Remember Jeremiah’s Father

Title: Remember Jeremiah's Father

Bible Book: Jeremiah 1 : 1-5

Author: Franklin L. Kirksey

Subject: Father; Father's Day



There are several men named Hilkiah in the Old Testament (1 Chronicles 6:45-46; 26:10-11; 2 Chronicles 34:9-22; Nehemiah 12:7 and Jeremiah 1:1). We will focus on the one from Anathoth a town in the land of Benjamin about 3 miles north of Jerusalem.

From Jeremiah 1:1-5 we read, “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. 3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month. Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’”

Allow me to call your attention to three things about Jeremiah’s father.

I. Remember Hilkiah’s Relationship with God.

According to the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, the name Hilkiah means "my portion is Jehovah."

Dr. F. B. Huey, Jr., comments, “Jeremiah was born and raised in Judah under Assyrian domination during the reign of wicked King Manasseh (687-642 B. C.). Manasseh could not have been unaffected by the pagan religious practices fostered there. Early in his reign Manasseh began reintroducing and multiplying the paganism his father, Hezekiah, purged from Judah. He rebuilt the high-places Hezekiah had destroyed, erected altars to Baal, and made an Asherah pole. He worshiped all the starry host and built altars to pagan gods in the temple itself. He offered his own son as a burnt sacrifice and practiced sorcery and divination (2 Kgs 21:2-9; 24:3-4; Zeph 1:4-5).”

Dr. Huey explains, “Many of Judah’s priests were wicked, but there were surely some who lamented what they saw taking place and did all they could to protect their families from such practices. Jeremiah’s priestly parents (1:1) probably were among this minority and were careful to observe the Shema (Deut 6:4-9) in their home. Men and women with profound religious convictions can trace the factors that molded their character to the teachings and influence of godly parents. Such may have been Jeremiah’s fortunate background. At any rate he was prepared to hear the call of God in 627 (1:2) when just a youth, probably in his late teen years.”[1]

II. Remember Hilkiah’s Responsibility before God.

Dr. J. Vernon McGee (1904-1988) states, “Here is a reference to ‘Hilkiah’ who is the father of Jeremiah. He was the high priest who found the Book of the Law during the time of Josiah. It was the finding of the Law of the Lord as given to Moses that sparked the revival during the reign of Josiah. Revivals are not caused by men; they are caused by the Word of God. Never a man, but the Book. The Word of God is responsible for every revival that has taken place in the church. It is true that God has used men, but it is the Word of God that brings revival. The record of this revival and its effect is found in the historical books in 2 Kings 22 and in 2 Chronicles 34.

‘Anathoth’ was the hometown of Jeremiah. It is a few miles directly north of Jerusalem.

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 [Jer. 1:2].

Josiah was eight years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for thirty-one years. Jeremiah began his ministry when Josiah was twenty-two years old. Apparently Jeremiah was about twenty years old himself; so both of them were young men and were probably friends. Jeremiah prophesied during eighteen years of Josiah's reign, and he was a mourner at his funeral (see 1 Chron. 35:25).

Josiah had done a very foolish thing -- even men of God sometimes do foolish things. He went over to fight against the pharaoh of Egypt at Carchemish although the pharaoh had not come up against Judah at all. For some reason Josiah went out to fight against him in the valley of Esdraelon or Armageddon at Megiddo, and there Josiah was slain. Jeremiah mourned over his death because Josiah had been a good king. The last revival that came to these people came under the reign of Josiah, and it was a great revival. After the death of Josiah, Jeremiah could see that the nation would lapse into a night out of which it would not emerge until after the Babylonian captivity.”[2]

Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments, “We are told what family the prophet was of. He was the son of Hilkiah, not that Hilkiah, it is supposed, who was high priest in Josiah's time (for then he would have been called so, and not, as here, one of the priests that were in Anathoth), but another of the same name. Jeremiah signifies one raised up by the Lord. It is said of Christ that he is a prophet whom the Lord our God raised up unto us, Deu. 18:15, 18. He was of the priests, and, as a priest, was authorized and appointed to teach the people; but to that authority and appointment God added the extraordinary commission of a prophet. Ezekiel also was a priest. Thus God would support the honour of the priesthood at a time when, by their sins and God's judgments upon them, it was sadly eclipsed. He was of the priests in Anathoth, a city of priests, which lay about three miles from Jerusalem. Abiathar had his country house there, 1 Kings 2:26.”[3]

Dr. Tremper Longman III, explains, "These words [Jeremiah 1:1-3] are further specified to be those of Jeremiah who is identified as the son of Hilkiah from Anathoth, a priestly village in Benjamin. Anathoth (near modern 'Anata, which preserves the name) is just a few miles northeast of Jerusalem. This village was assigned to the Levites according to Joshua 21:18. It was the village where Solomon sent Abiathar after he was deposed from the priesthood (1 Kgs. 2:26), and there is some speculation that perhaps Jeremiah was a descendant of Abiathar.

