Tuesday, 24 June 2014


For this series we are using the title God gave to Jeremiah in Jeremiah 1:3b "I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
His ministry extended beyond Jerusalem, Judah and the Jew to the nations. Not just the nations of his day, but as he spoke God's word his written messages live on and address the whole world today.
Jeremiah the son Hilkiah, a priest from a discredited and disenfranchised family line (Abithar who sided against Solomon), from a small 'Levite' village in the territory of the small tribe of Benjamin, Anathoth 3 miles outside of Jerusalem.
Not a particularly auspicious beginning....but God had his plans and purposes for Jeremiah.
He prophesied from 627-587 BC (over 40 years).
The three major kings during that time were:
[1] Josiah: The last of the good kings. Jeremiah begun to prophecy half way through his reign.
[2] Jehoiakim: 2 Chron 36:5 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
[3] Zedekiah: 2 Chron 36:11 Zedekiah was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. v12 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD. v13 He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God. He stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning to the LORD, the God of Israel.
2Ki 25:7 They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.
The final words of the introduction: until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. They take us forward to Lamentations. Jeremiah answers the question: how did it all come to this!
The major theme of the book is the word of the Lord. This forms the bookends: Jeremiah 1v3 & 51v64.
God does not come to Jeremiah to ask him if he would like to apply for the job of prophet to the nations. He does not ask Jeremiah to volunteer for a tough and dangerous assignment. No, He informs Jeremiah of his appointment. Until this moment Jeremiah was not aware of this because it all happened before he was even conceived!
v5 “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.”
When Jesus says 'follow me' (Mark 1v17; 2v14; 8v34; 10v21) he is not acting as a recruiting Sargent, these words are a summons, he is issuing a command. He is King.
Paul preaches to the proud, free thinking, Greeks in Athens, Acts 17:30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
Those who came to sit in judgement upon Paul and his new teaching are themselves summoned by God, through the Apostle, to repent.
Paul call was outwardly very different than that of Jeremiah, but 'behind the scenes' there are great similarities. He writes about this in Galatians 1v15-16 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles,
The same is true for every Christian in regard to:
a) Our creation: Psalm 139v16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.
b) Our salvation: Ephesians 1v4-6 ...even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace,
c) Our calling. No Christian ever just 'does a job'. We all serve the Lord in whatever we are doing.
Colossians 3v22-24 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Question to ponder: Does God merely know the future or is he there already? (Time has not always existed. God created time. Did he cage himself into time? We are creatures of time. He is God!)
Jeremiah was not the first to raise objections to his call. Moses raised more objections, with greater persistence, and insistence, as to his unsuitability for his calling - see Exodus 3v1-4v17.
Jeremiah pleads that he is too young for the task - v6.
How old was he?
The Lord is having none of it. Why should he! He is God. He does not make mistakes. YOU SHALL GO....YOU SHALL SPEAK...I AM WITH YOU.
"Statistically the most frequent divine command in the bible: 'Do not be afraid'." (Christopher Wright)
How is it that Jeremiah is not to fear? God gives him a promise to remember and plead when ever he does feel afraid (there will be many occasions): "for I am with you.."
A vision? A theophany? An experience? Isaiah and Ezekiel had similar experiences when they were called.
Isaiah 6v6-7; Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.”
Ezekiel 2v9 And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and behold, a scroll of a book was in it., 3v3. And he said to me, “Son of man, feed your belly with this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.” Then I ate it, and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey.
The scope of his commission is extensive - v10. 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.
Watch out for these six terms for they will reoccur at key moments in his message. This is what the word of the Lord that Jeremiah delivers will do.
4. FIRST WORDS - v11-19
So Jeremiah begins his ministry.
1st Word: The word of the Lord IS the word of the LORD - v11-12
The ESV margin explains that this is a play on words. The word for almond sounds like the Hebrew for watching.
Jeremiah is bringing the word of the Lord. He need have no fear for God will perform what his word says. The penalty for claiming to speak the word of the Lord and that word not to come true was death - see Deuteronomy 18v15-22.
Deut 18v22 ....when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
Jeremiah need have no fear God will not leave him speaking empty words, prophesy that fails. Throughout his ministry people claimed that he was a false prophet. Events would prove otherwise.
2nd Word: The word of the Lord says INVASION FROM THE NORTH - v13-19.
The prophet doesn't get to chose his message, or those to whom he delivers it. (Nor does the preacher - we are to preach the whole counsel of God. Visiting preachers do not preach everything because many things take more than 35 minutes to teach & preach. Christians are better off with a lessor gifted preacher who seeks to preach everything than the finest visiting preachers in the land, although at time sit may not feel like it.)
If Jeremiah's first word was easy, the second is really throwing him in at the deep end - invasion from the North! Not just one but a succession. Invasions that will reach to the very gates of Jerusalem. A message of judgement. Accusations of evil and forsaking the Lord.
Kings, officials, priests and people will all react with hostility towards Jeremiah. They will fight against him. But the Lord's earlier promise, v8, to deliver Jeremiah stands.
Thompson has well said: "The man who fears man also has God to fear."
Jeremiah is told to literally 'gird up his loins' (v17 ESV dress yourself for work).
1Peter 1:13 AV Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, (ESV preparing your minds for action,) be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;


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