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Jeremiah 1:1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin- Anathoth was a village near Jerusalem. It was a priestly city (Josh. 21:18) on the great north road through which invaders would have approached Jerusalem (Is. 10:30). "The words of Jeremiah" contrasts with him using the first person in :4, so this introduction may have been added under Divine inspiration by an editor of the prophecy, perhaps Ezra.

Jeremiah 1:2 To whom the word of Yahweh came in the days of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign-
Mentioned in Jer. 25:3 as the start of his 23 year ministry.

Jeremiah 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, to the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, to the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month-
The implication is that God ceased to speak through Jeremiah once Judah were taken captive. His silence was part of their punishment; although we note that Ezekiel continued prophesying to the exiles after this point.

Jeremiah 1:4 Now the word of Yahweh came to me saying-
Perhaps in a vision, which is how "the word of Yahweh came..." in Gen. 15:1 (s.w.).

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you-
This is often misread as meaning that God had a relationship with Jeremiah whilst he was a foetus. But the text says He knew him before that. Paul interprets it in Gal. 1:14,15 as meaning known before creation. "Formed" translates the same word Jeremiah will later use of how God as the potter or former has formed Israel in order to do His work (Jer. 18:2-6,11; 19:1,11; 33:2). So the 'forming' is not simply a reference to literal creation, but of being formed in order to fulfil a specific purpose. This involves the formation of our unique personality even before birth; the spirit of man is "formed" within us (Zech. 12:1 s.w.). Our genetic history and formation was likewise in order to be and do specific things intended in God's plan (Eph. 2:10). Man is never better than when living up to these expectations.

Before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations- "Sanctification" is not therefore merely forgiveness, but a calling to action. The idea of forgiveness and moral cleansing is indeed in view, but that is not to be received in a vacuum. We are sanctified so that we might be separated unto active service in response to it, with an appropriate humility. Paul clearly alludes to Jeremiah's experience (Gal. 1:15,16), and the NT applies these ideas to us all. Paul interprets being a prophet to the nations as preaching to them. This is how we who are not inspired as the prophets were can still continue their ministry.

At times, the prophets are paralleled with Israel- Jeremiah was a “prophet to the nations”, and yet this was Israel’s role (Is. 49:2). Both the prophets and Israel are described as “the servant of the Lord”. But God and Israel were in the process of divorce, as they knew. The prophets were both on God’s side, and Israel’s. They were torn men. Just as God Himself was. He appeared “like a man confused” (Jer. 14:9). Jeremiah's ministry was partly "to the [Gentile] nations" in that his prophecies against Babylon and Egypt etc. were intended to elicit their repentance. or we can understand that he was a prophet about the Gentile nations in that Jeremiah repeatedly predicted those nations would attack Israel.

Jeremiah 1:6 Then I said, Ah, Lord Yahweh! Behold, I don’t know how to speak; for I am a child-
It is typical of God to work through those who feel the least qualified. And yet Jeremiah's objection to his calling was wrong, given that God had prepared him genetically from the beginning to be ideally suited for the calling he was now given (:5). AV is just as legitimate: "I cannot speak". This smacks of a refusal to accept the commission for which he had been prepared from the beginning of creation. The Hebrew for "child" is generally used of pre-adolescents, and it may be that indeed Jeremiah was very young. This indicates that God is active with children and they can legitimately respond to Him.

Jeremiah 1:7 But Yahweh said to me, Don’t say, ‘I am a child;’ for to whoever I shall send you, you shall go, and whatever I shall command you, you shall speak-
He was not to keep telling himself that "I am a child...". This exhortation to watch our self-talk and negative self-perception is absolutely needed today. This could be read as meaning that God would force Jeremiah's obedience regardless of his youth; or it could simply be a more detailed reiteration of the command just given, urging his freewill obedience to it.

Jeremiah 1:8 Don’t be afraid because of them; for I am with you to deliver you, says Yahweh-
AV "Don't be afraid of their faces" suggests this young man being cowed by the faces of those older than him to whom he had to witness. We know exactly this feeling, of inadequacy and awkwardness in making a witness. And we are encouraged hereby to go forward. The phrase is an exact quotation from the encouragements to go and possess the land at the time of the conquest (Dt. 31:6; Josh. 11:6). The unfaithful Israelites are thereby made parallel to the Canaanites; and Jeremiah like Joshua is to lead the people into possession of the kingdom of God in Israel. This was indeed the possible, potential outcome of Jeremiah's message; if Judah had repented and accepted it, then they could have been established as God's Kingdom and would triumph over all seemingly more powerful opposition. But that potential went tragically unrealized at the time. It was with these very same words that Jeremiah was to encourage the Jews to resist and not fear the Babylonians (Jer. 42:11). As he had overcome all the faces of his opponents through obedience to God's word, so all Judah could have followed Jeremiah's personal example. This is indeed how the preacher must be; the word is to become flesh in us. As Jeremiah was not afraid before the faces of opponents, so Judah were to be like him before the Babylonians.

