The Disturbing Commission

Jeremiah 1

I                     Historical Background

A        Kings: Josiah [killed at Megiddo [2 Kings 23:29] in an attempt to interfere with Egypt’s initiative against Assyria]; then his sons Jehoahaz [reigned three months]and Jehoiakim appointed by Neco of Egypt; Jehoikim [reigned 11 years and “did evil in the sight of the Lord”] died prior to being exiled to Babylon and was replaced by his son Jehoiachin who was deported to Babylon; replaced by Zedekiah, his uncle and a son of Josiah.  He rebelled, saw his sons executed just before being blinded and was taken in chains to Babylon [See 2 Chronicles 36:12]

B        Nations – Assyria, Egypt, Babylon:  power of Assyria diminishing;  Egypt for a while held Judah in fief until Babylon broke its power [2 Kings 24:7]

C        Prophets contemporary –

·         Zephaniah prophesied during the days of Josiah, early in the time of Jeremiah.. Like Jeremiah, Zephaniah looked to a thorough chastening of the remnant; he combined prophecies of utter destruction {Zeph 1:2-3; 17, 18]} with judgmental chastening of certain aspects of the life of Israel [1:3-13; and the promise of a restoration [3:14-20].

·         Habakkuk – He dealt with the evil of Judah [1:1-4], saw God’s intent to punish by means of the Babylonians, [1:5-11] and was astounded by this apparent moral ambivalence [1:12-17]. God assured him of his absolute justice in his dealing with both Judah and Babylon and that he would cover the earth with the knowledge of Himself.

D        Leading theological idea – The eternal nature of the covenant of God and the need for its expression in a new manifestation that consummates its natural moral requirement of a genuine heart for God on the one hand and the necessity of forgiveness on the other [Jeremiah 31:31-34]. The need for both of these had been gradually unfolded in God’s covenantal dealings with Adam [Genesis 3:21; 4:6], Noah [Genesis 6:5-8; 8:21], Abraham [Genesis 15:18:17-19], Isaac, Jacob , Moses [Deuteronomy 6; 10:12-22; 30:11-20], and David [2 Samuel 7:8-16; cf. Jeremiah 33:14-22]

E        Jeremiah –

1         Son of Hilkiah, the priest, possibly from the family of Abiathar exiled by Solomon [1 Kings 1:7, 19; 2:26, 27] to Anathoth

2         Began to prophesy in the 13th year of reign of Josiah [ca. 626 B. C.] throughout the time of Judah’s tumultuous conflicts with Egypt and Babylon and finally was taken into Egypt [587] by the party that executed Gedaliah, governor by appointment from Nebuchadnezzar;  Jeremiah continued to preach and prophesy there

II                   Jeremiah’s Call [1:1-10] [compare Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Elisha, and Isaiah]

A          Delineation of the times of his prophetic work

B         God’s declaration of his eternal purpose 4, 5

·         This is an appointment for service. Such an appointment is not always for salvation, but in the case of Jeremiah, as in Paul’s, they were commensurate. God knows [sets his heart upon] his elect before the foundation of the world; he consecrates them [cf. Galatians 1:15] and appoints them to particular service.

C        Jeremiah’s Objection 6 – He plead that his youth disqualified him from knowing what to say. He assumed that experience would make him more qualified to understand and speak wisely. His call was extraordinary, however, and did not necessitate the experience and training normally set forth in the New Testament as necessary for gospel ministry. He would speak by direct revelation (“Whatever I command you, you shall speak.”). His youth meant that he would be able to have several decades of continuous witness and would see his prophecies come to pass.

D        God’s response  8  “Do not be afraid etc.” The promise to deliver meant that he would experience opposition and even attempts on his life and that God would sustain him even in those times to continue his witness against the refusal of Israel’s king and [false] prophets to believe the Word of God.

