Jeremiah was called to be a prophet during the reign of Josiah.
Josiah was only 8 years old when he became king, and he reigned for 31
years. Jeremiah began his ministry when Josiah was 22 years
old, and he prophesied during 18 years of Josiah's reign.
After Josiah, Jehoahaz reigned for 3 months. Then Eliakim
(Jehoiakim) reigned for 11 years. Nebuchadnezzar, King of
Babylon, took him captive to Babylon and placed Jehoiachin on the
throne at Jerusalem, and he reigned only 3 months and 10
days. Nebuchadnezzar took him captive to Babylon, and placed Zedekiah on the
throne, and he reigned for 11 years. Then Nebuchadnezzar
attacked and destroyed Jerusalem, and he killed the sons of Zedekiah, put out
Zedekiah's eyes, and took him captive to Babylon. Jeremiah
continued his ministry to the remnant left at Jerusalem.
Jeremiah was called to the prophetic office before his birth.
The Lord told him this in order to give him courage and
conviction. When Jeremiah was about 20 years old, he showed reluctance and
hesitation in being a prophet, citing that he was just a "child," and
just a "young man." However, God empowered Jeremiah, and He
put His words in his mouth.
The sign of a rod of an almond tree - The almond tree is called "waker"
because it's the first to wake and bloom in the spring.
Jeremiah was to wake the nation from a life of ease luxury, and indifference to
the coming danger.
The sign of the seething (boiling) pot in the north - Egypt and Assyria
were no longer a danger to the southern kingdom of Judah, but the
boiling pot in the north was the rising power of Babylon, which
eventually would destroy the nation of Israel.
Jeremiah was to alert the nation to the new danger from Babylon, but
the people would resist and reject his warning. In fact, they
would attempt to destroy Jeremiah because of his negative prophecies.
This is the beginning of Jeremiah's prophecies to Judah and Jerusalem
prior to Zedekiah's reign. Jeremiah told of a twofold
condemnation of Judah: 1) Judah rejected God; and, 2) Judah raised their own gods.
In days past, the people had loved God, and He had blessed
However, the priests turned away from God, and the people followed,
raising raised their own gods and idols. God asks them to return to Him.
The people had turned to pagan gods, even though God had brought the
enslaved people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. Judah had
betrayed God, and his judgment including withholding rainfall from
their land. However, He also looks forward to a time (still
in the future for us) when He will return the people to Zion, and they
will return to Him. This is the millennial kingdom--God's
earthly kingdom which will reign for a thousand years.
Jeremiah 4 - 6
Jeremiah then prophesies about the coming destruction at the hand
of Babylon, because of the sins of the people. Essentially
everyone in Judah was guilty. They were guilty of adultery, deceit,
and coveting. They were rich, but they had forgotten their God
who had provided their riches. Specifically, God indicted the
tribe of Benjamin, but they didn't listen to Him.
Jeremiah 7 -
Jeremiah then went to their places of worship,
confronting those who came to honor God. However, even these were corrupted. They
had transformed true worship
of God into nothing but formal rituals. Jeremiah pleads with them to turn from their dead
religion in order to escape the coming judgment from God.
It's interesting to note that God already knows, of course, that the
people will not turn back to Him. However, Jeremiah is called
to deliver God's message to them. He was responsible for
preaching God's Word, but he wasn't responsible for the response from the people,
whether good or bad. This was the primary sin
of the people--rejecting God's Word. False prophets were preaching
false messages, and the people revolted all the more, and with no shame or
contrition for their sinful acts. Soon it would be too late for contrition.
Jeremiah sees the continued rebellion of the people against God, and it
makes him want to run away from his own people. He warns them
that their nation will be scattered among the Gentile nations (as we
now see that it was). If only they could see that spiritual
maturity is worth more than material possessions. God is one
who is the Creator of all things--not the pagan gods that the people were
worshiping. Again Jeremiah refers to the Exodus, because the
sins of the people showed their disobedience of the covenant that God made
with them during their 40 years roaming the wilderness.
When Jeremiah delivers his prophecy to the people, he is rejected by
both his own family and the people in his hometown.
Jeremiah 13 - 20
God told Jeremiah to act out a prophecy by hiding a linen belt
(waistband / girdle) by the Euphrates River. This act
symbolized the people Israel, being bound to God as though with a belt, but then
being exiled to Babylon because of their sin.
God said that terrible judgment (in the form of captivity) was coming for Israel, and
that it was now at hand, because Israel was incapable of doing
good. They're even past the point where prayer would do them
any good (even if Moses or Samuel were to pray for them). The
false prophets were saying that there would be no famine or war in the land, but they were wrong.
The coming disaster would be terrible. Jeremiah 16:4 says, "They
will die of deadly diseases, they will not be lamented or buried; they
will be as dung on the surface of the ground and come to an end by
sword and famine, and their carcasses will become food for the birds of
the sky and for the beasts of the earth."