Jeremiah 1:9 Then Yahweh put forth His hand-
The same phrase as in Gen. 19:10, where Yahweh through the Angels put forth His hand to preserve Lot from the men of Sodom, who are presented in the prophets as representing the men of Jerusalem and Judah in their persecution of prophets like Jeremiah.

And touched my mouth; and Yahweh said to me, Behold, I have put My words in your mouth- The same phrase is used in the commissioning of Isaiah in Is. 6:7. The touching of the prophet's mouth was there symbolic of God forgiving Isaiah; and here the same idea may be in view, seeing that Jeremiah has just argued back with God in (like Moses) refusing the commission given to him, when God has explained that he had been born and prepared for this work. Jeremiah's reluctance to preach and struggle with God is going to be a theme of his ministry, coming to full term in Lamentations, where at the end of his life he openly struggles with God over the fulfilment of the very word which Jeremiah has been inspired to preach.

Jeremiah 1:10 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-
Jeremiah had complained that he was but a child, totally inadequate; and yet through the power of the word he was preaching, he had power over the nations. His prophetic word could destroy nations like Babylon and disobedient Judah, and also result in the building and planting of a new Israel if they were obedient. These words are applied to all who "overcome"; they shall likewise be given "power over the nations" (Rev. 2:26). The 'plucking up' is the word used of how Judah would be plucked up out of their land for their disobedience to the prophetic word (Dt. 29:28; 2 Chron. 7:20). And as the Gentiles plucked up / out Israel from their land, so those nations would be plucked up (Jer. 12:14,15,17). Likewise the building and planting specifically refers to the restoration of Israel after their plucking up (Jer. 24:6; 31:28,40; 42:10). It was God through His word who would do these things (Jer. 18:7); but that possibility worked through the preacher and proclaimer of that word. Therefore here Jeremiah is presented as the one who would do these things. This is the enormous power delegated to all to this day who preach His word; we really can save people, plant them in the Kingdom by sowing the seed of the Kingdom; and those who refuse will be plucked up.

"Break down" is the word specifically used about the throwing down of the temple and great houses of Jerusalem (Jer. 33:4; 39:8). Likewise "overthrow" is used in this sense, specifically about Judah and Jerusalem (Jer. 31:28,40). The building and planting are the words used of how God potentially would have restored and rebuilt the kingdom of God in Israel had Judah repented (s.w. Jer. 24:6; 31:28). The plural "nations and kingdoms" in view are therefore epitomized in the fate of Judah; although perhaps intensive plurals are being used here, in the sense of 'the one great nation' and 'one great kingdom' of Judah. Or it could be that the plural refers to Israel and Judah; for at times the ten tribe kingdom are also in view in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:11 Moreover the word of Yahweh came to me saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? I said, I see a branch of an almond tree-
The almond is the first tree in Palestine to bud, so it means literally the watching tree, as if it were alive and eager to come to life. The idea was that God's prophetic word of judgment against His people, as well as the potentials for restoration, were very soon to come true, and there was an eagerness and energy latent within the word of prophecy to achieve its own ends.

Jeremiah 1:12 Then Yahweh said to me, You have seen well; for I watch over My word to perform it-
He would watch over His word to achieve the breaking down and building up just spoken of in :10; as is stated specifically in Jer. 31:28.

The word translated 'hasten' or "watch over" is very similar to the word for 'almond'. Almonds are associated with God's eyes; the bowls of the lampstands were almonds (Ex. 25:33,34). Zech. 4:2 talks about these almond bowls on the candlestick, and Zech. 4:10 interprets them as the "eyes of the LORD which run to and fro through the whole earth". 2 Chron. 16:9 talks about the Angels in the same way; "the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him". Similarly in Rev. 4:5 the lamps in the bowls of almond are equated with the "seven spirits (or Angels) of God". Rev. 5:6 equates the seven eyes with the seven spirits. Thus the almond rod which Jeremiah saw represented God's eyes or Angels who would watch over the word of God which Jeremiah was to speak to perform it. See on Dan. 9:14.

Jeremiah 1:13 The word of Yahweh came to me the second time saying, What do you see? I said, I see a boiling cauldron; and it is tipping away from the north-
It was about to be poured out southwards, upon Judah. Ez. 11:3; 24:3 use the boiling cauldron as a symbol of Jerusalem. Perhaps in Ez. 11:3 the false prophets had purposefully wrested Jeremiah's prophecy here to say that the cauldron represented Jerusalem rather than Babylon, and it would give them protection from Babylon. This is typical of how Divine words are wrested out of context in accordance with the desired narrative of the false teacher.


