Jeremiah 1


THE name of Jeremiah at once suggests the ideas of trouble and lamentation;

and not without too much historical ground. Jeremiah was, in fact, not only

“the evening star of the declining day of prophecy,” but the herald of the

dissolution of the Jewish commonwealth.






1  “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in

Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:  Jeremiah had the advantage of being the son

of a priest and a religious education from childhood. 


2 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, unto the end of the

eleventh year (The limit is accurate with regard to chapters 1-39. The later

prophecies have a superscription of their own (see ch. 40:1.) of Zedekiah the son

of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the

fifth month.”


There are some indications that the original form of the heading has been

somewhat modified. Notice:


  • that the words with which v. 2 opens are identical with one of Jeremiah’s

characteristic formulae for introducing a prophecy (compare ch. 14:1;

46:1; 47:1; 49:34); and notice


  • the awkward connection of vs. 1 and 2, and 2 and 3 respectively.

(The Septuagint has endeavored to efface this awkwardness in part,

and is so far unfaithful to the original record, but probably preserves

an earlier form of the opening words, to<rJh~ma tou~ Qeou~). It is a

reasonable conjecture that the passage originally ran thus: “The word

 of the LORD which came to Jeremiah in the days of Josiah,”  vs.

1 and 3 being added later, which involved a change in the construction.


Jeremiah lived in an age of national decay - his mission lasted around 40 yrs. and

five reigns.  He closed his mission in the middle of national ruin - he saw the

fulfillment of the warnings but not the promises of restoration.  He is a  prophet of



                                    The Call of Jeremiah (vs. 4-19)


4  “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,” - For the change of

person, compare Ezekiel 1:4.  Forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem by

Nebuchadnezzar - God mercifully delays His execution of His threats to give man

time for repentance - the forbearance of God which postpones the day does not

prevent justice which ultimately  comes upon the impenitent.


Eccl. 8:11-13


Jeremiah is to declare God's judgments against His people - at the

end there is mention of building and planting but the chief

charge is the opposite - spare no class, no rank, no order,

kings, princes, priests and people.


We are not to soften or water down God's words against

sin and sinners - beware lest the blood of those who perish,

because you warned them not, be required at your hands.


Ezek. 33:6


Prepare  - Stand in the gap and make up the hedge -


"Lord help me to walk with you as Enoch walked"


5   “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee;” -  i.e. took notice of thee;

virtually equivalent to selected thee (compare Genesis 39:6; Amos 3:2; Isaiah 58:3;

Psalm 144:3). Observe, the predestination of individuals is a familiar idea in

 the Old Testament (compare Isaiah 45:4; 49:1; Psalm 139:16) – “and before

thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee,” -  i.e. set thee apart for

holy uses – “and I ordained” -  rather, appointed“thee a prophet unto the

nations.”  Jeremiah’s prophecies, in fact, have reference not only to Israel, but to

the peoples in relation to Israel (v. 10; ch. 25:15-16; chapters 46-51)


                        "knew thee" - individually - a must.


A call - it is consistent with human freedom and action that one can fail to realize

God's idea of one's life.


Until we review life as a whole we shall not be able to interpret the meaning of its

several parts.  We cannot judge of the architect's design by examining the separate

stones which like scattered around the builder's yard.


The elect are chosen instruments for benefiting the whole world - a channel of blessing

like Abraham - God fits all of us for some service - it should make us inquire what that

God's will is for us rather than carving out a career for ourselves.


There is a Divine idea for our lives that God expects us to realize!


God is the Fashioner of all mankind - we need to find out what God would

have us be - He will assure - He will not fail - it is an awful thought for a sinner, in

the collapse of his own plans, to understand that he might have been successful

and rejoicing if there had been obedience to God!


6   “Then said I, Ah, Lord God!” -  rather, Alas, O Lord Jehovah! It is a cry of

alarm and pain, and recurs in ch. 4:10; 14:13; 32:17 – “behold, I cannot speak:

for I am a child.”  (lacking confidence - God provides the means for overcoming

 our lack - Exodus 4:10-17; John 1:12) -  I am too young to support such an office.

The word rendered “child” is used elsewhere of youths nearly grown up (compare      

Genesis 34:19; 41:12; I Kings 3:7).


7 “But the Lord said unto me, 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.  8  Be not afraid of their faces:  for I am with thee to deliver

thee, saith the Lord.”- "be not afraid.....for I am with thee"  - God gives the

messenger an authority which the consciences of men will recognize even when

their perversity causes them to disobey.  Thoughts of self are altogether out of

place in one who has received a Divine commission. Jeremiah’s duty is simple

obedience. In pursuing this path he cannot but be safe!


