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      Jeremiah 1

      JEREMIAH 1

       

      OPENS WITH...The Call of a Reluctant Prophet

       

      I was praying about what to share with our International Bible study group, and you all know I love the Bible’s prophetic, especially since we KNOW we are in the LAST DAYS OF THE CHURCH. And we have learned over the years, studying Old Testament and New Testament, that at all points in the Bible, every book has prophetics in it, Amen. But oddly enough, I felt led to share the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah, was also called “the weeping prophet”, who also wrote the wonderful, deep and insightful book of Lamentations.

       

      And as I began reading through my notes and reading Jeremiah, I realized Jeremiah is a man for a time like our time today. The Old Testament prophets were historical figures, real figures living in real events that are laid out for us in their prophecies and in their histories.

       

      But they are NOT unique in the sense that the times and the seasons and the issues that faced them were somehow never repeated. They are, in fact, the same cycles that are repeated through all of human history. Jeremiah lived in a time, in a nation that is very instructive for us, living in the time and the nation and world in rebellion to God, immoral with few if any moral absolutes, greed, self-centered, elitist-minded in which we live today.

       

      We are all, or should be aware, if you are at all attuned to the character of our culture that NATURALISM dominates our society. You might say there was a time in America when SUPER-NATURALISM dominated our thinking.

       

      WHAT DO I MEAN BY THAT?

       

      In other words, we WERE a nation under God. And you know, they’re deleting that from the Pledge of Allegiance, and trying to figure out how to get it off our coins. But there was a time when we were happy to say we are a nation under God, we are super naturalists. We believe in a Creator. We believe in God as a sovereign ruler of the universe.

       

      But AMERICA has abandoned that and is essentially now rapidly becoming a nation of naturalists. The most influential intellectuals, philosophers, scientists, educators, politicians, judges in America are MOSTLY naturalists.

       

      WHAT ARE NATURALISTS?

       

      Naturalists assume that God exists ONLY in the imagination of religious people. That the idea of God is frankly a superstition, an irrational superstition that is created out of a pre-scientific era to meet certain anxieties of the human heart.

       

      Their truth is, however, there is NO God and everything is simply a consequence of natural effects. Naturalism is the idea that nature is all there is, that virtually everything that exists is simply the product of unplanned, uncontrolled accidents.

       

      Life is based on this assumption, that we have just randomly evolved into what we are today.

       

      Creation then is the result, as we know it, life as we know it is the result of unconscious forces randomly mutating.

       

      Man says evolutionary science is the purposeless end of a purposeless process that did not have him in mind. Man was nothing, then a big bang, then we became stars, and eventually all things evolved. Oops, then man just showed up.

       

      This is what is taught in the universities and then this is what is learned by the students. Those students then become the next generation of educators, the next generation of politicians, the next generation of social architects, the next generation of judges who make their legal decisions. They become the next generation of journalists who interpret things that are going on in the world from a naturalist’s perspective.

       

      NATURALISM IS A FORM OF ATHEISM.

       

      And while NOT all of them would deny the existence of some God, they are almost ALL very anxious to deny the existence of the biblical God.

      Those who believe in God are seen as irrational.

       

      Those who believe in the biblical God are seen as dangerous and must be kept out of the public discourse.

       

      And in the name of separation of church and state, we can NOT have people who believe the Bible and the biblical God to be the true God, have anything to say about public policy, public life, education, government, social order, law, courts or morality.

       

      All this rejection of God is purported to be based on science.

       

      It is called for by intellectualism.

       

      It is demanded by freedom and tolerance and mutual respect.

       

      There’s NO place for anybody being an authority, anybody saying there is one God who is the absolute ruler who has written one book in which is contained all His will and all truth pertaining to Him and life in His world that is necessary.

       

      That is ABSOLUTELY objectionable.

       

      There is this wholesale rejection of God.

       

      It is, however, not intellectual¸ it is the product of the love of SIN.

       

      That’s all it is.

