"Go and shout in the ears of Yerushalayim that this is what Adonai says: 'I remember your devotion when you were young; how, as a bride, you loved me; how you followed me through the desert, through a land not sown"
WHO IS JEREMIAH?
Jeremiah ben Chilkiyahu was a son of the priesthood. He was raised in broad knowledge, practice, and understanding of all the Levitical requirements and rituals of the Temple priesthood. His father Hilkiyahu served as a high priest during the days of King Josiah's reforms and Temple renovation projects when he rediscovered the Torah.
Jeremiah was a resident of Anatoth, a small town in Benjamin near Jerusalem. The Arab village of Anata, just three miles Northeast of Jerusalem, still preserves the name. He prophesied during the reign of the last kings of Judah and continued to prophesy, even after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BCE.
These are the words of Yirmeyahu the son of Hilkiyahu, one of the cohanim living in `Anatot, in the territory of Binyamin.
The word of Adonai came to him during the days of Yoshiyahu the son of Amon, king of Y'hudah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It also came during the days of Y'hoyakim the son of Yoshiyahu, king of Y'hudah, continuing until the eleventh year of Tzidkiyahu the son of Yoshiyahu, king of Y'hudah, right up until the time Yerushalayim was carried away captive, in the fifth month. Here is the word of Adonai that came to me:
PRE-EXISTENCE, PRE-ORDINATION, AND PREDESTINATION
Jeremiah 1:5 is used in Jewish mysticism to make a case for pre-existence. King David professes the same pre-existence in Psalm 139:13-15. Isaiah the prophet speaks of the pre-existence of Yeshua in the same terms.
Pre-ordination and predestination are often mentioned in the Tanach. As Jeremiah's life and ministry were pre-ordained, so were those of John the Immerser (Luk 1:13-17), of Yeshua (Luk 1:28-33), as well as all those chosen by HaShem (Eph 1:4).
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born, I separated you for myself. I have appointed you to be a prophet to the nations."
Some people may ask, "How do pre-ordination and pre-destination work with the free-will HaShem has given us?"
This is a question as old as Moshe's pharaoh of whom it is written that HaShem hardened his heart. Did Pharaoh really have a choice or was he pre-ordained to rebel? HaShem chose Israel despite themselves. Did they really have a choice? The cosmic persecutions due to this "choosing" has caused many to wish that maybe HaShem could sometime choose someone else.
Another case is the case of Jacob and Esau, who both were pre-ordained to a certain destiny from the time they were in the womb. Paul uses this interesting concept of pre-ordination and pre-destination to explain a very fundamental principle of our faith:
And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad--in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls-- she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.
This interesting conversation continues in the ninth chapter of Romans.
JEREMIAH AND MESSIAH
Peter explained that while the prophets of old prophesied of their own contemporary situation, their prophecies had a cosmic reality to them, which included messianic prophecies through the spirit of Messiah within them.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
(1 Peter 1:10-12)
As such, Jeremiah and Yeshua really parallel each other in message and ministry.
- The destruction of the Jerusalem Temple
- Within the generation of their audience
- Appointed over Israel and the nations (1:11)
JEREMIAH AND MOSHE
Both Jeremiah and Moshe complained about their lack of rhetorical skills. In both cases, HaShem says to not worry about it.
I said, "Oh, Adonai Elohim, I don't even know how to speak! I'm just a child!" But Adonai said to me, "Don't say, 'I'm just a child.' "For you will go to whomever I send you, and you will speak whatever I order you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you, says Adonai, to rescue you."
THE BUCCAL COMMISSIONS
Then Adonai put out his hand and touched my mouth,
and Adonai said to me,
"There! I have put my words in your mouth."
HaShem used similar imagery to impart their prophetic message to Isaiah, Ezekiel, and John the disciple (Is: 6:6; Ez: 2:8-3:2; Rev 10:9-11).
Today I have placed you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10)
Jeremiah's ministry was never about the violent destruction of property nor landscaping. This whole notion of "uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant" was semantical imagery about the annihilation of Israel's idolatry of the heart. Jeremiah knew that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). His work was to solely be done through the spoken word of prophecy. Words can be powerful! Indeed, "The pen is mightier than the sword" Novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu.
PICTURES (or GIFs?) WORTH 1,000 WORDS
HaShem taught his message to Jeremiah through pictures. Today, we could call these short, animated pictures, "gifs."
First an almond tree:
The word of Adonai came to me, asking,
"Yirmeyahu, what do you see?"