He confers not with flesh and blood – With God’s help, for forty years

Jeremiah patiently withstands  the tide of iniquity and adversity.


            "thou shalt go" - "thou shalt speak"  - as an ambassador -

            armed with his master's authority and power - it does

            not depend on us - The Holy Spirit will give you in that

            hour what ye ought to speak - Luke 12:11-12


            "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet"


                                                Heb. 4:12


            You the messenger - God the Speaker   - A sent man with a

            provided message - Christ, the Sent - "This is the work of God

            that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" - John 6:29


In the center of God's will, you never have to worry about the

wrong place and the wrong time.


A depraved world will give the bad eye, the sharp tongue, the frown, all will

be joined in strong combination to express contempt and hatred from the mind

and heart of a rebellious world.


9   “Then the Lord put forth His hand, and touched my mouth.” -  literally,

caused (His hand) to touch my mouth. Jeremiah had said that he was unskilled

in oratory; the Divine answer is that the words which he has to speak are not his

own, but those of Jehovah. Two things are obvious:


  • The touching of the lips is not purely metaphorical, as in Psalm 51:15

      (compare Ibid. ch. 40:6); it represents a real experience.


  • This experience, however, can only have been a visionary one, analogous to

      that vouchsafed to Isaiah at the opening of his prophetic ministry (Isaiah 6).

      In the grand account given by Isaiah of his inaugural vision (which has

      evidently influenced the form of the vision of Jeremiah), we read of the

      same significant act on the part of one of the seraphim. It is the

            same act, certainly, but it symbolizes, not as here the communication of a

            prophetic message (compare Matthew 10:19), but the purification of the

            lips. Does it not seem as if Isaiah had attained a deeper insight into the

            spiritual regeneration needed by the prophet than had been granted to

            Jeremiah? Another point in which Jeremiah’s account seems inferior to that

            of Isaiah is plastic power. “And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have

            put my words in thy mouth.”  Notice how Jeremiah dwells upon the

            meaning of the words; this is a reflective element which diminishes the poetic

            power of the narrative. A word may be added to explain that “visionary” is

            not here used in opposition to “based on fact.”


Not your own words but Jehovah's - Jeremiah's power was not from the secular.


            "touched my mouth....Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth"


The prophet is nothing in himself, he is God's servant.


The power is not reason nor eloquence but is found in the truth of the

 message, the power of right - justice, purity, goodness.


10  “See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms,”

- literally, I have made thee an overseer, or vicegerent (compare Genesis 41:34;

Judges 9:28, where the Authorized Version renders the cognate noun “officer”)

- “to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to

build, and to plant.”  viz. by pronouncing that Divine judgment which fulfils itself

(compare ch. 5:14; Numbers 23:25; Isaiah 9:8-9; 55:11). As there is so much

more threatening than promise in Jeremiah’s writings, the destructive

side of his activity is expressed by four verbs, the constructive only by two.


Four destructive verbs - "root out"  - "pull down" - "destroy" - "throw down"

compare to two constructive ones - "build"    "plant"


A ministry for a corrupt age - ministers will not be produced by it but will be given

from God - "See I have set thee".


They may or may not come out of the seminaries and will make no compromise

with sin as often, liberal and uncommitted graduates do!


The destructive agencies of God are simply intended to clear off obstructions and

make the way for a new and better order.


            Consider II Peter 3:7-15a           Hebrews 12:25-28


They say that the era of the Reformation was a destructive one.


Now we have the account in vs. 11-16 of two trials or probations of Jeremiah’s

inner sight (II Kings 6:17). Two visions are granted him, which he is required to

describe.  The first expresses the certainty of his prophetic revelation; the second

indicates its contents.


11  “Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah,

what seest thou?  And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.”  The name here

adopted for the almond tree is peculiarly suitable in this connection. It means

“wakeful;” the almond, blossoming in January, is the first to “wake” from the

sleep of winter.


12   “Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen:  for I will hasten

my word to perform it.”  -  literally, I am wakeful over my word; alluding to

the meaning of the Hebrew word for almond.


13  “And the word of the Lord came unto me the second time, saying,

What seest thou?  And I said, I see a seething pot;” -  There is a variety

of Hebrew words for “pot.”  The word here used suggests a vessel of large size,

since pottage for a whole company of prophets could be cooked in such. a pot

or caldron (II Kings 4:38). From Ezekiel 24:11 we may infer that it was of metal.

A“seething pot” in ancient Arabic poetry is a figure for war. The same

symbol occurs Ezekiel 24:3-12, but with a different application – “and the

face thereof is toward the north.” -  rather, toward the south; literally, from

the face of the north. The “face” of the pot is the side turned to the

prophet. We may suppose the contents to be on the point of boiling over.


