76 Sermons on the Old Testament

40 Jeremiah's Ancestry in the Reign of Saul and David.


Jeremiah's Ancestry in the Reign of Saul and David

I am here, Jesus:

Jeremiah is one of the most important, if not the greatest, prophet that God was able to use for the social and religious uplifting of His people in the centuries of slow advancement for Judah. He came from a long line of rural priests, who embraced all the trappings associated with the ancient country shrines, yet who, withal, remained firm as a rock in their faith and worship of Jehovah. These priests could look back to their ancestor, Ahimelech who, in the reign of King Saul, befriended David, as the young fugitive from the unhappy monarch sought food and shelter at the little temple of the Israelite village of Nob. Ahimelech, the high priest there, gave David and his men the old bread off the Altar, when the new provision of bread was offered in prayer to God.

Now David, who with his friends at the time was desperately hungry, told Ahimelech that he was on a mission in the service of Saul and not a refugee from the wrath of the King, and thus the priest's act of distribution of the bread was one of pure kindness, and never had he thought to doubt David's word, because his soul was pure above the level of material aberrations; yet an Edomite herdsman, out of malice for a servant of the Lord, and in hope of a reward for his information, went straightway to Saul and accused Ahimelech of treason for aiding David. The furious King ordered 85 of the priests to his palace at Hebron and had them slain in the courtyard at the hand of the Edomite.

One person escaped this repulsive deed, Abiathar, the son of Ahimelech; and through Abiathar it was that Jeremiah was descended from this kindly priest who had thus fallen victim to the dark minds and souls of the Judah of the tenth century B. C.

Now Abiathar, a youth of about twenty, aware that he must seek safety in hiding from Saul's soldiers, joined David and his men, soon to grow into a company of some six hundred outlaws. As was natural, Abiathar served as the priest for this assemblage. He followed him in battle, in exploits, in adventures, and became the Chief Priest of the land when the events took place which made David the ruler of Israel. Eventually, his duties for David's great Kingdom necessitated an assistant and a younger man, Zadok, was named. Now Zadok was ambitious to become chief priest, and Bath-sheba, and a certain group with her, promised him this promotion if he would help in a plan to place her son, Solomon, on the throne of Israel, instead of Abiathar, the oldest living son of David. The gallant old King, when about to pass on into the spirit world, was quietly approached by Bath-sheba, Zadok and this group and, in his weakness of mind and will, was virtually pushed into agreeing to Solomon's ascension to the throne, whereupon they anointed Solomon King with indecorous and, I might say, indecent haste, not even waiting for David to die.

The new monarch, true to his promise, had Abiathar removed from the priestly service and banished from Jerusalem, declaring Abiathar worthy of death but sparing the old priest out of respect for his father, King David. With the recollection of his own father's death at the hands of another monarch, Saul, Abiathar, disgusted and heart-broken, returned with his family to his village Nob, found it in ruins, and built a house on a small piece of property just north of the town that had belonged to his father. Eventually, his family grew with the years, and a village came into being called Anathoth. The people returned to the ancestral vocation of priest, trusting more in the goodness and mercy of God rather than in the base hearts of kings and temporal rulers, and surviving the destruction of the village in 701 B.C. at the time of the Assyrian advance against Jerusalem. And thus it was that Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah the priest, was born in the year 649 B.C. about the time that the worst king of Judah, Manasseh, was seeking with unparalleled barbarity to squeeze from the hearts and minds of the people the love and remembrance of the Lord God of Israel. (II Kings: Chapt. 21, verse 11 & 17)

It would seem, from the circumstances, that Jeremiah ben Hilkiah was destined to follow in the footsteps of his pious forbears and become a priest in the service of an altar of God in the little village of Anathoth, only three miles north of Jerusalem, living a quiet uneventful life and submerged in the affairs that prevailed on earth as they developed in those days and in that area of the world. But the background and the personality of Jeremiah decreed otherwise, for such was Jeremiah's heart and such the land and the history, that God found He could use him as the torchbearer of the true Hebraic religion of justice and mercy of democratic principle and equality for all, as a guide for a conquered and exiled people, and as the hope for a returned remnant to repair and rebuild towards the establishment of an ideal home for the Hebrews, in an ideal kingdom of righteousness and ethical relationship amongst men as brothers in kinship and as the children of God, and lastly as the promise of God that in the fullness of time He would take away from Israel the flinty heart of profit and evil, and pour out upon them His own spirit of Love and Mercy.

Jeremiah himself, even as a young boy knew that he was to be in the service of God, not as a village priest, but as His prophet. In his book, which he wrote and edited in later life, he tells us of God's call to him: (Jeremiah, Chapt. 1, verse 5). 'Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations'. There have been many theologians who have taken these words to support claims of a virgin birth for me, Jesus, but if you read carefully, you will realize that Jeremiah, as he has told me, simply meant that God knows the souls of his created beings, before they are incarnated in the flesh through conception, and that Jeremiah's soul had been entrusted by God to be His prophet, or, to be His instrument on earth to show the way to God's righteousness and mercy.

Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens


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