And the word of the LORD came to me, asking, "Jeremiah, what do you see?" "I see a branch of an almond tree," I replied.
The almond tree was, as its name indicates, the "watcher," the "hastener"; as if it lay at the gates of spring, waiting, yearning for their opening; as if it would urge forward the days of sunshine and gladness. It was apparently with some sense of the allegory it taught that the shape of its blossom was adopted as the pattern of the "cup" for the candles in the golden candlestick in the temple. So, as the candles burnt from sunset to sunrise in the golden cups of the almond blossoms, the symbol out of which they sprang was telling of the watcher and the hastener, and was saying, "The morning cometh" And the almond branch says through all the dreary winter, "The spring cometh and also the summer. God watches over His Word to perform it." Yes, as God watches over the almond blossoms to open their beautiful leaves, and to gladden the eyes of men, so will He open the promises and prophecies of His Word to fill men's hearts with joy and peace. Ah, we cannot watch over our word to perform it, save in a very qualified sense indeed. But how calmly the Infinite and Eternal One keeps watch over His from generation to generation till all are fulfilled! Although the symbol of the almond branch was employed to show how certainly God's Word will be performed on the grand scale of its application to national life, we may fairly take our crumb of personal comfort from it. There are multitudes of promises, multitudes of assurances of love, multitudes of revelations which are adopted and applied as personal words from God to His children, who build upon them, hope in them, look for their fulfilment. They have associated God's love and honour with them as closely as our children bind us up with our words. And they are abundantly encouraged to do so. The promises for man are promises to men. God deals with humanity by dealing with individuals. The race is saved through its units. The secret promise of spring in the branch of the almond tree, which the prophet was taught to apply to the whole nation, has also a meaning for every soul of man. It means that God watches and waits to perform His Word to him. But we turn now to that national and human aspect of the text, which undoubtedly it chiefly had for the prophet, and which it was intended to have for men in all generations. When, then, God performs His Word, does He perform it mediately by the instrumentality of agents, or immediately by an exercise of volition? The almond branch answers our question. Not by the touch of His invisible fingers does He make the flower burst from the stem and open its pale pink leaves to the sun and wind. He does it by the majestic movement of the seasons. The courses of the stars, the rush of the world through space, the heat from the far-off sun, the blowing of the winds, the falling of the rain, the secret chemical action of the soil, the mysterious operation of the laws of life in the tree itself, all combine as God's ministers to bring to pass God's will and word in the making and unfolding of a flower. And this increases the marvel of His work; this enlarges our conception of His superintending care; this touches our souls with a consciousness of His universal presence. If the Almighty will spend a year of unceasing work to make a flower bloom, if He will lavish the wealth of earth and use the powers of the heavens upon it, then we may fairly assume that He will exercise as great or greater vigilance and effort to perform His Word touching the highest welfare of man. He will not fail to establish His kingdom, and He will do it by using the most vailed forces operating through centuries of time, if need be, through ages of ages. It is, perhaps, not easy for us to remember that He is now operating through ourselves and through the great masses of mankind, all the while watching over His Word to perform it, but so it is. The Old Testament view of God's use not only of Israel, but also of heathen kings and nations, should aid us to see that He is still using men to fulfil His purposes. Tyrants as well as patriots have served the cause of liberty by compelling nations to safeguard it by constitutional laws and usages. Atheists have furthered a reverent piety by revealing the coldness of their denials and their incompetence to satisfy the deepest, the best, the most irrepressible of our thoughts and desires. Grasping capitalists, as well as Socialists, are now urging forward the cause of a sound and real equality, by causing men everywhere and of all degrees to think, to inquire, to contrive, and to act in combination, each man subordinating the personal to the general good, and so learning a lesson in unity, in self-control, and in care for others. The very faith of the Gospel has been promoted by much that seemed to threaten its extinction. The very principles and precepts of the kingdom of God have been adopted and confirmed because of experience of the evil of their opposites. We dare not, we would not, say that knowledge of evil has been the necessary introduction to knowledge of good, but this we may affirm, that God works by means of evil to perform His Word, to establish it among us as the admitted counsel of perfect wisdom and perfect love; He uses even our faults and our sins to bring to pass the fulfilment of His Word.
I. WHAT WERE THEY? (Cf. vers. 12-14.)
II. WHEREFORE WERE THEY? In all probability, for the sake of vividly impressing the mind of the prophet with the message he was to deliver, and so ensuring that that message should be delivered with greater power. Hence the question, "What seest thou?" (ver. 11) was designed to arouse and arrest his attention, and for the same reason, when that attention had been awakened, the Divine commendation, "Thou hast well seen," is given. Cf. for similar questions and similar visions, ver. 13; Jeremiah 24:3; Amos 7:8; Amos 8:2; Zechariah 4:2; Zechariah 5:2, and in each case the motive seems to have been the same.
