Jeremiah was known as the weeping prophet. He wrote out his weeping in the book of Lamentations. His heart was torn with sorrow as he saw the dreadful state of his people. False prophets had deceived them, and they forsook the Lord their God. God sent them His prophets, but they refused to hear them or obey them. Israel was oppressed by her enemies. The house of the LORD was destroyed and the solemn feasts and sabbaths were forgotten. Children were starving and crying to their mothers as they fainted in the streets and then died in their mother’s arms. Jeremiah saw Zion, the perfection of beauty and the joy of the whole earth, become a place of humiliation where the elderly women sat on the ground, put dust upon their heads, and girded themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem hung down their heads with shame.
Jeremiah knew that all this was come upon Israel because they had turned their backs on God. He said, “The LORD hath done that which he had devised; he hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old: he hath thrown down, and hath not pitied: and he hath caused thine enemy to rejoice over thee, he hath set up the horn of thine adversaries.” (Lamentations 2:17)
Although Israel had rejected God and were reaping what they had sown, Jeremiah had pity upon his people. He said, “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people.” (2:11a)
The trouble that came upon Israel did not affect the wicked only. Jeremiah himself suffered greatly. He was affected by the oppression and shortages of food, and he was severely persecuted for standing for the Lord and speaking His word to the people. They shut him up in prison; and, at one point, they even threw him in a dungeon that had quick sand in it. Jeremiah began to sink and was afraid he would suffocate and die. However, Ebedmelech, the Ethiopian, spoke to the king for Jeremiah. Then he found some rotten rags and rounded up some men to help him. They threw the rags down to Jeremiah. He put the rags under his arm pits, and they pulled him out. After that Jeremiah “abode in the court of the prison until the day that Jerusalem was taken: and he was there when Jerusalem was taken.” (See Jeremiah 38)