Jeremiah the weeping prophet

  • A prophet’s life is never easy, but Jeremiah had an especially rough time.
  • Jeremiah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah, right before Judah ultimately fell to Babylon and was led away into captivity.
  • God sent Jeremiah to a crumbling nation to warn of their impending demise – a warning they didn’t heed.
  • However, Jeremiah’s lasting legacy may in fact be one of hope.
  • One of the most oft-quoted verses in the Bible, Jeremiah 29:11, has offered hope to believers for centuries.

  • So, who was this weeping prophet in a dying nation who also brought such words of comfort and promise?
  • It’s important to know the context of Jeremiah’s time in order to understand his life. Part of this requires a partial overview of the history of the Israelites in the Promised Land.
  • King Solomon ruled over the Israelites, God’s people, in the tenth century B.C. However, the unwise actions of his son Rehoboam led to a schism in which the kingdom was split into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah, each with its own king.
  • Both kingdoms devolved into corruption and sin, despite repeated warnings from prophets sent by God — prophets such as Jeremiah. Thus, God warned, they would be overtaken by conquerors.
  • In 721 B.C., the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. The southern kingdom of Judah temporarily pulled itself together under King Hezekiah and avoided destruction from the forces of Assyria under Sennacherib through miraculous intervention (2 Chronicles 32).
  • However, Hezekiah was immediately followed by his wicked son Manasseh.
  • Manasseh was eventually carried away by Assyrians and repented of his evil ways.
  • Mean while, “Back on the Ranch,” things got worse again as he was followed by Amon, a completely wicked king.
  • Another brief upswing occurred under King Josiah, but after that, Judah was a mess of puppet kings placed by Egypt and Babylon, some reigning for only three months.

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  • Meanwhile, Assyria had been conquered by Babylon.
  • In 586 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonian Empire once and for all, as the walls of Jerusalem were breached, the Temple was destroyed, and the city walls torn down.
  • Jeremiah served as a prophet from the days of Josiah all the way through the reigns of Judah’s last four kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah.
  • Jeremiah died in 570 B.C.
  • Jeremiah was the son of a priest from the small town of Anathoth in Judah (This was the land that had been given to the tribe of Benjamin), Jeremiah dictated prophecies from the Lord to his secretary, Baruch.
  • Because of Jeremiah’s lineage (??), he would have been raised as a priest, though no record of his priestly service exists.
  • Instead, God chose this man of undeniable courage to speak to the people of Judah on the Lord’s behalf—even though they would not listen.
  • Do we listen any better today??
  • Jeremiah was nearly twenty years old when he began to prophesy, and he continued his “God Ordained” duties for the rest of his life, some forty plus years. (Jeremiah 1:6)



  • Because his message held little weight with the people, Jeremiah’s prophecies reveal a substantial amount of emotional depth—often sorrow over the plight of God’s people or his own troubles (Jeremiah 12:1–4; 15:10).

  • After several years of preaching, Jeremiah’s family turned against him and even plotted to kill him (Jeremiah 1:8, 11:21-23, 12:6).
  • Over the years, he was whipped and put in the stocks (Jeremiah 20:1-3), attacked by a mob (Jeremiah 26:1-9), threatened by the king (Jeremiah 36:26), and ridiculed (Jeremiah 28).
  • Some of Zedekiah’s princes had Jeremiah arrested, beaten, accused of treason, and thrown in jail (Jeremiah 37:1-15), from there he was then thrown in a deep empty well (Jeremiah 38:1-6).
  • He lived through the siege of Jerusalem along with the rest and was there as the people were taken away as captives.
  • Perhaps worst of all, Jeremiah was alone.
    He was not allowed to marry (Jeremiah 16:2), and his family abandoned him.
    The people turned against him and didn’t believe him.
  • He was alone with the knowledge of the horrors coming for Judah.

  • Jeremiah’s ministry began in 627 BC and ended sometime around 582 BC with his prophecy to the Jews who fled to Egypt (Jeremiah 44:1).
  • The southern kingdom of Judah, fell during Jeremiah’s ministry; this marks the end of Israel as an independent nation (except for a brief period in the second century).
  • The Temple of Solomon was destroyed in 586 BC; the first temple period lasted from 1000 BC to 586 BC.
  • The Southern Kingdom had been threatened for many years by outside powers—first Assyria and Egypt and then by their eventual conquerors, Babylon.

 Why is Jeremiah so important?

  • The prophecies of Jeremiah offer us a unique insight into the mind and heart of one of God’s faithful servants.
  • The book includes numerous personal statements of emotional engagement, painting Jeremiah not merely as a prophet brought on the scene to deliver God’s message.
  • He also is a human being who felt compassion for his people, desired judgment for evildoers, and was concerned about his own safety as well.
    When Jeremiah proclaimed, “Hear 0 Israel, the Word of the Lord, thy God?” (Deut. 6:4 – 9, & Mark 12: 29)
  • Did they listen?


  • Significantly, the book of Jeremiah also provides us the clearest glimpse of the new covenant God intended to make with His people once Christ came to earth.
  • This new covenant would be the means of restoration for God’s people, as He would put His law within them, writing it on hearts of flesh rather than on tablets of stone.
  • Rather than fostering our relationship with God through a fixed location like Solomon’s Temple located on “the holy hill of Zion,” He promised through Jeremiah that His people would know Him directly.

What’s the big idea in Jeremiah?

  • Because Jeremiah prophesied in the final years of Judah before God’s people were exiled to Babylon, it makes sense that the book’s overarching theme is judgment.
  • Indeed, the first forty-five chapters focus primarily on the judgment coming to Judah because of its disbelief and disobedience.
  • However, an element of grace is also present in these events.
  • The fall of Jerusalem comes nearly nine hundred years after the original covenant between God and the Israelites in the Sinai desert (Exodus 24:1–18).

  • Such an extended period of time witnesses to God’s great patience and mercy, allowing His people the opportunity to turn from their sinful ways—a lifestyle they began not long after they struck the original covenant with God (Ex: 32:1–35).


  • How Do i apply This?

  • Seeing God’s patience with His people in the Old Testament reminds us that God has always been and continues to be merciful.
  • That His chosen people routinely ignored the covenant they made with Him for the better part of a millennia without immediate death and destruction should give us hope in our own struggles with living well for God.
  • Though we fail Him, He is patient with us, working in us to bring about the best for our lives.
  • But the book of Jeremiah also reminds us that an end will certainly come, a truth that should spur us to follow after God wholeheartedly.
  • Will you follow Him? (What did Joshua say in his last sermon to the Israelites?)
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