III. THEIR SUGGESTIONS FOR OURSELVES.
1. Concerning God's punishment of sin.
(1) Its not being apparent to us is no reason for denying it. Certainly the vision of the stem, or branch, of the almond tree would not to an ordinary observer have suggested it. Nor either the second vision, that of the seething pot, although that did undoubtedly present somewhat more of a troubled aspect. Yet both alike needed that their meaning and interpretation should be given. Their significance did not lie on the surface. Only a divinely illumined eye could see that the early-budding almond tree which, because of its outstripping other trees, being in advance of them all in yielding its fruit, was called the "wakeful" or watchful tree, meant that the Lord was watchful over his word to perform it." Nor was the interpretation of the second vision much more evident than that of the first. And so continually, in connection with ungodly men, there are events occurring and signs of varied kind are given, which to those who are taught of God tell plainly how God is "watchful over his word to perform it;" but to others they tell nothing of the kind. They are like the prophet's almond tree and seething pot, which had no meaning until that meaning was pointed out. The people of Judah and Jerusalem saw nothing in these circumstances, any more than in the prophet's visions, to alarm them very much. And so, still, ungodly men are at ease in the presence of facts and indications which fill those who believe God's Word with unspeakable alarm. How foolish, then, is it to take the unconcern, the powerlessness to understand God's signs, which characterize ungodly men, as any evidence of the unreality of that which God has declared! "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be," etc. Lot was as "one that mocked unto his sons-in-law." The Jews crucified our Lord because he saw so clearly and declared so plainly the character of their trusted leaders and the destruction that was coming - one even more terrible than that which Jeremiah foretold. But the Jews neither saw nor believed anything of the kind.
(2) Its being by means of natural laws does not make it the less God's punishment of sin. The rapid growth and yield of the almond tree was a perfectly natural thing: there was no interference with the orderly course which such forms of plant life assume. And the war between the empires of Egypt and Babylon, in the vortex and whirlpool of which Jerusalem was dragged in and dragged down; all this which the prophet's second vision told of, was it not the inevitable though sad misfortune of any diminutive power as was that of Judah and Jerusalem when placed in like circumstances? Her lot was east just in the place where the two raging seas of Egypt and Babylon met. What wonder if her poor little barque went to pieces beneath the violence of those waves? It was sad enough, but yet perfectly natural; indeed, one may say, inevitable. And so it would be quite possible to explain all God's punishment away, and to regard it like the early blossoming of the almond tree, and like the seething troubles which must come upon little kingdoms placed as Judah was, when great empires on either side of her go to war, as only what was to be expected, what was in keeping with the natural order of things. Let any one read Gibbon, and from his account of the decline and fall of the Roman empire, you would gather no idea of a Divine righteousness arising to inflict merited punishment on an awfully corrupt and degraded people. Believers in God can and do see this, but the great historian has not felt himself bound to point out any such cause of the long series of disasters which he so eloquently relates. The inspired prophet and seer of Patmos has, however, done this; and in the Book of the Revelation, the woes coming upon that blood-stained empire are told of in symbolic but terrible form, and in connection with that God-defying wickedness which was the source and cause of them all. And so today, under cover of the fact that God works according to the natural order of things, men evade the teaching of the events that befall them. Because God punishes sin by the action of his natural laws, men deny that he punishes sin at all. His hand is not recognized in it, and therefore no repentance is awakened. They deem themselves unfortunate, and that is all. If we would be more faithful with ourselves, we should "hear the rod and who hath appointed it," No calamities or disasters come without meaning and intent; they are sent for moral and spiritual purposes, however much they may appear to be but natural and necessary events. Each of them will own, if interrogated, "I have a message from God unto thee."
(3) It will increase in severity if there be need. The first vision is simply that of the almond tree; an emblem of gentleness rather than of severity. But the second vision, that of the boiling caldron, suggested a far ether and more terrible visitation (cf. the plagues in Egypt, which increased in terribleness as they went on). And it is ever so even unto the "consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29).
