Jeremiah was originally commissioned by Jehovah to serve as a prophet to the nations and Jerusalem. In the opening chapter, God informed Jeremiah that He had sanctified him even before he was born. In that, we are reminded that those chosen to be in union with Jesus were foreordained before the founding of the world.
There is no evidence that Jeremiah personally conveyed denunciatory messages to any surrounding nations, nonetheless, he was commissioned by God “to be over the nations and over the kingdoms, to uproot and to pull down, to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.” — Jeremiah 1:10
In reality, Jeremiah merely recorded the words Jehovah conveyed to him, which ultimately came true. However, as regards Jeremiah’s fellow Jews, the prophet spoke to them publicly, stationing himself in the very gate of the temple in order to speak to the people concerning Jehovah’s judgments.
Apparently, God imposed visions upon Jeremiah and required that he describe it, saying: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
The first vision was the branch of an almond tree, which Jehovah then interpreted to mean He was awake to carry out His intentions.
Secondly, Jeremiah correctly saw a large boiling pot with its mouth tilted away from the north, as if ominously poised to dump its boiling contents, which Jehovah also interpreted: “Out of the north the calamity will break loose against all the inhabitants of the land. For ‘I am summoning all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ declares Jehovah, ‘And they will come; each one will set up his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against her walls all around and against all the cities of Judah.” — Jeremiah 1:13-15
The destruction of Jerusalem and its subsequent restoration is the central theme of virtually all Hebrew prophecy. Jeremiah is no exception. The desolation of Jerusalem by a disgusting thing culminating in a global great tribulation was also the primary focus of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the conclusion of the system.
“All the families of the kingdoms of the north” whom Jehovah summoned to serve as His punishing agent were under the command of the king of Babylon—Nebuchadnezzar. The empire that was headquartered on the banks of the Euphrates River was comprised of peoples from dozens of provinces, nations, and language groups that had been conquered by the Chaldeans. Even Daniel was an advisor in Nebuchadnezzar’s court when Jerusalem fell to the families of the kingdoms of the north.
Far from being ancient history, the prophecy of Jeremiah is of the utmost relevance today. Indeed, in four places in Jeremiah God spoke of the final part of the days, which is the same as the time of the end and the conclusion of the system. This means that God’s judgments involving Babylon and Jerusalem are a pattern of things to come.
In accord with the law, God has provided more than two witnesses. Consider the prophecy of Habakkuk, who was a contemporary of Jeremiah. Habakkuk confirmed that Jehovah commissioned the Chaldeans to serve as the executioner of divine judgments.
Although Habakkuk did not use the phrase “the final part of the days,” or any similar expressions, Jehovah indicated that the vision was for a future time—yes, an appointed time. “For the vision is yet for its appointed time, and it is rushing toward its end, and it will not lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it! For it will without fail come true. It will not be late!” — Habakkuk 2:3
From the perspective of Jehovah’s Witnesses God’s judgments certainly seem to be delaying. From the very beginning, C.T. Russell cultivated an expectation among the original Bible Students. 1914 was supposed to bring about the war of Armageddon. Nothing happened according to their expectations. Contrary to all the hoopla attached to 1914 after all these decades still, nothing has happened. The world has gone on and on and on. Even the Watchtower cannot deny that the vision is for an appointed time in the future. But we are left with God’s assurance and implied warning that “it will not be late.”
The question is, what does the vision mean? Yes, what is the significance of the prophecy of Jeremiah? This is the first of a series examining the book of Jeremiah.