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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 1:11

The word of the Lord came to me saying, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "I see a rod of an almond tree."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Israel, Prophecies Concerning;   Jeremiah;   Symbols and Similitudes;   Vision;   Scofield Reference Index - Inspiration;   Thompson Chain Reference - Almond;   Trees;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Almond-Tree;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Almond;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Almond Tree;   Jeremiah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Almond;   Club;   Jeremiah;   Rod, Staff;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Almond;   Isaiah, Book of;   Vision;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Almond, Almond Tree;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Almond tree;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Almond Tree;   ;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Rod;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Almond Tree;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Almond;   Astronomy;   Flourish;   Jeremiah (2);   Rod;   Vision;   Kitto Biblical Cyclopedia - Almond tree;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Almond;   Candlestick;   Day of the Lord;   Revelation;   Symbol;  

Clarke's Commentary

Verse Jeremiah 1:11. A rod of an almond tree.שקד shaked, from שקד shakad, "to be ready," "to hasten," "to watch for an opportunity to do a thing," to awake; because the almond tree is the first to flower and bring forth fruit. Pliny says, Floret prima omnium amygdala mense Januario; Martio vero pomum maturat. It blossoms in January, when other trees are locked up in their winter's repose; and it bears fruit in March, just at the commencement of spring, when other trees only begin to bud. It was here the symbol of that promptitude with which God was about to fulfil his promises and threatening. As a rod, says Dahler, is an instrument of punishment, the rod of the almond may be intended here as the symbol of that punishment which the prophet was about to announce.

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Two visions (1:11-19)

To encourage Jeremiah in the work that lay ahead of him, God gave him two visions. The almond, first tree to bloom in spring, symbolized God’s watchfulness and constant readiness to keep his promises (11-12. The Hebrew word for ‘almond’ sounds like the Hebrew word for ‘watching’). The giant boiling pot, tilted from the north so as to pour its contents over Judah, symbolized a foreign army entering Judah from the north and overrunning the country. This was a judgment brought about by God because of Judah’s idolatry (13-16).
God told Jeremiah he was not to be afraid in announcing Judah’s doom, for God cannot use a coward. He warned that Jeremiah had a lifetime of opposition ahead of him, but at the same time he promised to specially strengthen his servant. All the attacks on Jeremiah, whether from political leaders, religious leaders or the people at large, would not overcome him, because God would strengthen and defend him (17-19).

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Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"Moreover, the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree. Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I watch over my word to perform it."

The meaning of this vision turns upon the fact of the almond-tree being the first one that puts out blooms in the spring. JKP translated almond-tree here as "`The early-awake tree'; the Hebrew word translated `almond' means this."[11] Thus, the revelation to Jeremiah was that, just as the almond tree in bloom signified the near-approach of spring, so God was soon to bring his word to pass.

Copyright Statement
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

What seest thou? - If we admit a supernatural element in prophecy, visions would be the most simple means of communication between God and man.

A rod of an almond tree - Many translate “a staff of almond wood.” The vision would thus signify that God - like a traveler, staff in hand - was just about to set forth upon His journey of vengeance. But the rendering of the King James Version is supported by Genesis 30:37. The word rendered “almond” comes from a root signifying “to be awake;” and as the almond blossoms in January, it seems to be awake while other trees are still Sleeping, and therefore is a fit emblem of activity.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

God confirms in this passage what he had previously said of the power of his word. These two verses, then, are to be taken as explanatory, for no new subject is introduced; but the former part is confirmed — that the Prophets spoke not in vain, or to no purpose, because they were invested with celestial power to plant and to build, and, on the other hand, to pull down and to root up, according to what we have quoted from Paul, who says that true teachers are armed with such power. (2 Corinthians 10:5) We have in readiness, he says, vengeance against all the unbelieving, however proud they may be: and though their height may terrify the whole world, yet we have a sword in our hands which will stay them; for God’s word has sufficient power to destroy the rebellious.

God then proceeds with the same subject when he says, What seest thou, Jeremiah? He had set before him a staff or a rod of almond, as some render the word: and שקר, shaked, means an almond; but as it comes from a verb which means to watch or to hasten, we cannot fitly render it here, almond. I do not, however, deny that the Hebrew word has this meaning. But it is written here with Kamets; the participle which afterwards follows has Holem: we hence see what affinity there is between the two words. The word שקר , shaked, an almond, is derived from the verb, שקר, shakad, to watch; and it has been thought that this tree is so called, because it brings forth fruit earlier than other trees; for almonds, as it is well known, flower even in winter, and in the coldest seasons. Now, were we to say in Latin, I see a rod or a staff of almond; and were the answer given, Thou hast rightly seen, for I watch, the allusion in the words would not appear, the sentence would lose its beauty, and there would indeed be no meaning. It is hence necessary to give another version, except we wish to pervert the passage, and to involve the Prophet’s meaning in darkness. It should be, “I see the rod, “or the staff, “of a watcher.” Let us grant that the almond is intended; yet the tree may be called watchful, according to what etymology requires, and also the sense of the passage, as all must see. (14)

