Jeremiah 1: The Setting and Call of Jeremiah
1: v.1-3: The Historical Context
Introducing Jeremiah and the length of his ministry
words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth
in the territory of Benjamin.
word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign
of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,
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.
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.]
2: v.4-19: The call of Jeremiah
The Lord's long-term goal for calling Jeremiah
word of the Lord came to me, saying,
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.'
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.]
Jeremiah's objection and the Lord's persistence
Sovereign Lord ,' I said, ‘I do not know how to speak; I am too
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.
not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,'
declares the Lord.
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.]
The Lord imparts the ability to speak and reveals the extent of
the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to
me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth.
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.'
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
His first vision & interpretation
word of the Lord came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?'
see the branch of an almond tree,' I replied.
Lord said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching to
see that my word is fulfilled.'
His second vision and interpretation
word of the Lord came to me again: ‘What do you see?'
see a pot that is boiling,' I answered. ‘It is tilting towards
us from the north.'
Lord said to me, ‘From the north disaster will be poured out on
all who live in the land.
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.]
God shares His intention to judge His people
am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,'
declares the Lord.
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.
will pronounce my judgments on my people
of their wickedness in forsaking
in [ii] burning incense to
and in [iii] worshipping
what their hands have made.
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.]
A threefold instruction
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.
A threefold encouragement
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.
A final warning and encouragement
will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with
you and will rescue you,' declares the Lord.
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].
the light of the years that follow, we can see that these are
significant and necessary encouragements and warnings.]
to Chapter 2