Jeremiah was the son of the priest Hilkiah (tribe of Levi) and lived about two miles north of Jerusalem in a town called Anathoth. He was called into service by God as a youth which Jeremiah wrestled with because he felt that he was too young to be taken seriously. However, God reassured him that he was not to be concerned with his age because He would give him the words that He wanted him to speak (Jeremiah 1:6-10).
A Few Factoids
Jeremiah never married. He served during the same time as other great prophets of God such as Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel, and Ezekiel. And he was one of Judah’s greatest prophets during its darkest and most crucial days in the kingdom’s existence.
The Time of Jeremiah – Judah 627 – 580 B.C
Jeremiah ministry stretched from 627 to about 580 B.C. where he served under the reign of five different kings:
During this time Jeremiah witnessed the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the death of King Josiah, the relapse of his people into spiritual depravity and moral decline. He, along with his nation, endured oppression from Egypt and captivity of Babylon. And he saw the destruction of Jerusalem and the holy temple.
“Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.” Jeremiah 1:17-19
For more then forty years Jeremiah labored to proclaim God’s radical message, repent or else, to the people of Judah. He warned them of God’s impending judgement through the coming invasion of the Babylonians. But the only response that he received was a life of conflict. He was threatened in his hometown, tried for his life by the priests and prophets of Jerusalem, put in stocks, forced to flee from King Jehoiakim (king of Judah), publicly humiliated by the false prophet Hananiah, beaten, persecuted, and thrown into a cistern (a tank for holding water) just to mention a few.
Three stages in Jeremiah’s ministry:
- First stage – Prophesied for 22 years while Judah was threatened by Assyria and Egypt.
- Second stage – Proclaimed God’s Judgement for 19 years while Judah was threatened and taken over by Babylon.
- Third stage – Ministered while in Captivity for 6 years in Jerusalem and Egypt after Judah’s downfall.
Jeremiah watched the fast and steady decline of his nation become increasingly apostate even under the oppression of captivity. He grieved immensely over their rebelliousness and imminent doom. He dealt with depression and often desired to resign from his prophetic office due to the harshness of his message and the reception he received, they simply did not want to hear it. But in spite of it all, Jeremiah perseveres to Judah’s bitter end.
Next post in series – Jeremiah’s Kings
In case you are new to this series, our first post is titled Rejected & Dejected