Jeremiah’s job (his calling) was to go where God sent him (7) and say what God told him to say.
Jeremiah, however, was hesitant. Like Moses and Jonah, he tried to resist God’s call. His response is in verse 6. He said he was too young and did not know how to speak. I am not critical of him. He was a young man when God told him he would be a prophet to the nations. That is a big job for a young man.
Jeremiah sounded like Moses, who said “I am not eloquent” and “I am slow of speech and of tongue” (Exodus 4:10). But God called him anyway.
God did the same with Jeremiah. So, we see a dialog between God and Jeremiah about this call. God’s response is in verses 6-8. He told Jeremiah not to say he was too young, but to go and to speak what God commanded. Jeremiah would not thwart God’s purpose. In later chapters he will refer to his inability to remain silent.
The Lord did encourage Jeremiah by telling him not to be afraid of the people, for God would be with him and deliver him. He did not tell Jeremiah it would be easy. And it was not easy. But he promised to be with him and deliver him.
Usually, we do not know why God chose the person he did. But those he chose he empowered.
The Lord continued his calling in verses 9 and 10, telling Jeremiah how God had equipped him to be his prophet. First, he gave Jeremiah an object lesson. He touched his mouth with his hand. Then, he said he had put his words in Jeremiah’s mouth.
This is the essence of being a prophet. The prophet spoke God’s word to the people. They often began their sermons by saying “thus says the Lord” or “the word of the Lord” is this. God was telling Jeremiah, do not worry about your age or qualifications, I have already made you a prophet.
Then, in verse 10, the Lord told Jeremiah about his authority as a prophet. The Lord set him over nations and kingdoms to build them up and tear them down. The Lord would do this. But Jeremiah would preach the word of the Lord and, thereby, be the agent of God’s will and work.
We will see several things that show Jeremiah as a type of Christ. Here is one. Jeremiah has authority over the nations to declare their downfall. He declared also the restoration of Judah. Jesus was given authority over every thing in heaven and earth. (Matthew 20:18) He declared condemnation for sin and the beginning of the kingdom, the restoration of all things.
Two Visions To Reinforce The Calling
God gave Jeremiah two visions. The first was to show God would accomplish his word. The second was to show what the word was: the destruction of Judah at the hands of Babylon.
The first vision is recorded at 1:11-17. God showed Jeremiah an almond branch. The Hebrew word for almond is very similar to and sounds like the word for watching. God’s point was that he did not just send his word out with a prophet, sit back and wring his hands hoping it all worked out. Rather, he watched over his word to perform it. When he said it he meant to do it.
The Lord told the same thing to Isaiah. He said “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it”. (Isaiah 55:11) Jeremiah could have confidence to preach the word God gave him, knowing that God would do what he said.
The second vision is recorded at 1:13-19. God showed Jeremiah a boiling pot facing away from the north. The boiling pot symbolized the disaster that would come from the north, which we know was Babylon. The pot had not yet boiled over, but when it did the hot, boiling water would pour out to the south. And so Babylon would come against the city and rule it because Judah had forsaken the Lord by worshipping idols or other gods.
But Jeremiah was to continue his work as prophet. He was to get up and dress up for work. (17) It reminds you of Ephesians 6:11 “put on the whole armor of God”.
The Lord reiterated his command to speak every thing he said.
God’s call to Jeremiah ended with another call to faithfulness. You can tell God knows neither his message nor his messenger will be well received. But Jeremiah should remain faithful to deliver the message. He was not to be dismayed before his enemies, or God would dismay him before them. (17) God calls us all to believe and publicly confess him. (Romans 10:9-10) The prophet, of course, have a greater commitment.
God promised to protect him against kings, officials, priests and peoples. (18) He used two metaphors to portray this: an iron pillar and a bronze wall.
These people would oppose Jeremiah. They would fight against him. (19) But they would not prevail, because God would deliver Jeremiah.
We saw Paul in 2 Timothy express the same thought, but from the vantage point of one who was finishing his mission. He wrote “But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me…) (2 Timothy 4:17)
That instruction is good for us today. Jesus said he would be with us always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20) He says said he would never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)