Pastor Steve Ellison: What Do You See?
As I continue my reading in a chronologically arranged Bible, I have made it past Manasseh and Amon and into the reign of the boy king Josiah. Most of the questions God asked of humans were rhetorical but not this pair of questions asked of Jeremiah about 13 years into the reign of Josiah who began to reign at the ripe old age of 8 years. Jeremiah will grow into the foremost prophet of Judah in the years leading up to (and into) the Babylonian Captivity. His ministry to Judah would last for over 40 years, maybe even close to 50 years. His ministry was certainly not comfortable or easy. In Jeremiah 1:1-10, we are told that Jeremiah was descended from priests, thus destined to be a priest himself, but God would soon add significant prophetic duties to his job description. In these ten verses, we receive a brief summary of Jeremiah’s call and God’s promise to be with him.
In Jeremiah 1:11-19 God gave Jeremiah two visions that encouraged and informed him regarding the prophetic ministry he was being called to, The word of the Lord came to me saying, "What do you see, Jeremiah?" And I said, "I see a rod of an almond tree." Then the Lord said to me, "You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it." (NASU) These two verses are a promise to Jeremiah that just as certain as the almond tree being the first to blossom in very early spring in Judah, God would keep all of His promises to Jeremiah and Judah. The promise here includes a word play in the Hebrew between the words “almond” and “watch”. God will be awake, alert, and watching over His promise to be with Jeremiah.
Verses 13-17 contain a second vision to Jeremiah, The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north." Then the Lord said to me, "Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north," declares the Lord; "and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” (NASU) The destruction promised to come on Judah in this second vision serves to greatly emphasize the importance of the first vision’s promise regarding the presence of God with him.
Verses 17-19 promise Jeremiah that his life will be very difficult, but God will be faithful to him as long as Jeremiah obeys, "Now, gird up your loins and arise, and speak to them all which I command you. Do not be dismayed before them, or I will dismay you before them. Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you," declares the Lord. (NASU) The presence of the Lord will prove to be the only hope for Jeremiah and me and you.
Steve Ellison is the Pastor at Salem Baptist Church & Director at Ouachita. Ellison writes a weekly column for The Rolla Daily News.