Jeremiah 1:4–14, 17–19 comment (0)
August 2, 2012
By Kenneth B.E. Roxburgh
Related Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-14, 17-19
Bible Studies for Life
Chair and Armstrong Professor of Religion, Samford University
The Person God uses — Make no Excuses
Jeremiah 1:4–14, 17–19
Jeremiah is a favorite character in the Old Testament. He comes before us as a man of faith who, through many distressing circumstances that made him doubt and cry out in despair, still lived a life devoted to God.
He stood steadfast, and it is not insignificant that more is known of the life of Jeremiah than of any other prophet, for his life shows us the possibilities of living for God in a “godless” society.
God Calls (4–8)
The book of Jeremiah spans about a 50-year period, from the end of the seventh century to the middle of the sixth century B.C. Israel (the Northern Kingdom) had long ago disappeared as an independent entity. Judah alone remained. Assyrian power, and its sphere of influence, was in decline. The threat of Babylon, however, was on the horizon and Jeremiah lived through the years of invasion and exile when the city and temple of Jerusalem experienced the judgment of God.
It is in this context that Jeremiah hears the call of God to move from being a priest to become a prophet.
God’s hand was on his life even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. He was born according to God’s appointment — God had a plan for his life that fitted in with His eternal purposes of salvation.
Immediately when Jeremiah heard the call of God on his life, his response was one of excuse: “Ah, Sovereign Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”
I am not surprised that he felt inadequate to the task. He was only a boy — probably in his late teens — and God was asking him to preach to a rebellious people a message of judgment. If there is not some hesitation in a person who hears the call of God, then we might question that person’s sense of dependence upon God. Yet God tells him not to fear because “I am with you.”
God Equips (9–10)
The most common phrase in Jeremiah’s call is “the word of the Lord.” That word became part of his daily living. It was a word that contained both promise and warning. It brought a great sense of assurance to Jeremiah’s life, but it also caused him pain as he proclaimed it to a rebellious people.
In his own personal walk with God he was to discover that God’s Word is a book about living in God’s world and getting back in our spiritual lives to what God wants us to be — a man or woman who offers themselves in obedience to the commands of Scripture.
God Affirms (11–14, 17–19)
God affirmed His word to Jeremiah by giving him a promise. He directed him to the almond tree.
Anathoth to this very day remains a center for almond-growing. The modern visitor to the area in the very early spring is promised the memorable sight of almond trees in bloom in great profusion around the village. The almond tree is the very earliest to bloom in spring. Before it puts forth its leaves it puts forth blossoms, white and snowy.
It is a sign that spring and summer are around the corner and that the fruit of harvest will come.
God says, “I am watching over my word to perform it.” The word translated “almond” sounds like the Hebrew word for “watch over.” The almond tree assures Jeremiah that God’s promises will not fail — He will accomplish all that He promises.
Yet He also tells Jeremiah that judgment will come. Out of the north disaster will come as the Babylonian armies threaten and then destroy the city and the temple. This was a message that Jeremiah would proclaim with tenacity, but it would cause him great pain as the people rejected his message and refused to turn to the Lord for mercy.