Make No Excuses
Jer. 1:4-14,17-19 August 5 2012
In this chapter we have, I. The general inscription or title of this book, with the time of the continuance of Jeremiah’s public ministry . II. The call of Jeremiah to the prophetic office, his modest objection against it answered, and an ample commission given him for the execution of it . III. The visions of an almond-rod and a seething-pot, signifying the approaching ruin of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans . IV. Encouragement given to the prophet to go on undauntedly in his work, in an assurance of God’s presence with him . Thus is he set to work by one that will be sure to bear him out.
1. Jeremiah’s call to the prophetic office. (Jer. 1:4-14)
Jer.1:4 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 5“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.” 6 Then said I: “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.” 7 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. 8 Do not be afraid of their faces, For I am with you to deliver you,” says the Lord. 9 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. 10 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.”11 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.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am ready to perform My word.” 13 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.” 14 Then the Lord said to me: “Out of the north calamity shall break forth “ On all the inhabitants of the land.
Jeremiah’s early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God’s message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.
2. A vision of an almond-tree and of a seething-pot, Divine protection is promised. (Jer. 1:17-19)
Jer.1:17 “Therefore prepare yourself and arise, And speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, Lest I dismay you before them. 18 For behold, I have made you this day A fortified city and an iron pillar, And bronze walls against the whole land— Against the kings of Judah, Against its princes, Against its priests, And against the people of the land.19 They will fight against you. But they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,” says the Lord, “to deliver you.”
God gave Jeremiah a view of the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans. The almond-tree, which is more forward in the spring than any other, represented the speedy approach of judgments. God also showed whence the intended ruin should arise. Jeremiah saw a seething-pot boiling, representing Jerusalem and Judah in great commotion. The mouth or face of the furnace or hearth, was toward the north; from whence the fire and fuel were to come. The northern powers shall unite. The cause of these judgments was the sin of Judah. The whole counsel of God must be declared. The fear of God is the best remedy against the fear of man. Better to have all men our enemies than God our enemy; those who are sure they have God with them, need not, ought not to fear, whoever is against them. Let us pray that we may be willing to give up personal interests, and that nothing may move us from our duty.
Jeremiah identifies the setting for his ministry in Judah . The Southern Hebrew Kingdom has survived the Assyrian invasion which swept away the Northern Kingdom, Israel. But now the little land is threatened by Assyria’s successor as the North’s great power: Babylon. Some 40 years before Judah’s last, crushing defeat God calls Jeremiah to serve Him as a prophet and defines his ministry. Jeremiah will uproot and destroy kingdoms .
Two visions underline this grim description of the prophet’s mission. He sees an almond tree which, because it blooms late, serves as a prophetic symbol of judgment long delayed but now imminent . And Jeremiah sees a pot of boiling liquid, tipping from the North, its contents flooding toward Judah, symbolizing the armies about to crush the Jewish homeland . It’s Jeremiah’s mission to announce God’s intention to judge. And the prophet is warned, “They will fight against you” .
How strange and wonderful that this most sensitive of men has been sent on a mission that calls for the utmost strength and courage in the face of what will become intense adversity.