Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Introduction To Jeremiah

Jeremiah 1:1-16

“The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: 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, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.” (Jeremiah 1:1-3)

Jeremiah began his prophecy about seventy years after the death of Hezekiah, and about eighty years after Isaiah’s final prophecies, during Josiah’s reign over Judah.  Josiah was the last of the good kings of Judah.  After the discovery of the book of the law in the Temple, in II Kings 22. He redoubled his efforts becoming one of the best kings Judah ever had, and was responsible for the fulfillment of the prophecy against Jeroboam’s altar and religion made three hundred fifty years before.  After Josiah’s death, Judah moved steadily farther away from God.  Forty eight years after he began to prophesy, when Jerusalem was completely destroyed, Jeremiah would still be prophesying.

“Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

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.  Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:4-8)

God said He had known Jeremiah before he was ever conceived, and designated him as a prophet even before he was born.   It is essentially what David said in Psalm 139:13-16.  “For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.   I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.  Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” 

While our DNA pattern may seem a result of random combinations, God has designated those combinations.  He already knows the fetus as a person long before it is born or even fully formed, and knows what they will do in life, even choosing them for special purposes. 

Like Moses, Jeremiah was hesitant to take the position fearing he didn’t know enough or wouldn’t be heard.   God told him not to feel inferior because He would tell him what to say.   It is the same as what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 10:19-20.   “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.  For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”

The Jewish leadership would repeatedly try to kill Jeremiah, but God promised to protect him and after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Babylonian Empire would provide for him.  It was with this assurance that Jeremiah began his ministry.    

“Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.  See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10)

God gave Jeremiah a message and set him like a gardener to care for his estate.  He was to root out the weeds and cut down dead or diseased trees and vines and plant others where they were needed, using the message God had given him to warn and influence all the nations and kingdoms around them. 

“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.  Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.  And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.  For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.  And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.” (Jeremiah 1:11-16)
God then showed Jeremiah two visions, one of a newly planted almond tree, and another of boiling pot with its opening turned toward the North.  Just as a newly planted cutting begins to put out roots and grow within a few days, God would begin to fulfill his prophecies in a short time.  Ultimately, all the countries of the North will come to occupy Israel and Jerusalem, punishing them for their sin in rejecting God and turning to other gods.  A hundred years later, Daniel would explain this prophecy in greater detail in Daniel 11. 

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