And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see a rod of almond.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.” Jeremiah 1:11-12
Long before John coined the phrase, “...And the Word became flesh...” Jeremiah’s flesh had become word. He would readily understand this play on words. The “rod of almond” (shaqed) and “watching” (shoqed) is exactly that … word play in the Hebrew language. It sparked the prophet’s imagination and freed his brain to think outside the box. Nudged by the Holy Spirit, Jeremiah also saw things like a boiling pot, baskets of figs, and a potter at work. Above all, he observed God’s Word at work. The prophet took it at face value, obeyed it, and wrote it down as a witness and a warning. A king of Judah showed his contempt by cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s scroll. When God performed the Babylonian exile, Judah’s deported last king, Zedekiah, watched his sons’ execution before having his eyes gouged out. That took care of his unwanted reading.
Awed by the Bible glut in our land, Jeremiah would surely think “awesome” God and “awful” consequences for a people carelessly ignorant of His Story. It is consistent with His self-revelation as Covenant God who sticks to His story line. Lest we forget, by His spoken word creation came into existence. That same inherent power is poised on our bookshelves. Why let it gather dust when we could unleash spiritual dynamite? (Part 2 of 2)
Comment: Speaking of parallel drama, Joseph was thrown into a pit to find fame and fortune in Egypt. Jeremiah was rescued from a well to find himself stoned to death there. He authored the longest book of the Bible with the most autobiographical material. He had advised King Zedekiah to surrender to the Babylonians about to invade Jerusalem. His counselors urged him to put Jeremiah to death, “because he is making the soldiers and everyone else lose hope.” “So they…let me down with ropes into the well. There was no water in it, but I sank down in the mud.” An empathetic Ethiopian official talked Zedekiah into saving Jeremiah from starvation, and had soldiers get rags. “Then he said, ‘Put these rags under your arms so the ropes won’t hurt you.’ After I did, the men pulled me out, and from then on, I was kept in the courtyard of the palace guards” (38:1-13). He stayed there until Jerusalem fell. Jeremiah 12:5 has been a favorite verse for many years. “If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you fall down, how will you do in the jungle of the Jordan?” Foes in his hometown had tried to kill him. So, Jeremiah moved his unpopular visionary act from the local to the world stage. He ran his race with the perseverance that looked to the joy of the Author and Finisher of his faith. The word “race” in Hebrews 12:1 has its Greek roots in our word “agony.” Some of our “pit falls” will reflect that, but in the end, all is “well” as God wills it. Meanwhile, we are privileged to continue to this very day his consecrated legacy by singing Jeremiah’s words from Lamentations, “Great is Thy faithfulness… morning by morning new mercies I see.” Jeremiah 1