       

      NOT a love of freedom, NOT a love of intellectualism, it’s NOT a love for science, it IS a love for sin that drives this.

       

      THINK ABOUT IT…

       

      If you get RID of the God of the Bible, you get rid of the Bible.

      If you get RID of the Bible, you get rid of biblical morality.

      If you get RID of biblical morality, you can live ANY way you want with the assumption that there would be NO consequences.

       

      So all this supposed intellectual naturalists are nothing but Hedonists wanting to express their lust in an unbridled way. Anybody with half a brain knows that all of this did NOT come from no one.

       

      SPURGEON said, “I can scarcely conceive a heart so callous that it feels no awe, or a human mind so dull and destitute of understanding as fairly to view the tokens of God’s omnipotent power and then turn aside without some sense of wonder and obedience.”

       

      How can ANYONE look at what exists and not be in awe of the source of it?

       

      How can ANYONE sin against so great a reality by denying it and then sin against the will of the very God we deny against the greatness of the Almighty?

       

      Well our instruction FOR THIS DAY AND TIME is going to come from the prophet Jeremiah as to how we ARE respond to a society like ours which is very much like his.

       

       

      Over the study of Jeremiah, we will SEE so many parallels between Jeremiah’s time and Jeremiah and our time and faithful preachers today. We stand near the holocaust. We have to be on the brink of a devastating judgment in this nation. We have gone through some quasi revivals. There are people who would argue that we’ve had some revivals, that the gospel has spread, that Bibles have spread, that we’re on television and radio, and through all kinds of media. The gospel is going out and yet we see no, NO REVERSING of the direction of this nation. We see NO lasting results. The church seems superficial and shallow and consumed with self-fulfillment and self-gratification.

       

       

      So we come to a place in the life of Jeremiah that parallels our own time, and we ask this question, how do we approach a nation on the brink of judgment? Let’s learn from Jeremiah. I’m going to show you three elements.

       

      Number one, Jeremiah understood that he had a divine mission…a divine mission. I’m sure there were people in those days who were calling for all kinds of social reform, all kinds of political action, all kinds of educational advancement. But none of those had anything to do with the calling of Jeremiah, nor did they have anything to do with our calling. Ours is a divine mission…a divine mission

       

      In other words, Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” That becomes clear to us in the commission of Jeremiah. This is one of the most fascinating callings that any man of God has ever had and here Jeremiah is informed of things about which he had no knowledge. “The Word of the Lord came to me,” he says. “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.’” Wow!

       

      Here’s the first thing to understand about a divine mission, your life is predestined by God…your life is predestined by God. Long before Jeremiah was ever conceived in the womb of his mother, long before Hilkiah, his father, and his mother came together to bring him life, long before that, sometime not only before the birth of Jeremiah, before the conception of Jeremiah, probably before the foundation of the world, Jeremiah was chosen and appointed as a prophet, not only to Judah but to the nations. His message extended beyond Judah and it’s still extending even today across the globe wherever the prophet is read. Long before life ever was given to this man, God had determined to separate him, put him in a unique place at a unique time as a consecrated prophet of God to speak for God…predestination.

       

      Here in this brief beginning with eleven short Hebrew words, God gives Jeremiah his own biography. Beginning in eternity past, the timeless eons of eternity, right on through until there are no more nations left for him to preach, God sums up his calling as predestined. He is an intensely human personality, this Jeremiah. And if you read the book and read it and read it and read it, you’re going to learn to love this man. He is very human. And yet his humanity does not explain the power of his preaching and the relentless endurance of his faithfulness. He is a man who is mysteriously endowed with power from on high to survive the rejection that marked his entire life. He is so humanly weak that he can’t stop crying, and yet he is so unassailably strong that he will not yield and compromise. He is a powerful personality. He is a lovable personality.

       

      Now let me tell you something. When there is a crisis, people look for a program. But God looks for a MAN OR WOMAN. When there is a crisis, people look for some system to fix it and God looks for a MAN OR WOMAN. When God wanted to deal with a crisis, He started with a baby. In this case, Jeremiah was that baby. And He designed him in the womb. And He put him together to have the human capabilities that he needed to do this. He also endowed him with the spiritual equipment to fulfill his appointment by God.

