Jeremiah 1:4
Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
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(4) The word of the Lord came unto me.—The words imply obviously a revelation, the introduction of a new element into the human consciousness. In many cases such a revelation implied also the spiritual tension of an ecstatic or trance-like state, a dream, or an open vision. It almost presupposed a previous training, outward or inward, a mind vexed by hot thoughts and mourning over the sins of the people. Here there is no mention of dream or vision, and we must assume, therefore, a distinct consciousness that the voice which he heard in his inmost soul was from Jehovah. For the thought of pre-natal calling, see Isaiah 49:1.

Jeremiah 1:4-5. Then the word of the Lord came unto me — With a satisfying assurance to himself, that it was the word of the Lord, and not a delusion. Before I formed thee in the belly — That is, the womb. Having spoken before on the time of his call, he now speaks of the manner of it. I knew thee — That is, I had thee in my view, or approved thee as a fit minister for this work, in the same sense as it is said, Acts 15:18, Known unto God are all his works from the foundation of the world; he contemplated the plan of them, and approved it in his mind, before he created and brought them into being. I sanctified thee — I set thee apart in my counsel for executing the office of a prophet. We have examples of a similar designation with that mentioned here, in John the Baptist and St. Paul, as the reader will see if he consult the texts referred to in the margin. And ordained thee a prophet unto the nations — He speaks thus to Jeremiah, not to the other prophets, because he stood in need of greater encouragement than they, both in respect to the tenderness of his years, and the difficulties which he was to encounter. And ordained thee a prophet to the nations — To other nations besides the Jews.

1:1-10 Jeremiah's early call to the work and office of a prophet is stated. He was to be a prophet, not to the Jews only, but to the neighbouring nations. He is still a prophet to the whole world, and it would be well if they would attend to these warnings. The Lord who formed us, knows for what particular services and purposes he intended us. But unless he sanctify us by his new-creating Spirit, we shall neither be fit for his holy service on earth, nor his holy happiness in heaven. It becomes us to have low thoughts of ourselves. Those who are young, should consider that they are so, and not venture beyond their powers. But though a sense of our own weakness and insufficiency should make us go humbly about our work, it should not make us draw back when God calls us. Those who have messages to deliver from God, must not fear the face of man. The Lord, by a sign, gave Jeremiah such a gift as was necessary. God's message should be delivered in his own words. Whatever wordly wise men or politicians may think, the safety of kingdoms is decided according to the purpose and word of God.This history of Jeremiah's call to his office formed a part of his first address to the people. He claimed to act by an external authority, and to speak not his own words but those of Yahweh; and this even when resisting the divine call (see Jeremiah 15:13; Jeremiah 20:7, Jeremiah 20:14-18). 4-10. Jeremiah's call to the prophetical office.

unto me—other manuscripts read "to him"; but English Version probably represents the true Hebrew text; this inscription was doubtless made by Jeremiah himself.

Then, i. e. when he was first called to his office; or, The Lord then began to speak unto me.

Me; a change of the person, a thing very usual with the prophets.

Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying. Not in the days of Jehoiakim, but in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah, Jeremiah 1:2. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions read, "unto him". Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
4. Now the word, etc.] This preface to the Book forms at once Jeremiah’s plea and his support, the credentials of his mission to which he might refer the people when hostile and himself in seasons of despondency. We have in this section the declaration of God’s purpose concerning him (Jeremiah 1:5); Jeremiah’s protest (Jeremiah 1:6); God’s reply (Jeremiah 1:7-8); the act of divine consecration (Jeremiah 1:9); the nature of the charge itself (Jeremiah 1:10).

4–10. The Prophet’s call and its nature

4–19. Jeremiah’s call

The passage will fall into four sections.

(i) Jeremiah 1:4-10. The prophet’s call and its nature. (ii) Jeremiah 1:11-12. The symbol of the almond tree, shewing that Jehovah is wakeful to perform his word. (iii) Jeremiah 1:13-16. That of the caldron, indicating a threatened invasion of Judah. (iv) Jeremiah 1:17-19. Words of encouragement.

