Scripture reading – Jeremiah 1

 

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The Book of Jeremiah is both biographical and prophetic. It was written by the prophet whose name it bears and is the account of his ministry to the tribe and people of Judah. Fifty-two chapters long, the Book spanned fifty-four years, beginning with Judah’s revival under the reign of King Josiah and ending with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple during the reign of King Zedekiah in 587 BC.

 

Jeremiah 1 – The Calling of a Prophet of God

 

Jeremiah’s ministry was to a people who had turned from God. Like Israel, Judah had broken God’s covenant and disobeyed His commandments. For such a time, the LORD called Jeremiah to stand in the gap and warn His people that should they fail to repent, they would suffer the consequences of their broken covenant.

Jeremiah’s ministry began during the reign of Josiah (est. 640 BC to 609 BC) and continued through the reigns of four wicked kings: Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chronicles 36). He was a Levite by birth, and his father was Hilkiah, a priest who was a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses (Jeremiah 1:1). Anathoth, his hometown, was only about three miles northeast of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 1:1; Joshua 21:15-19). Therefore, Jeremiah was familiar with the culture and politics of Jerusalem.

 

The Sovereignty, Foreknowledge and Calling of the LORD (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

God’s call would have turned Jeremiah’s world upside down. Like his father, Jeremiah was destined to live in the obscurity of a small town (Anathoth, Jeremiah 1:1). One day, in the 13th year of Josiah’s reign (Jeremiah 1:2), the LORD spoke to Jeremiah and asserted that he was called to be a prophet even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:4-5).

Of that revelation, Jeremiah wrote, “Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified [consecrated; set apart] thee, and I ordained [appointed] thee a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Before he was born, Jeremiah was “sanctified” (set apart; dedicated) by God, and “ordained unto the nations” of the world (Jeremiah 1:5).

Spiritual Truth – In the same way the LORD knew Jeremiah before He was conceived, He knew you and me. Think about it: He knows your talents, gifts, and abilities. He discerns your strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing about you that the LORD does not know. He knows you better than you know yourself! (Psalm 139:15-16)

The Sovereignty, Foreknowledge and Calling of the LORD

Jeremiah’s Objections to the LORD’s Call (Jeremiah 1:6-8) 

Notice that Jeremiah had to overcome two fears to fulfill God’s calling on his life. The first was the fear of inadequacy. Jeremiah protested, “LORD God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6). 

The prophet was not a child in the chronological sense, but he was a young, inexperienced man. The thought of being a prophet in the midst of an ungodly people was intimidating and overwhelming. Yet, the LORD answered Jeremiah’s protest with an exhortation and said, “Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak” (Jeremiah 1:7).

Jeremiah’s second objection to the LORD’s calling was one that we all suffer from… the fear of man. God answered Jeremiah’s “fear of man” and commanded him, saying, “8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 1:8b). To serve the LORD and fulfill his calling, the prophet learned a principle all who serve the LORD must know: “The fear of man bringeth a snare: But whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

 

The Breadth of Jeremiah’s Ministry (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

Having assured Jeremiah that He was with him, “The LORD said unto [Jeremiah], Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. 10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:9b-10).

From heaven’s perspective, Jeremiah was a messenger of the LORD. From man’s perspective, however, he was a troublemaker, an antagonist, called “to root out [sin], and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jeremiah 1:10).

 

Jeremiah’s Message – Imminent Judgment (Jeremiah 1:11-19)

As we shall see in our study of the Book of Jeremiah, the prophet often employs object lessons and symbolism in His preaching. In the closing verses of Jeremiah 1, we find the LORD doing the same as He presented the prophet with three assurances that would strengthen his call to Judah (Jeremiah 1:11-19).

The Vision of a Boiling Pot

1st Assurance – The Vision of an Almond Tree: God’s Word will soon be fulfilled. (Jeremiah 1:11-12)

Jeremiah’s ministry would be like the blossoms of an almond tree, which are the first to blossom in the Holy Land (Jeremiah 1:11). His calling was to awaken God’s people out of their spiritual apathy and warn them that God’s judgment was imminent. His words would soon be fulfilled (Jeremiah 1:12).

 

2nd Assurance – The Vision of a Boiling Pot: God’s wrath will be poured out. (Jeremiah 1:13-16)

The Middle East has always been a boiling caldron of nations at war. Even today, it is a place of bloodshed and violence. Prophetically, Israel is the site where the nations will gather against Israel for the final battle the Bible calls Armageddon (Revelation 16:16; Zechariah 14:1-3; Joel 3:16).  

The vision of “an evil” coming out of the north was fulfilled when Nebuchadnezzar’s army descended upon Judah (Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 39:1,3). God’s people had broken their covenant with Him (Exodus 20:3-6) and foolishly “worshipped the works of their own hands” (Jeremiah 1:16).

 

3rd Assurance – Three Metaphors (Jeremiah 1:17-18)

Jeremiah’s task was unpopular and dangerous; however, the LORD promised to protect and empower him (Jeremiah 1:17-19). He commanded the prophet, “Gird up thy loins,” for there was no time to delay. “Speak unto them all that I command thee (Jeremiah 1:17c). Assuring Jeremiah that He would give him power and protection; the LORD declared, “For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced [fortified] city, and an iron pillar [strong as a column of iron], and brasen [bronze] walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land” (Jeremiah 1:18).

 

Closing thoughts

Jeremiah became an unpopular prophet and was hated and despised by his people. The LORD warned him, “They shall fight [make war] against thee, but they shall not prevail [overcome] against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD [affirm; declare], to deliver [rescue] thee” (Jeremiah 1:19).

What an encouragement to those who dare to teach, preach, and declare God’s Word! The LORD is with us! Let us, therefore, in the words of the apostle Paul,

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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