Hilkiah was the name of the high priest who discovered the lost book of the law in the temple during the reign of Josiah (2 Kgs. 22:4, 8-14). It is not impossible that this high priest was Jeremiah's father, but if this Hilkiah were meant, it is likely that would have been specified. In addition, that Jeremiah was from Anathoth and not Jerusalem also mitigates against the identification of the Jeremiah's father with the high priest. That Jeremiah was from a priestly family makes his later criticism of the ritual of Judah even more powerful.”[4]

Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown share the following: “Anathoth -- a town in Benjamin, twenty stadia, that is, two or three miles north of Jerusalem; now Anata (compare Isa 10:30, and the context, Isa 10:28-32). One of the four cities allotted to the Kohathites in Benjamin (Jos 21:18). Compare 1Ki 2:26, 27; a stigma was cast thenceforth on the whole sacerdotal family resident there; this may be alluded to in the words here, ‘the priests . . . in Anathoth.’ God chooses ‘the weak, base, and despised things . . . to confound the mighty.’”[5]

We read in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, / And when he is old he will not depart from it.”

In Jeremiah: Priest and Prophet, Dr. F. B. Meyer (1847-1929) further explains the following about the formative influences in Jeremiah’s life, “It is interesting to study the formative influences that were brought to bear on the character of Jeremiah—There were the character and disposition of his mother, and the priestly office of his father. . . . His mind was evidently very sensitive to all the influences of his early life.”[6]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe explains, “Jeremiah faithfully and courageously delivered his sermons to the people; he lifted his supplications to the Lord; he poured out his grief over the sins of the nation; and yet the people only hardened their hearts and stubbornly resisted God's truth.

In an age of unconcern and indecision, Jeremiah was burdened and decisive, and God honored him. Humanly speaking, his ministry was a failure, but from the divine perspective, he was an outstanding success. We need men and women of Jeremiah's caliber serving in the church and the nation today. There's a price to pay, but there's also a crown to win.”[7]

III. Remember Hilkiah’s Reward from God.

Whether Hilkiah served in relative obscurity or not God will reward his obedience. In his chapter titled “Rewards – Degrees in Heaven,” Dr. T. T. Martin (1862-1939) correctly affirms, “The poorest most ignorant and obscure can have just as great rewards as the richest, most learned, most applauded.” Dr. Martin exclaims, “How good God is to provide that the poor, the ignorant, the obscure, can have just as great rewards as the more fortunate ones (Mark 12:41-42)!” He further explains, “How good God is to say, ‘if any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire’! – 1 Cor. 3:15. The objection that the teaching of rewards in Heaven makes Christianity too matter-of-fact is not well taken. Punishments or rewards last through all eternity; with the unredeemed, in added degrees to the punishment in Hell; with the redeemed, in added rewards in Heaven. And they need to realize that with both classes this applies to the smallest deeds: ‘But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment.’—Matt. 12:36. ‘And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.’—Matt. 10:42. Neither is the objection well taken that to teach men to aim to have rewards in Heaven is appealing to an unworthy motive. Jesus taught it (Matt. 6:20), Paul taught it (1 Cor. 3:11-15), Moses endorsed it (Heb. 11:26), and the objector himself prays for God’s blessings here in this life. Nor is the objection well founded, that for people to aim to have rewards will destroy the motive of love. Rather, it adds to the motive of love. The father gives his son, yet not of age, a fine farm. That arouses the boy’s love. The father tells that boy that, though not of age, he may have the full reward of his labor on the farm, beginning at once. This does not destroy the motive of love. So, the Saviour, having died for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3), and given us eternal life (John 10:28, 29), arouses our love; to give us the privilege of having rewards in addition to salvation (Matt. 6:20), does not destroy our love, but increases it. There is one limitation God’s word makes to our deeds being rewarded: ‘Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men to be seen of them: else ye have no reward with your Father who is in Heaven. When therefore thou doest alms, sound not a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward. But when thou does alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.’—Matt. 6:1-4. If a redeemed man does his righteous deeds in order to get glory as reward here, he gets it, but none in Heaven,--the wrong motive prevents receiving rewards in Heaven. God rewards according to the motive.”[8]


What about your relationship with God?

What about your responsibility to God?

What about your reward from God?

When you think about the celebration of Father’s Day remember Jeremiah’s father.

[1]F. B. Huey, Jr., The New American Commentary: Jeremiah, Lamentations, Volume 16, (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1993), 21

[2]J. Vernon McGee, “Jeremiah 1:1,” Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Database WORDsearch Corp.

[3]Matthew Henry, An Exposition of all the books of the Old and New Testaments; in Five Volumes, Vol. 3, (London: W. Baynes, 1809), Jeremiah 1:1

[4]Tremper Longman III, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series, Jeremiah, Lamentations, “The Superscription,” (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), e-book edition, § 1

[5]Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.., Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M, & Rev. David Brown, D.D., Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary: Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Edinburgh: Collins & Company, 1871), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.

[6]F. B. Meyer, Jeremiah: Priest and Prophet, (London: Morgan and Scott, Ltd., n.d.), 19

[7]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Prophets, 103, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.

[8]T. T. Martin, God’s Plan With Men, (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1912), 111, 115, 116

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527

Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / [email protected] / (251) 626-6210

© June 16, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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