       

      Jeremiah knew this, and this was the bottom line, he was sovereignly ordained by God to do what he did. And it was NEVER a matter of results. It was NEVER a matter of his will.

       

       

       

      Verse 1 tells us Jeremiah and his background.

       

      The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin,”

       

       

      The words of Jeremiah…

       

      This begins a remarkable collection of writings revealed through the Prophet Jeremiah. His 40-year ministry was a tremendous display of faithfulness and courage in the face of great discouragement, opposition, and small results.

       

       

      Jeremiah…

       

      The precise meaning of the name is unknown, with suggested interpretations including the Lord founds, the Lord exalts and the Lord throws down.

       

       

      The name Jeremiah was common in Judah. It occurs several times in the OT. At the time of David there were two, and possibly three Jeremiah's among David's mighty men (1 Chronicles 12:4, 10, 13).

       

      Who were in Anathoth…

       

      Since Jeremiah was from a priestly family, it made sense that they lived in Anathoth, which was a small village about three miles from Jerusalem. It was in the land of Benjamin, but given over as a priestly city told to us in Joshua 21:18.

       

      From vantage points in Anathoth one could clearly see the walls of Jerusalem. Jeremiah grew up not in the great capital but within sight of it.

       

       

      Verses 2-3 tells us the TIMES of Jeremiah.

       

      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. It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.”

       

       

      To whom the word of the Lord came…

       

      Though this book contains the words of Jeremiah, it also contains the word of the Lord. This prophecy, like all inspired Scripture, is both the word of man and the word of God. It is the divinely inspired and infallible word of God, but brought through the personality of man.

       

      When God uses a person, He does NOT erase their personality - He wants to use that persons sanctified personality. God wanted a man with a very gentle and tender heart for this unrewarding ministry of condemnation. Jeremiah’s subsequent career shows that he had this quality in full measure.

       

      In the days of Josiah…

       

      King Josiah was one of the BETTER kings of Judah, zealous for reform. According to 2 Chronicles 34:3, it was in the eighth year of Josiahs reign that he sought the Lord, and few years later began an aggressive campaign to purify Israel of idolatry and to return to the Lord.

       

      God called these two giants - both Josiah and Jeremiah - to serve Him and His people at the same time. Each supported the other, and though they did NOT leave behind an enduring transformed Judah, they served God faithfully and removed every excuse Judah might offer for the judgment that eventually came through Babylon.

       

       

      Josiah . . . Jehoiakim . . . Zedekiah…

       

      In this line of succession of the Kings of Judah, some are left out (Jehoahaz in 2 Chronicles 36:1-2 and Jehoiachin in 2 Chronicles 36:8-9).

       

      WHY?

       

      Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin were probably omitted in this verse because their reigns were so short, comprising only THREE months each.

       

       

      Until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the FIFTH month…

       

      In fact, portions of this book address the period AFTER the captivity (Jeremiah 44). Yet that was ONLY as a postscript to the catastrophic fall of Jerusalem.

       

      .

       

      Verses 4-5 tells us God’s call to Jeremiah.

       

      Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

       

       

      Then the word of the Lord came to me…

       

      Jeremiah had a personal encounter with the Lord. He was apparently raised in a godly, priestly home - yet he HAD to have a PERSONAL encounter with God and His word.

       

       

      Because many of his prophecies have echoes and hints of previous prophets of Israel, it seems that Jeremiah grew up knowing God’s word. His future life and thought were molded to a large extent by an EARLY STUDY AND ACQUAINTANCE with the utterances of the eight-century b.c. prophets such as Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah, and probably also by the lives and sayings of Elijah and Elisha.

