Endurance is not a common quality. Many people lack the long-term commitment, caring, and willingness that are vital to sticking with a task against all odds. But Jeremiah was a prophet who endured.
Jeremiah’s call by God teaches how intimately God knows us. He valued us before anyone else knew we would exist. He cared for us while we were in our mother’s womb. He planned our lives while our bodies were still being formed. He values us more highly than we value ourselves.
Jeremiah had to depend on God’s love as he developed endurance. His audiences were usually antagonistic or apathetic to his messages. He was ignored; his life was often threatened. He saw both the excitement of a spiritual awakening and the sorrow of a national return to idolatry. With the exception of the good King Josiah, Jeremiah watched king after king ignore his warnings and lead the people away from God. He saw fellow prophets murdered. He himself was severely persecuted. Finally, he watched Judah’s defeat at the hands of the Babylonians.
Jeremiah responded to all this with God’s message and human tears. He felt first hand God’s love for his people and the people’s rejection of that love. But even when he was angry with God and tempted to give up, Jeremiah knew he had to keep going. God had called him to endure. He expressed intense feelings, but he also saw beyond the feelings to the God who was soon to execute justice, but who afterwards would administer mercy.
It may be easy for us to identify with Jeremiah’s frustrations and discouragement, but we need to realise that this prophet’s life is also an encouragement to faithfulness.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Wrote two Old Testament books, Jeremiah and Lamentations
- Ministered during the reigns of the last five kings of Judah
- Was a catalyst for the great spiritual reformation under King Josiah
- Acted as God’s faithful messenger in spite of many attempts on his life
- Was so deeply sorrowful for the fallen condition of Judah that he earned the title “weeping prophet”
Lessons from his life:
- The majority opinion is not necessarily God’s will
- Although punishment for sin is severe, there is hope in God’s mercy
- God will not accept empty or insincere worship
- Serving God does not guarantee earthly security
- Where: Anathoth
- Occupation: Prophet
- Relative: Father: Hikiah
- Contemporaries: Josiah, Jehoaha, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah, Baruch
Key verses: “ ‘Ah, Sovereign LORD,’ I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,’ declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:6-8).
Jeremiah’s story is told in the book of Jeremiah. He is also mentioned in Ezra 1:1; Daniel 9:2; Matthew 2:17; 16:14; 27:9. See also 2 Chronicles 34, 35 for the story of the spiritual revival under Josiah.