This man who was born a priest but became a prophet by the divine call of God comes before us as one of the grandest men of Old Testament history. He was called to the prophetic office through a vision (Jer. 1:1, 4-16) and labored for some forty years. The book Jeremiah wrote gives us more details of his life, methods and work, as an Old Testament prophet, than of any other prophet. He is referred to as a son of Hilkiah, not only to distinguish him from others of the same name, but to prove that he was of priestly origin. He came from the priestly town of Anathoth, a name meaning, “answered prayers.”
His call antedated his birth (Jer. 1:5), and he was consecrated to God before his birth. He was distinguished by his humility and native modesty. He felt he was a child and not mature enough to function as a prophet. With Browning he could say:
I was not born
Informed and fearless from the first, but shrank
From aught which marked me out apart from men:
I would have lived their life, and died their death
Lost in their ranks, eluding destiny.
But Jeremiah could not elude destiny. So we have:
I. His equipment for a God-appointed task (Jer. 1:7-9).
IV. His death. Tradition has it that he was stoned to death in Egypt by the Jews, and that when Alexander entered Egypt he rescued his bones from obscurity and buried them in Alexandria. See Hebrews 11:37.
Jeremiah’s ministry was an intensely sad one and his song is in the minor key. His was a divine melancholy that made his head “waters” and his eyes a fountain of tears. The truths he had to proclaim were unwelcome and brought him enemies, but he carried out his task without fear or favor. In these days of national apostasy and international strife, the preacher could not do better than live near the Book of Jeremiah, which has, as its dominant note, true religion in heart and life, in church and nation.