Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 13, Jeremiah the Prophet

Jeremiah the Prophet
By Christian Borges

Jeremiah is an Old Testament prophet and is recognized as one of the greatest prophets in the Bible. The prophet Jeremiah was born around 655 BC in Ananoth, and died about 586 BC in Egypt at the age of approximately 69 years old. He is often referred to as “The Weeping Prophet” because of the amount of pain he had endured while prophesizing the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah lived a good and happy early life, but he always felt as if God wanted him to do something about the paganism and idolatry that surrounded him. At first he objected saying that he was young and he could not speak very well, much like the prophet Moses. However God insisted that he go out and preach the coming plagues and destruction of Jerusalem as punishment for the breaking of the covenant that they had done. Jeremiah was rejected by many and was even thrown into prison for proclaiming the horrifying but guaranteed truth. Jeremiah also faced many challenges with the false prophets of the time. Many of those “prophets” prophesized peace and prosperity, and Jeremiah had corrected every one of them. Although what he was saying was frightening, it was the reality.  Unless they repent and turn toward God again they would all suffer a terrible fate.

During his life of ministry, Jeremiah had been arrested on several occasions and had been almost killed a number of times. He even complained to God about why he had to suffer so much, but God said that the attacks would just get worse. During this period Jeremiah expressed much dismay and said that if he tried to close off the word in his heart that it would be like a fire that he could not control. He even said that he felt so much sadness that he regretted ever being born. This is why Jeremiah is often referred to as “The Weeping Prophet.”
Jeremiah had faced even more persecution with his prophesies of Babylon. Jeremiah had preached of Jerusalem being handed over to the Babylonians. This bothered many of the king’s officials and they demanded that he be captured and be put to death because of his offence to Jerusalem’s soldiers and the people. Jeremiah was then taken away by the king’s soldiers and thrown into a cistern where he would eventually sink right down into the mud. They did this with the intent that he would starve to death to make it seem like they were not guilty of his blood. However, a Cushite came to his aid and pulled him out of the cistern before anything awful happened. Unfortunately, Jeremiah remained in prison until the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem. After the takeover of Jerusalem the Babylonians treated Jeremiah very well, allowing him to choose the place where he wanted to live. Jeremiah ended up living in Mizpah in Benjamin. Jeremiah died in Egypt while still seeking to turn the people back to the Lord. 

In The Book of Jeremiah, there are many parables such as the one in which Jeremiah was commanded by God to buy a belt and wear it around his waste for a period of time and to make certain that it would not touch any water whatsoever. After that time God asked Jeremiah to go to Perath and dispose of it in a cave, after a few days Jeremiah returned and found the belt worn and useless. This was supposed to represent the ruining of Jerusalem’s pride. It showed the uselessness of the gods that they worshipped.
Another parable was about a potter that Jeremiah had once met. Jeremiah noticed how the potter reshaped and remade the clay several times over in order to make it better; this represented how God would come to reshape Israel away from its evil ways.
One last parable that Jeremiah wrote was one of a field. Throughout the blockade of Jerusalem, when it was clear that Jeremiah’s prophesies of the destruction of Jerusalem were drawing closer, God told Jeremiah to buy a barren field in Ananoth from a cousin of his. This was a symbol of Israel of the time, barren and not producing fruit.  Jeremiah purchased the field, weighed out his earnings on a scale, and in doing so finished the task that God had commanded him. What God was trying to say was that the kingdom of Israel would in time come back to God and that all the homes and fields would once more belong to the land of Israel.

Jeremiah I think must have been one of the strongest people in all of the Old Testament. Even though he endured countless suffering, persecution, and loss (including the love of his life), he held on strong to God’s word, never giving up. Jeremiah did not have and easy life; nevertheless he still loved God and always stayed true to him, no matter how horrible the truth sounded.

If Jeremiah were to speak to me right now, I think he would say that even though sometimes a situation doesn’t seem like it can get any better, I just need to hold on and let God lead the way. Because in everything bad that happens, a little good comes out of it. I recognize Jeremiah as a prophet of strength and everlasting perseverance. Jeremiah reminds us all to never give up. 

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