The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 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 1:1-2
You might recall from 2 Kings that Josiah reigned near the end of Judah’s term. Jeremiah’s parents would have remembered the treacherous days of Manasseh, when the LORD had promised by His servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh…has done more evil than all the Amorites did… Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle… And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies.”
Jeremiah would see this promise fulfilled, as evidenced by the first paragraph of this book. In fact, it appears that Jeremiah’s calling coincides with the start of a countdown, around 40 years before the ultimate fall of Jerusalem. In Jeremiah’s first vision Jeremiah is let in on this secret: “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose on all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north… and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem… and I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me.”
The remainder of this oracle is encouragement for Jeremiah. In fact, listen as the LORD promises to build defenses, but not for Judah! “To all to whom I send you,” declares the LORD, …whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you.” Pay attention throughout this book to Jeremiah’s emotions and the LORD’s encouragement – and consider the times in which Jeremiah lived.
In the final two-thirds of today’s reading Jeremiah presents the LORD’s case against His people. The LORD laments over Israel’s covenantal failure: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown. Israel was holy to the LORD, the firstfruits of His harvest.” One metaphor of note is that of infidelity – especially marital infidelity. This surfaced sparingly in Isaiah, but becomes a strong image in these opening chapters of Jeremiah. This is how seriously the LORD takes His covenant with them, and He wants them to know why they are being judged.
Our verse for this week is Acts 1:8: But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
Jeremiah 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”