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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary
Jeremiah 1

 

 

Verses 1-13

Jeremiah 1:1-13

I.—(Jeremiah 1:4). The two great blessings of election and mediation are here distinctly taught. God did not speak to the nations directly, but mediationally. He created a minister who should be His mouthpiece. Observation itself teaches us that men are called and chosen of God to do special work in all departments of life. The difficult lesson for some of us to learn is, that we are called to obscurity, and yet this is as clearly a Divine appointment as is the choice of an Isaiah or a Jeremiah.

II.—(Jeremiah 1:6-8). It is thus that fear and confidence make up our best life. We are sure that God has called us, yet we dread to set down our feet on the way which He has marked out with all the clearness of light. Fear well becomes our mortality, for what is our strength? and as for our days, their number is small. Beautiful is modesty in its own place, but never forget that there is something which closely imitates its loveliest features, and that its foul name is hypocrisy.

III.—(Jeremiah 1:9-10). You made much of your own weakness; now what are you going to make of God's strength. You may obstinately persist in looking at your own small arm, or you may piously turn to the almightiness of God, and draw your power from eternity; and upon your choice will depend your whole after-life. (1) Observe the expression, "I will put My words in thy mouth." The minister of God is to speak the words of God. (2) The tenth verse sets forth, under a personal figure, the majesty and omnipotence of truth. It is not the mere man Jeremiah who is thus mighty, even to terribleness; he is but representative and ministerial, and if he tamper with his mission he will be dispossessed and humbled.

IV.—(Jeremiah 1:11-13). The power of spiritual vision is preeminently the gift of God. The power of parables, making them or reading them, is a deep mystery of the unseen Kingdom. It is the gift of sight which distinguishes one man from another.

Parker, The Ark of God, p. 170.


References: Jeremiah 1:5.—C. J. Vaughan, Old Testament Outlines, p. 243. Jeremiah 1:6.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 80.


Verses 6-9

Jeremiah 1:6-9

It is not improbable that Jeremiah was almost a child when he spoke these words. Considering the time to which he lived, he must have been young in the thirteenth year of Josiah,—young enough to make the most literal sense of the expression in the text a reasonable one. Jeremiah has a kind of feminine tenderness and susceptibility; strength was to be educed out of a spirit which was inclined to be timid and shrinking. Think of such a vision as being presented to a mind cast in that mould: "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."

I. The discoveries and revelations to the minds of the prophets became deeper in proportion as they approached nearer to some great crisis in their country's history. It was possible for the Israelite of an earlier time to think of the covenant which God had made with His people as an act of grace expressing, no doubt, the mind of a gracious Being, but still almost arbitrary. Isaiah was gradually educated to know that the covenant denoted a real and eternal relation between God and man in the person of a Mediator. If that truth is not brought out with the same force and distinctness in Jeremiah, if he is not in the same sense as the other the evangelical prophet, yet he had even a deeper conviction that a Divine Spirit was with him continually, a Spirit which was seeking to subdue his will—all wills—to Itself. That men should break loose from this gracious government, should choose to be independent of it, seemed to him the saddest and strangest thing in the world.

II. The greatest cause of dismay to Jeremiah was the falsehood of the priests and prophets. No doubt the official or personal self-conceit of the priests, which arose from their forgetfulness of their relation to the people at large, was one of their greatest offence's in his eyes. But these sins arose from their not confessing that they were called by the Lord to be witnesses of His sympathy: whenever they were not witnesses for Him, they were necessarily proud and self-seeking. Jeremiah could only be qualified for his work by feeling in himself every one of the evil tendencies which he imputed to the priests generally. He had to feel all the peculiar temptations of his tribe and class to vanity, self-glorification, self-indulgence,—to feel how quickly they might fall into all the commonest, grossest habits of other men; while there is also a subtle, radical, internal wickedness that is nearer to them than to those whose offerings they present.

F. D. Maurice, Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 378.


Reference: Jeremiah 1:7-10.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 195.



Verse 8

Jeremiah 1:8

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. But in the later times, the prophets were not only feared and hated by the enemies of God, but cast out of the vineyard. As the time approached for the coming of the true Prophet of the Church, the Son of God, they resembled Him in their earthly fortunes more and more, and as He was to suffer, so did they. Moses was a ruler, Jeremiah was an outcast; Samuel was buried in peace, John the Baptist was beheaded.

I. Of all the persecuted prophets, Jeremiah is the most eminent, i.e. we know more of his history, of his imprisonments, his wanderings, and his afflictions. He comes next to David—I do not say in dignity and privilege, for it was Elijah who was taken up to heaven and appeared at the Transfiguration; nor to inspiration, for to Isaiah one should assign the higher evangelical gifts; but in typifying Him who came and wept over Jerusalem, and there was tortured and put to death by those He wept over.

II. Jeremiah's ministry may be summed up in three words: good hope, labour, disappointment. No prophet commenced his labours with greater encouragement than Jeremiah. A king had ascended to the throne who was bringing back the times of the man after God's own heart. Josiah, too, was young—at most twenty years of age—in the beginning of his reformation. What might not be effected in a course of years, however corrupt and degraded was the existing state of his people? So Jeremiah might think. Everyone begins with being sanguine; doubtless then, as now, many labourers in God's husbandry entered on their office with more lively hopes than their after fortune warranted. Whether or not, however, such hope of success encouraged Jeremiah's first exertions, very soon, in his case, this cheerful prospect was overcast, and he was left to labour in the dark. Huldah foretold a woe—an early removal of the good Josiah to his rest, as a mercy to him and to the nation, who were unworthy of him; a fierce destruction. This prophecy was delivered five years after Jeremiah entered into his office; he ministered in all forty years before the captivity; so early in his course were his hopes cut away.

III. All of us live in a world which promises well, but does not fulfil; all of us begin with hope and end with disappointment. Let us prepare for suffering and disappointment, which befit us as sinners, and are necessary for us as saints. Let us not turn away from trial when God brings it on us, or play the coward in the fight of faith. Take the prophets for an example of suffering affliction and of patience. "Behold, we count them happy who endure." The prophets went through sufferings to which ours are mere trifles; violence and craft combined to turn them aside, but they kept right on, and are at rest.

Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times," vol. v., p. 248; see also J. H. Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, vol. viii., p. 124.


Reference: Jeremiah 2:2.—Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 352.




 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/jeremiah-1.html.

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Sunday, September 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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