(14) The word is rendered “a rod of almond” by the Septuagint, the Arabic version, and Theodotion; and also by Piscator, Drusius, Grotius, and Blayney; and “the rod of the watcher” by Sym. , Aq. , and the Vulgate The latter is no doubt more suitable in a translation. Some conclude, from what is related in Numbers 17:0, that the head of each tribe carried a wand or a staff made of the almond tree as a token of watchfulness: if so, the probability is, that this wand was presented to the view of the Prophet. It being a well-known emblem of watchfulness, and called perhaps the watchful rod or staff, it was most suitable to the purposes here designed. The verb שקד does not mean to hasten, but to watch, or to be awake. Then the version of the passage would be the following: -

11. And the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, “What seest thou, Jeremiah?” and I said, “The rod of a watcher is what I see.”

12. Then Jehovah said to me, “Thou seest rightly, for I am watching over my word to do it.”


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Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Smith's Bible Commentary

At this time shall we turn in our Bibles to the book of Jeremiah.

About sixty years after Isaiah died, God called Jeremiah to what I feel must have been the hardest task any minister has ever been called upon to perform for the Lord. Jeremiah had to oversee the death of the nation. He had to watch it as it was in its final death throws, as it went into convulsions and died and was carried away captive to Babylon. His ministry was destined from the beginning for failure. That is, the people were not going to hearken. The people were not going to change. They had set their course and their destiny was determined. And yet, because God is so faithful, God continued His witness to them until they were carried away captive to Babylon. And He didn't really stop then. He had Daniel and Ezekiel there in Babylon continuing to witness to them even after their captivity. But Jeremiah's ministry wasn't to be successful as far as really bringing these people back to a spiritual relationship with God. They were on the way downhill. There was no recovery at this point and he had to sadly watch these people as they disregarded his warnings and as they went on into captivity.

So the book of Jeremiah begins with,

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin ( Jeremiah 1:1 ):

Now you will find that there is another priest Hilkiah who was the high priest, that is not the father of Jeremiah. Though Jeremiah was a priest, the fact that he was from Anathoth indicates that he was of the Kohathites. And the Kohathites had been removed, that particular branch of the Levites had been removed from the high priesthood. And so this Hilkiah, the father of Jeremiah, was not synonymous with the Hilkiah the high priest.

To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign ( Jeremiah 1:2 ).

Now Josiah was basically a good king. He was eight years old when he began to reign. So naturally being just a child, eight years old, he was just a puppet for the beginning of his reign upon the throne, as other men had good influences upon Josiah and he instituted spiritual reforms in beginning with the fifth year of his reign. And by the time the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, the spiritual reforms of Josiah had been pretty effective in that they had gotten rid of most of the altars unto Baal and the groves and the high places where they had worshipped the false gods. Where the people of Israel had worshipped these false gods. And yet, it was still in their hearts. Though outwardly there was a spiritual reform, inwardly they had not turned with all of their hearts to God. So it was a time of outward spiritual revival because the king was a godly king. But as soon as Josiah died, the nation lapsed right back into its idolatry, which indicates that it wasn't really a move towards God from their hearts, but only a surface thing in seeking to please the king. They went along with the spiritual reforms. So because it was only surface and not down in the heart of the nation, even during the reign of Josiah, Jeremiah cried out against the things that were going on.

During the reign of Josiah they re-instituted the worship in the temple. But God said, "Go down in the temple and cry to the people as they go in, 'Trust not in lying vanities saying, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these." God said I've forsaken them.'" And so while Josiah was king, though, Jeremiah did not face, really, persecution, but once Josiah died and Jehoiakim came on to the throne, then Jehoiakim began to persecute Jeremiah. There were several endeavors to kill him. He was placed in the dungeon, and the same is true through the reign of Zedekiah. Jeremiah spent most of the time in prison. And so he lists these three kings.

It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah [who was the last of the kings] the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month ( Jeremiah 1:3 ).

Now there were two other kings who reigned during this same period, but their reigns were both of them short-lived. Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin both had a three-month reign during the same period that Jeremiah was prophesying. But because they reigned for such a short period, Jeremiah does not list them as the kings that were reigning. And it could be that the Lord didn't speak to Jeremiah during those particular periods that Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin were reigning. So the three major kings. Actually, Josiah reigned for thirty-one years. And then Jehoiakim reigned for eleven years and Zedekiah reigned for eleven years until he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, his eyes were put out, and he was carried away to captivity in Babylon.