       

       

      Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .I ordained you a prophet to the nations…

       

      Jeremiah was already a young man, but God wanted him to know that his call went back even FURTHER than his youth. Jeremiah existed in the mind and plan of God BEFORE he ever existed in his mother’s womb. God told Jeremiah this so that he COULD walk in God’s pre-ordained plan by his own will.

       

      This information was NOT given just to interest Jeremiah or to entertain him. It was given so that he would KNOW God’s will, be ENCOURAGED by that, and therefore ALIGN his will with God’s revealed will.

       

       

      And we studied and remember Paul speaks of his own call to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles in SIMILAR terms in Galatians 1:15-16.

       

       

      A prophet to the nations…

       

      Jeremiah's focus was upon Judah in the last decades BEFORE the Babylonians conquered it. Yet his work as a prophet was NOT only for Judah, but also for the nations - and for US today.

       

      In this respect Jeremiah was appointed a prophet for a world-wide ministry. This refutes the idea that the work of God’s servants was always provincial. God is the Lord of the nations, AMEN?!

       

       

      Verses 6-10 tells us Jeremiah’s objection and God’s response to the objection.

       

      Then said I: Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth. But the Lord said to me: Do not say, I am a youth, for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord. Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.”

       

       

      Ah, Lord God! This translates an expression of deep feeling, though the sense is hard to relate in English. Jeremiah knew this, and this was the bottom line, he was sovereignly ordained by God to do what he did. And it was never a matter of results. It was never a matter of his will. In fact, to show you that, look at verse 6 , “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God,’” it sounds like Isaiah. “Woe is me.” Are you kidding? “Alas, Lord God, I don’t know how to speak, I’m no speaker and I’m just a youth. You’re looking at the wrong guy. I’m inadequate, I’m not qualified, I can’t do this.”

       

       

       

      Behold, I can not speak, for I am a youth…

       

      Jeremiah was probably anywhere from 17 to 20 years old at this time. Apparently, he felt that his youth prevented him from being a good or authoritative messenger of God’s word.

       

       

      Unlike Moses, whose protestations of inadequacy rang a little hollow, Jeremiah really was young, it seems, and inexperienced.

       

      How did Jeremiah overcome that sense of insufficiency, inadequacy? What took him beyond that was the clear indication that he had been predestined by God to this calling. By the way, whoever does NOT have a sense of being predestined by God to service will NEVER lead a spiritual revolution.

       

      SADLY, most people living in the church today have NO sense of divine mission, they are just bouncing from job to job and event to event, an engagement to engagement, and activity to activity.

       

      That’s the way they live, that’s the way they raise their kids. There’s NO sense of an overarching divine mission. There’s NO sense, and this is tragic, in the life of believers that the birth of every believer was ordained by God, the death of every believer was ordained by God, which means the middle was ordained by God and for purposes that advance the name of Christ and the glory of the Kingdom, and that’s the last thing on our priority list. If not Jeremiah, he knew that he had been called by God from before he was born, designed in the womb, separated from the womb, separated from the society, appointed to be a prophet and he had been called to fulfill his mission.

       

      Do not say, I am a youth…

       

      Though Jeremiah’s protest was true, it was irrelevant - and God did NOT want to hear it, nor did He want Jeremiah to say it. God insists on His right to call young people and to use them if they will LISTEN to His call and answer it.

       

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God used David when he was a young man. As a young man David served his father faithfully in the shepherd’s field, killed a lion, and a bear protecting the flock, killed Goliath, served King Saul and was a commander in the Israeli army.

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God filled John the Baptist with the Holy Spirit in the womb, told to us in Luke 1:15.

       

      You are NOT too young to be filled mightily with the Spirit of God.

       

      Do NOT say, I am a youth because God used Timothy as a young man, and through the Apostle Paul told him, 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

       

      Not only was he predestined by God, but he was provided by God what he needed. He says, “I don’t know how to speak and I’m a youth.” So the Lord says to him, “Don’t say I’m a youth, because everywhere I send you, you shall go and all that I command you, you shall speak.”

