The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:…
I. HIS PARENTAGE. He was the son of Hilkiah, not that Hilkiah who was high priest during the reign of Josiah, but of some similarly named priest. Even amid the terrible corruptions of that period, there appear to have been a few faithful souls who held fast to the fear of the Lord. We have their names, Huldah, Shallum, Baruch, etc. From amidst these Jeremiah sprang. The Lord can call and convert and consecrate to his work whom he will; but his more common way is to come to the habitations of his people, when he would find some whom he destines for special and honored service. The homes of the godly are the hope of the Church. Amidst the children of the believing are to be found those whom God will generally employ to carry on his work. This is one way in which the promise is fulfilled, "Them that honor me I will honor."
II. HIS PROFESSION. He belonged to the priesthood. Terrible are the charges which are brought against the priests and prophets of that day. They had reached the limit of utmost degradation. They are said to "deal falsely," to be "profane;" and their conduct is described as "a wonderful and horrible thing." Yet Jeremiah belonged to this deeply fallen class. How difficult must have been his position! how constant his resistance to the contagion of their example and influence! When from amongst those who are of the same order, who have common interests, common duties, and who are thrown together in so many and close relationships, one stands aloof and turns upon his companions in severe and solemn rebuke as Jeremiah did, such a one needs to be strong as "a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls" (ver. 18) Jeremiah stands before us as a noble proof that the tide of evil, however strongly it may run, may yet be resisted; none are of necessity borne down by it but, by the same grace which was given to Jeremiah, they may stem the fierce current and defy its power. Ten thousand of the saints of God have done this; why should not we?
III. THE REASON OF ALL MEN COUNTING HIM AS A PROPHET. "The word of the Lord came unto him." He did not say, "I am a prophet;" but all men felt he was. For his words had power; they were mighty to the pulling down of the strong holds of sin. It was not simply that he announced that there should be a "rooting out and pulling down" (cf. ver. 10), but the words which he spoke so wrought in men's minds that these results followed. Hence men, conscious of the power of his words, confessed that it was "the word of the Lord" which had come to him. This is the old prophetic word which, whenever spoken, constrains men to confess the presence of God (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:25). And St. Peter (2 Peter 1:19) says concerning it, "We have, surer still, the prophetic word." "More sure," he meant, than even the wondrous voice and vision of "the holy mount," for that was but a transient testimony given once and to the three favored apostles of the Lord alone; but the prophetic word, that which woke up the response in men's hearts, and by which the secrets of each soul were disclosed - that was a more constant, more universal, more powerful, and therefore a more sure testimony than aught beside. And the occasions when this "word of the Lord" comes to any of his servants are well known. See how particular and definite the dates are here. "In the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim," etc. The coming of the word of the Lord to any soul is a marked and memorable period. He through whom that word is spoken is conscious of an unusual power, he realizes the Divine presence in an altogether unusual manner. He is more passive than active. It is said of the holy men of old, that they "spake as they were moved [borne along] of the Holy Ghost," and this, St. Peter declares (2 Peter 1:21), is ever a characteristic of the prophetic word. And those who hear the word know that the Lord is speaking through his servant. Listlessness and unconcern give way to serious concern. Some can tell the very day and hour when they first heard the "word of the Lord." They had listened to sermons and read the Scriptures again and again, but one day they felt that the Lord himself was speaking to them, and they could not but give heed. Like as the people of Judah and Jerusalem knew when the voice of God, though they despised it to their ruin, was speaking to them, so do men now. And if we have heard it for our salvation, the time, the place, the speaker, will often be vividly remembered in connection with it, like as those who heard Jeremiah knew the very year when the "word of the Lord came" to him. It is ill for both hearers and speakers alike if they be unable to point to periods when they were conscious that "the word of the Lord" came to them. For a preacher never to realize the sacred glow and the uplifting of soul which accompany the utterance of the prophetic word; or for a hearer to have so dulled his conscience, so destroyed his spiritual ear, that though the word of the Lord be spoken his heart never responds, his soul never realizes the presence of God; - from the sin and sorrow of either may God mercifully save us.
IV. THE DATE AND DURATION OF JEREMIAH'S MINISTRY. We are told when it began, and how long it lasted. It began when the evil days for Judah and Jerusalem were drawing very near. It was in vain that the devout King Josiah endeavored to turn back the hearts of the people to the Lord God of their fathers. But though the long-suffering of God had been so tried and was now almost ceasing, yet, ere they were given up to the punishment which was their due, God raises up his servant Jeremiah and the band of faithful men who stood by him (cf. 2 Chronicles 36:15-21). For forty years - for that is the period covered by the reigns of the several kings spoken of - Jeremiah exhorted, warned, entreated, threatened, prayed, wept; but all in vain. Therefore God's wrath at length rose against them, and there was no remedy. "Behold the goodness and the severity of God!" How reluctantly will he abandon any to the results of their own ways! how slow is he to let come upon them that which they have long deserved! Yea, he is the long-suffering God. But whilst we fail not to remember and to rejoice in this, let us not fail either to remember and to dread the other equally sure fact, that "God is a consuming fire" to those who set at naught all his counsel, and will have none of his reproof (Proverbs 1:24-33). Those to whom Jeremiah prophesied found it so, and so will all who sin in like manner now. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:
WEB: The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: