The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth ° year of his reign.
It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh ° year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the LORD said unto me, Say not, 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.
Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.
Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.
 

Introduction to Jeremiah

Jeremiah, the last of the pre-exilic writing prophets, is often called “the weeping prophet,” because of his impassioned pleas to his people and their leaders to repent, repeatedly warning them of severe judgment and exile if they did not. His book is longer than any other of the prophetic books (though Isaiah has more chapters).

The prophetic ministry of Jeremiah extended over some forty or more years, under the reigns of Judah’s last five kings—Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin (or Jeconiah, also Coniah), and Zedekiah. Josiah was a godly king who had led his people in a great revival (though, as it turned out, somewhat superficial and short-lived). Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah were sons of Josiah, whereas Jehoiachin was a son of Jehoiakim. Each of these four kings “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done” (II Kings 23:32,37; 24:9,19). The reforms of Josiah were forgotten soon after his death, with both kings and people quickly returning to the pagan ways of the fifty-five year reign of wicked king Manasseh, grandfather of Josiah. Amon, Josiah’s father, reigned only two years before he was assassinated (II Kings 21:1-2,19-20,23). Most of Jeremiah’s warnings were necessitated by the evil ways of these last four kings, including his great prophecy of the impending seventy year captivity in Babylon (II Chronicles 36:21; Jeremiah 25:9-12; 29:10).

As to Jeremiah himself, he was of the priestly tribe of Levi, son of Hilkiah the priest, born in Anathoth. This city, assigned by Joshua to the tribe of Benjamin (Joshua 21:18), was probably the same as modern Anata, about three miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jeremiah was called to his prophetic ministry in the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign (Jeremiah 1:2). Josiah was king for eighteen more years, whereas the last four kings only ruled a total of twenty-two or twenty-three years. Actually Jeremiah continued his ministry for an uncertain additional period in Egypt, among those of the people that fled there even as most of the Jews were being carried away to Babylon (Jeremiah 43, 44). No one knows for certain when or where he died, although tradition has it that he was slain by the Jewish refugees to whom he still tried to preach in Egypt.

The times of Jeremiah were tumultuous. The great nations of the time—Egypt, Assyria and Babylonia especially—were fighting for supremacy, and Judah often was involved, situated in their midst. Eventually Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar defeated Assyria, and Egypt retreated, so that Babylon became the world’s dominant empire for some fifty years. All of these nations were very wicked themselves, so that, even though God used them to punish Israel and Judah, their time was coming. Among the prophecies of Jeremiah were predictions of ultimate judgment on Egypt, Philistia, Tyre, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Syria, Hazor, Elam, and especially Babylon. Assyria had already been defeated by this time (Jeremiah 46–51).

On the other hand, there are many wonderful Messianic prophecies in Jeremiah, promising ultimate deliverance and restoration of Israel in the future Messianic kingdom. In Jeremiah is the first revelation of the coming “new covenant” which God would make with Israel as well as Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-37) and which would eventually encompass all of God’s people in every age (Hebrews 8:6–10:25).

1:1 the words of Jeremiah. Although the book of Isaiah has more chapters, Jeremiah’s prophecy contains more words. Jeremiah wrote during the turbulent reigns of the last five kings of Judah before and into the Babylonian captivity.

1:5 Before I formed thee. Contrary to the “recapitulation theory” proposed by modern evolutionists and promoted by modern abortionists, Jeremiah was known by God before he was even conceived in the womb, illustrating the truth that the human embryo is fully human from the very moment of conception.

1:5 sanctified thee. Like John the Baptist (Luke 1:15) and Paul the Apostle (Galatians 1:15)—no doubt among many others—Jeremiah had actually been ordained by God for specific service even before he was born.

1:9 my words. Jeremiah thus makes the explicit claim that his words were verbally inspired by God. Almost his entire book (with the exception of a few narrative sections, such as in Jeremiah 28 and others) consists of words spoken directly by God through His prophet. The same phenomenon is true in the other prophetical books.

1:11 an almond tree. The almond tree is the first to bloom after winter, thus signifying an early fulfillment of God’s warnings through the prophet.

1:12 hasten my word. “Hasten” could well be translated “watch over.” God would assure that whatever He has said in His word is absolutely true and His promises will surely be fulfilled.

1:13 seething pot. The boiling pot facing north signified imminent judgment on Judah coming from the north (Jeremiah 1:14).

1:14 Out of the north. This is Jeremiah’s first prophecy of the coming invasion of Judah by the armies of Babylonia, which actually incorporated the other, now subjugated, “kingdoms of the north” (Jeremiah 1:15), such as Assyria, Syria, etc.

1:19 fight against thee. Jeremiah 1:17-19 calls Jeremiah to arms, as it were, fighting against Judah in the name of the Lord and with His protection.


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