Today we begin a new book of the Bible. It is the 24th book and it is called the Book of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah was born in Judah. His father was a priest named Hilkiah. So Jeremiah was taught many religious things as a boy. His father had hoped that Jeremiah would become a priest like him. But God... had different plans.
A lot of times we make plans or our parents make plans ... (But God). So we should hold on to our plans loosely as God may have other plans. His plans are always better. Sometimes they are harder, as we will see in the story of Jeremiah, but they are always better. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
When Jeremiah was a boy, there was a good king of Judah named Josiah. He had all the idols destroyed and led the nation in the ways of God. But as soon as Josiah died in a battle, the people of Judah went right back to idol worshipping and sinning. The people were following their king and not following God.
When Jeremiah was a young man, about 20 years old, God spoke to him. He said that He knew Jeremiah before he was even born... and He had a plan for him to speak for Him as a prophet. But Jeremiah was scared. He told God that he was way too young to speak for Him.
Remember last time in Isaiah we learned that God has a plan for us before we are even born? Well here it is again as God spoke to Jeremiah. God had a plan for Isaiah, and for Jesus, for Jeremiah and He has a plan for you and me!
Jeremiah took his new job as God's prophet very seriously. He knew that telling the people that they must repent of their wickedness would not go over too well. It would be difficult, and sometimes dangerous, but Jeremiah was up to the task and began to tell the people what God was saying about their evil ways. Jeremiah loved God and he loved his country. He preached for over 40 years, but the people turned their back and refused to listen. This made Jeremiah sad and he became known as the "weeping prophet".
How was Jeremiah able to do such a hard thing? God told him to do it, and God gave him the wisdom, courage and strength to carry it out. When God touches our hearts and wants us to do something for Him, don't be fearful, because God will give you all the tools you need, and He'll be right there with you. (Isaiah 41:10)
Jeremiah told the people that they were doing wrong. And he told them that God loved them and that they needed to repent or God would punish them by sending an army from the north to take them over just like He did 100 years earlier. The people laughed. Then Jeremiah went to the king and told him the same thing.
Has anyone ever laughed at you? It doesn't feel good. Especially if it is for doing the right thing. Don't let that stop you. God says that If He is for us, who can be against us. (Romans 8:31) He also says that we should do things that please him, instead of doing things that people want us to do. (Galatians 1:10) God is always on our side when we do what is right. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
One of the most well-known verses in Jeremiah is Jeremiah 29:11. It says: "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." God was warning Israel against false prophets, but that is a promise that we can hold onto for ourselves.
Some time later, Jeremiah heard a message from God to go to the palace wearing a yoke. (a collar that oxen wear to pull a plow) He wasn't supposed to enter the palace, but God wanted to send a message to the king that his kingdom would be taken over by Nebuchadnezzar, and unless he surrendered to his yoke (his will) the king's kingdom would be destroyed. Hananiah, one of the king's false prophets pulled the yoke off Jeremiah's shoulders and broke it. The high priests and false prophets were getting tired of Jeremiah and his hard words and so was the king. So the king told the priests to do whatever they wanted with the prophet. So guess what they did? They called the kings guards who threw him in a muddy well with no food and left him to die!