The name "Jeremiah" means "whom Jehovah appoints." Apart from this appointment by God, certainly this prophet could not have continued to minister faithfully. He was of the priestly line and lived in the priest's city of Anathoth. Apparently he had some personal wealth because he was able to purchase real estate and even hire a scribe. He was called to the ministry when he was a child, undoubtedly in his teens.

Jeremiah ministered during the last 40 years of Judah's history, from the 13th year of Josiah to the destruction of Jerusalem. He lived to see his beloved nation go down into sin, war, and judgment; yet through it all he was faithful to preach God's Word.

When Jeremiah began his ministry, Assyria was the leading power in the world; but Egypt and Babylon were rapidly gaining strength. In 607 b.c., the Babylonians took Nineveh and destroyed the power of Assyria. Babylon then turned to Judah, and Judah's politicians advised the kings to ask Egypt for help. Jeremiah was always against an Egyptian alliance. He knew that God's people should not seek help from the world. He knew Judah's only hope was in the Lord; but her sins were so great that the nation had lost the blessing of God. Babylon did finally capture Judah and took Jerusalem. Jeremiah wrote "Lamentations" to commemorate the death of the Holy City.

Chapter 1 gives the call of Jeremiah. Like Moses, he was reluctant to accept the responsibility, but did succumb to God's call. Jeremiah's first message was to a backslidden nation. It was threefold. He reminded Israel of God's wonderful blessings and deliverance; he rebuked them for forsaking God' and then he accuses them of following other gods. Verse 13 of chapter 2 refers to the people forsaking the Word of God, "the fountain of living waters" and following after false gods, "broken cisterns.".

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