The Vast Compass of the Prophet's Work
Jeremiah 1:10
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down…

I. THE WIDE EXTENT THE PROPHECIES COVER. Primarily they had to do with Jerusalem and Judah and all the families of the house of Israel. But this was only the beginning. They went on to affect in the most intimate way all the nations and the kingdoms. The principles of righteousness and truth and Divine authority concern all. They can no more be-kept within certain geographical bounds than can the clouds and rains of heaven. On this day, when the Great I AM came to the youthful Jeremiah, he set him over the nations and over the kingdoms, and here is the reason why these prophecies, with their grand ethical deliverances, have still such a firm hold upon Christendom, upon the Gentile just as much as the Jew. Wherever there still remains the worshipper of stocks and stones, wherever the oppressor is found, and the man who confides in the arm of flesh, and the man who is utterly indifferent to the glory of God, - then in that same place there is occasion to insist most strenuously upon the continued application of Jeremiah's words. The prophets were more than indignant patriots; they were and are still witnesses to an ideal of humanity, nowhere regarded as it ought to be, and only too often neglected, if not contemptuously denied. He who came forth to condemn his own people for lapsing into idolatry did thereby equally condemn other nations for not departing from it. The gospel for every creature is preceded by a body of prophecy, which is shown also to concern every creature, not by laborious inference, but by such explicit words as we find in this verse.

II. THE DEPTH OF THE WORK TO WHICH THESE PROPHECIES POINT. The work is not only wide; it is deep as it is wide. The ultimate aim is set forth in two figures:

1. Building.

2. Planting.

On these two figures Paul dwells very suggestively in writing to the Corinthians. The constructive work of God in the human soul needs more than one figure sufficiently to illustrate it. But all true building must be on a sufficient foundation; all Divine planting, if it is to come to anything, must be in a suitable soil. Hence there goes beforehand an unsparing work, to destroy things already in existence. Buildings already erected must be pulled down; plants already growing must be uprooted and put beyond the chance of further growth. We have done things which ought to have been left undone; and the word to Jeremiah is that they must be undone, in order that the things which ought to be clone may be fully done. The terms indicating destruction are multiplied to emphasize the need, and prevent escape into ruinous compromise. There must be no tacking on of a new building to certain humanly cherished parts of the old. Constructions after the will of God must not be liable to a description such as that of the image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream; all must be strong, pure, and beautiful from basement to summit. In the garden of the Lord there can be no mixing of heavenly and earthly plants. A clean sweep - such is necessitated for the glory of God and the blessedness of man. Thus at the very first is given a hint of the hostility which Jeremiah would provoke. Pulling down means the expulsion of self from its fortress, and its bereavement of all that it valued. Every brick detached, every plant uprooted, intensified the enmity one degree more. "Destroy," "overthrow," are the only words that can be spoken as long as anything remains in which human pride and selfishness take delight. But at the same time, the prophet goes forth to build and to plant. He takes nothing away but what he leaves something infinitely better behind. When God sends a messenger to us, his great first word is "thorough;" and even though he has to make his way through human pains, tears, murmurings, and semi-rebellions, he keeps to the word. Remember, then, that he who pulls down also builds; he who uproots also plants; and he builds and plants for eternity. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: Behold, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."

The Ministry for a Corrupt Age
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