       

       

      Now the first thing you would say is, “What am I going to say? What am I going to say?” The educators say that the greatest fear that humans have is the fear of public speaking. Well the reason people have a fear of public speaking is very often related to the fact that they have no idea what to say, or they think that what they have to say isn’t important and most of the time they’re exactly right.

       

      In fact, some of the people who do most of the public speaking have the least to say and should be embarrassed about speaking. But when you have the most important message, that hesitancy has a way of disappearing, does it not? When you see the children on the brink of being consumed in the house fire, you really don’t stumble over the fact of whether you should publicly yell “fire, get out,” and grab somebody. It’s about the passion of it.

       

       

      You do NOT have to worry about what you are going to say because you are NOT going to have to invent it…you are NOT going to have to come up with it. I AM going to provide it. I AM going to give you the words to say. You are going to speak for Me. You are going to have divine wisdom. All that I command you, you shall speak and everywhere I send you, you shall go.

       

      That’s how any true minister, any true preacher that represents God has to approach ministry. I am predestined to this and I am provided the message. Jeremiah was resisted and hated and despised and abused.

       

      God spoke with both encouragement and persuasion to Jeremiah. He protested that he could NOT go because of his youth but God simply said, you shall go.

       

      Later, Jeremiah remembered his initial reluctance…

       

      Nor have I desired the woeful day; You know what came out of my lips; it was right there before You,” in Jeremiah 17:16.

       

       

      Though reluctant, Jeremiah could NOT hold back…

       

      Then I said, I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name. But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not,” in Jeremiah 20:9.

       

       

      Do NOT be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you…

      Jeremiah had TWO reasons to be afraid.

       

      FIRST, he was young.

       

      SECOND, his message was hard to hear.

       

      But the presence of God with him was greater than those two reasons.

       

       

      His reluctance may have been based on feelings of personal inadequacy when confronted with the almost hopeless task of recalling apostate Judah to a state of true repentance. To make matters worse, at an early stage in his ministry he was FORBIDDEN to marry, in Jeremiah 16:1-4, and the ominous reasons given made more clear than ever the fact that Judah stood under divine judgment.

       

      AND WE WHO HAVE STUDIED THE BIBLE, OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT, KNOW GOD TELLS US WHERE THOSE FEELINGS OF INADEQUACY, THOSE WHISPERS OF WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TO BELIEVE GOD CAN USE YOU? AND THE LISTS OF REASONS WHY YOU CAN NOT DO IT..COME FROM.

       

      WE KNOW WHETHER SUCH THOUGHTS WHISPER THROUGH OUR HEART AND MIND, WHETHER THEY COME AS OR AFTER READING ABOUT THE GREAT MEN AND WOMEN OF THE BIBLE WHO LOVED GOD, OR WHETHER SUCH FEELINGS COME FROM FAMILY, FRIENDS, OR EVEN OUR PASTORS...WE KNOW THOSE WORDS ORIGINATED IN AND FROM SATAN HIMSELF.

       

      SO SATAN HAS ALREADY STARTED IN ON JEREMIAH AND SOUGHT TO DESTROY HIS BELIEF, THAT IF GOD WAS FOR HIM, AND GOD WAS WITH HIM, HE COULD DO ANYTHING.

       

      WE, WHO LOVE JESUS AND CALL HIM THE SON OF GOD, LORD, SAVIOR, MASTER, AND FRIEND FACE THESE SAME HEART, MIND, AND SPIRIT ATTACKS, DO WE NOT?

      AND MANY TIMES WE DO AS JEREMIAH DID.

       

       

      He SHRANK from his work again and again; he suffered intensely, not merely from the persecution of his foes, but in his own soul, in it fellowship with God and with his nation; he needed very special Divine sustenance.

       

       

      I AM with you…

       

      I will NOT only send you as other kings do their ambassadors, but I WILL go with you.

       

      And that leads to the third aspect of his calling, not only predestination and provision, but protection.

       

      Don’t be afraid of them, I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord.”

