Summary of Jeremiah's Life and Ministry
Nabopolassar, King of the Babylonian empire began his rule in 626 B.C. This was the year in which Jeremiah received his call from the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:1)
Josiah, King of Judah tried to stop the Egyptians advancing north but at a battle at Megiddo in 609 B.C., Josiah was killed by Pharaoh Neco II. (2 Chronicles 35:20-24).
At this time Jeremiah is not well known as a prophet in Jerusalem. But over time Jeremiah grows close to Josiah as is evident from his grief at his death at the hands of Pharaoh-Necho, in 609 B.C. at Megiddo.
Josiah (640-609 B.C.) was a Godly king who sought the Lord and in the twelfth year of his reign began to clear the land of heathen idols. (2 Chronicles 34:3-7) While the temple was being cleaned up the book of the law or Torah was found and read by Josiah who proceeded to carry out a strict reformation of worship in keeping with the Word of God which was found. (2 Kings 22, 23)
Jehoiakim, is appointed as the king of Judah by Pharaoh Neco and reigned eleven years. (609-598 B.C.) Unlike Josiah his father, Jehoiakim turned away from God and favoured the heathen gods and practices. (2 Kings 23:37)
Jehoiakim did not like Jeremiah or his messages and on one occasion when one of Jeremiah's prophecies were brought to him to be read, he cut it into small pieces and threw it into the fire. Jeremiah 36:21-32 God told Jeremiah to simply dictate the message over again through Baruch his scribe.
In 605 B.C. Jeremiah severely rebuked the king's conduct and allegiance with Egypt and even prophesied personal punishment which was brought upon him by God. Jeremiah warned Jehoiakim that he would be humiliated by God through the Babylonian invasion.
Jerusalem is attacked again in 598-597 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar. At the same time Daniel and his three friends are taken into captivity in Babylon. (Daniel 1:3-6)
In 597 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar puts Josiah's son Mattaniah on the throne of Judah and renames him Zedekiah. He was a puppet king who sometimes asked for Jeremiah's help while at other times allowed Jeremiah's enemies to persecute him. However Jeremiah did arrange for his own personal safety in exchange for revealing the will of God to Zedekiah. Jeremiah 38:15-27 The safety often took the form of house arrest which he was under until the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. (Jeremiah 38:28)
Zedekiah and Jerusalem were overrun by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. He was captured and led to Babylon. His sons were executed before his eyes and then his eyes were removed by King Nebuchadnezzar. (Jeremiah 39:1-7) Some Jews were taken to Babylon into exile. Some fled to Egypt for safety. An imperial Babylonian guard advised Jeremiah to go and live with Gedaliah the newly appointed governor of Judah. (Jeremiah 40:1-6). But when the governor was killed, Jeremiah and Baruch fled to Egypt, and there the story ends.
The theme of Jeremiah's message is one of judgment against Judah. God would punish his people for their sins of idolatry, spiritual adultery and trusting in Egypt rather than Jehovah. The punishment would come by means of the Babylonians from the north.
But God also brings grace as well as wrath and so there is found intersperse throughout Jeremiah glorious Messianic prophecies. They form a part of the prophets pleading with the people to repent. (Jeremiah 3:14-17; 23:5; 31:31; 33:16)