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Jeremiah 1:1-2:22

07.29.2010

For all my earlier talk about Jeremiah being non-chronological, the narrative begins at 1:1.  Oh well.

Jeremiah begins by relating his call to prophecy:

1:5 | God speaks to Jeremiah using words that are oft quoted in Christian circles, particularly in reference to the modern abortion debate.  God’s claim to have known and anointed Jeremiah while he was in his mother’s womb underlies much of the pro-life understanding that life begins at some point before birth.  Policy and moral considerations aside, the resonant point for me is that God has a calling for us and a vision for our lives.  One of my favorite images of God is as a playwright creating an epic drama in which our roles have been laid out from the beginning of time.

1:11-12 | The almond branch exchange between Jeremiah and God is a bit of a cosmic pun.  I have always contended that the pun is the highest form of humor; I think this bolsters my argument considerably.  The Hebrew for almond is shaqed, while the near homonym shoqed means “watching over.”  I’m sure it’s funnier in the original Hebrew.  Either way, if God told it to me, I’d laugh.  The upshot is that God promises to watch over His word, meaning that He will not forget His promises (both the blessings and the punishments).

2:10-11 | God’s complaint is that even the pagans are faithful to their gods.  Idolaters stay loyal to their wooden totems and man-made fictions.  Not only have the Israelites ditched their God, He was actually real.  He alone among all the gods and idols has been faithful in serving His people, displaying His glory to save them time after time.  They’ve not only been disloyal, but stupidly so.

2:20 | The language of infidelity and promiscuity abounds in the Old Testament.  God’s view of His covenant relationship with His people is that of a marriage.  In fact, Christians see the institution of marriage as a living example given by God to symbolize this relationship.  God uses the earthly and tangible to represent the profound and spiritual.  The language of marriage is consistent throughout the Bible, which ends in Revelation with the imagery of the church as the bride of Christ.  Understanding God’s position as a hurt lover allows us to understand the language of pain and betrayal and anger so common in the prophetic books.

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