Among modern theologians, Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet because of the extreme hardship he suffered throughout his life and ministry, and because of his many tears over Judah’s sin. His story is recorded in the biblical book that bears his name, one of the longest in the Bible, and his songs of mourning over the fall of Jerusalem are recorded in a book aptly named Lamentations. Jeremiah was a young Jewish priest from a landowning family who was called by God to proclaim Judah’s immorality and imminent destruction by “invaders from the North.” His ministry lasted about 40 years, through the reign of multiple Jewish kings, including Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoichin, and Zedekiah, and ended sometime after Jerusalem’s fall. Jeremiah records that God instructed him to refrain from taking a wife and starting a family, and to avoid parties and celebrations. These were to be outward signs of his messages.

Because his preaching was critical of Judah’s depravity, Jeremiah was frequently mistreated by the ruling authorities. He was beaten, imprisoned, put in stocks, thrown in a muddy cistern, and attacked by his own brothers. However, once Jerusalem finally fell to the Babylonians in 586 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered his release and proper treatment. Although much of the population was deported to Babylon, Jeremiah was allowed to remain in Jerusalem. However, he was later forced to escape to Egypt after Jerusalem revolted against Babylonian rule.

Like Jesus, Jeremiah often used parables to illustrate his announcements.