Jeremiah 1:14 Then Yahweh said to me, Out of the north evil will break out on all the inhabitants of the land-
The pouring out of the cauldron was the breaking out of evil from Babylon.

Jeremiah 1:15 For, behold, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, says Yahweh; and they shall come, and they shall each set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls all around, and against all the cities of Judah-
God's judgment was to be uttered as it were from the judgment thrones of the invaders which would be set up at the gates of Jerusalem, the place of power and judgment.

Jeremiah 1:16 I will utter My judgements against them touching all their wickedness, in that they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods-
This is evidence that 'the judgment seat' isn't the weighing up of evidence which we may tend to think of it as. Pilate sat on the judgment seat not to weigh up evidence but to pronounce the verdict (Jn. 19:13). Herod sat on the judgment seat in order to make "an oration" to the people, supposedly on God's behalf (Acts 12:21 RVmg.). It wasn't to weigh up any evidence- it was to make a statement. And thus it will be in the final judgment. Also, "judge" is often used in the sense of 'to condemn'- not to just consider evidence (e.g. Mt. 7:2; Rom. 3:7; 2 Thess. 2:17). The trial of our faith is going on now; the judgment will simply formally reveal the verdict which is now being arrived at. The Father judges now "according to every man's work" (1 Pet. 1:17), as He did in OT times: "Thou renderest to every man according to his work" (Ps. 62:12).

And worshipped the works of their own hands- The equivalent of idolatry today is reliance upon our own works. These then become our idols.

Jeremiah 1:17 You therefore put your belt on your waist, arise, and speak to them all that I command you-
Jeremiah's temptation, as ours, may have been to only speak forth part of God's message.

Don’t be dismayed at them, lest I dismay you before them- James 5:10 puts it bluntly- the prophets are to be taken by us as our examples. Jeremiah was warned: "Be not dismayed of them, lest I dismay you" (Jer. 1:17 RV). This is alluded to by the Lord when He tells us that if we are ashamed of Him and His words, then He will be ashamed of us (Lk. 9:26). The connection surely indicates that the Old Testament prophets and the spirit of their commissioning is intended to apply to us today in our fulfilling of the great commission. Thus the prophets become our pattern for witness; they are our “brethren the prophets” (Rev.22:9). And so an understanding of them becomes programmatic for our witness today. Our audience, the world in which we live, is in essence that in which the prophets lived.

Jeremiah remembered this command not to be dismayed and quotes it back to himself in Jer. 17:18. This is how we should act- quoting scripture to ourselves as encouragement. We note that later it is the righteous remnant who are commanded not to be dismayed (Jer. 30:10 s.w.); Jeremiah was to be their example and representative.

Jeremiah 1:18 For, behold, I have made you this day a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land-
This was true potentially, but Jeremiah still had to make the necessary freewill decisions. Jeremiah later speaks of how he came to see Israel for who they were: “The Lord made it known to me and I knew; then thou didst show me their evil deeds” (Jer. 11:8). Ezekiel was shown “what the house of Israel is doing in the dark” (Ez. 8:12). To pass through human life with this level of sensitivity must’ve been so hard. Psychologically and nervously, the stress would’ve been awful. It seems to me that the prophets had to be somehow psychologically strengthened by God to endure living that sensitively in this crass and unfeeling world- hence God made Ezekiel and Jeremiah as a wall and “iron pillar” to Israel, hardened their faces, so that they wouldn’t be “dismayed at [the] looks” of those who watched them with anger and consternation (Jer. 1:18; 15:20; Ez. 2:4-6; 3:8,9,27). This psychological strengthening was not aimed at making them insensitive, but rather in strengthening them to live sensitively to sin in a sinful world without cracking up. And He will do the same for us, too.

Right in the context of God predicting the fall of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is presented as a strong, fortified city, made strong by God against any opposition. The implication was that the faithful should identify with Jeremiah if they wished to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Jeremiah uses the same term for "fortified city" in urging the faithful to run into one in the face of the Babylonian advance (Jer. 4:5). But that fortified city was himself and the community of the faithful. 

Jeremiah 1:19 They will fight against you; but they will not prevail against you; for I am with you, says Yahweh, to deliver you
- Jeremiah needed reminded of this promise in Jer. 15:20 where it is repeated word for word. The aggression of the people against Jeremiah was extreme. As he faced death in the cistern, he must have struggled to believe them. "I am with you" is the language of God encouraging Moses and Joshua, that inheritance of the kingdom land was possible, and :17 is likewise an allusion to this. The hint may be that Jeremiah's ministry could have resulted in the restoration of the Kingdom, and the faithful remnant inheriting it in his time.