Yet, there will be hope for Israel, in the future, after this great
tragedy. God will eventually bring them back to their land.
God says that the people must put their trust in God, not in man.
However, the truth is that men's hearts are so deceitful that only God
knows just how evil man is.
God then sent Jeremiah to a potter's house, using the potter and his
clay as an analogy. The potter (God) has absolute power over
the clay (Israel). God is sovereign, and Israel is at His
mercy. Jeremiah broke a jar in order to symbolize how God was
about to break Israel.
Then the priest Pashhur had Jeremiah beaten and put into stocks.
When he was released, he prophesied against Pashhur, and then he pitied
himself for the sorrowful duty that God had called him to.
When King Zedekiah became fearful, he turned to Jeremiah for
guidance. Jeremiah told Zedekiah that the people needed to
turn from their disobedience and return to God. He once again
warned of imminent danger if they continued to reject God.
Then God proclaimed a specific prophecy against the kingly line.
Not only did he repeat the short-term prophecy of their upcoming defeat
by King Nebuchadnezzar and their exile into Babylon, but he included a
long-term prophecy as well. The lineage of the present line
of kings, including Jehoiakim and his son Jehoiachin, would not be
extended. Jehoiachin was the last king from the line of
David's son Solomon, and it was expected that the Messiah would be born in this
line. However, of Jehoiachin, Jeremiah 22:30 says, "Write
this man down childless, a man who will not prosper in his days; For no man
of his descendants will prosper sitting on the throne of David or
ruling again in Judah." Instead, the Messiah would ultimately
come from the line of David's son Nathan. This is the line of
Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 3:31). (However, Mary's
husband Joseph did come from the line of Solomon, as seen in Matthew 1:11).
However, despite the near-term disaster, God affirms that there will be
brighter days for Israel. God will re-gather His people and they
will return to their land. Jeremiah 23:5 says, "Behold, the
days are coming... when I will raise up for David a righteous
Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and
righteousness in the land." The "Branch" here refers to Jesus
Christ, and the time frame will be that of the millennial reign of Christ on the earth.
Jeremiah 24 - 29
After the exile into Babylon, God made an analogy with a basket of good
figs and a basket of bad figs. The good figs represented the
captives of Judah whom God would eventually return to their land.
The bad figs were the bad captives, including King Zedekiah and his
officials. God would destroy those bad captives with war,
famine, and pestilence.
God used the Parable of the Yokes in order to include other nations in
the prophecy concerning Babylon. King Nebuchadnezzar would
place a yoke around the necks of the surrounding nations, and they too would
feel his wrath. However, for Israel, this yoke would
eventually be broken, and Israel would return to her land.
Jeremiah 30 - 33
Then God turned to a series of prophecies that deals with the end
times, a time frame that is still in our future today, and it affirms
that Israel will never be completely destroyed. He proclaimed
a time when both Israel and Judah would be returned to their land, and
this will occur during the Christ's earthly kingdom. However,
immediately before that time, there will be "the time of Jacob's
trouble," reference in the book of the Revelation as the time of the "Great Tribulation" on the earth.
Israel will be re-gathered and redeemed as a nation. God will
keep His promise to King David, even though the people had sinned against
Him. However, God will also make a new covenant with the
twelve tribes of Israel. This covenant will be written upon the
hearts of the people, it will signify the forgiveness of their sins, and this covenant will never be broken.
Jeremiah is imprisoned for conveying these prophecies from God, and he
is in prison at the time of the Babylonian exile. He later
purchases land in Israel in order to demonstrate his confidence in the
future blessings for Israel from God.
Jeremiah 34 - 37
Jeremiah predicted that the king of Babylon would burn Jerusalem with
fire. However, Jeremiah commissioned Baruch to deliver his
prophecies to King Jehoiakim, and the king cut up the prophecies with a
knife and then burned up the pieces. Jeremiah then
painstakingly recorded the same prophecies again, and once again he sent them to the
king. We are reminded here that nobody in the line of King
Jehoiakim would ever sit on the throne of David.
Jeremiah 38 - 52
While Jeremiah was in prison, he still pleaded with Zedekiah to obey
God. He was eventually released from prison and he chose to
stay in Israel instead of going to Babylon. Then a remnant of the
people promised to obey God. Jeremiah warned them no to go to
Egypt for refuge because King Nebuchadnezzar would also invade
Egypt. However, the remnant did go to Egypt, and they even
Jeremiah with them.
Jeremiah prophesied that, after King Nebuchadnezzar would conquer
Egypt, the nation of Egypt would become a second-rate power.
The great cities of Egypt would be destroyed, along with surrounding cities
and nations. We know today that all of these places were
indeed destroyed, and are non-existent today.
After God used Babylon to invade Israel, the Media-Persia empire would then rise up and destroy Babylon.
Owen Weber 2010