Now Jeremiah continued to live there. Nebuchadnezzar gave Jeremiah the choice of staying there or coming to Babylon. Because Jeremiah was actually accused of treason during a part of his prophesying because he was telling the people, "Look, surrender to the Babylonians. They're going to take you. And so it's better to surrender than to be devastated." And so he was accused of treason and imprisoned as a result of it. They thought that he was in conspiracy with the Babylonians. But Nebuchadnezzar, in honoring Jeremiah because of his true prophecies, offered him to come and to have a place there in Babylon. But being the true patriot that he was, he chose to remain there in Jerusalem under the vassal reign of Gedaliah until he was put to death by those evil men. And then he was more or less kidnapped and taken to Egypt. He still wanted to stay, but the people were afraid that as a result of their rebellion against the vassal king that Nebuchadnezzar had set up Gedaliah, that Nebuchadnezzar was going to come and really destroy them. And so they fled to Egypt and they took Jeremiah with them. And at this point, there are legends and rumors and stories of what happened to Jeremiah.

One very common of the rumors is that Jeremiah took the ark of the covenant and hid it, and there are some references in some of the books in the apocrypha to the place where Jeremiah hid the ark of the covenant. Other stories are that he took one of the young princes and ferreted him off to Egypt. And then according to some of the legends that are especially promulgated by the people who are called British Israelites, those who seek to identify the Anglo-Saxon races with the tribes of Israel, they say that Jeremiah spirited the prince to England where he became the king and that the present Queen of England and Prince Charles are direct descendants of the Davidic line. So God has kept His promise that from the seed of David there would not lack being one on the throne. And so that is the only place where there's still a monarchy and they are direct descendants and they go into a long rigamarole of trying to prove their point of this ethnic relationship between the Anglo-Saxon races and the British and Scottish and Danish and so forth.

They say Dane. You see, it's Dan, Dan-ish. And the word ish in Hebrew is man. So it's Dan's man, the tribe of Dan. The Danish are the tribe of Dan. The Brit-ish, you see the ish on the end proves that they are the lost tribes of Israel. They seem to ignore foolish, but... There is surely not enough solid evidence to prove their claims. It has to be stated that the claims are based much more upon fantasy and hopefulness than on actual reality from historical record.

But those are just part of the stories that surround Jeremiah. It is thought that actually he was put to death finally there on one of the banks of the Nile. One of the tributaries to the Nile River. But the Bible is silent so we must be. It's only guesswork after the Bible ceases its record.

Verse Jeremiah 1:4 :

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before you came forth out of the womb I set thee apart, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations ( Jeremiah 1:4-5 ).

Now there is a lot of question today as to when life begins, as we deal with this area of abortion. But I think that it is significant that God declares to Jeremiah, "Before the fetus was ever formed, I knew you; before you ever came forth out of the womb I had already set you apart." God's purposes for our lives were not established after we were born. God's purposes for our lives had been established from the beginning. From the beginning of time. What God said to Jeremiah He could very well say to each one of you. "Before you were ever in a fetal state I knew you. Before you ever came forth out of the womb I had set you apart for the purpose and the plan that I have for your lives." The thing is, for me to discover and to come into harmony with that plan that God has for me, that's the important thing for me. My destiny has already been determined. The Bible says, "We are His workmanship, created together in Christ Jesus unto the good works, that God has before ordained that we should walk in them" ( Ephesians 2:10 ). God has already before ordained that which He has planned for your life. Now in the meantime, He is working in your life to prepare you for those works. Thus, we are His workmanship. God is working in us tonight.

Paul the apostle speaks about having been separated from his mother's womb. God's hand was on my life from the beginning. The recognition of that. And I'm certain that each of us can look back and we can see how God's hand has been upon our life from the beginning. In the experiences and all that we've gone through as God is preparing us for His work. So God speaks to Jeremiah and speaks about his prenatal state.

Then said I ( Jeremiah 1:6 ),

Jeremiah responded to God.

Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child ( Jeremiah 1:6 ).

Now as you figure the years that Jeremiah prophesied, and the fact that he was still alive after the captivity and went to Egypt and all, Jeremiah was probably somewhere between seventeen and twenty-five years old when the call of God came to him. And that's where the estimates usually range-between seventeen and twenty-five. Now can you imagine a seventeen-year-old boy and God saying, "I knew you before you were ever in a fetal state and I set you apart. You're to go talk to President Reagan. And you're to tell him, 'Thus saith the Lord.'" I'm sure you'd have the same problem that Jeremiah, "Who am I, Lord? I'm just a young man." And that's what the Hebrew word is there. "I'm just a young man." Usually indicated a teenager.

