Jeremiah Part I: The Prophet

This was a tough book of the Bible to read, definitely one you want to take in, in small quantities. But is also one that we can receive encouragement from, learn from, and discover more about our glorious Father.

100_1434“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
     before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:4-5

Isn’t this a wonderful thought? Before you were even made, God had a plan for you. He loved you so much, that He carefully prepared how He was going to bless you, and help you along life’s road. And, according to this scripture, He helped form you in the womb. Wow, it’s amazing how there is proof that we worship a living God, Who is still at work in His creation! True, in this passage, the Lord is talking to His prophet Jeremiah; however, I believe He has a plan for each and every one of us. Yet, it is still up to us to use our free will to accept, or to deny His plans for us.

 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”

 But the LORD [YHWH–the Divine Name] said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:6-10

God appeared to Jeremiah, and revealed His plans to him while he was just a youth, probably a teenager, somewhere between thirteen to seventeen. You are never too young to make a difference in this world. The Bible is littered with examples of people who God used, who were thought to be too young by their peers: Samuel was just a boy when he was called to be a judge by God, Mary was told by an angel that she would be the mother of the Messiah while she was probably just a teenager, David was anointed as king, and slayed a giant while he was just a boy; and the twelve disciples were also probably only teenagers when Jesus chose them to follow him. And yet, we know all the great things that these young men and women performed. Never use your age as an excuse. All you have to do is trust in God, and you can do anything.

The word of the LORD came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”

“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. [an allusion to Aaron’s rod in Num.17? or a connection/symbolism to the early bloom of an almond tree?]

The LORD said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching [almond sounds like the Hebrew word for watching] to see that My word is fulfilled.”

The word of the LORD came to me again: “What do you see?”

“I see a [boiling] billowing pot,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.” [a pot being treated with heat to remove corrosion (This passage also contains the repetition of the Hebrew Pe the “p” sound, sounding like a billowing pot.)]

 The LORD said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. (Jeremiah 1:11-14)

Sadly, most of the messages that God gave to Jeremiah to share with His people were not of tidings—but of destruction. For generations, the Israelites had ignored God, and instead bowed their heads to idols, worshiped the temple and their nation, and gluttonized themselves in sin. God chose Jeremiah to deliver His messages to His people, to warn them of the upcoming enslavement from Babylon for seventy years, and to plead them to repent, repent, repent!—but the people ignored their God and His prophet.

Not only was Jeremiah ignored, but he suffered in the name of His God: he was branded a traitor, beaten, mocked, placed in the stocks, banned from entering the temple, imprisoned, thrown into a well filled with mud, and had many plots planned against him to kill him (even by those in his hometown). God also told Jeremiah not to have a wife nor children, and he was constantly surrounded by those who disliked him, who were waiting for him to mess up, and who were unholy—freely living in a life of sin. His life was so hard, that Jeremiah once said to God:

Cursed be the day I was born!
May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!
    Cursed be the man who brought my father the news,
who made him very glad, saying,
‘A child is born to you—a son!’
    May that man be like the towns
the LORD overthrew without pity.
May he hear wailing in the morning,
a battle cry at noon.
    For he did not kill me in the womb,
with my mother as my grave,
her womb enlarged forever.
    Why did I ever come out of the womb
to see trouble and sorrow
and to end my days in shame?
 (Jeremiah 20:14-18) [Jeremiah’s prose shares similarities to Job’s lament in Job 3 after his suffering]

No wonder Jeremiah was called the ‘Weeping Prophet.’ Yet, despite all of this, Jeremiah staid faithful to His God. Even though he knew that he would be mocked and ignored, he continued to deliver the Lord’s messages to His people.

His word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)

The Christian life is not an easy one. We will be mocked, ridiculed, treated as outsiders, despised, and peer pressured to turn our backs on our God and do what’s popular instead of what’s righteous—but it’s worth it. This world is only temporary, but a life in paradise with our Maker is eternal. Be strong, and know that you are never alone, that He will give you the strength that you need to withstand the evils of this world, and be a faithful servant like Jeremiah.

Knowing the story of this prophet gives me encouragement. Though he was persecuted, he stayed faithful to our God. Not only that, but I marvel at his bravery, how he was able to deliver the Lord’s messages not only to crowd’s of people who hated him, but also in front of kings—who could end his life instantly if they chose to, and how he prophesied about the fall of Babylon during their reign of power. Jeremiah was an extraordinary man, and reading his story has encouraged me, to try and be a better servant for Christ.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29: 11)



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