(4) It often comes from unexpected quarters. The "seething pet i, that the prophet saw had its face northward. Now, the reader of the history of the times of which our prophet tells - the times of King Josiah - will know that it was from the south, from Egypt, they expected that troubles would arise. And in the next chapter (ver. 16) mention is made of trouble that did arise from that quarter, though what particular event is referred to it is not easy to say. But the great trouble was to come from the north, from the last quarter from which they anticipated it. King Josiah lost his life in doing good service to that northern power, the great Assyrian kingdom, by fighting against Egypt. It was not, therefore, to be expected that thence calamity would come. But nevertheless it was thence that their great overthrow and destruction came. And little do the transgressors against God ever know or even dream whence his judgments against them will arise. It is not only "in such an hour," but from such a quarter "as they think not, that the Divine displeasure breaks upon them. A transgressor against God is safe nowhere: nothing may be visible to his eye, everything may be going on in orderly course, and he may have full confidence that all is well. But notwithstanding this, events soon to happen may prove that he has wrongly read the whole of God's providence, and that his security is least where he thought it was greatest and most certain. Happy, and happy alone, is he who hath made the Lord God his trust, and whose hope the Lord is.
2. Concerning the Divine love. We have seen wherefore these visions were given. They reveal to us that Divine love which would warn men from ways which bring upon them such sore judgments. The desire of God to save guilty men, to leave nothing undone by which they may be turned and kept back from evil, is manifest in all this. He would not have his message miss its mark by reason of any lack of deep impression and vivid realization of the truth on the part of the messenger. - C.
I see a rod of an almond tree.
The Hebrew word for almond signifies the "waker," in allusion to its being the first tree to wake to life in the winter. The word also contains the signification of watching and hastening. The word for almond tree is shaked
, and the word for "I will hasten" (ver. 12) is shoked
, from the same root. The almond was the emblem of the Divine forwardness in bringing God's promises to pass. A similar instance in the name of another rosaceous tree is the apricot, which was named from praecocia
(early), on account of its blossoms appearing early in the spring, and its fruit ripening earlier than its congener the peach.
Sermons by a London Minister.
This vision was parabolic, and contains one thought in different stages of development. In looking at any object through a telescope the first look may give a correct impression of the object, but an adjustment of the lens may reveal details not seen before. So in the case of the double vision here. The almond is the first tree to awake from the sleep of winter, and to put forth blossoms. God, in the vision of the almond branch, indicated that the judgments pronounced upon the Hebrew nation were nearing their fulfilment. "I will hasten My Word to perform it." The second vision gives more information than the first upon the same subject. In the first only the fact of the speedy retribution is made known, the second reveals whence it is to come. "Out of the north." The seething pot also shows the terror and confusion that would fill the city of Jerusalem when surrounded by her enemies.
I. THOSE WHO HAVE TO UTTER THE TRUTH OF GOD TO OTHERS MUST FIRST SEE IT CLEARLY THEMSELVES.
II. THOSE WHO CAN SEE THE MIND OF GOD MUST BE PREPARED TO UTTER THE TRUTHS THEY SEE. Men of genius who see things in secret, and think they see what is worth giving to the world, gird up their loins to put forth what they have seen in word, or on canvas, or in the sculptured marble. Christ instructed His first scholars to do this (Matthew 10:27). So Jeremiah must give out that which he has seen.
III. GOD OFTEN MAKES USE OF THINGS FAR BENEATH US, TO MAKE KNOWN TO US IMPORTANT TRUTHS. The boiling pot and the almond branch were common everyday objects, yet God uses them as vehicles to convey to Jeremiah solemn truths respecting His people. So in Christ's parables.
IV. THE TIMES AND INSTRUMENTS OF NATIONAL JUDGMENT ARE IN THE HANDS OF GOD.
V. GOD'S CHASTISEMENTS INCREASE IN SEVERITY WITH THE INCREASE OF NATIONAL SIN. God had again and again sent less severe chastisement upon the Jewish nation, but all had failed to stop their moral decay; hence the necessity, if the nation were to continue in existence, of the execution of the judgments foretold in the prophetic vision.
VI. THE MOST CHILDLIKE AND HUMBLE IN SPIRIT SEE BEST INTO DIVINE MYSTERIES. Just before receiving this revelation Jeremiah had confessed his ignorance and inability (ver. 6). (Matthew 18:3-6; Isaiah 57:15; 1 Corinthians 2:1.)