But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a young man: for you shall go to all that I send you, and whatsoever I command you you shall speak ( Jeremiah 1:7 ).

So often it seems that when God called a person for a particular service, they were aware of their inabilities to fulfill that service for God. God called Moses. "O God, I can't speak. I haven't been able to speak and I can't even speak now." So many times people are trying to excuse themselves because of the recognition of their own inability. But in reality, God isn't looking for talented, abled people. He's just looking for willing people. That we would not go forth in our abilities, in our genius, but we would trust in the Lord and go forth in the power of the Spirit. So God said, "Don't say. Now don't say that. Don't say you can't do it. Don't say you're but a child." Gideon said, "O Lord, you can't mean me. My father is a nobody and I'm the least in my father's family. You can't mean me." Saul, when Samuel said, "God has called you to be the king over Israel." "Oh no, no. There's a mistake here somewhere." And many times when God lays upon our hearts the things that He has in mind, we say, "Lord, there's a mistake here somewhere. The angels got the wrong address. He's delivering the message to the wrong person, Lord, that's not me."

But the very consciousness of our ability is the very thing that qualifies us for that which God wants to do. Because God said, "Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord" ( Zechariah 4:6 ). So it isn't my ability that God is really seeking for. It's just a channel, an instrument through which He can do His work. And if I feel like I can't do it then that makes me a more yielded vessel unto God. If I feel, "All right, Lord, You bet. Just been waiting for You. I'll do it right away." Then it takes a while before God beats me down to nothing. So then He can go ahead and do what He's been wanting to do through me. In every service to which God calls us, there is that feeling of, "I'm ill-equipped. O Lord, who am I?"

Now God said,

Be not afraid of their faces ( Jeremiah 1:8 ):

Here is a young fellow going out and saying these things that are going to get people mad, and they're going to start glaring at him and gritting their teeth and scowling and making all kinds of fierce faces at him, because he's saying things they don't like. So God said, "Don't be afraid of their faces."

for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD ( Jeremiah 1:8 ).

So God's personal message of comfort to the prophet, "Now don't be afraid the way they look at you because I'm with you to deliver you."

Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. See, I have this day set thee this day over the nations ( Jeremiah 1:9-10 ),

Imagine God saying this to just a young fellow, seventeen, eighteen years old. "Today, now look, I've touched you and I've set you over the nations." "Me?"

and over the kingdoms, [and this was his ministry] to root out, to pull down, and to destroy ( Jeremiah 1:10 ),

Oh, what a ministry.

Years ago when I was just a child and started in the ministry, our second pastorate was in Tucson, Arizona. And I have not always been the most tactful person in the world, nor am I yet. I'm not quite as blunt as Romaine, but I'm still not always graceful and tactful. And I do have the capacity of just speaking what I feel to be the truth and I think that it's important that the truth be spoken even though it does cut or hurt. I've always believed in the proverb, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" ( Proverbs 27:6 ). And so when we were pastoring in Tucson in the first part of our pastoring there, we did a very excellent job in sort of emptying the church. And I received my first, not the last, but my first anonymous letter. I get them all the time now, but I received my first anonymous letter. And I read the first; I don't read them anymore. But it said, "When Jesus was a boy and was a carpenter in his father's shop, we never read of him using a wrecking bar." And they spelled it r-e-c-k-i-n-g. And I think that the intimation was that I was wrecking the church or something. But it was, it seems, that God called me as He did Jeremiah to root out, to pull down, and to destroy. You see, oftentimes the system becomes so corrupt that there's nothing to build on. Now God's purpose is always that of building, but He cannot always start out building. Many times He has to tear down what is there.

Now in a lot of this redevelopment, downtown stuff, they have to go in with bulldozers and just level the buildings. Tear them out and haul them away, and then they start the new building projects and the high-rises and so forth. Because the stuff is so old, it's so decrepit, it's so corrupt that you wouldn't dare try to build on it. The nation Israel had come to the place where it was beyond recovery. It was necessary now that God just pull down, root out, tear out what was left in order that He might start His new work of planting and of building. So Jeremiah's ministry was, first of all, to root out, pull down, destroy.

and to throw down, [and then] to build, and to plant ( Jeremiah 1:10 ).

As God starts then His new work. God never tears down in our lives except to the end that He might begin His true work of building up and planting that new work in us. So you may be in that stage right now where God is still rooting out. You say, "Oh Lord, you know. You're bringing me to nothing." Yes, that's what He wants to do in order that He might start His building and His planting in your life. So that ministry to which God called Jeremiah is a very common type calling as God must get rid of the present corrupt system in order that He might establish His new work. That is why I feel that very rarely do you ever see real revival come within the framework of a denomination. That God seems to always go outside and start a new work. He doesn't try to bring recovery to the old systems. He doesn't try to pour the new wine in the old skins. He doesn't sew the new piece of cloth on the old garment. But He usually goes outside and starts a whole new building process.