14  “Then the Lord said unto me, Out of the north” - Previously to the battle

of Carchemish, the Babylonians are only mentioned vaguely as a northern people

(see ch. 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22). Strictly speaking, they were an eastern people from

the point of view of Palestine; but the caravan-road which the Chaldaean armies

had to take entered Palestine at Dan (compare ch. 4:15; 8:16), and then proceeded

southward – “an evil” -  rather, the evil; viz. the calamity which in deepening gloom

forms the burden of the prophet’s discourses -  “shall break forth upon all the

inhabitants of the land.” -  literally, shall open; i.e. let loose by opening (compare

the use of the same verb in Isaiah 14:17, literally, “looseth not his prisoners

homewards;” and Amos 8:5, literally, “that we may open,” i.e. “bring

forth wheat”). There is, however, some difficulty in explaining the choice of this

expression. We might indeed suppose that the caldron had a lid, and that the removal

or falling off of this lid is the “opening” referred to by the phrase.


15   “For, lo, I will call” - literally, I am calling; i.e. I am about to call – “all the

families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord;” -  alluding possibly to

the varied origin of the population of Assyria and Babylonia. But more probably it

is simply a suggestive phrase, for the wide extent of the hostile empire referred to

(compare ch. 25:9) -  “and they shall come, and they shall set every one his

throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem,” – The kings, or. the, generals,

representing “all the families, shall set up the high seat of power and judicial authority

at the broad space within the gate of the city, which constituted the Oriental forum

(compare Genesis 23:10; Joshua 20:4; Job 29:7; 31:21). Thither the besieged would

have to come to surrender themselves (II Kings 24:12) and to hear their fate. A

similar prediction is made with regard to Nebuchadnezzar (ch. 43:9-10). It is true the

seat of authority is there said to be placed at the entrance of the palace, but this was

in fact another place where justice was wont to be administered (ch. 22:2-3). The

judgment executed ministerially by the northern kings or generals began with the siege

of Jerusalem and the other cities, and hence the words with which the prophet

continues – “and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all

the cities of Judah.”  We should have expected something like “and shall set

themselves in array against,” (compare Isaiah 22:7b).


16  “And I will utter my judgments against them” -  or, I will hold a court of

 justice upon them; literally, I will speak judgments with them. The expression is

peculiar to Jeremiah (compare 4:12; 12:1; 39:6; 52:9), and includes both the

examination of the accused, and the judicial sentence (see ch. 39:5; 52:9) - 

“touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have  burned

incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.”

Their “wickedness,” i.e. their infidelity to Jehovah, showed itself in burning incense

to “other gods,” and bowing down to their images. “Burned incense” is, however,

too narrow a sense. The root-meaning of the verb is to be fragrant, and the

causative conjugations will strictly mean only “to make a sweet odor,” whether by

the offering of incense or by burnt offerings (compare ch.11:12; II Kings 23:8, where

a causative conjugation is used in the same wide sense here postulated; also Psalm

66:15 and Isaiah 1:13, where the word usually rendered “incense” seems rather to

mean “a sweet smoke”). The prophet says, “of other gods” (not “of false gods”),

out of consideration for the ignorance of his hearers, to whom Baal and Moloch

really were as gods; in fact, that expressive word (cf.) which Isaiah uses ten times

to express the unreality of the other so-called gods, occurs only once, and then

not in quite the same sense (see ch. 14:14) in Jeremiah. But the prophet’s own

strict monotheism is proved by such passages as ch. 2:27a; 8:19b; 16:20.


17  “Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them

all that I command thee:” -  as an Oriental does before making any kind

of physical exertion, whether walking (Exodus 12:11; II Kings 4:29), running

(I  Kings 18:46), or fighting (Job 12:18) – “be not dismayed at their faces,

lest I confound thee before them.”  A want of confidence on Jeremiah’s

part will issue in his utter discomfiture by his enemies. “Dismay” in Hebrew

has a twofold reference, subjective (“dismay”) and objective (“ruin,”

“discomfiture”). Both references can be illustrated from this verse. (Compare

the command and — v. 18 — promise to Jeremiah with the command and promise

to Ezekiel 3:8-9.)


18  “For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced  city, and an iron

pillar, and brasen walls” - The plural is used instead of a collective term

for the whole circle of fortifications. In the parallel passage (ch.15:20) the singular

occurs; the same alternation of plural and singular as in II Kings 25:10; I Kings 3:1.

