The book of Jeremiah is the prophecy of a man divinely called in his youth from the priest-city of Anathoth. A heartbroken prophet with a heart-breaking message, Jeremiah labors for more than forty years proclaiming a message of doom to the stiff-necked people of Judah.
Who Was Jeremiah?
Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah the priest and lived just over two miles north of Jerusalem in Anathoth. Because of his radical message of God’s judgment through the coming Babylonian invasion, he led 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, publicly humiliated by the false prophet Hananiah, and thrown into a cistern.
Jeremiah dictated all of his prophecies to his secretary Baruch from the beginning of his ministry until the fourth year of Jehoiakim. After this scroll was destroyed by the king, Jeremiah dictated a more complete edition to Baruch, and later sections were composed.
The Background of Jeremiah
Jeremiah was a contemporary of Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Daniel, and Ezekiel. His ministry stretched from 627 to about 580 BC. Jeremiah’s ministry had three stages:
- From 627 to 605 BC he prophesied while Judah was threatened by Assyria and Egypt.
- From 605 to 586 BC he proclaimed God’s judgment while Judah was threatened and besieged by Babylon.
- From 586 to about 580 BC he ministered in Jerusalem and Egypt after Judah’s downfall.
Jesus in Jeremiah
The Messiah is clearly seen in 23:1-8 as the coming Shepherd and righteous Branch who “shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the Earth.”
The curse of Jehoiachin in 22:28-30 meant that no physical descendant would succeed him to the throne. Matthew 1:1-17 traces the genealogy of Christ through Solomon and Jeconiah to His legal (but not His physical) father, Joseph. However, no son of Joseph could sit upon the throne of David, for he would be under the curse of Jehoiachin. Luke 3:23-38 traces Christ’s lineage backward from Mary (His physical parent) through David’s other son, Nathan, thereby avoiding the curse. The righteous Branch will indeed reign on the throne of David.
The Key of Jeremiah
Judah’s Last Hour
In Jeremiah, God is seen as patient and holy: He delays judgment and appeals to His people to repent before it is too late. As the object lesson at the potter’s house demonstrates, a ruined vessel can be replaced while still wet; but once dried, a marred vessel is fit only for the garbage heap. God’s warning is clear: Judah’s time for repentance will soon pass.
Because they defy God’s words and refuse to repent, the Babylonian captivity is inevitable. Jeremiah lists the moral and spiritual causes for their coming catastrophe, but he also proclaims God’s gracious promise of hope and restoration. There will always be a remnant, and God will establish a new covenant.
Content in this article is adapted from the Open Bible.