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what do you see? And he said, I see a rod of an awakening tree ( Jeremiah 1:11 ).

The almond tree in Hebrew is an awakening tree because the almond tree is the first tree that awakes in the spring. In fact, the almond trees begin to blossom in January. They're the first trees to come out of the winter season there in the holy land. They start to blossom in January and by March they have their almonds and all on them. So it's called an awakening tree because it's the first tree to awaken in the... after the winter season.

Then said the LORD unto me, You have seen correctly: for I will [watch over or awake over] my word to perform it ( Jeremiah 1:12 ).

"What do you see?" "I see an awakening tree." "That's right. You've seen good, because I'm going to be awake over My Word to perform it. I'm going to watch over My Word to perform it."

And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What do you see? And I said, I see a boiling pot; and the face of it is towards the north. Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land ( Jeremiah 1:13-14 ).

Now Babylon was actually east, but in order to attack they had to come to the north and come down from the north, rather than coming across the desert area there. And so it is a reference to Babylon and the coming invasion.

For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against the cities of Judah. And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands ( Jeremiah 1:15-16 ).

So God is going to bring judgment upon His people because of their wickedness, because they have forsaken God, and they have turned to other gods and are burning incense to these other gods and worshipping these little idols that they have made with their own hands.

Now some of the latest archaeological diggings in the city of Jerusalem are in the area of the old City of David, Ophel, that is down below the temple mount area. The City of David was actually down below that temple mount area. The temple was put up there on Mount Moriah by David's son, Solomon, but that was sort of the outskirts of the city in a westerly direction. And the City of David is on that hill of Ophel coming up from the pool of Siloam and the Gihon springs. That mound that comes up was the original city of Jerusalem and the City of David. And they are now doing quite a bit of archaeological diggings on the side of the hill there and they are uncovering houses that date back to the time of Jeremiah. The little houses that they are uncovering were broken down by Nebuchadnezzar during the time that Jeremiah was alive. So the archaeologist's spade is going right back to the time of Jeremiah. And as they are pulling the rubble and the rocks off of these dwelling places, for when they came back from the Babylonian captivity, rather than rebuilding the houses they just covered them over with dirt and build on top of them. And so they have dug down and they found these houses, but the interesting thing in the rubble of the houses there, they are discovering multitudes of little idols that the people had made and were worshipping. A confirmation to the Word of the Lord here to Jeremiah where He said they worshipped the works of their own hands. In each one of the houses multitudes of these little idols. They're getting a collection of little idols like you can't believe. So God says, "My judgment is coming."

Therefore gird up thy loins ( Jeremiah 1:17 ),

Now the guys wore these long skirts, and they're all right for walking around, but if you're going to go to work you've got to pull the things up and tie your sash so that your legs have free movement. If you're going to run, you got to gird up your loins. You gird up the skirts, you pull them on up, tie your sash so that you can really get to work. You can't work with that long robe down to the ground. So that term, "gird up your loins," is always in reference to pulling up the long skirt that the men wore and tying the sash around to hold the thing up so that you can get to work. It's sort of a phrase that says, "And now get to work. Get busy."

and arise, and speak unto them all that I command you: be not dismayed at their faces ( Jeremiah 1:17 ),

Now the second time Lord said that, because they're going to be looking at you and some real angry looks.

lest I confound thee before them ( Jeremiah 1:17 ).

Now it's an interesting thing if... A lot of times, especially when you've got a message, you've got to not even look at the faces of the people if it's a harsh message, because their faces might make you lose your thought and you get confounded because you're reacting to the response of the people to the message. So He said, "Don't look at their faces lest you get confounded. Just go out and speak the word that I put in your mouth. And it's going to have a negative effect upon them, so just don't look at their faces lest I confound you before them."

For, behold, I have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brass wall against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes, against the priests, and against the people ( Jeremiah 1:18 ).

Man, you're going to stand against them all, Jeremiah. You're going to be standing against the kings, the priests, the princes and all the people. You're going to be almost alone in this thing. But I've made you a defensed city. I'm going to defend you. I'm going to put a wall around you.

And they shall fight against thee; but they will not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver you ( Jeremiah 1:19 ).

