Thursday, 28 June 2012

Prophet Jeremiah Calling

The Lord called Jeremiah to prophetic ministry in about 626 BC,[22] about one year after Josiah king of Judah had turned the nation toward repentance from the widespread idolatrous practices of his father and grandfather. Ultimately, Josiah’s reforms would not be enough to preserve Judah and Jerusalem from destruction, both because the sins of Manasseh, Josiah’s grandfather, had gone too far [36] and as a result of Judah's return to Idolatry (Jer 11.10ff.). Such was the lust of the nation for false gods that after Josiah’s death, the nation would quickly return to the gods of the surrounding nations.[37] Jeremiah was appointed to reveal the sins of the people and the coming consequences.[6][7]
In contrast to Isaiah, who eagerly accepted his prophetic call,[38] and similar to Moses who was less than eager,[39] Jeremiah resisted the call by complaining that he was only a child and did not know how to speak.[24] However, the Lord insisted that Jeremiah go and speak as commanded, and he touched Jeremiah’s mouth and put the word of the Lord into Jeremiah’s mouth.[40] God told Jeremiah to “Get yourself ready!”[41] The character traits and practices Jeremiah was to acquire in order to be ready are specified in Jeremiah
1 and include not being afraid, standing up to speak, speaking as told, and going where sent.[42] Other disciplines that contributed to the training of the young prophet and confirmation of his message are described as not turning to the people,[43] not marrying or fathering children,[44] not going to weddings or funerals,[45] not sitting in a house with feasting,[46] and not sitting in the company of merrymakers.[47] Since Jeremiah emerges well trained and fully literate from his earliest preaching, the relationship between him and the Shaphan family has been used to suggest that he may have trained at the scribal school in Jerusalem over which Shaphan presided.[48][49]
In his early ministry, Jeremiah was primarily a preaching prophet,[50] going where the Lord directed him to preach oracles throughout Israel.[49] He condemned idolatry,[51] the greed of priests, and false prophets.[52] Many years later, God instructed Jeremiah to write down these early oracles and other messages.[53]


Rembrandt van Rijn, "Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem", c. 1630
Jeremiah's ministry prompted naysayers to plot against him. Even the people of Anathoth sought to kill him. (Jer.11) Unhappy with Jeremiah’s message, possibly for concern that it would shut down the Anathoth sanctuary, his priestly kin and the men of Anathoth conspired to take his life. However, the Lord revealed the conspiracy to Jeremiah, protected his life, and declared disaster for the men of Anathoth.[49][54] When Jeremiah complains to the Lord about this persecution, the Lord explains that the attacks on him will become worse.[55]
Physical persecution started when the priest Pashur ben Immer, a temple official, sought out Jeremiah to have him beaten and put him in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin for a day. After this, Jeremiah expresses lament over the difficulty that speaking God’s word has caused him and regrets becoming a laughingstock and the target of mockery.[56] He recounts how if he tries to shut the word of the Lord inside and not mention God’s name, the word becomes like fire in his heart and he is unable to hold it in.[57] The experiences are so troubling for Jeremiah, that he expresses regret at ever being born.


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