JEREMIAH AND LAMENTATIONS - THE WEEPING PROPHET
Isaiah had lived through the turbulent Assyrian period, and Jeremiah (627-575 BC) lived through the Babylonian period. In Isaiah's day, Israel was led into captivity, in Jeremiah's day a like fate fell on Judah. Isaiah sustained a relationship with godly Hezekiah, and Jeremiah sustained a relationship with godly Josiah. With Isaiah we have Amos, Hosea, and Micah. With Jeremiah we have Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and maybe even Obadiah.
Chapters 2-6 of Jeremiah are a summary of his preaching during the reign of Josiah (See II Chronicles 34:1-7). This covers the first five years of his prophecy. Chapters 7-9 cover the repair to the temple, it's cleansing, and the law found and read (II Chronicles 34:18-32). Chapters 10-12 cover drastic measures taken in the way of reform, ending in the commemoration of the Great Passover (II Chronicles 35:1-10). From this point on many prophecies were made. Not everyone disbelieved Jeremiah. It seems that the great prophecy of the seventy years (Chapter 25) was the inspiration Daniel needed for his great intercession at the end of captivity (Daniel 9). The millennial reign is recorded (33).
In Lamentations, Jeremiah saw clearly the fall of Jerusalem and the terrible suffering connected with that event. The first two chapters are occupied chiefly with the circumstances of the siege of Jerusalem, and those immediately following that event. In the third, the prophet deplores the calamities and persecution to which he had himself been exposed. The fourth refers to the ruin and desolation of the city, and the unhappy lot of Zedekiah. And the fifth and last seems to be a sort of prayer in the name, or on behalf of, the Jews in their dispersion and captivity. As Jeremiah himself was eventually compelled to withdraw to Egypt much against his will (Jere. 43:6), it has been suggested that the last chapter was possibly written there. In chapter 1 and 2 we find sorrow without consolation; in chapter 3, consolation for the poet himself; in chapter 4 the lamentation is renewed with greater violence; but soon the whole people, as if urged by their own spontaneous impulse, fall to weeping and hoping.
Jeremiah lived to see five kings on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Isaiah had lived to see Judah delivered from the Assyrians, but Jeremiah wept out prophecy that fell on deaf ears, and lived to see his beloved people given over to famine and the sword. His counsel was ignored, his writing torn to shreds, his name blackened, his life hunted, and his worst predictions terribly fulfilled before his tear-filled eyes. He was indeed a weeping prophet. He recorded his most bitter feelings in the book of Lamentations. Even though his preaching produced good results under King Josiah, Jeremiah saw them as only superficial and temporary. The lives of the people were steeped too deeply in idolatry and corruption.
Jeremiah was born during the days of Manasseh, the wicked son of Hezekiah. He was called to prophecy at the tender age of only fourteen and continued for over forty years. It was in the thirteenth year of King Josiah that Jeremiah started preaching. After Josiah died, his son Jehoahaz ruled only three months then was deposed by Pharaoh Necho who crowned the brother of Jehoahaz, Jehoikim. Jehoahaz was carried captive into Egypt. Jehoikim was a staunch supporter of idolatry and was a bitter foe of Jeremiah. By this time Babylon had increased in power sufficiently to curb the ambitions of Egypt and invaded Judah in 605 BC. Jeremiah continued his prophesying, but all for naught because his warnings went unheeded. Jehoikim was deposed, and Jehoiachin, his son, was set up as king on the throne of David as only a mere puppet to Babylon. The second invasion of Judah occurred in 597 BC, at which time every able-bodied man, including Jehoiachin was carried into captivity.
Nebuchadnezzar was generous enough to set Zedekiah, Josiah's son, on the throne at Jerusalem. Zedekiah didn't help matters, though. He acted somewhat friendly to Jeremiah, but his loyalty was to the princes. Only after severe admonitions and warnings from Jeremiah, did the king rebel against Babylon. False prophets had assured Zedekiah of success, and this led to the persecution of Jeremiah.
The third invasion of Judah occurred in 586 B.C. This time Jerusalem fell. The book of Lamentations speaks of the horrors of that event. The temple was burned and the city destroyed completely. Jeremiah was treated kindly by Nebuchadnezzar and was allowed to stay n Jerusalem after this final deportation to Babylon. His troubles were not over though, by any means, for more sinister plots were devised against him, and he was forcibly carried to Egypt by a remnant of the Jews. In Egypt he continued to warn, but again was unheeded. Tradition has it that he was stoned to death.
"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem," wept Jeremiah (as did Christ, Matthew 23:37,38). Of a surety, Jeremiah was the "weeping prophet."
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