- Jeremiah was a lamenting man, with many sorrows, because he loved God and loved God’s people. Therefore, to see so many suffer and died in front of him (especially those close to him).
- Many call him the “prophet of love” because of his heart for God and the people.
- He pictures man as a backslider. He felt the need to preach to the people to return to their Father, their Lord!
- He sees the people as hopeless, but doesn’t give up on proclaiming the love of the Lord and caring nature of God!
The background of Jeremiah the prophet
At the beginning, there is the reign of Manasseh, which he began to reign after the death of the good King Hezekiah. Manasseh controlled the affairs of Judah for 55 years, wherefore, much innocent blood was shed at his hand and it is likely that Isaiah was executed by Manasseh’s order. Yahweh’s religion was bad in the land at this time, and then Josiah came to rule around 641 or 637 BC, which he was led to change the entire nation and bring them back unto God. He began the temple cleaning and a change to people’s lives – and therefore, the Book of the Law was found in the Temple. Reform was being done vigorously, and it seems Zephaniah had a great part in it. Jeremiah was seemingly interested in the reforms, also.
Soon, Nebuchadnezzar became King of Babylon and Jehoiakim was on the throne of Judah. Both of these men were bad, and Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem because of Jehoiakim’s disloyalty, to which Jehoiakim was on the throne for three months, but his reign ended badly when the city was captured. Many things, such as wealth, etc. was taken.
Socially, it seemed the rich were powerful, unscrupulous, and oblivious to the needs of the poor, as the chasm was there. People lived in misery, and poverty was ridiculous as the rich hoarded many things from the poor. Religiously, the place was deplorable and hideous overall. Jeremiah found a strange mixture of Canaan’s nature religion, Babylonian cults, Jezebel’s Baalism, and other formalisms. Jeremiah felt the people were very bad off morally, and that he had a crisis on his hands, because the people were superficial and weak. People became incapable of understanding genuine spiritual religion, and therefore, Jeremiah lamented for them.
He was trained early in his life, as he grew up in an established village of King David’s great Priest Abiathar in Anathoth. He grew up with scholars, priests, prophets, and other students of Yahweh’s teachings. World affairs had quite an impression on the boy as he great, and soon the Kingdom would change with the ushering in of the reign of King Josiah. This brought many other changes. Through many events that brought fear, Jeremiah stayed healthy.
Suddenly, Jeremiah realized God’s call for him to do His work, and that God had been calling him since birth, which was quite an impression on him. He knew that he was called for sure, and what many believe as a priest by birth! He was called at an early age into Prophetic Ministry (1:4-5). He responded to the Lord with a bit of doubt in verse 6, “behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.” However, God told him to not say that, but that he shall go to all what He sends and speak on His behalf. He was commanded then not to marry, and his family and friends, among others, conspired against him. He was beaten and put in stocks, to which, when he was released, he was assaulted and nearly killed. He was imprisoned and suffered much for the call of God on his life, and his obedience to the call.
He was a timid, sensitive (lovingly), emotion, compassionate, and tender natured boy/man, and his character made him particularly capable of identifying himself with miseries, mistakes, and other needs of the people. He was not weak, but rather, he was a “feeler” who could sympathize and empathize with the needs of the people. He knew his task was great and occasionally complained and questioned God’s treatment of him, but always continued to exhort his fellow citizens to turn to God for cleansing and deliverance. He, luckily, belonged to the upper class and was well respected of the aristocratic princes. He was a statesman with a “world mind” as the text describes.
What Jeremiah had in common with Jesus
- Jesus would be one coming to seek salvation of God’s people – Jeremiah was called to bring God’s people to repentance.
- Jesus and Jeremiah alike were rejected by their own people.
- Jesus lamented over His loved ones – as did Jeremiah.
- Neither of them knew the joy/blessing of married life to help and encourage them forward, even in direct opposition from people.
- Both knew and felt God’s Hand upon them and helping them in their ministry.
- They both gave evidence of intimate fellowship with God.
- Both were despised by “religious” leaders, and their teaching technique was similar.
- They both despised formalism/ritualism: they loved the temple, but disliked the rituals.
- They had a tender, yearning heart that wept over sinful people. Each was considered a failure at the end of their lives, but in later days, each also took their place among the victors. They were no instant success, but rather, a delayed success.
Matthew 16:13-14, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.”