Now here is his commission. Here is his calling, and it is interesting to me that in his calling, God doesn't lay out a nice, rosy picture. "Jeremiah, I'm going to call you now to a wonderful job and you're going to minister for me. And because you're a minister, I want you to drive a Cadillac and live on Lido Island and enjoy the best now. Because after all, you're my child. You deserve the best." No, God laid out the truth of what's going to happen to you, Jeremiah. It's not going to be easy. "You better not look at their faces; it will scare you. I've set you against the king, the princes, the priests, the people, the whole caboodle. You're going to be there by yourself and they're going to turn against you. But don't worry, I'm going to be with you. I'm going to deliver you."

When the Lord called Paul the apostle on the road to Damascus and brought that dramatic change in his life, as Paul was there and the Lord was saying to Paul, "Now Paul, I'm calling you to go to the Gentiles." And the Lord laid out for Paul the whole ministry that He had for him. When Paul came to the city of Damascus still blind, and of course, I am certain in his mind total mental confusion. Here he was on the road to Damascus breathing out threats against this new sect of Christianity. Actually, the word is breathing out murders against them. He was so uptight against this sect that would dare to declare that Jesus was the Messiah and to go against the teaching of the Pharisees. And breathing out murders against them with papers to imprison those who call upon the name of the Lord there in Damascus. There on the road a life changing experience as he's lying on the ground and someone is saying to him, "Why are you kicking against the pricks?" "Who are You, Lord, that I might serve You?" "I'm Jesus whom you persecute." "What would you have me to do, Lord?" And the Lord told him what He had him to do.

For when Paul was in Damascus and still going over these things in his mind after three days, the Lord spoke to a man by the name of Ananias and He said, "Ananias, go over and lay your hands upon Paul or Saul that he might receive his sight." And he said, "Oh Lord, You're kidding, aren't You? I'm on his hit list. I've heard about this guy. He's been just wrecking havoc in the church in Jerusalem. This guy's fierce." The Lord said, "No, don't worry, you go and do what I told you to do, for he is a chosen vessel unto Me and I have shown him all of the things that he's going to have to suffer for My sake." The Lord said, "Paul, here's what I want you to do. I want you to go to the Gentiles, but it's not going to be easy. You're going to be stoned. They're going to drag you out of the city thinking you're dead. They're going to whip you. They're going to be beating you. But I want you to go for Me." Paul said, "All right, let's go for it." I think that that's very commendable on Paul's part, that even having heard all the things he was going to suffer, he still made that commitment.

Now sometimes ministers like to lay out a rosy path for you. "Just receive Jesus and life is going to be so beautiful. You'll have no more problems because it's just a nice bed of roses. Just get on the air mattress and float into heaven." No way! And Jesus didn't say that. He said, "Look, if they didn't receive Me, they're not going to receive you. If they persecuted Me, they're going to persecute you, because the servant is not greater than his Lord. Take up your cross and follow Me." He didn't paint a rosy picture. He told them the truth and I think it's important that we tell people the truth. It isn't easy to follow the Lord. It isn't easy to serve the Lord. You're going to be going against the tide. But as the Lord said to Jeremiah, "I will put a wall around you. I will be your defense." And you will have experiences with God that will be invaluable as you see God's hand upon you and God's defense around you and the work of God. It's beautiful.


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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

B. The call of Jeremiah 1:4-19

This account of Jeremiah’s call prepares the reader for the prophet’s ministry that unfolds beginning in chapter 2. The events recorded here prepared Jeremiah for that ministry, a ministry that frequently discouraged him and made him wish that God had never called him.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The Lord directed the prophet to observe the branch of an almond tree. The almond tree is distinctive, as it is the first tree to blossom in the spring in Israel. Many almond trees still grow in Israel, even in the area of old Anathoth, so the tree was probably common to Jeremiah.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

The vision of the almond tree 1:11-12

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Dr. Constable's Expository Notes

2. Two confirming visions 1:11-19

The Lord gave Jeremiah two visions to help him appreciate the nature of his calling, two witnesses to his calling. The first one stresses the ultimate effectiveness of his ministry and the second its negative emphasis. The first deals with the time of judgment and the second with the direction and nature of it.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". 2012.

Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Moreover, the word of the Lord came unto me,.... At the same time as before:

saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? The Septuagint version leaves out the word "Jeremiah":

and I said, I see a rod of an almond tree; a dry stick, without leaves or fruit upon it, and yet he knew it to be an almond tree stick; though some think it had leaves and fruit on it, by which it was known. The Targum is,

"and I said, a king hastening to do evil I see;''

meaning Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, hastening to bring destruction upon the Jews.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Charge Given to Jeremiah. B. C. 629.

      11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.   12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.   13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.   14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.   15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.   16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.   17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.   18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.   19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

      Here, I. God gives Jeremiah, in vision, a view of the principal errand he was to go upon, which was to foretel the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, for their sins, especially their idolatry. This was at first represented to him in away proper to make an impression upon him, that he might have it upon his heart in all his dealings with this people.

