Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:Predestined
It is a great thing for a man to believe that he is where God means him to be; but it is a greater thing for him to believe that, in order to put him where he is, God has been shaping all his past, and that He was even thinking of him and planning for him before he was born. Such was the feeling with which Jeremiah entered upon his great career, and it is this that explains his lifelong fidelity to his mission, continually assailed as he was by warrings without and fears within. It was not only the sense that God was with him, but that, even before his birth, he had been in the mind of God.
I. We must remember that such a vision comes only to the man who is worthy of it, and, in a measure, prepared for it. Jeremiah, like Isaiah at his call, was a young man—he cannot have been over twenty-five, if as much; but so thoughtful and tender-hearted a man must have often brooded over the sins and the follies of his people. To such a people somebody must speak for God; and there gathers within him half unconsciously the feeling that his is the voice that must be lifted up—that he is the man; till, in one sublime moment, the whole wonderful meaning of his career—his birth, his youth, his special and peculiar experiences—is flashed upon him. He sees that God had been thinking of him, caring for him, preparing for him, before he was born. Clearly, if the past and present have any meaning at all, he is God's marked man. No human life is hidden from God.
II. It is often the greatest who hesitate. To shrink is at least to show that we have measured the magnitude of the task and the slenderness of our own resources. But the man who has heard the voice must obey it, unless he is prepared to see his future filled with desolation and remorse. There is a humility which is perhaps even more disastrous than pride. The proud man injures himself; the man who, in mistaken humility, makes the great refusal, injures the world by depriving it of the service he is fitted to render. Think for a moment of the incomparable loss to the world had Jeremiah finally yielded to the voice that spoke within him. His sense of weakness was, after all, a high qualification; it gave him sympathy with men, and it threw him back upon God. In some important directions Jeremiah's contribution to the religion of Israel is profounder than that of any other Hebrew, and there is no Old Testament character who is such a marvellous prototype of Jesus. And all this would have been lost to the world had he listened to the voice that pled so plausibly for keeping aloof from the public life of his time.
III. The whole career of Jeremiah is a proof that this Divine promise had been kept. In his own strength he could never have faced the fearful odds that were arrayed against him. Look at him as he calmly stands before a howling mob that demands his execution. At such a moment he is, indeed, in his own words, firm as a brazen wall against the whole land—kings and priests and people. Why is he, the timid and the tender Prophet, so calm amid these cruel shouts? Is it not because his God is with him, as He promised to be? With Jeremiah, as with Paul, power was made perfect in weakness. Each of these great men had to contend with serious natural disadvantages: their intrepid careers are proof abundant that the power which they displayed was not their own, but that their work was done in the strength of Him whom they served. Of themselves they were weak; but the grace of Another was sufficient for them, and the power of Another rested upon them.
—J. E. McFadyen, The City With Foundations, p. 117.
Lifting my eyes in the sunshine of yesterday to the flowering orchards above me, the 'summer snow' that stretches away southwards to the hills, and the very avalon of apple-trees that makes an 'awful rose of dawn' towards the east—an impulse seized me to tempt you with a description of their beauty. But I threw down my pen, guiltless of a line or a word, helpless before this unapproachable world, and able only to cry out, with the prophet, in my heart—'ah, Lord God, behold I cannot speak; for I am a child'.
—Sydney Dobell to Charlotte Brontë.
References.—I. 6, 7.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 275. I. 6-9.—J. B. Lightfoot, Ordination Addresses, p. 3. I. 8.—"Plain Sermons" by contributors to the Tracts for the Times, vol. v. p. 248. I. 10.—P. M 'Adam Muir, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lxvii. 1905, p. 339. I. 11, 12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlvi. No. 2678. I. 30.—J. Parker, Studies in Texts, vol. i. p. 172. II. 1-19.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2926. II. 2.—Ibid. vol. xli. No. 2399; vol. li. No. 2926. Hugh Black, Christ's Service of Love, p. 316. II. 9.—A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 245. II. 11.—Ibid. p. 246. II. 13.—Ibid. p. 249. W. M. Punshon, Broken Cisterns, a Sermon, p. 601. C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 322. II. 18.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. vii. No. 356. II. 19, 20.—Jesse Brett, The Soul's Escape, p. 42. A. Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture—Isaiah and Jeremiah, p. 252. II. 20-37.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. li. No. 2931. II. 26.—Hugh Black, University Sermons, p. 153. II. 32.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvii. No. 1634.
To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.
It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.
Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.
Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.
Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.
Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.
And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.
Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.
Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.
For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.
And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.