II Kin. 23:26, 27; Jer. 1:1-2:37
It is unclear as to the exact time that Jeremiah began his prophecy. His father was Hilkiah, a priest. He was possibly the high priest that was serving during the time that King Josiah was restoring true worship in Jerusalem. Some speculate that he may have been born during the thirteenth year of Josiah’s thirty-one-year reign and actually began to prophesy several years later as Josiah’s reforms may have begun to crumble. He continued to prophesy until Judah was carried into Babylonian captivity.
As Moses had done many years earlier, being slow of speech, Jeremiah humbly objected to his call stating that he was a youth. God stated that He would provide what the prophet should speak and would be with him. Also like Moses, he accepted his commission and moved forward. Likewise, the Lord has provided His word for us in the Bible and we are to speak it—whether we are young or old.
Jeremiah’s mission was to purge by condemning the evil of the people and to rebuild by giving hope if they would repent and return to God. The picture of a boiling pot being poured out from the north signified the destruction of Judah by the northern Babylonian empire and other invaders from the north.
As the Christian life has its struggles with various persecutions, Jeremiah was faced with suffering. If he failed through dismay to speak God’s word, God would add to his dismay. If he did all that was commanded of him, everyone would become his enemy, “but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you…to deliver you.”
The Lord instructed Jeremiah to remind Jerusalem of the highs and lows of the wilderness wandering after their deliverance from Egypt. He pointed out the law/covenant that He had made with them on Mt. Sinai. God had delivered Israel/Judah from a land of slavery into a land flowing with milk and honey. They had shown their gratitude by turning from Him to worship the handmade gods of other nations.
God referred to Himself as a fountain of living waters and the false idols as broken cisterns that can hold no water. Instead of turning to Him for help, Judah had turned to other nations and to their gods. However, in times of deep trouble, they would turn to Him to, “Arise and save us.” God had reached the point that He said regarding their gods, “Let them arise, If they can save you in the time of your trouble…” The sins of the people would ultimately bring them into ruin with their hands upon their heads being led into slavery.