The combination of figures strikingly expresses the invincibility of one whose

strength is in his God -  “against the whole land, against the kings

of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and

against the people of the land.”  Why the plural? Most reply, Because Jeremiah

would have to do with successive sovereigns. But this meaning would have been

just as well conveyed by the singular: “the king of Judah,” without any name being

added — would mean the king who from time to time happened to be reigning.

“Kings of Judah in Jeremiah seems to have a special meaning, and to include

all the members of the royal family, who formed a numerous and powerful class

(see on ch. 17:20).


19  “And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail

against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee.”



vs. 11-13 - "Jeremiah, what seest thou?"

                  "thou has well seen" - very important that

                     God's messenger sees well - the welfare of

                     multitudes may depend upon the faithfulness

                     of one.


Vision - a Divine gift to all - "where there is no vision the

            people perish"


            the almond rod - early budder - hastening ills that

            are produced by the populace - idolatry - the sin of

            which God is most intolerant  - the transfer of affection

            and trust, due only to God, given to another - an insult

            to God and degrading to man.


"Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name" - so the

Psalmist says.


God is not slothful - He is awake and always right on time!


The second - "what seest thou"  - "a seething pot" -


Destruction - boiling over -  bad/destructive   soon/bad


Rapid growth - almond

Rapid brewing - seething pot


Jerusalem was drawn in the vortex - a whirlpool - of

Egypt and Babylon - today terrorism and gangs.


When the rain began to fall in Noah's day, it was too late

for any to find refuge in the ark.  When the Jews saw the

hosts of Nebuchadnezzar, it was too late to save the

country from ruin.  It is foolish to neglect the salvation of

God until we discern His judgment looming over us.


"Today, if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts"


Jeremiah's motive - the nearness of the impending doom

that was particular to that age.


No calamity or disaster is without meaning - each of them,

even a tsunami, says  "I have a message from God unto thee".

(see Luke 21:25)


It will increase in severity if need be  - vials of Revelation.




The first emblem - an almond tree is symbolic of gentleness

rather than severity but the second vision - a boiling cauldron,

suggests a far worst visitation.


God leaves nothing undone in His attempt to warn and save

men.  He would not have His message miss its mark by

reason of any deep impression.


A transgressor against God is safe nowhere!


v. 14 - the lid blown off - John Tuttle story - a homemade hot water tank blew up

and a fourth of the barn went with it - August of 1950 or 1951 - the noise was

heard around 3 am in Somerset which was about 6 miles away -  letting off steam.


Gradually prepared - slowly percolating - slowly heated

until it boils over - violent - overwhelming - scalding.


Fury - Ezekiel 38:18  


For a God defying wickedness - in your face  - like

Hollywood - ACLU - Judicial Branch of the US



v. 16 - "I will utter my judgments" - I will hold a court

            of justice upon them - includes examination of

            the accused (they shall be brought) and judicial




10 yrs, 30 yrs, life with hope of parole, life without parole,

or a death sentence is nothing compared with you before

God and His judgment is "Depart from me ye workers of

iniquity, I never knew you"


An existence without love, light, without God!


Let any one read Gibbon, and from his account of the

decline and fall of the Roman empire, you would gather no

idea of a Divine righteousness arising to inflict

merited punishment on an awfully corrupt and

degraded people.


Elkton radio station - secularization of Christian's

children - shooting of the bus driver in neighboring

Stewart County, TN, a baseball bat in a local school

to settle differences - leaks out even though it is

very evident that those in authority do not want the

general public to know the state of the schools-

$135,000 is paid for people to make necessary though

unpopular decisions, not to neglect duty and collect.


The unconcern of men - their powerlessness to

understand or discern the times, characterize ungodly

men - Lot seemed to his sons-in-law as one that



v. 17 - "Arise...speak unto them all that I command

            thee:  be not dismayed at their faces"


"Gird up you loins of your mind" - I Pet. 1:13

  - play the man - avail yourself of the help assured -


A lack of faith will cause you to utterly fail.




"kings of Judah - without any name being added -

means the king who from time to time happened to

be reigning.


Be fearless - truth is not private property - it is

treason for the ambassador to suppress those elements

of his commission which are displeasing to himself.


The servant of God must not select from the revelation

of Divine truth the words which suit his purpose and

neglect the rest.  He is not to shun to declare "the whole

counsel of God" - threats as well as promises, difficult

sayings and mysteries as well as plainly acceptable



These remedies are for the highest welfare of mankind.


Don't turn the back - the Christian has no armor for

his back.


God made Jeremiah a defenced city/a brasen wall/ an

iron pillar - none are so independent before men as they

who are wholly dependent upon God!



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