"I see a branch from an almond tree
Then Adonai said to me,
"You have seen well,
because I am watching
to fulfill my word."
(Jeremiah 1: 11-12)
Any Hebrew Bible reader notices that Biblical texts contain much poetry, chiastic constructions, as well as puns and plays on words.
This first "gif" is given with a pun/play on word. Hebrew readers will hear the play on words HaShem is using to make a point.
"I see a branch from an "almond tree"
מַקֵּל "שָׁקֵד" אֲנִי רֹאֶה׃ Almond tree: [Hebrew: shaked].
I am watching to fulfill my word."
כִּי־"שֹׁקֵד" אֲנִי עַל־דְּבָרִי Watching: [Hebrew: shoked]
"I see a branch from an almond tree [Hebrew: shaked].
I am watching [Hebrew: shoked]
Now to a second prophetic "gif," this time with a less expected interpretation.
A second time the word of Adonai came to me, asking, "What do you see?" I answered, "I see a caldron tilted away from the north,
over a fire fanned by the wind." Then Adonai said to me, "From the north calamity will boil over onto everyone living in the land,
because I will summon all the families in the kingdoms of the north," says Adonai, "and they will come and sit, each one, on his throne at the entrance to the gates of Yerushalayim, opposite its walls, all the way around, and opposite all the cities of Y'hudah. I will pronounce my judgments against them for all their wickedness in abandoning me, offering incense to other gods and worshipping what their own hands made.
In those days, Israel was more concerned about Assyria. But now, a threat was coming from Babylon.
As Paul told the Ephesians to put on the whole spiritual armor of God (Eph 6: 14-17), Jeremiah is being vested with the inner moral and spiritual strength that he will need to challenge the spiritual evil authorities which have taken over the people of the Land.
"But you, dress for action; stand up and tell them everything I order you to say. When you confront them, don't break down; or I will break you down in front of them! For today, you see, I have made you into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of bronze against the whole land -- against the kings of Y'hudah, against its princes, against its cohanim and the people of the land.
They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you," says Adonai, "to rescue you." (Jeremiah 1:17-19)
DOWN MEMORY LANE
HaShem doesn't want the fierce punishing to fall on Israel, so as a nostalgic but jilted husband, He speaks to the people of Jerusalem. He reminds them of their tender times together. He reminds them of their agreement, hoping they'll come back; that they'll remember and return to Him.
The word of Adonai came to me:
"Go and shout in the ears of Yerushalayim that this is what Adonai says: 'I remember your devotion when you were young; how, as a bride, you loved me; how you followed me through the desert, through a land not sown. " 'Isra'el is set aside for Adonai, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devour him will incur guilt; evil will befall them," says Adonai.
(Jeremiah 2: 1-3)
Ezekiel in Shushan was given the same message to share with the firsts Jerusalem exiles:
As for your birth -- on the day you were born nobody cut your umbilical cord, washed you in water to clean you off, rubbed salt on you or wrapped you in cloth. No one seeing you had enough pity on you to do any of these things for you -- no one had any compassion on you. Instead, you were thrown into an open field in your own filth on the day you were born. " 'I passed by and saw you there, wallowing in your own blood; and as you lay in your blood I said to you, "Live!" Yes, I said to you, as you lay in your blood, "Live! I will increase your numbers just like plants growing in the field." And you did increase, you developed, you reached puberty, your breasts appeared, and your hair grew long; but you were naked and exposed. " 'Again I passed by you, looked at you and saw that your time had come, the time for love. So I spread my cloak over you to cover your private parts and entered into a covenant with you,' says Adonai Elohim, 'and you became mine. Then I bathed you in water, washed the blood off you, and anointed you with oil. I also clothed you with an embroidered gown, gave you fine leather sandals to wear, put a fine linen headband on your head and covered you with silk. I gave you jewelry to wear, bracelets for your hands, a necklace for your neck, a ring for your nose, earrings for your ears and a beautiful crown for your head. Thus you were decked out in gold and silver; your clothing was of fine linen, silk and richly embroidered cloth; you ate the finest flour, honey and olive oil. You grew increasingly beautiful -- you were fit to be queen. Your fame spread among the nations because of your beauty, because it was perfect, due to my having bestowed my own splendor on you' says Adonai Elohim.
AS A TEMPORARY SUBSTITUTE FOR THE TEMPLE MENORAH,
MAY THE FLAME OF OUR LOVE AND DEDICATION TO HIM PERPETUALLY SHINE BRIGHT AND CLEAN BEFORE HIM.
R' GABRIEL LUMBROSO