THE FAITHFUL PROPHET DRAWS COURAGE FROM HIS DIVINE CALLING TO COMMUNICATE ALL THAT GOD HAS REVEALED
This is our introduction to the “Weeping Prophet.” Jeremiah will reflect an unusual depth of emotion as he laments the sins of Judah and God’s imminent judgment. Here he receives his call to the ministry to perform the unique role that God has predetermined for him before birth. We need to make application to the unique giftedness and role that God has for us in His kingdom program. There may be reluctance and a sense of inadequacy … but we must come to embrace that role and trust in God’s grace and sufficiency.
Mackay: Jeremiah’s prophetic mission was in the first instance to a religiously blind and decadent age, trying to arrest its decline before it became totally plunged into disaster. This is the most remarkable fact about the book: that even when God’s message had been spurned, he continued to speak; even when his people stubbornly refused to respond to his entreaties, he was still concerned for them and addressed them.
THE FAITHFUL PROPHET DRAWS COURAGE FROM HIS DIVINE CALLING TO COMMUNICATE ALL THAT GOD HAS REVEALED
A. (:1) Human Author = Jeremiah the Faithful Prophet Identified
1. By Name
“The words of Jeremiah,”
Name means either “Yahweh loosens (the womb)” or “Yahweh exalts”
2. By Family
“the son of Hilkiah,”
3. By Status
“of the priests who were in Anathoth”
Ryken: He was born in the village of Anathoth, close enough to Jerusalem to see the city walls, but at the edge of the wilderness, where the land slopes down to the Dead Sea.
4. By Location
“in the land of Benjamin”
B. (:2a) Divine Origin and Authority
“to whom the word of the LORD came”
C. (:2b-3) Historical Timeframe and Setting
1. (:2-3a) During
a. (:2) Days of Josiah
“in the days of Josiah, the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.”
b. (:3a) Days of Jehoiakim
“It came also in the days of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah,”
2. (:3b) Until
a. Dated by Kingdom Ruler
“until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah,”
b. Dated by Defining Historical Event
“until the exile of Jerusalem in the fifth month.”
Thompson: This event was a climax to Jeremiah’s preaching and a demonstration of his authenticity as a genuine prophet of Yahweh, for in that even the basic thrust of his prophecy was fulfilled.
I. (:4-10) COMMISSIONING OF JEREMIAH’S CALLING –
TWO MAJOR THEMES = MESSAGE OF JUDGMENT AND RESTORATION
A. (:4-5) Role Predetermined – Sense of Mission
“Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’”
Thompson: If ever Jeremiah in later days was overtaken by despair he could know that the divine purpose for him reached back before his birth.
1. Intimate Personal Connection — “I knew you”
Involves more than just factual information … but approval, choice and personal commitment
2. Set Apart for Divine Purposes — “I consecrated you”
Jeremiah was called to perform a specific task
Mackay: emphasis not on personal holiness as such, but on being designated to perform a specific function in divine service
3. Invested with Divine Authority — “I appointed you”
B. (:6-8) Reluctance Refuted – Dealing with Inadequacy
1. (:6) Youthful Hesitancy
“Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth.’”
Two areas of hesitation: Inexperience and youth
2. (:7-8) Divine Direction, Enablement and Reassurance
“But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, I am a youth, Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.”
Our human inadequacy is always the backdrop for God’s enablement
2 Cor. 3:5
Ryken: When God gives his servants a clear calling, he does not accept any excuses. . . With God’s calling comes God’s gifting.
Utley: God never sends anyone out alone. His greatest provision is His personal presence (cf. vv. 8b,19). He goes along to help (i.e., Matt. 28:20) and to equip for the task assigned (i.e., Eph. 4:12).
Wiersbe: We call Jeremiah “the weeping prophet,” and he was (9:1), but he was also a courageous man who faced many dangers and trials and remained true to the Lord. He knew that the Lord was with him.
Parunak: Two prohibitions, each with its reasons.
1. 7, Don’t say, “I am a child.”
Reason: what JEREMIAH will do. He is not on his own initiative; should not worry about where to go, or what to do, for in both these the Lord will direct him.
2. 8, Don’t be afraid of them.
Reason: What GOD will do. Cf. v.17.
a) Be with him, Cf. Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5.
b) Deliver him, 2 Tim. 4:17,18, Paul’s sense of the Lord’s presence to deliver him.
C. (:9-10) Results Predicted – Both Destroying (Judgment) and Building (Restoration) – Balanced Message
“Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant.’”
Feinberg: As tangible evidence that he had empowered Jeremiah, in a spiritual experience God touched Jeremiah’s mouth. Thus he was inspired to speak God’s truth, and thus the impartation of the divine message was indicated to him. From then on Jeremiah’s words would be truly God’s, and he would actually become a mouthpiece for God (cf. Isa 6:7).