      1. He intimates to him that the people were ripening apace for ruin and that ruin was hastening apace towards them. God, having answered his objection, that he was a child, goes on to initiate him in the prophetical learning and language; and, having promised to enable him to speak intelligibly to the people, he here teaches him to understand what God says to him; for prophets must have eyes in their heads as well as tongues, must be seers as well as speakers. He therefore asks him, "Jeremiah, what seest thou? Look about thee, and observe now." And he was soon aware of what was presented to him: "I see a rod, denoting affliction and chastisement, a correcting rod hanging over us; and it is a rod of an almond-tree, which is one of the forwardest trees in the spring, is in the bud and blossom quickly, when other trees are scarcely broken out;" it flourishes, says Pliny, in the month of January, and by March has ripe fruits; hence it is called in the Hebrew, Shakedh, the hasty tree. Whether this rod that Jeremiah saw had already budded, as some think, or whether it was stripped and dry, as others think, and yet Jeremiah knew it to be of an almond-tree, as Aaron's rod was, is uncertain; but God explained it in the next words (Jeremiah 1:12; Jeremiah 1:12): Thou hast well seen. God commended him that he was so observant, and so quick of apprehension, as to be aware, though it was the first vision he ever saw, that it was a rod of an almond-tree, that his mind was so composed as to be able to distinguish. Prophets have need of good eyes; and those that see well shall be commended, and not those only that speak well. "Thou hast seen a hasty tree, which signifies that I will hasten my word to perform it." Jeremiah shall prophesy that which he himself shall live to see accomplished. We have the explication of this, Ezekiel 7:10; Ezekiel 7:11, "The rod hath blossomed, pride hath budded, violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness. The measure of Jerusalem's iniquity fills very fast; and, as if their destruction slumbered too long, they waken it, they hasten it, and I will hasten to perform what I have spoken against them."

      2. He intimates to him whence the intended ruin should arise. Jeremiah is a second time asked: What seest thou? and he sees a seething-pot upon the fire (Jeremiah 1:13; Jeremiah 1:13), representing Jerusalem and Judah in great commotion, like boiling water, by reason of the descent which the Chaldean army made upon them; made like a fiery oven (Psalms 21:9), all in a heat, wasting away as boiling water does and sensibly evaporating and growing less and less, ready to boil over, to be thrown out of their own city and land, as out of the pan into the fire, from bad to worse. Some think that those scoffers referred to this who said (Ezekiel 11:3), This city is the cauldron, and we are the flesh. Now the mouth or face of the furnace or hearth, over which this pot boiled, was towards the north, for thence the fire and the fuel were to come that must make the pot boil thus. So the vision is explained (Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 1:14): Out of the north an evil shall break forth, or shall be opened. It had been long designed by the justice of God, and long deserved by the sin of the people, and yet hitherto the divine patience had restrained it, and held it in, as it were; the enemies had intended it, and God had checked them; but now all restraints shall be taken off, and the evil shall break forth; the direful scene shall open, and the enemy shall come in like a flood. It shall be a universal calamity; it shall come upon all the inhabitants of the land, from the highest to the lowest, for they have all corrupted their way. Look for this storm to arise out of the north, whence fair weather usually comes,Job 37:22. When there was friendship between Hezekiah and the king of Babylon they promised themselves many advantages out of the north; but it proved quite otherwise: out of the north their trouble arose. Thence sometimes the fiercest tempests come whence we expected fair weather. This is further explained Jeremiah 1:15; Jeremiah 1:15, where we may observe, (1.) The raising of the army that shall invade Judah and lay it waste: I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the Lord. All the northern crowns shall unite under Nebuchadnezzar, and join with him in this expedition. They lie dispersed, but God, who has all men's hearts in his hand, will bring them together; they lie at a distance from Judah, but God, who directs all men's steps, will call them, and they shall come, though they be ever so far off. God's summons shall be obeyed; those whom he calls shall come. When he has work to do of any kind he will find instruments to do it, though he send to the utmost parts of the earth for them. And, that the armies brought into the field may be sufficiently numerous and strong, he will call not only the kingdoms of the north, but all the families of those kingdoms, into the service; not one able-bodied man shall be left behind. (2.) The advance of this army. The commanders of the troops of the several nations shall take their post in carrying on the siege of Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. They shall set every one his throne, or seat. When a city is besieged we say, The enemy sits down before it. They shall encamp some at the entering of the gates, others against the walls round about, to cut off both the going out of the mouths and the coming in of the meat, and so to starve them.

