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.
AN ACCOUNT OF THE CALL AND CONSECRATION OF JEREMIAH
TO THE PROPHETIC OFFICE, FOLLOWED BY TWO EXPRESSIVE
SYMBOLS OF THE MATTERS WHICH HE HAS TO ANNOUNCE.
1 “The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in
Anathoth in the
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
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
There are some indications that the original form of the heading has been
somewhat modified. Notice:
characteristic formulae for introducing a prophecy (compare ch. 14:1;
46:1; 47:1; 49:34); and notice
(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
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.
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.
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
the peoples in relation to
"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"
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:
(compare Ibid. ch. 40:6); it represents a real experience.
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
(see ch. 4:6; 6:1, 22; 10:22). Strictly speaking, they were an eastern people from
the point of view of
had to take entered
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
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
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
continues – “and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all
the cities of
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
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
added — would mean the king who from time to time happened to be reigning.
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
Vision - a Divine gift to all - "where there is no vision the
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
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
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
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
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
idea of a Divine righteousness arising to inflict
merited punishment on an awfully corrupt and
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
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.
means the king who from time to time happened to
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
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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