s plan, we will be even more amazed by the similarities between St. John the Baptist and another prophet. Over 600 years before John lived Jeremiah. Jeremiah was a priest of the old covenant, born of a priestly family, though it seems he never served in the Temple. John was also a priest, born of his priestly father Zechariah, though he too never served in the Temple. At the start of the Book of the prophet Jeremiah, God tells him “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I sanctified you and made you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). John was sanctified by Christ in the womb before he was born, which caused him to leap for joy in his mother Elizabeth’s womb, and he became Christ’s own prophet to prepare the way. Both Jeremiah and John never married because of the difficult days ahead, and indeed, both of them were imprisoned by wicked kings and executed by their own people: John by beheading, and Jeremiah by being stoned to death. John is not only a new Elijah come to convert Israel; he is a new Jeremiah.
Mackey’s comment: While Jeremiah’s trials are sometimes described as a “martyrdom”, there is no scriptural evidence that he was “stoned to death”.
The Christian legend (pseudo-Epiphanius, “De Vitis Prophetarum”; Basset, “Apocryphen Ethiopiens,” i. 25-29), according to which Jeremiah was stoned by his compatriots in Egypt because he reproached them with their evil deeds, became known to the Jews through Ibn Yaḥya (“Shalshelet ha-Ḳabbalah,” ed. princeps, p. 99b); this account of Jeremiah’s martyrdom, however, may have come originally from Jewish sources.
Reverend Culler continues:
And if we look deeper still, we see that John shares more than outward characteristics with Jeremiah. John also completes the final work of Jeremiah. Jeremiah lived at the end of a kingdom. In his last days, Babylon was threatening to destroy the Kingdom of Judah and everything holy to the Chosen people. So Jeremiah commanded the people to hide three sacred items to preserve their bond with God before they fled into Egypt. He commanded them to take the holy fire from the altar in the Temple and to keep it burning secretly, to keep the Law of God hidden within their hearts by refusing to worship idols, and to hide the Arc of the Covenant, the seat of God’s living presence among them (see 2 Maccabees 2:1-7).
600 years later, St. John the Baptist is living at the beginning of a Kingdom—the Kingdom of God which he is heralding. The time has come to reveal those three sacred items hidden by Jeremiah—to complete his work—so that God can recreate a holy people. The holy fire from the altar consumed all offerings, giving them forever to God. John reveals to the people that the Christ will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Holy Spirit will consume the faithful, body and soul, like offerings, giving them forever to God through baptism.
The Law of God taught the people how they ought to live. By his teaching, John reveals to the crowds how they ought to live, and prepares them for the Lawgiver himself, Jesus Christ. Finally, the Arc of the Covenant was literally a seat or throne for God in the Temple. The Holy of Holies was the room that held the Arc, which was God’s living presence among the Chosen people. John reveals to the people the real, living presence of God among them as one of them: the true man and true God, Jesus Christ himself.
Is this all blind coincidence? Of course not! This is God’s plan from the beginning! St. John the Baptist, the last and greatest of the prophets, the new Elijah, the new Jeremiah, is completing Jeremiah’s final work so the Kingdom of God can begin.
As Advent continues, we will hear about miracles and prophesies. We will hear about the ingenious and awe-inspiring plan of God which involves each one of us here. Let the Scriptures inspire you! Let human history inspire you! See God’s plan with fresh eyes, and be filled with joy that he has chosen to transform you into a reflection of His own glory—into a son or daughter of God! ….