<<an OT prophet>>
Repeatedly he had proclaimed that without a change of heart, an outward form of devotion to God was pointless. He emphasised individual responsibility was the foundation of character and spiritual life. He consistently and passionately declared to the Southern Kingdom of Judah “Repent and turn to God or He will punish”, right through the reign of its last five kings until the nation was conquered by Babylon and Jerusalem was destroyed. He was not deported to Babylon but was allowed to remain with the remnant in Judah, then along with the other Jews taken to the seeming security of Egypt. Later he prophesied God would restore His people after the harsh judgement (eg. Jer 30, 31). He served as a prophet to Judah from 627 until the exile in 586 BC and he wrote the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations – and maybe 1 & 2 Kings.
Lessons from his life: * Throughout his 40 years of faithfully serving God he persistently gave God’s messages, even when ignored, rejected and in prison (Jer 11:19, 12:6, 36:33, 37:17). He let nothing turn him aside or prevent him. God was top priority in his life. Success in the world’s eyes is measured by results; however, even though his hearers failed to respond to his message, he was a success in God’s eyes, because he remained committed and obedient to the task assigned to him. Do I obey God regardless of visible results? What is our response to apathy and a lack of success, especially after a long time? Do I have long-term commitment, remaining faithful to the divine assignment?
* God tells Jeremiah how valuable he is and the purpose He has for his life (Jer 1:4-10). This is true for each of us. God knows about us even before we were born and the purpose He has in mind for us to accomplish. Are you responding or postponing carrying out that call even if it is a difficult task? Later, Jeremiah delivered this message to the Jews, “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11). It is our responsibility to co-operate with God to make it a reality.
* Jeremiah was termed the weeping prophet, as he often wept over the lack of response from the people who were intent on going their own way and consequently reaping the punishment for their sin (Jer 9:1ff, 13:10,17; Lam 1:16, 2:11). He knew the heart of God and was grieved when people rejected God’s warning, pleading with them to repent and turn back to God. He lived out his message, putting his heart into his ministry. Does the message of salvation, with the reality of spending eternity in hell rather than heaven, affect us in this way, compelling us to share the gospel with deep conviction.
* He was instructed to give the entire message without leaving parts out (Jer 26:2-7). He was not to modify it in any way, rather to faithfully speak out the bad as well as the good. Do we fully proclaim the truths of God’s Word without changing parts to suit those listening, depending on the circumstances? Serving God does not guarantee security, prosperity, or even safety (Jer 26:8-24). When he was threatened, he did not waver or change his message. We should remain faithful to God regardless of the personal cost, even if it means being a martyr. Do I maintain my convictions and integrity when the heat of human pressure is applied?
See also: Babylon, Jeremiah (Jer), Lamentations, prophet.