       

      You have nothing to fear. You are called by Me. You are empowered by Me. You’re going to face opposition. You’re going to face antagonism and he certainly did, constantly.

       

      Nobody listened to him. Nobody paid attention to him. The nation didn’t turn. It was a very hard, discouraging 42 years and people hated what he said and hated him for saying it. If you want to do an interesting study some time in your Bible, find all the places where it says, “Fear not,”. WE FIND THAT COMMAND 365 TIMES IN THE BIBLE. ONE FEAR NOT FOR EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR.

       

      And it’s not said just to little widows who did NOT know where their next meal was coming from, or orphaned children who did NOT know who was going to care for them and protect them. “Fear not” is said by God to Abraham, and Moses, and Daniel, and Mary, and Peter, and Paul because any human being, even the strongest leaders face the fear that comes with confronting people with the message they don’t want to hear. But you WILL have protection from God.

       

      Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth…

       

      In his vision, Jeremiah saw the Lord touch him in this personal way. As God touched the mouth of Isaiah at his call to the office of prophet, He also touched the mouth of Jeremiah (though in a different way).

       

       

      See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant…

       

      As a young man, Jeremiah was an unlikely candidate for such a ministry. Yet God knew what Jeremiah did not know, that Jeremiah WOULD HAVE AND GROW STRONGER TO HAVE the personality and character to fulfill this call as the years went on, BECAUSE GOD WAS WITH HIM.

       

      That is amazing. Jeremiah feared that he was nobody. He was young, he was NOT effective as a communicator, he was unskilled in oratory. The divine answer is, “Don’t worry about it, I am going to give you the words to speak. Don’t worry about the reaction, I will protect you from the enemies of that truth. And know this, that the words that come out of your mouth will shatter and build. They will tear down and they will plant. Your words will be destruction to people and nations and construction to other people and nations.”

       

       

      This IS the power that belongs to the one who proclaims the truth.

       

      The great power brokers in our world, the kings and potentates and the rulers have NO power…they have no power. The power they do have is the weakness of human power, or even worse, the power of the kingdom of darkness, neither of which can even approach the power of God. Kings, nations, empires boast of their power, yet the power in the world belongs to the mouths of the messengers of heaven. God picks up this obscure young man of about thirty years of age, from a tiny, little, obscure country and says, “I will set you over nations, over kingdoms of the earth. Your word will destroy and your word will build.”

       

      So this was his calling. He was on a divine mission. And, people, we live in a nation in a dire crisis of abandonment of God, headed for a holocaust of judgment.

       

      We ARE already under the judgment of Romans 1, we HAVE been turned over to our immorality, our homosexuality, and a reprobate mind. We ARE on the brink of divine judgment and what is needed is that the Kingdom of God and the representatives of that kingdom understand that our mission is divine.

      The reason for our birth, the reason for our death and our conversion in the middle is so that you CAN speak the Word of God to this culture on the brink of a holocaust. It’s a divine mission. That’s why we live.

       

      Secondly, what characterized Jeremiah was a direct message…a direct message. He did NOT pull any punches, we would say. He did NOT pamper, cajole, soft-soap, skirt issues. He did NOT say, “Well, we do NOT really want to talk about sin,” and he paid for it.

       

      Jeremiah did NOT spend his life trying to AVOID controversy, trying to make everybody HAPPY.

       

      IN chapter 14:7, you will hear him say, “We have sinned against God as a nation.”

       

      IN chapter 17:9, you will hear him say, “Your hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.”

       

      He preached against sin. He indicted the nation. He indicted the sinners for their sin categorically in chapter 3, chapter 9, chapter 11, chapter 19. He accused them of being involved in false religion…false religion. You have turned to idols from the true God.

       

       

      Jeremiah’s commission set the pattern of his calling, with its FOUR verbs of demolition and it TWO of renewal.

       

      As Isaiah speaks of the salvation of the Lord, Ezekiel of the glory of the Lord, and Daniel of the kingdom of the Lord, so Jeremiah incessantly proclaims the Lord’s judgment.

