Jeremiah was born about 650 B.C. in a village close to Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:1). His father Hilkiah was a priest (Jeremiah 1:1). Jeremiah’s name means “Jehovah has appointed.” He was very young when called by God to be a prophet (Jeremiah 1:1-10). He was financially comfortable for he owned property and had a personal assistance (Jeremiah 32:6-15; 36:4).
The prophet’s background
Jeremiah was born during a troubled time in history. Great nations were struggling for control of the world. The little nation of Judah was located between the two superpowers – Assyria and Egypt. Many of the superpower’s wars were fought on Judah’s territory which caused great destruction. This made the Kings of Judah tempted to make alliances with either Babylon or Egypt but Jeremiah warned them to trust in God instead of these alliances.
The people of Judah apostatized. After the death of Hezekiah, a good king, his wicked son, Manasseh, came to the throne (2 Kings 21:1-9). Manasseh was followed by his son, Amon, also wicked (2 Kings 21:19-22). When Amon was killed, his eight year old son, Josiah, was put on the throne (2 Kings 21:23-26). Josiah was the last of the godly kings of Judah. He led the people back to God and His Law (2 Kings 22, 23) and made many reforms. During king Josiah’s reign, Jeremiah was called by God to to the ministry (Jeremiah 1:1-10).
The weeping prophet
The Lord told Jeremiah not to marry or have a family (Jeremiah 16:1-4) to spare him added grief from the impeding judgement and destruction that were to come upon the land. Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet” because he shed tears over the sins of his people and their open apostasy against their Creator.
Thus, during Judah’s last days, Jeremiah served as God’s prophet delivering His messages of warning to avoid the judgements of God. His book of Lamentations is the climax of these prophecies. The Lamentations testify to the sure fulfillment of God’s promised judgments. Yet, their message is not without hope. Through the picture of desolation runs a hope of anticipation that the Lord will forgive and relieve the sufferings of His people. “Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old” (Lam. 5:21).
Although Jeremiah presented God’s warnings for 40 years, he did not succeed in turning the people back to God. And even his own family rejected him. He was beaten and put in prison on several occasions (Jeremiah 26:8-11; 32:1-3; 33:1; 37:13-15; 38:6-13). And, when he continued to preach God’s Word, he was finally stoned to death, according to Jewish history.
Jeremiah’s life was one of ministry, sacrifice, and faithfulness. As he delivered the unpopular messages to Israel and was rejected, despised, and grieved by their apostasy, he still remained true and obedient to God.
In His service,