Verses 4-19. - The call of Jeremiah. Verse 4. - Unto me. For the change of person, comp. Ezekiel 1:4. Jeremiah 1:4The Call and Consecration of Jeremiah to be a Prophet of the Lord. - The investiture of Jeremiah with the prophetic office follows in four acts: the call on the part of the Lord, Jeremiah 1:4-8; Jeremiah's consecration for his calling in Jeremiah 1:9-10; and in two signs, by means of which the Lord assures him of certain success in his work and of powerful support in the exercise of his office (Jeremiah 1:11-19). The call was given by a word of the Lord which came to him in this form: Jeremiah 1:5. "Before I formed thee in the womb I have known thee, and before thou wentest forth from the belly have I consecrated thee, to be prophet to the nations have I set thee. Jeremiah 1:6. Then said I, Ah, Lord Jahveh! behold, I know not how to speak; for I am too young. Jeremiah 1:7. Then said Jahveh to me, Say not, I am too young; but to all to whom I send thee shalt thou go, and all that I command thee shalt thou speak. Jeremiah 1:8. Fear not before them: for I am with thee, to save thee, saith Jahveh. This word came to Jeremiah by means of inspiration, and is neither the product of a reflective musing as to what his calling was to be, nor the outcome of an irresistible impulse, felt within him, to come forward as a prophet. It was a supernatural divine revelation vouchsafed to him, which raised his spiritual life to a state of ecstasy, so that he both recognised the voice of God and felt his lips touched by the hand of God (Jeremiah 1:9). Further, he saw in spirit, one after another, two visions which God interpreted to him as confirmatory tokens of his divine commission (Jeremiah 1:11-19). Jeremiah's appointment to be a prophet for the nations follows upon a decree of God's, fixed before he was conceived or born. God in His counsel has not only foreordained our life and being, but has predetermined before our birth what is to be our calling upon this earth; and He has accordingly so influenced our origin and our growth in the womb, as to prepare us for what we are to become, and for what we are to accomplish on behalf of His kingdom. This is true of all men, but very especially of those who have been chosen by God to be the extraordinary instruments of His grace, whom He has appointed to be instruments for the carrying out of the redemptive schemes of His kingdom; cf. Jeremiah 44:2, Jeremiah 44:24; Jeremiah 49:5; Galatians 1:15. Thus Samson was appointed to be a Nazarite from the womb, this having been revealed to his mother before he was conceived, Judges 13:3. To other men of God such divine predestination was made known for the first time when they were called to that office to which God had chosen them. So was it with our prophet Jeremiah. In such a case a reminder by God of the divine counsel of grace, of old time ordained and provided with means for its accomplishment, should be accepted as an encouragement willingly to take upon one the allotted calling. For the man God has chosen before his birth to a special office in His kingdom He equips with the gifts and graces needed for the exercise of his functions. The three clauses of Jeremiah 1:5 give the three moments whereof the choosing consists: God has chosen him, has consecrated him, and has installed him as prophet. The reference of the words "I have known thee," Calvin limited to the office, quasi diceret, priusquam te formarem in utero, destinavi te in hunc usum, nempe ut subires docendi munus in populo meo. Divine knowing is at the same time a singling out; and of this, choosing is the immediate consequence. But the choosing takes place by means of הקדישׁ, sanctifying, i.e., setting apart and consecrating for a special calling, and is completed by institution to the office. "To be prophet for the nations have I set thee" (נתן, ponere, not only appoint, but install). The sense has been briefly put by Calv. thus: (Jer.) fuisse hac lege creatum hominem, ut suo tempore manifestaretur propheta. לנוים, to the nations equals for the nations; not for Judah alone, but for the heathen peoples too; cf. Jeremiah 1:10, Jeremiah 25:9, 46ff. The Chethibh אצורך should apparently be read אצוּרך, from צוּר, equivalent to יצר; the root-form צוּר, being warranted by Exodus 32:4; 1 Kings 7:15, and being often found in Aramaic. It is, however, possible that the Chet. may be only scriptio plena of אצר, a radice יצר, since the scriptio pl. is found elsewhere, e.g., Hosea 8:12; Jeremiah 44:17; Ezekiel 21:28, etc.
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