      3. He tells him plainly what was the procuring cause of all these judgments; it was the sin of Jerusalem and of the cities of Judah (Jeremiah 1:16; Jeremiah 1:16): I will pass sentence upon them (so it may be read) or give judgment against them (this sentence, this judgment) because of all their wickedness; it is this that plucks up the flood-gates and lets in this inundation of calamities. They have forsaken God and revolted from their allegiance to him, and have burnt incense to other gods, new gods, strange gods, and all false gods, pretenders, usurpers, the creatures of their own fancy, and they have worshipped the works of their own hands. Jeremiah was young, had looked but little abroad into the world, and perhaps did not know, nor could have believed, what abominable idolatries the children of his people were guilty of; but God tells him, that he might know what to level his reproofs against and what to ground his threatenings upon, and that he might himself be satisfied in the equity of the sentence which in God's name he was to pass upon them.

      II. God excites and encourages Jeremiah to apply himself with all diligence and seriousness to his business. A great trust is committed to him. He is sent in God's name as a herald at arms, to proclaim war against his rebellious subjects; for God is pleased to give warning of his judgments beforehand, that sinners may be awakened to meet him by repentance, and so turn away his wrath, and that, if they do not, they may be left inexcusable. With this trust Jeremiah has a charge given him (Jeremiah 1:17; Jeremiah 1:17): "Thou, therefore, gird up thy loins; free thyself from all those things that would unfit thee for or hinder thee in this service; buckle to it with readiness and resolution, and be not entangled with doubts about it." He must be quick: Arise, and lose no time. He must be busy: Arise, and speak unto them in season, out of season. He must be bold: Be not dismayed at their faces, as before, Jeremiah 1:8; Jeremiah 1:8. In a word, he must be faithful; it is required of ambassadors that they be so.

      1. In two things he must be faithful:-- (1.) He must speak all that he is charged with: Speak all that I command thee. He must forget nothing as minute, or foreign, or not worth mentioning; every word of God is weighty. He must conceal nothing for fear of offending; he must alter nothing under pretence of making it more fashionable or more palatable, but, without addition or diminution, declare the whole counsel of God. (2.) He must speak to all that he is charged against; he must not whisper it in a corner to a few particular friends that will take it well, but he must appear against the kings of Judah, if they be wicked kings, and bear his testimony against the sins even of the princes thereof; for the greatest of men are not exempt from the judgments either of God's hand or of his mouth. Nay, he must not spare the priests thereof; though he himself was a priest, and was concerned to maintain the dignity of his order, yet he must not therefore flatter them in their sins. He must appear against the people of the land, though they were his own people, as far as they were against the Lord.

      2. Two reasons are here given why he should do thus:-- (1.) Because he had reason to fear the wrath of God if he should be false: "Be not dismayed at their faces, so as to desert thy office, or shrink from the duty of it, lest I confound and dismay thee before them, lest I give thee up to thy faintheartedness." Those that consult their own credit, ease, and safety, more than their work and duty, are justly left of God to themselves, and to bring upon themselves the shame of their own cowardliness. Nay, lest I reckon with thee for thy faintheartedness, and break thee to pieces; so some read it. Therefore this prophet says (Jeremiah 17:17; Jeremiah 17:17), Lord, be not thou a terror to me. Note, The fear of God is the best antidote against the fear of man. Let us always be afraid of offending God, who after he has killed has power to cast into hell, and then we shall be in little danger of fearing the faces of men that can but kill the body, Luke 12:4; Luke 12:5. See Nehemiah 4:14. It is better to have all the men in the world our enemies than God our enemy. (2.) Because he had no reason to fear the wrath of men if he were faithful; for the God whom he served would protect him, and bear him out, so that they should neither sink his spirits nor drive him off from his work, should neither stop his mouth nor take away his life, till he had finished his testimony, Jeremiah 1:18; Jeremiah 1:18. This young stripling of a prophet is made by the power of God as an impregnable city, fortified with iron pillars and surrounded with walls of brass; he sallies out upon the enemy in reproofs and threatenings, and keeps them in awe. They set upon him on every side; the kings and princes batter him with their power, the priests thunder against him with their church-censures, and the people of the land shoot their arrows at him, even slanderous and bitter words; but he shall keep his ground and make his part good with them; he shall still be a curb upon them (Jeremiah 1:19; Jeremiah 1:19): They shall fight against thee, but they shall not prevail to destroy thee, for I am with thee to deliver thee out of their hands; nor shall they prevail to defeat the word that God sends them by Jeremiah, nor to deliver themselves; it shall take hold of them, for God is against them to destroy them. Note, Those who are sure that they have God with them (as he is if they be with him) need not, ought not, to be afraid, whoever is against them.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Jeremiah 1:11". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.