Pofile Of The Prophets - Jeremiah

by Joseph Hunting

Jeremiah the prophet, was contemporary with Ezekiel, Daniel, Hanniah, Mishael and Azariah, (better known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego). These great men lived in a time of tremendous upheaval and chaos. Due to national disobedience the God of Israel had abandoned Judah and the Davidic dynasty in Jerusalem to destruction and desolation for seventy years by Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon.

Whereas Ezekiel, Daniel and his three friends were among the captive princes carried away to Babylon in the first wave of deportations, Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem in a vain effort to call the rulers and people to repentance.

With this brief historical resume let us turn the spotlight of divine illumination upon Jeremiah. He was the son of Hilkiah the priest, who lived in the village of Anathoth about three miles north-east of Jerusalem. Jeremiah's name means, Jehovah is high, or Jehovah lifts up.

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah when he was a young man, possibly in his teens, and commissioned him to be His messenger to both the kings and the people of Judah. Jeremiah recognized the magnitude of the task and he felt utterly inadequate due to his youth. However, God reassured him saying; "Say not that I am a child; for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 1:7,8).


Jeremiah commenced his ministry of warning the inhabitants of Jerusalem of the coming invasion by Nebuchadnezzar and at the same time pleading with them to forsake their idols and worship the Lord their God, and Him only. He promised that if the people 'fell away' to the king of Babylon their lives at least would be spared. On the other hand, if they refused to heed God's warnings they would die of famine, pestilence, and the sword, and those that survived this terrible fate would then be carried away as captives and slaves to Babylon.

Jeremiah's warnings went unheeded. Indeed, he was accused of subverting the people and inciting defection to Babylon, and as a result was cast into prison.

During this time God commanded Jeremiah to write his prophecies in a scroll and to send the scroll by courier to those who had already been taken to Babylon. This scroll included the prophecy that Jerusalem and the Land of Judah would be a desolation for seventy years. "This whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and those nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years ... For thus saith the Lord, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place." (Jeremiah 25:11; 29:10).


(Daniel, reading this prophecy many years later and realizing that the seventy years' captivity was almost ended, fasted and prayed to bring this about. And then began the amazing series of events which signalled the return of the captives to their homeland, as recorded in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah.)

In the meantime false prophets opposed Jeremiah and the populace in Jerusalem clamoured for his death. He was lowered into a mire-filled dungeon and would most certainly have died there had not his friends interceded with the king for his life. Jeremiah then decided it was useless endeavouring to warn the people of their fate unless they repented of their evil ways and turned to the Lord. His entreaties and warnings went unheeded and resulted in further persecution and suffering. But God's Word was like a fire burning inside him; it could not be extinguished even though they should slay him.


Jeremiah's lamentations over Jerusalem are among the most poignantly beautiful in the English language -- "Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by? Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of His fierce anger ... All that pass by clap their hands at Thee; they hiss and wag their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, saying, Is this the city that men call the perfection of beauty, the joy of the whole earth?" (Lamentations 1:12; 2:15).


Jeremiah was a priest as well as prophet, and in this dual role he interceded before God on behalf of his people, yet their rebellion was such that God would not hearken to his prayers. Indeed, so grievous was their sin that the Lord declared: "Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people; cast them out of My sight and let them go forth." (Jeremiah 15:1).

Jeremiah must surely be regarded as one of Israel's greatest sons. As I read the tragic record of the events he recorded it was like reading his diary, so graphic is his account, and I was transported back through 2,500 years to one of the most turbulent and traumatic periods in Israel's history. In the light of God's covenants and promises to His people it was unthinkable that Jerusalem and the Temple would be utterly destroyed -- but they were! -- and it was just as unthinkable that He would cast His people out of the Land -- but He did! A disaster of this magnitude will be fully appreciated only when placed alongside God's great promises of blessings for His people. These promises blanketed every facet of life from the cradle to the grave.

It was because the ten northern tribes called Israel had previously rebelled against the Lord that they were cast out of the Land. Tragically Judah followed their example until "there was no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:16).

Because of the total rejection by both Israel and Judah of the covenant that God made with them at Mount Sinai, Jeremiah set down the terms of a new covenant to be made with Israel and Judah. This covenant was promised for a future time and would establish a totally new relationship.


"Behold the days come saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.

"But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; after those days saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

This New Covenant has been ratified by none other than Israel's Messiah. The promise of forgiveness is still graciously extended to His people Israel whereby He will be their God and they shall be His people. Many have discovered for themselves that this new covenant does bring a blessed new relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, even the God of Israel.