()This power of spiritual vision is preeminently the gift of God. This power of parables, making them or reading them, is a deep mystery of the unseen kingdom. Is it not the gift of sight that distinguishes one man from another? The prophet may truly say, "I hear a voice they cannot hear; I see a hand they cannot see." How the earth and sky are rich with images which the poet's eye alone can see! What a parable is spring, and what a vision from the Lord is summer, laden with all riches, gentle and hospitable beyond all parallel! With the mountains girdling thee round, as if to shut thee up in prison, and suddenly opening to let thee through into larger liberties — what seest thou? I see beauty, order, strength, majesty, and infinite munificence of grace and loveliness. Look at the moral world, and say what seest thou. Think of its sinfulness, its misery untold, its tumult and darkness and corruption, deep, manifold, and ever-increasing. Is there any cure for disease so cruel, so deadly? What seest thou? I see a Cross, and one upon it like unto the Son of Man, and in His weakness He is mighty, in His poverty He is rich, in His death is the infinite virtue of atonement. I see a Cross, its head rises to heaven, and on it is written, "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin," and from it there comes a voice, saying, "Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die? Believe in Me, and live forever." And far away in the distance, what seest thou? Across the seething sea of time, standing high above all earthly affairs, yet inseparably connected with them, what is that glistening object? It is fairer than the sun when he shineth in the fulness of his strength, and marvellous is its fascination alike for the evil and the good: the evil look upon it until their knees tremble and their bones melt like wax, and the good look unto it, and praise the Lord in a song of thankfulness and hope. What is it? It is a great white throne whence the living Judge sends out His just and final decrees.
()In his later days it was the habit of Wm. Wilberforce, before retiring to rest, to seek in the natural objects about him, to be afresh assured of his Father's love and presence. "I was walking with him," says a friend, "in a verandah, watching for the opening of a night-blowing Cereus. As we stood in eager expectation, it suddenly burst wide open before us. 'It reminds me,' said he, 'of the dispensations of Divine providence first breaking on the glorified eye, when they shall fully unfold, and appear as beautiful as they are complete.'"
PeopleAmon, Anathoth, Benjamin, Hilkiah, Jehoiakim, Jeremiah, Josiah, Zedekiah
TopicsAlmond, Almond-tree, Branch, Jeremiah, Moreover, Replied, Rod, Saying, Seeing, Seest, Tree
Outline1. The time
4. And the calling of Jeremiah
11. His prophetical visions of an almond rod and a seething pot
15. His heavy message against Judah
17. God encourages him with his promise of assistance
Dictionary of Bible ThemesJeremiah 1:11-12
5548 speech, divine
1431 prophecy, OT methods
LibraryMay the Fifteenth God is Wide-Awake
"Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree." --JEREMIAH i. 7-19. And through the almond tree the Lord gave the trembling young prophet the strength of assurance. The almond tree is the first to awake from its wintry sleep. When all other trees are held in frozen slumber the almond blossoms are looking out on the barren world. And God is like that, awake and vigilant. Nobody anticipates Him. Wherever Jeremiah was sent on his prophetic mission the Lord would be there before …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
Jeremiah, a Lesson for the Disappointed.
"Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord."--Jeremiah i. 8. The Prophets were ever ungratefully treated by the Israelites, they were resisted, their warnings neglected, their good services forgotten. But there was this difference between the earlier and the later Prophets; the earlier lived and died in honour among their people,--in outward honour; though hated and thwarted by the wicked, they were exalted to high places, and ruled in the congregation. …
John Henry Newman—Parochial and Plain Sermons, Vol. VIII
The Writings of Jerome.
The following is a list of the writings arranged under various heads, and showing the date of composition and the place held by each in the Edition of Vallarsi, the eleven volumes of which will be found in Migne's Patrologia, vols. xxii. to xxx. The references are to the volumes of Jerome's works (i.-xi.) in that edition. I. Bible translations: (1) From the Hebrew.--The Vulgate of the Old Testament, written at Bethlehem, begun 391, finished 404, vol. ix. (2) From the Septuagint.--The Psalms as used …
St. Jerome—The Principal Works of St. Jerome
Out of Sectarian Confusion
I was still a Methodist. The Methodist did not license women to preach; but when the preachers found out that God was using me in the salvation of souls and that I was not especially interested in building up any certain denomination, I had an abundance of calls. God had already begun talking to my brother Jeremiah about the sin of division, and he was beginning to see the evils of sectarianism. The winter after I was healed, he had attended the Jacksonville, Illinois, holiness convention, and had …
Mary Cole—Trials and Triumphs of Faith
How those are to be Admonished who do not Even Begin Good Things, and those who do not Finish them when Begun.
(Admonition 35.) Differently to be admonished are they who do not even begin good things, and those who in no wise complete such as they have begun. For as to those who do not even begin good things, for them the first need is, not to build up what they may wholesomely love, but to demolish that wherein they are wrongly occupied. For they will not follow the untried things they hear of, unless they first come to feel how pernicious are the things that they have tried; since neither does one desire …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
The Servant's Inflexible Resolve
'For the Lord God will help Me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set My face like a flint.'--ISAIAH l. 7. What a striking contrast between the tone of these words and of the preceding! There all is gentleness, docility, still communion, submission, patient endurance. Here all is energy and determination, resistance and martial vigour. It is like the contrast between a priest and a warrior. And that gentleness is the parent of this boldness. The same Will which is all submission …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
The Baptismal Covenant Can be Kept Unbroken. Aim and Responsibility of Parents.
