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We [come to] the prophet Jeremiah in his trials and sufferings. His life was one of the loneliest and saddest in Scripture. His personal experiences were bitter. The message of disaster he had to proclaim was depressing and unwelcome. And the times in which he lived were of unparalleled national calamity. His efforts were foredoomed to failure. It was a lost cause from the beginning. He was everywhere hated and misunderstood. While intensely loving and grieving for his countrymen and his nation, he was despised and persecuted as an enemy and a traitor.
But amidst all this background of thick gloom, there shines in a few chapters in the center of the book the glorious picture of the eternal kingdom of righteousness that will finally triumph, and in which this rejected prophet will have an honored part.
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise up into David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely" - chapter 23.
Chapter 31 - "He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock."
Jeremiah was born in the closing years of the long evil reign of Manasseh. This king's reign sealed the doom of the kingdom and brought to an end God's much-tried longsuffering and patience. Jeremiah records, in chapter 15, God speaking, "I will cause them to be removed into all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah king of Judah, for that which he did in Jerusalem...I am weary with repenting."
The evil Manasseh was born during the fifteen years that were added to Hezekiah's life, when he pleaded with God. Far better for Hezekiah and for Israel, if Hezekiah had submitted to God's wisdom and gone to his rest with his glorious record of faith unsullied, as God in His mercy had planned.
Jeremiah begins his ministry in the reign of the good king Josiah. It was a bright brief interlude of righteousness, but it did not last. Josiah began to reign when he was eight years old. When he was sixteen, he dedicated himself to serve God, and when he was twenty, he set about purging Judah from all their wickedness and idolatry. Jeremiah began his ministry in the next year-the thirteenth of Josiah's reign. Jeremiah would be about the same age as Josiah-about twenty.
It is truly a touching picture of these two young men-king and prophet-laboring to turn the nation to righteousness, as the smoldering judgments of God hovered over the land, just as two young men-a prophet and a king, John and Jesus-did in the days of the nation's final judgment.
It is notable that Jeremiah's ministry began just 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple by the Babylonians. We remember that Jesus began his ministry just 40 years before the destruction of Jerusalem and the burning of the temple by the Romans. In each case a 40-year period of final probation was given to the city.
Jeremiah's mission was to witness for God against apostate and worldly Israel. The Jews today still jealously preserve and revere the prophecy of Jeremiah, though it contains their condemnation as a nation and the record of God pleading in vain with them to return and be saved.
Jeremiah's work was not only as a witness of condemnation. It had a far more glorious purpose. It was principally to encourage and strengthen the scattered faithful remnant of his own day and of all ages since. In this sad time of present crisis for the Truth, its message of comfort has great and sustaining power.
Bro Growcott -- Prophet of Judgment and Glory.