Chapter 14 is especially important, because it shows the state of Judah in that time – grim
Chapter 14 is quite important, because it shows just one of the examples of the state of Judah, to which, Jeremiah makes an appeal unto God. It starts out with imagery on a severe drought in Judah, as all kinds of people were affected from it. People had difficulty obtaining enough water to keep themselves alive, animals dying because of disease, and many died because of not enough food.
Jeremiah pled on behalf of the people and confessed their sins; asking God to cease acting as if He were just an uninterested traveler passing by. He asked Him to help them, to which, the land is God’s after all, so why wouldn’t Yahweh want to help His People? God makes a stunning reply pointing out that He cannot just ignored the sins they have committed, and that Jeremiah should stop pleading, because nothing can save them now. God claims that He has tried enough and judgment is due to them, which will come by war, famine, disease, and disaster.
Jeremiah then tells God that the prophets have been assuring the people that such calamities will not overtake them, to which God replies that those prophets are false and will perish in shame as will all who believe their lies. The people hunger for prophecies of peace, and became very susceptible to such candy to their ear, but God has the final say in everything, and He will be sure that judgment is done. In lieu of this punishment, Jeremiah weeps publicly to show the people the sorrow he feels for them, because he has foreseen their terrible suffering. Jeremiah feels the need to plead once more with God on behalf of the people, and confesses their faults – asking God to be merciful and bring rain. He prays that God will not forsake His People, but rather, remember His Covenant with them, for there isn’t any other God they can call upon to help.
In this, it goes on to the start of chapter 15, where we see God’s reply that though Moses and Samuel had pleaded for the people in the past, the nation has passed the point where God could extend anymore mercy. Therefore, the false religion of Manasseh still controls the attitudes of the people, and the nation will end soon. God attributes His judgment in the past to not working for the people, and says there is no more pity left for them. Such a judgment is needed, since people resist!
This collection of five poems expresses the sorrow of Jeremiah over the fall of Jerusalem to the armies of Babylon in 587 BC.
The portrait of Christ in the Lamentations is “The Man of Sorrows,” as we see in 3:1, “I am the man that hath seen affliction by the rod of his wrath.” Both are very similar, in that, Jesus lamented over His loved ones – as did Jeremiah. They also wept over the sins of the people. We can see similar laments of Jesus in Matthew 23:37-39 as he weeps (similarly to Jeremiah) over the people. The face of Mt. Calvary was Jeremiah’s grotto, where he wrote these poems and wept. Similar to his tears, blood and water flown from Jesus’ side nearby many more years later – the one greater than him.
Five poetic laments
- The dirge for the solitary City – a weeping widow (ch. 1). Spoke of the miseries of Jerusalem, and that it being once a busy city was now like a woman who had lost her husband or a princess that became a slave.
- The dirge for the sorrowing citizens – a veiled woman (ch. 2). Calamity has befallen Judah and turned her glory into darkness, so she is now veiled. Darkness is widespread as the author describes.
- The dirge of the sorrowful Prophet – the weeping Prophet (ch. 3). The Prophet compares Judah’s sufferings as if they were his own. Those sufferings are God’s righteous judgment, and he is like a starving man ready to die. However, even though God punishes, he still has trust in Him!
- The dirge of the shattered hope – the gold depreciated (ch. 4). Jerusalem was once great, now is in ruin – and we see so much royal things in the dead areas of the streets: broken. This symbolizes the downfall of the leaders, to which, what was once good in Jerusalem turned into darkness, and now it is gone.
- The dirge of the sorrowful appeal – the prayer for mercy and the humble suppliant (ch. 5). He pleads with God for mercy, as conditions in Judah are terrible. People can’t find food and need help, so the cry for mercy becomes louder. The people begin asking for Him back and for Him to restore their nation and give them the happiness they once enjoyed.
With all of the intense sin, war, famine, disease – it’s easy for one to be sorrowful if they want the best for people. There are so many dying folks, and many of whom die an early age in an undeserving death – all because people are sinful and attempt to operate wickedly for their own lusts. Lusts for power, money, and fame – and yet, poor people get the short end of the stick every time.
In the poorest of countries, people are under-developed, because greedy, power hungry leaders have ruled those nations for so long and oppressed those people. Other areas could be developed more, but fail because of bad leadership, sinful oppression, and other forms of wickedness roundabout. It’s time for a change, and if God’s People aren’t people of prayer, then change is not evident. We must all be prayer warriors, who are willing to pray and weep for His People all around the globe, especially in places that are poor with power-hungry greedy leaders.