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Sunday, December 30 2012

Jeremiah: The Calling

The prophet Jeremiah was a Levite, "the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin" (see The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood). At the time of his calling, during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, the northern kingdom of Israel, composed of the ten northern and across the Jordan River tribes (see the tribal map below and Israel In History and Prophecy: The Lost Ten Tribes and Why East And West Manasseh?) had already been removed to exile in Assyria for nearly a century (the last remnant of Israel was taken away about 721 BC; see also Israel Never Knew Purim, Hanukkah Or Judaism). Jeremiah, a Levite resident of the tribal territory of Benjamin, was a citizen of the Kingdom of Judah (see Israel In History and Prophecy: Kingdom Of Judah), which was composed of the Israelite tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi (see No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?).

Tribal Territories

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

1:2 To whom the word of the LORD [see The Kingdom Of The LORD God] came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 1:3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month." (Jeremiah 1:1-3 KJV)

As documented in the verses quoted above, Jeremiah's prophetic ministry was to the last five kings of the Kingdom of Judah (see Kings of Israel and Judah for a complete list of studies for each of the kings of Israel and Judah).

Jeremiah was a youth when he was called, but the LORD knew him before he was conceived ("Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee"), and set him apart as a prophet before he was born ("before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee").

"1:4 Then the word of the LORD [see What Does Word of God Mean To You?] came unto me, saying, 1:5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4-5 KJV)

Jeremiah's age at the time of his calling is not stated, however he called himself "a child." The LORD nevertheless commanded him, "Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak."

"1:6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

1:7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD." (Jeremiah 1:6-8 KJV)

The LORD then "put forth His Hand" and touched Jeremiah's mouth as a commission: "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."

Jerusalem In The Time Of Solomon

"1:9 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. 1:10 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." (Jeremiah 1:9-10 KJV)

Jeremiah, like most prophets, was sent with a specific warning, to a specific people, to repent - to not only produce fruit, but to produce good fruit. An almond rod was used by the Levite Aaron at the time of the Exodus, when the Israelites had rebelled ("17:8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. 17:9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod. 17:10 And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not." Numbers 17:8-10 KJV), after which it was placed in the Ark of the Covenant along with the Ten Commandments ("9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant." Hebrews 9:4 KJV). The symbolism was direct, and as a Levite, Jeremiah would almost certainly have immediately recognized it.

"1:11 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.

1:12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it." (Jeremiah 1:11-12 KJV)

So also Jeremiah would have almost certainly recognized the meaning "of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land" - the Babylonian Empire, just as the Assyrian Empire had done to the northern Kingdom of Israel in the previous century.

"1:13 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.

1:14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. 1:15 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.

1:16 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." (Jeremiah 1:13-16 KJV)

During the course of his ministry, Jeremiah had contact with both Egypt and Babylon. The map below shows the "Fertile Crescent," a relatively productive and well-watered area that arcs over and around the vast deserts of Arabia, from the Tigris-Euphrates Valley in Iraq (where the Assyrian, and then the Babylonian, empires were centered), through Syria, to the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, down through Israel and Judah, to Egypt and the Nile River valley. As stated in the verses above, invaders from Babylon, which is east of Israel, arrived in the land of Israel and Judah from the "north" because they followed the way of the fertile crescent, rather than directly westward across the desert of Arabia.

Ancient Mesopotamia

So it was that Jeremiah began his ministry as a prophet of the LORD.

"1:17 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. 1:18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brazen 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. 1:19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee." (Jeremiah 1:17-19 KJV)

Fact Finder: (a) Jeremiah lived in the tribal territory of Benjamin. How was the birth of Benjamin, during which his mother Rachel died, the basis of a prophecy fulfilled at the time of the birth of the Messiah? (b) How was the death of Rachel the basis for which Jacob, who the LORD renamed as Israel, adopted his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh, as sons?
(a) See The Rachel Prophecies
(b) See Jacob's Blessing Of Ephraim And Manasseh


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This Day In History, December 30

1066: The Granada massacre. A Muslim mob stormed the royal palace in Granada, Spain. They crucified the Jewish vizier, Joseph ibn Naghrela, and massacred most of the Jewish population of the city.

1460: During the Wars of The Roses, Richard of York with 5,000 men was defeated by Queen Margaret and the Lancastrians at the Battle of Wakefield. Nearly 3,000 Yorkists were killed, including the Duke himself.

1803: The U.S. took formal possession of Louisiana (named after King Louis XIV who reigned 1643 to 1715), after purchasing the territory from France.

1880: The Transvaal, under Paul Kruger, declared itself a republic.

1903: A fire in the Iroquois Theater in Chicago killed 588 people; public outrage led to new theater safety codes across the U.S.

1911: Sun Yat-sen was elected the first President of the Republic of China after the fall of the Chinese dynasties.

1915: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), a German submarine torpedoed the British liner Persia off Crete. At least 330 of the 501 passengers and crew were killed.

1916: Gregory Rasputin (the "mad monk"), Siberian peasant, mystic, and favorite of Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra was shot, poisoned and eventually drowned at the house of Prince Feliks Yusupov.

1922: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was established through the confederation of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine and the Transcaucasian Federation. It lasted 70 years.

1944: King George II of Greece renounced the monarchy.

1947: King Michael of Romania was forced to abdicate by Soviet-backed Communists.

1965: Ferdinand Marcos was sworn in as the President of the Philippines.

1972: After 2 weeks of heavy bombing raids on North Vietnam, U.S. President Richard Nixon halted the air offensive and agreed to resume peace negotiations with Hanoi.

1993: Israel and the Vatican signed an agreement on mutual recognition (see Constantine's Crusades In History And Prophecy, Israel In History and Prophecy: Israel Of Judah, A History Of Jerusalem: Constantine and Muhammad and A Biography Of Abraham: Abrahamic Religions).

2006: Saddam Hussein, the conquered President of Iraq, was executed by hanging for the war crimes that he committed.





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