Let’s set the stage for the Prophet Jeremiah’s ministry:
The Lord sent His prophets to the northern ten tribes, but Israel refused to turn from their idolatrous ways and return to following Him. Israel so angered the Lord that He removed the northern ten tribes from His sight by having Assyria carry them off into captivity in 722 BC.
Isaiah prophesied to Judah during this time period and continued prophesying through the reign of Judah’s King Hezekiah and also into the early reign of King Manasseh which began in 687 BC. Sadly, King Manasseh did not follow the ways of his father, Hezekiah, and sinned even more than Israel and had Isaiah sawed in half in 680 BC.
King Manasseh was carried off in chains and hooks to Babylon in 650 BC. Manasseh repented while he was in captivity and God heard his cries, bringing him back to Jerusalem in 648 BC. Manasseh then tried to reverse his sinful practices and reform Judah, but he died in 642 BC.
King Manasseh’s evil son, Ammon, became king, but was assassinated in 640 BC.
Then, an amazing prophecy came to pass when eight-year old Josiah became King of Judah in 640 BC. You see, three hundred years earlier, an unnamed prophet prophesied to Israel’s King Jeroboam:
“O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: A child named Josiah will be born into the dynasty of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests from the pagan shrines who come here to burn incense, and human bones will be burned on you.” (1 Kings 13:2)
I would guess that this astounding prophecy was repeated over and over again to the people of Judah during the early days of King Josiah’s reign. Probably everyone knew it by heart.
Also, two years after Josiah’s coronation, Zephaniah began prophesying to Judah and Jerusalem by saying:
I will stretch out My hand against Judah and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem…The great day of the Lord is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the Lord is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out…Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord’s wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy… (Zephaniah 1:4, 14, 18)
Wouldn’t you think that all of these prophecies and prophetic events would cause Judah to repent, never wandering from the straight and narrow path of the Lord?
Well, wait till we study Jeremiah’s ministry to Judah, beginning in 627 BC.
(Continued in Part 3)