Thompson: Jeremiah would clearly have preferred not to speak about uprooting, pulling down, destroying, and demolishing the nation, and at times he clearly wished to escape that task (cf. 20:7-9). A far more agreeable task would have been to speak of building and planting. But he did comparatively little of this constructive preaching and a great deal of the destructive kind.
Longman: The message he is commissioned to deliver is not just focused on Judah, but over nations and kingdoms. Most explicitly, we will see this in the oracles against the nations (chs. 46-51).
Utley: The first four speak of judgment, but the last two of renewal and restoration (cf. 18:7-10; 31:40). It is interesting that Jeremiah repeats this phrasing in 31:28, where he switches to an emphasis on restoration and deliverance. This phrase then becomes a literary marker for the two opposite prophecies Jeremiah is to speak to “the nations,” because YHWH is the true “King” of all nations (cf. I Sam. 8:4-9).
II. (:11-16) CONFIRMATION OF JEREMIAH’S CALLING –
TWO CONFIRMING VISIONS = ALMOND TREE AND BOILING POT
A. (:11-12) Vision of Rod of an Almond Tree = Certainty of Fulfillment
1. (:11) Vision
“And the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ And I said, ‘I see a rod of an almond tree.’”
The first tree to bud in spring
Thompson: Just as the early bursting into leaf and bloom of the almond tree heralded the springtime, so the spoken word pointed to its own rapid fulfillment.
Ryken: What is the sign that winter is over and spring is on the way? In the northern United States, the first harbinger of spring is the robin. In my Midwestern childhood, a better indicator of spring was the forsythia bush on the side of the house. When tiny yellow blossoms started to appear on the forsythia, spring was definitely on its way, and the urge to get out a baseball glove was irresistible. In Washington, D.C., cherry blossoms means spring. In Oxford, England, it is daffodils. . . The word for “watching” is the Hebrew shoqed. It sounds very much like the Hebrew for “almond”: shaqed. In fact, those two words – shoqed and shaqed – are different forms of the same word, the word for waking or watching. The almond tree was the waking-tree. It was the first tree to wake up after a long winter’s nap. It was also the watching-tree, the tree one watched for in the spring.
2. (:12) Significance
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.’”
B. (:13-16) Vision of Boiling Pot= Indictment of Judgment
1. (:13) Vision
“And the word of the LORD came to me a second time saying, ‘What do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.’”
Parunak: The AV has it backwards: the face (the opening) of the pot is away from, not towards, the north. A boiling pot, about to spill over and dump its contents from north to south, symbolizing the invasion of the Babylonians, following the fertile crescent, from north to south.
2. (:14-16) Significance
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,’ declares the LORD; ‘and they will come, and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about, and against all the cities of Judah. And I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.”
Mackay: This contrasts with the view that was prevalent in Jerusalem that all would be well with Judah, and that the land was guaranteed immunity from capture – an expectation that would have been reinforced by the evident decline in Assyrian power. Jeremiah is instructed to disabuse the people of these false hopes. Prosperity from God will not come without obedience on their part as required by the covenant.
III. (:17-19) CHARGE OF JEREMIAH’S CALLING
A. (:17) Bold Proclamation – Sense of Urgency
1. (:17a) Content
“Now, gird up your loins, and arise, and speak to them all which I command you.”
Utley: “gird up your loins” This is a Hebrew idiom for “get ready for action” (cf. I Kgs. 18:46; II Kgs. 4:29; 9:1; Eph. 6:14; I Pet. 1:13), which would be similar to our “roll up your sleeves.”
Girding up his loins meant to pull one’s robe through the legs in front and tuck it into the sash, thereby forming tight-fitting shorts, ready for action. This is not the only preparatory action the prophet is told to do.
2. (:17b) Courage
“Do not be dismayed before them, lest I dismay you before them.”
Parunak: Second Reassurance, 17-19 Three natural parts:
– what Jeremiah is to do;
– what the Lord will do;
– and what the people will do.
1. 17, Jeremiah’s responsibility: three positive steps, and one negative.
2. 18a, What God will do. In contrast to Jerusalem, which will fall to the enemy, God will make Jeremiah a fortified city, with iron bolt and brass walls, absolutely invincible in the coming struggle. Application: God’s protection of us may consist, not in removing us from trouble, but in strengthening us to endure in trouble.
3. 18b-19a, What the people will do.
B. (:18-19) Reassuring Promise – Dealing with Danger
1. (:18) Impenetrable – 3 Military Images of Protection
“Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city, and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land.”
Longman: the commission leaves no doubt. Jeremiah is about to enter a war; his opposition will be powerful (kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land) and determined.
2. (:19) Invincible
“’And they will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD.”
Kidner: God does not cut the knot. For Jeremiah or for us, he way in general is not to stop the fight but to stand by the fighter.
Wiersbe: Measured by human standards, his ministry was a failure, but measured by the will of God, he was a great success. It isn’t easy to stand alone, to resist the crowd, and to be out of step with the philosophies and values of the times. Jeremiah, however, lived that kind of a life for over forty years.