       

       

      See, I have this day set you…

       

      Jeremiah was definitely called, but he did NOT fulfill his call in his first year - or his first ten years. His 40-year ministry had several different phases, and taken together they fulfilled God’s call.

       

       

      The FIRST period of Jeremiah’s ministry took place under the protection of the godly king Josiah, who took advantage of turmoil in the surrounding superpowers (such as Assyria, Egypt, and Babylon) to reform the nation and turn it BACK to the Lord. During this time, Jeremiah went on a preaching tour through the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem in Jeremiah 11:6.

       

      Yet during this time the hearts of the people did NOT seem changed. He preached for 23 years but NO ONE seemed to listen in Jeremiah 25:3.

       

      He even faced many threats against his life in Jeremiah 11:19 and 12:6.

       

       

      After King Josiah died, things got WORSE.

       

      Jeremiah read a scroll of his collected prophecies to the NEW king Jehoiakim – and the king took the scroll, cut it in pieces, and threw it in the fire told to us in Jeremiah 36:22-23.

       

      In this general period, Jeremiah was chained and flogged told to us in Jeremiah 20:2, and survived a close brush with death in Jeremiah 26:10-11.

       

       

      His MOST difficult season was under another king, Zedekiah - who was set on the throne by the Babylonians, but did NOT continue to obey them. Jeremiah brought a message from God that must have seemed like madness to his generation.

       

      The message was that judgment through the Babylonians was inevitable - and they must prepare for it and submit to it. He wrote to those already exiled in Babylon, he told them to prepare for a 70 year exile and to have a peaceable attitude towards Babylon in Jeremiah 29:7, 10.

      He was regarded as a traitor and imprisoned in Jeremiah 37:11-16..

       

       

      Verses 11-12 tells us Jeremiah’s FIRST lesson in his training as a prophet.

       

      Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And I said, I see a branch of an almond tree. Then the Lord said to me, You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.”

       

       

      Jeremiah, what do you see?

       

      Jeremiah would receive a message to speak, but before he could speak he had to see.

       

       

      SPURGEON says it well, “Before you can make an impression upon another person’s heart, you must have an impression made upon your own soul. You must be able to say, concerning the truth, I see it, before you can speak it so that your hearers also shall see it.”

       

       

      A branch of an almond tree…

       

      Jeremiah saw well. He not only understood that it was a branch, but was observant enough to know that it was a branch of an almond tree.

       

      DID YOU KNOW...Anathoth remains to this day a center for almond growing. The modern visitor to the area in the very early spring is promised the memorable and unforgettable sight of almond trees in bloom.

       

       

      This was young Jeremiah’s FIRST lesson in prophetic observance, and the lesson was simple. We might have thought that, as a preparation for his prophetical work, he would have seen mysterious wheels full of eyes, or flaming seraphs and cherubs, or the wonderful creatures that were caused to appear in the dreams of Ezekiel and the revelation to John. Instead of this, Jeremiah simply sees a rod of an almond tree; and, beloved friends, when you look into the Bible, you will see some very simple things there.

       

       

      WHY THE BRANCH OF AN ALMOND TREE?

       

      The significance of the branch of an almond tree was important in TWO ways.

       

      FIRST, the almond was well known as the FIRST tree to bud in the spring. This indicated that God was ready to quickly fulfill His word, just as the almond tree seems ready to bud.

       

       

      SECOND, the Hebrew word for almond tree is close to and derived from the Hebrew word for “watchful”, and this word is used in God’s response to Jeremiah.

       

      These verses contain a play on words that is lost in English but is vital for the force of the vision. The almond tree is “saqed” and God is watching “soqed” over his word to fulfill it.

       

      Verses 13-16 tells us Jeremiah’s SECOND LESSON in his training as a prophet.

       

      And the word of the Lord came to me the second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north. Then the Lord said to me: Out of the north calamity shall break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says the Lord; They shall come and each one set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah. I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.”

       

      I see a boiling pot, and it is facing away from the north…

      &nbs

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