Jeremiah 1-3 I appointed you a prophet to the nations

From Jeremiah 1-3


Have you ever felt called to something?

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comment

It seems appropriate to start of with the introduction to the book and have a look at the calling of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is called the ‘weeping prophet’ mainly due to his ongoing concern and lament over the faithlessness of Israel and his calling to pass on the LORD’s judgment.

4 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer 1.4-5)

Sound familiar? If you think so, you would be right. David wrote a similar thing in Ps 139.13 ‘For you formed my inward parts’. Yet we see something extra. Jeremiah was consecrated and appointed before he was born. Chosen to be the LORD’s prophet.

6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.”

7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. 

8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” (Jer 1.6-8)

Jeremiah here sounds much like Moses. Insecure in his speaking abilities and thinking people will not listen to him. The LORD knows who he is choosing and will not have Jeremiah backing down. ‘You shall go’, ‘you shall speak’. Jeremiah will do as he is told. He should not be afraid because the LORD will deliver him. That is, if he gets into trouble the LORD will save him. I imagine Jeremiah found some comfort in this.

9 Then the Lord put out 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 set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jer 1.9-10)

Jeremiah will be put over other nations and kingdoms. I guess in authority because he is the LORD’s prophet. To this end, the LORD describes a twofold ministry of Jeremiah’s;

  • 1) to pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow, and also
  • 2) to build and to plant.

11 And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” 12 Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

13 The word of the Lord came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” 14 Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land.

15 For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the Lord, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. (Jer 1.11-16)

Here is a brief glimpse of the ministry of judgment Jeremiah is about to embark upon. But he needs encouragement.

17 But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. 18 And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.” (Jer 1.4-19)

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Jeremiah is called to be the LORD’s prophet. He goes about his ministry and as we will see he doesn’t find it easy. But the LORD is faithful to his promises and brings him through it.

Israel and Judah hear the LORD’s judgement and the call to repent because of Jeremiah’s ministry. But they do not heed it and as a result they are sent into exile. Eventually they will return but still things aren’t as they should be. They have not changed. Neither have the LORD’s promises and prophecies been fulfilled.

Story of Jesus

When Jesus came he also judged Israel for being unfaithful. It wasn’t the only thing he did. But he did judge them. Unfortunately many still persisted in their unfaithfulness just as they did after Jeremiah’s judgment. This is marked specifically by their rejection of him as the promised Christ. The Jews killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead. Now his people, who believe in him listen to his voice and wait for his return. When he comes again like Jeremiah he will;

1) pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow those who have rejected him, and

2) build and plant those who believe in him.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.