Text: Jeremiah 1:4-10; 7:1-11
Working Preacher Commentary: Here.
Sermon Brainwave NL Podcast: Here.
The first part of this text, along with its compatriot in 1 Timothy 4:12, is a staple for speakers addressing teens and young adults. The door to “God uses young people, too” is wide open. Unless you have very PARTICULAR reasons for entering it this week, don’t.
Instead, lift up God’s general rejection of objections to call. Call is never about you, anyway. It’s about God’s mission in the world and your ability to be where God needs a mouth or hands or feet or specific skills at a certain time. The song’s not about you, Jeremiah, it’s about the people who are going to need your hard words.
Furthermore, God already knows that Jeremiah can do the work. God made him for the work and the work for him. The whole thing with the almond rod (aside from its potential as a metaphor) is to prove to Jeremiah that he can do this. God is literally showing him the way- vision by vision, prophecy by prophecy, hole in the ground by hole in the ground (38:6).
The hard task that faces Jeremiah is to explain to the people of God that the temple is not a magic sanctuary. It is not a place to flee from the wrath of God when they (the people) have failed to respond to their privileged position as persons in relationship with the Creator. The people of Israel are using the the temple as a talisman, as a symbol of their [perceived] safety from attack, destruction, or capture.
They are sadly mistaken. Jeremiah’s call echoes his earlier compatriot, Amos, in pointing out that there is no safety for anyone when the poor are oppressed, the needy are ignored, orphans and widows struggle, and those who have use those who don’t as means to gain more. Jeremiah’s particular prophecies here appear straight up in Jesus’ preaching manual. On Reign of Christ or Christ the King Sunday, it is fair to point out that people might not have been concerned about Jeremiah’s call toward judgment, but when Jesus uses the same words…
Without clear inspiration from the Holy Spirit, we cannot necessarily say that exile and destruction are imminent for us. We can, however, make an examination of our religious and cultural habits and norms. From that examination, we can see whether we are among those who cry “the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” believing in the talisman of the name, without owning our place in the relationship.
What are your thoughts on Jeremiah, on mixing the Hebrew Scriptures and Christ the King, on prophesy in general?
Sharpen your almond branches and comment below!