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The Prophets: Jeremiah
Jeremiah, from the Hebrew name pronounced yir-meh-yaw, or yir-meh-yaw-hoo, meaning the LORD will rise, is one of the best-known of the LORD's prophets. Jeremiah was given to deliver the LORD's final warning to The Southern Kingdom of "Judah" to repent - or be destroyed. When they not only ignored Jeremiah, but actually abused and imprisoned him, the LORD (see 'Before Abraham Was, I AM') delivered His long-delayed wrath upon Judah, by means of the Babylonians (ironically, it was the Babylonians who freed Jeremiah from his own nation's prison where the patriotic prophet had been locked up for speaking the Word of God).
Jeremiah's entire ministry to and within Judah lasted approximately forty years, beginning when Jeremiah was a "child." Jeremiah was chosen to the LORD's service even before he was born i.e. "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations":
"1:2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah [see Kings of Israel and Judah], in the thirteenth year of his reign. 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
"Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice"
Jeremiah is often classified as one of the "major" prophets, a designation based upon the length of his book (there is in fact no such thing as a "minor" prophet because they all spoke the Word of God). Jeremiah's writings provide a wealth of prophetic and historical detail (see the Fact Finder question below for individual chapter studies). The focus of Jeremiah's ministry was however the fall of Judah to Babylon, after their failure to heed their decades-long warning to repent.
"39:1 In the ninth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the tenth month, came Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon [see Ancient Empires - Babylon] and all his army against Jerusalem, and they besieged it. 39:2 And in the eleventh year of Zedekiah, in the fourth month, the ninth day of the month, the city was broken up [see also Raiders Of The Lost Ark]. 39:3 And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate, even Nergalsharezer, Samgarnebo, Sarsechim, Rabsaris, Nergalsharezer, Rabmag, with all the residue of the princes of the king of Babylon.
Amazingly, even the pagan Babylonians realized that their destruction of Judah was a matter the LORD's wrath ("Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you," see below) and that Jeremiah was a prophet of the LORD. The Babylonians therefore freed Jeremiah from the chains that had been unjustly placed upon him by his own people of Judah: "I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand."
"40:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, after that Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard had let him go from Ramah, when he had taken him being bound in chains among all that were carried away captive of Jerusalem and Judah, which were carried away captive unto Babylon. 40:2 And the captain of the guard took Jeremiah, and said unto him, The LORD thy God hath pronounced this evil upon this place. 40:3 Now the LORD hath brought it, and done according as he hath said: because ye have sinned against the LORD, and have not obeyed his voice, therefore this thing is come upon you. 40:4 And now, behold, I loose thee this day from the chains which were upon thine hand. If it seem good unto thee to come with me into Babylon, come; and I will look well unto thee: but if it seem ill unto thee to come with me into Babylon, forbear: behold, all the land is before thee: whither it seemeth good and convenient for thee to go, thither go." (Jeremiah 40:1-4 KJV)
Fact Finder: For detailed examination of each chapter of the book of Jeremiah and Jeremiah's Lamentations, see the studies below from our Bible Reading Plan: