Jeremiah the Prophet

The prophet Jeremiah allows us to see what is going on in his heart and life. We can sense his feelings and the thoughts (and turmoil’s) of his mind. As we read his book he appears to be totally absorbed in the message that God has given him to preach. The other prophets cannot be accused of hiding behind their work, but Jeremiah out of all of them allows us to see evidence of his own spiritual condition.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is probably the most negative of all the prophecies in the Bible, because of this he needed to be spiritually aware and confident about what God was speaking to him, even though the people (and he himself at times) found the message burdensome.

He was a man of deep feelings and sensibilities, out of this comes the other book he wrote entitled Lamentations. In this book there are a series of five laments over the serious spiritual and moral condition of God’s people. Jeremiah is extremely sorrowful over the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Lamentations has been described as a funeral dirge over the destruction of the Holy City. For this reason he is often called “The Weeping Prophet” .The people’s rejection of God broke his heart, not only this but he took it personally, “0 LORD, Thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: Thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me” (20:7). He knew that he was considered to be totally mad by the religious leaders and the people, but his love for God drove him forward with his message.

The prophet Isaiah had others of likemind around him, so he could easily find encouragement and comfort from them. Jeremiah on the other hand was alone. He had no one except his servant Baruch, but evenso, he was often isolated. Maybe because of this he relied upon prayer and self-examination. In times of self-examination he would often become depressed and dejected. The workings of his own mind and the voice of God sometimes combine to form a kind of conversation between God and himself, “0 thou sword of the LORD, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thyself into thy scabbard, rest, and be still. How can it be quiet, seeing the LORD hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the sea shore? there hath He appointed it” (47:6-7). Jeremiah’s religion was in his heart. His sole and trusted companion was God.

He is seen expressing deep grief over the predicted fate of his people, knowing that they are beyond any further help from God, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold of me. Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (8:20-22). Isaiah on the other hand sought to keep Judah from falling under the coming judgement of God. His message was one of warning of the doom that awaited them, but could be avoided through repentance. Jeremiah saw no hope of recovery, he was convinced that they would not repent and that the judgement would come. He did speak of a time of deliverance for Judah, but by that time his generation would be long dead. He was not altogether a prophet of doom for he could speak of the New Covenant that God would one day make with His people, “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (31:31ff).

Those who have such a message as Jeremiah had usually set themselves apart from people, but this was not true of this prophet. He was not unfeeling, but actually suffered alongside his people. His suffering must have been heightened due to the fact that he was neither honoured or accepted by them. Even the members of his own family rejected him and his message. Yet, God had warned him that this would be one of the situations that he would minister under, “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 … And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.” (1:9,19). Throughout all of this, though he had times of despair, he remained faithful to the Lord.

Isaiah and the other prophets come across as bold, fiery preachers, but Jeremiah appeals more compassionate and gentle. This does not mean that he would not face his enemies fearlessly. He often did, and with the wrath of God upon his lips. He rebuked the sinner, resisted the false prophets, and boldly declared God’s truth, evenso we get the impression that he would rather hide himself away from such ridicule and rejection. At times he would rather not preach God’s word anymore, but he would know the power of the Spirit of God upon him and went out and spoke about God even more, “Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name. But His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (20:9).