Jeremiah was a young man when he received the call of the Lord. He had no training in speaking to God’s people. The Lord would provide ALL he was to say. And would watch over his life.
We talked about that Jeremiah was of the tribe of Levi. They were the ONLY tribe allowed to be priests before the Lord. In Numbers 8:24 speaks about the Levites beginning their service in the Tabernacle at age 25 but their full service began at age 30 according to Numbers 4:3. It appears that there was a 5-year apprentice period. King David dropped the ‘age of apprenticeship’ service down to 20. Direct service had an upper limit of 50, after which time they could assist only. This age range fit well with the duties of transporting the Tabernacle through the wilderness and the hours spent preparing the sacrifices of the people. An ALL-DAY job requiring strength and stamina.
Because of what Jeremiah says to the Lord when first called, I’m thinking he may have been anywhere from 13 to 20. He would have had to reach the ‘age of accountability’, where the child reaches the maturity level to be responsible for his own sins. Before that age, the parents were responsible for the child’s sins. God would not call a child before he could understand the implications of that calling. Jeremiah also did not consider himself old enough to be considered one with authority. A man other men would listen to.
God told Jeremiah that his age didn’t matter because HE had prepared him for this job since before he was even conceived. He actually told Jeremiah, before he even mentioned his age, that He created him for this specific purpose; to be a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah was kind of ‘pulling a Moses’ when he said he was too young and didn’t know how to speak to people. God didn’t let Jeremiah out of his calling any more than He let Moses out.
What God did do for Jeremiah though is tell him that He would be with him to deliver him in whatever He called him to. I have NO DOUBT that Jeremiah reflected on this promise MANY times in his life. God also touched Jeremiah’s mouth. This ended his concern about not being able to speak. Jeremiah’s lips were now God’s lips to the people. And the words that flowed from them would be God’s.
I find it interesting that the first two of Jeremiah’s ‘tasks’ are destructive. Only the last one is constructive. We know from history that Jeremiah’s words spoke of the destruction to come. For 32 years Jeremiah would be calling the people to repentance. For eight years after being dragged into Egypt, he would speak of the restoration to come. He would spend four times as much time warning the people of the destruction to come than he would tell them of God’s restoration.
I’m curious about Jeremiah’s first two visions. Did they happen as Jeremiah was strolling about and God directed his gaze to specific items in the environment? Or did God put the item Jeremiah would see in his mind’s eye (a vision)? I’m going with the vision assumption myself.
Jeremiah’s first vision had me puzzled, so I turned to my bible helps. “The almond tree is the first tree to bud in the spring, it was said to be ‘watching for spring’” (verse 11, ESV Study Bible notes). It further says that this signified that God would be “watching over His word for the first opportunity to carry out His threats and promises” (verse 11, ESV Study Bible notes). Apparently, Jeremiah understood this connection without the need of a ‘bible teacher’ and ‘study notes’. Jeremiah doesn’t go into detail about his understanding, but neither does he question God about the meaning. God simply tells Jeremiah that he has seen well.
The second vision required a little bit of explanation. I also noticed that it was a more detailed description from Jeremiah too. The explanation was NOT comforting but it was well earned. God lists in detail the sins He is going to punish His people for.
Jeremiah would be bringing words that would NOT be received with gladness. They would eventually land him in prison; in a deep dark well. But God promised with even stronger promise of protection for Jeremiah. “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. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you” (verses 18-19). THESE words would certainly comfort Jeremiah’s heart in the dark times.
Would you want to take on this job with that warning thrown in? I don’t know if I would but God KNEW Jeremiah would. God put Jeremiah to “work” and told him not to pull any punches. God also warned him what would happen if he DID try and hide or soften His message. “Do not be dismayed by them, least I dismay you before them” (verse 17b). God would back up EVERY WORD for Jeremiah, when he spoke it as instructed. Otherwise, God would let Jeremiah’s words fall flat before the people.
God still commands us to speak His truths. To not ‘pull punches’. Yes, we speak it with love but we can’t hide the truth or twist it to fit the changes in our society’s ever-changing standards. If we do, we will be held to account for it AND made to look like a fool before men.
Father God, I’m GLAD You didn’t call me to speak in the same fashion that You did with Jeremiah. I want to be like Jeremiah in trusting You, no matter what circumstances I am in. And in speaking Your truth without fearing those circumstances. I already censor myself a LOT on social media.
I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I don’t like conflict. Maybe that’s why I’m not a Jeremiah. He didn’t shy away from conflict. He spoke, NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE thought of his message.
I’m going to stick to the role You have created for me, and I was told by You once that my role included being a “peace maker.” YOU created that roll and ability in me. It was NOT a natural talent from birth. I will trust YOU to complete the good work You began in me, whatever that looks like in the end. Thanks for not giving up on me Father. I certainly haven’t made Your job an easy or smooth one.