III               God’s Commission  9, 10

A        God’s initiative in putting his words in Jeremiah’s mouth 9  cf. Isaiah 6:6 – We must never doubt that God can do this, and often had done it. It was part of the promise that Christ gave to his disciples [Matthew 10:19] and what Paul was confident God had done through his own preaching. [Galatians 1:11, 12]

B        Six actions accomplished by the word of God; four are negative, two are positive  - This dynamic is consistent with the Law/Gospel rubric in the Bible. Compare also Romans 3:20; 7:7-9; Galatians 2:19; 2 Timothy 4:2. The Christian life consists of a constant putting off of the old man and its actions and putting n the new man. It means correcting the old mind captive to Satan, this world, and the flesh and putting on a new mind reclaiming the divine image of true knowledge and holiness [Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9]. Our situation truly is desperate and the destructive powers of the word will always accompany those truth that build up.  We “lay aside  every weight” as we “look to Jesus” (Hebrews 12:1f) We resist conformity while we seek transformation (Romans 12:2).

IV                 Two Visions

A       The Almond rod – God is watching over his word –He will bring to pass all that he has told Judah through the prophets.  (The word for almond sounds like the word for watching.) God’s predictions are not based merely on his omniscience concerning the tendencies of human behavior, but on his all wise decree concerning the governing of the world for his glory. He watches over his word to bring it to pass [Ephesians 1:11; Isaiah 42:5-9;43:10-13; 44:6-8; 45:22.]

B       The Boiling Pot – The nations [specifically Babylon] that invade and repress Judah will be a manifestation of God’s boiling anger against Judah. Biblical revelation shows us that some judgment is for utter destruction in such cases as Sodom and Gomorrah and other is order the purify the godly, purge from them the ungodly, and give clarity both to his purpose and the holiness of his character. See verse 16 “I will declare my judgments against them for all their evil in forsaking me.” These kinds of judgments will be prominent as Jeremiah reveals God’s anger and his mercy in the succeeding chapters of Jeremiah.

V                   God’s promise of strength – 17-19

A        A command and a threat 17  Jeremiah is commanded to speak to them all that he reveals; He is not to be dismayed or God will dismay him before them. That the message of God is offensive to every stuck-up generation should not make us dilute the full truth of both judgment and the sinner’s absolute dependence on divine mercy and Christ’s righteousness for salvation. This is Jeremiah’s call not to be ashamed of the gospel (Cf. Romans 1:16, 17; Philippians 1:19, 20)

B        A promise of strength  18  He will speak to every level of society and will be a fortified city against them:  Kings, officials, priests, and people [cf. Isaiah 6:8-13]

C        A promise of strong but futile opposition 19; this must be put in the context of the Bible’s relentless presentation of the certainty of the perishing of this age and the infinite superiority and incorruptibility of the eternal inheritance. See Jesus’ words in Luke 10:17-20, Paul in 2 Timothy 4:18 and Peter in 1 Peter 1:3-7; At times Jeremiah felt that his adversaries had the upper hand [Jeremiah 36, 38, 43].For a striking example of Jeremiah’s triumph through the Word see Jeremiah 28:5-17

VI        Biblical connections and Personal Exhortation

A.      Israel is an example of the biblical truth of total depravity:  Andrew Fuller points to Israel as a clear demonstration of the universal truth of total depravity.  “I consider this nation as designed of God to afford a specimen of human nature.  The Divine Being singled them out, crowned them with goodness, strengthened them with the tenderest encouragements, awed them with the most tremendous threatenings, wrought his wonderful works before their eyes, and inspired his servants to give us a faithful history of their character. . . . Excepting the conduct of a few godly people among them, which, being the effect of Divine grace, argues nothing against the doctrine in question, it is a series of rebellion and continued departures from the living God.” [2:663]

B.      Jeremiah’s ministry will illustrate the necessity of an omnipotent internal operation of the Spirit for the production of an obedient heart. Jeremiah’s clarity, passion, compassion and solemnity in declaring what he knew God had said convinced none to repent, but he was met only with anger and resistance. His own experience demonstrated the mercies of the new covenant (See Jeremiah 32:33, 36-42)

C.      Jeremiah’s commission illustrates the effectual power of God’s will as expressed through revealed word [cf. Hebrews 4:12, 13; James 1:17, 18; 1 Peter 1:23-25]