James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:Jeremiah 1:1-19
THE PROPHET’S GENEALOGY AND CALL
As we approach the second prophet it is timely to remind the student that this work is not designed to comment on every chapter and verse of the Bible. To do so would call for a number of volumes defeating the purpose. Nor does the study of the Bible for the average Christian worker require this. Particularly is this true of the prophets, which, like the psalms, repeat themselves continually. Their principal contents were outlined in the lesson entitled, “Introduction to the Prophets,” and more clearly defined in the lessons on Isaiah. One who has thoughtfully pondered that “Introduction” and pursued those lessons, should be competent to interpret Jeremiah on his or her own.
There is this difference, however, between Isaiah and Jeremiah, in the latter, history is frequently blended with prophecy, particularly the history of the prophet himself. Moreover, the chapters are not arranged chronologically. For these reasons Jeremiah will be considered somewhat in detail, different lessons gathering round the leading events of his career.
It is assumed that before entering on the prophets at all, the reader has familiarized himself with the historical books of the Old Testament, which are as necessary to the understanding of the prophets as the foundation of a building is to its upper stories.
HIS GENEALOGY AND PERIOD (Jeremiah 1:1-3)
The “Hilkiah” named is another than he who found the law-book (1 Kings 22:8), but since he was a priest, Jeremiah must have belonged to the tribe of Levi. Look up Anathoth on the map. Read 2 Kings 22-25 to refresh recollection of the period named in Jeremiah 1:2-3.
About fifty years had elapsed since the close of Isaiah’s ministry, during which the kings were Manasseh and Amon, and the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah and Habakkuk.
HIS CALL (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
It is interesting that this was prenatal (Jeremiah 1:5). The prophet’s diffidence growing out of his youth and inexperience is overruled (Jeremiah 1:6-7). He is assured of divine guardianship (Jeremiah 1:8) and entrusted with a divine message (Jeremiah 1:9). What a testimony to verbal inspiration is found in that verse! While distinctively a prophet to Judah, yet his ministry is wider (Jeremiah 1:10). It is mainly destructive in character or result, for while under four expressions judgment is set forth, only under two is a constructive task referred to.
(3) HIS EARLIEST COMMISSION (Jeremiah 1:11-16)
Here two symbols are employed, and through the book the same form of teaching is used both for himself and the people. An “almond tree” blossoms early: God’s purposes are maturing fast. A “seething pot” means trouble: trouble coming from the north.
(4) HIS ENDUEMENT FOR SERVICE (Jeremiah 1:17-19)
Like Isaiah, the prophet’s commission is discouraging, at least in the foreview. Enemies will oppose him kings, princes, priests and people. And no wonder, because his speech will seem so unpatriotic, since he must proclaim the subjugation of Judah to Babylon, on account of her sins. But God will be with him. Note the figures of speech descriptive of his protection (Jeremiah 1:18), as well as the assured promise (Jeremiah 1:19). But the warning is equally significant (Jeremiah 1:17). The prophet’s hope of success lies in his courage, and his courage depends on his faith.
1. What peculiarity do we find in the books of the prophets?
2. How is the book of Jeremiah distinguished from Isaiah?
3. On what plan will this book be studied?
4. Name the four points in the outline of chapter 1.
5. Have you discovered Anathoth?
6. Have you read the historical chapters in 2 Kings?
7. Name the prophets between Isaiah and Jeremiah.
8. Quote verse nine of this lesson.
9. What form of teaching is frequently found in Jeremiah?
10. What is to be the burden of his message?