“11 The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a branch of an almond tree.” 12 Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” 13 The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, tilted away from the north.”
14 Then the LORD said to me: Out of the north disaster shall break out on all the inhabitants of the land. 15 For now I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, says the LORD; and they shall come and all of them shall set their thrones at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its surrounding walls and against all the cities of Judah. 16 And I will utter my judgments against them, for all their wickedness in forsaking me; they have made offerings to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. 17 But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them. 18 And I for my part have made you today a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall, against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its princes, its priests, and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you; but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, says the LORD, to deliver you.” NRSV
In this passage from Jeremiah, the LORD is preparing Jeremiah to withstand the onslaught of the forces God is amassing against Judah, the southern kingdom. This is God’s punishment for their sinfulness, idolatry and faithlessness. God has chosen Jeremiah to be God’s mouthpiece, God’s messenger, God’s ensign to the people, both in Jerusalem and in Babylonian exile.
If you have never read the Book of Jeremiah, you should treat yourself by reading it. Without a doubt, Jeremiah has one of the most bizarre lives of any of the notables in the Bible. Through it all, he never loses faith in God or disobeys God, even when the things God asks Jeremiah to do are . . . unusual, to say the least.
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