The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
Sometimes those who are raised up have been discipled by others who had no idea what was unfolding. It is easy to dismiss the mention of Jeremiah’s father in this first verse of the book which bears his name. It might seem like a factual but inconsequential introduction, but that relationship is key to Jeremiah’s calling in God’s ministry. He was raised by a Levitical priest, trained in the history and law of his people. Although God tells Jeremiah that he had been chosen before his birth, the father who taught him religion and tradition did not know the prophet he was training. It is against this educational backdrop that Jeremiah is called by God to pronounce judgment on his very own people.
The godly but controversial ministry of Jeremiah was one of hardship. He is known as the weeping prophet, one who felt compassion and desperation for the plight of his people, one who seemed to want them to return to God as much as God himself wanted it. His was a tumultuous ministry, and even his own family conspired against him because of how unpopular his prophetic words were. Jeremiah had not known that God was training him through his father for this incredible ministry, and his father had not known either. Of their visions of what he perhaps might have become as a great man of God, they scarcely could have envisioned what ultimately became his journey.
Both Jeremiah and his father carried the mantle of ministering to God’s people on his behalf in a critical way. Although Jeremiah’s ministry was much different than his father’s, he would have been able to glean the fundamentals of godly service and obedience from him. He would have learned what it means to fear God, to love God and to serve God. This would be necessary for him to have God’s heart for his people during those attempts to call them back to him. Although their services were vastly different, what passed from the priest to the prophet was a heart after God’s. Father, remind us to retain your fundamental principles from those who train us, that we would be able to apply them in whatever work You have for us.