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FRAMEWORKS: Jeremiah 1: The Setting and Call of Jeremiah


PART 1: v.1-3: The Historical Context


v.1-3 Introducing Jeremiah and the length of his ministry

v.1  The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.

v.2  The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,

v.3  and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.


[Comment: Jeremiah is shown to be from a priestly family who lived some three miles north-east of Jerusalem [v.1]. Josiah had come to the throne in 639BC and so it was about 626BC that Jeremiah received his first word from the Lord [v.2]. Twelve appears to so often be the age of maturity for a Jewish family and so it is possible that Jeremiah was born about 638. Verses 2 & 3 name three of the kings through whose reigns he ministered; the two absent kings of this period are probably omitted because they both only lasted three months.]



PART 2: v.4-19: The call of Jeremiah


v.4,5 The Lord's long-term goal for calling Jeremiah

v.4  The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

v.5  ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart;
    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'


[Comment: Jeremiah is told by the Lord that He has been watching over him from before conception, and He has called to him to be a prophet to the world – implied not just to Judah.]



v.6-8 Jeremiah's objection and the Lord's persistence

v.6  ‘Alas, Sovereign Lord ,' I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too young.'

v.7  But the Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am too young.” You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.

v.8  Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord.


[Comment: Jeremiah, rather like Moses [Ex 4:10], expresses his sense of inadequacy but the Lord tells him He just looks for his obedience to speak to whoever he's sent, and speak what he's told to speak and the Lord will look after him.]



v.9,10 The Lord imparts the ability to speak and reveals the extent of his ministry

v.9  Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth.

v.10  See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to [i] uproot and tear down, to [ii] destroy and overthrow, to [iii] build and to plant.'


[Comment: The implication of touching his lips suggests an impartation of power to speak to whole nations with a threefold objective: first, to pull up and uproot established, ongoing, corrupt attitudes and behaviours, second to completely destroy such outlooks and activities and remove them from the life of the various peoples to whom he must go, and then third, to build up any good that is remaining and, indeed, plant news ways among these peoples. i.e. removing the old corrupt ways, bringing back the new ways of God.]


v.11,12 His first vision & interpretation

v.11  The word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?'

‘I see the branch of an almond tree,' I replied.

v.12  The Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'


v.13,14 His second vision and interpretation

v.13  The word of the Lord came to me again: ‘What do you see?'

‘I see a pot that is boiling,' I answered. ‘It is tilting towards us from the north.'

v.14  The Lord said to me, ‘From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land.


[Comment: Jeremiah is given two pictures and told to describe them – to teach him to watch such things carefully. The first was an almond tree, the first to bud in spring, indicating the Lord was watching (like a gardener) for his word to soon bud – and be fulfilled soon. The second was a boiling pot pointing from the north, indicting His judgment would be coming from the north, i.e. by an invader from north of Israel.]



v.15,16 God shares His intention to judge His people

v.15  I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,' declares the Lord.

‘Their kings will come and set up their thrones
    in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem;
they will come against all her surrounding walls
    and against all the towns of Judah.
v.16  I will pronounce my judgments on my people
[i] of their wickedness in forsaking me,
[ii] burning incense to other gods
    and in
[iii] worshipping what their hands have made.


[Comment: Having declared the basics, the Lord expands on His purposes: people from the north will invade and set up outside Jerusalem having poured through all the towns of Judah. He will do this as an act of specific judgment on His people in Judah because they had a) turned away from Him, b) worshipped other gods, and c) worshipped man-made idols. It is a condemnation that will be repeated again and again.]



v.17 A threefold instruction

v. [i] ‘Get yourself ready! [ii] Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. [iii] Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them.


v.18 A threefold encouragement

v.18  Today I have made you [i] a fortified city, [ii] an iron pillar and [iii] bronze wall to stand against the whole land – against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.


v.19 A final warning and encouragement

v.19  They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord.


[Comment: In the final verses of the chapter we

- first of all, see the Lord instructing Jeremiah a) to get ready for this ministry, b) settle in his heart that he will speak whatever God gives him to speak and c) not to let fear overcome him [v.17],

- second, realise the strength that the Lord has given by giving him a threefold picture – a town that has been strengthened and fortified and impregnable, an iron pillar that speaks of strength and sasetability, and a bronze wall, impervious to attack. If he can hold on to these pictures he should be strengthened [v.18],

- third, see the seriousness of this calling – he will be resisted but the people will not overcome him because the Lord will always be there with him to rescue him. [v.19].

In the light of the years that follow, we can see that these are significant and necessary encouragements and warnings.]



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