We have gone "to the Law and to the Testimony" to find out what the nature and benefits of Baptism are. We have gathered out of the Word all the principal passages bearing on this subject. We have grouped them together, and studied them side by side. We have noticed that their sense is uniform, clear, and strong. Unless we are willing to throw aside all sound principles of interpretation, we can extract from the words of inspiration only one meaning, and that is that the baptized child is, by virtue …
G. H. Gerberding—The Way of Salvation in the Lutheran Church
That Sometimes Some Laudably Desire the Office of Preaching, While Others, as Laudably, are Drawn to it by Compulsion.
Although sometimes some laudably desire the office of preaching, yet others are as laudably drawn to it by compulsion; as we plainly perceive, if we consider the conduct of two prophets, one of whom offered himself of his own accord to be sent to preach, yet the other in fear refused to go. For Isaiah, when the Lord asked whom He should send, offered himself of his own accord, saying, Here I am; send me (Isai. vi. 8). But Jeremiah is sent, yet humbly pleads that he should not be sent, saying, Ah, …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
A Defence of the Doctrine of Justification, by Faith in Jesus Christ;
SHEWING, TRUE GOSPEL-HOLINESS FLOWS FROM THENCE; OR, MR. FOWLER'S PRETENDED DESIGN OF CHRISTIANITY, PROVED TO BE NOTHING MORE THAN TO TRAMPLE UNDER FOOT THE BLOOD OF THE SON OF GOD; AND THE IDOLIZING OF MAN'S OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS AS ALSO, HOW WHILE HE PRETENDS TO BE A MINISTER OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND, HE OVERTHROWETH THE WHOLESOME DOCTRINE CONTAINED IN THE 10TH, 11TH, AND 13TH, OF THE THIRTY-NINE ARTICLES OF THE SAME, AND THAT HE FALLETH IN WITH THE QUAKER AND ROMANIST, AGAINST THEM. BY JOHN BUNYAN …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
Letter Xlv (Circa A. D. 1140) to the Canons of Lyons, on the Conception of S. Mary.
To the Canons of Lyons, on the Conception of S. Mary. Bernard states that the Festival of the Conception was new; that it rested on no legitimate foundation; and that it should not have been instituted without consulting the Apostolic See, to whose opinion he submits. 1. It is well known that among all the Churches of France that of Lyons is first in importance, whether we regard the dignity of its See, its praiseworthy regulations, or its honourable zeal for learning. Where was there ever the vigour …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
Epistle iv. To Cyriacus, Bishop.
To Cyriacus, Bishop. Gregory to Cyriacus, Bishop of Constantinople. We have received with becoming charity our common sons, George the presbyter and Theodore your deacon; and we rejoice that you have passed from the care of ecclesiastical business to the government of souls, since, according to the voice of the Truth, He that is faithful in a little will be faithful also in much (Luke xvi. 10). And to the servant who administers well it is said, Because thou hast been faithful over a few things, …
Saint Gregory the Great—the Epistles of Saint Gregory the Great
A COMMUNION MEDITATION AT MENTONE. "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."--1 Peter ii. 24, 25. THE SIN-BEARER. THIS wonderful passage is a part of Peter's address to servants; and in his day nearly all servants were slaves. Peter begins at the eighteenth verse: "Servants, be subject …
Charles Hadden Spurgeon—Till He Come
John the Baptist's Person and Preaching.
(in the Wilderness of Judæa, and on the Banks of the Jordan, Occupying Several Months, Probably a.d. 25 or 26.) ^A Matt. III. 1-12; ^B Mark I. 1-8; ^C Luke III. 1-18. ^b 1 The beginning of the gospel [John begins his Gospel from eternity, where the Word is found coexistent with God. Matthew begins with Jesus, the humanly generated son of Abraham and David, born in the days of Herod the king. Luke begins with the birth of John the Baptist, the Messiah's herald; and Mark begins with the ministry …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
The interest of the book of Jeremiah is unique. On the one hand, it is our most reliable and elaborate source for the long period of history which it covers; on the other, it presents us with prophecy in its most intensely human phase, manifesting itself through a strangely attractive personality that was subject to like doubts and passions with ourselves. At his call, in 626 B.C., he was young and inexperienced, i. 6, so that he cannot have been born earlier than 650. The political and religious …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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