Having seen the prophet’s call in chapter one, our attention is now directed towards the prophet’s message in chapter two. Jeremiah began by writing, “Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying…” (vs.1). The message that follows, the first prophetic utterance that we read of Jeremiah receiving, continues all the way through the beginning of the following chapter (2:1-3:5). But before Jeremiah received the words he was to speak, the LORD told him what to do and where to do it: “Go and cry in the hearing of Jerusalem, saying…” (vs.2a). Not Anathoth, but Jerusalem. Not a small village, but a capital city. Whatever reticence of public speaking and preaching that Jeremiah had (cf. Jer. 1:6), it was about to be confronted head-on. This message was meant to be heard by the Jewish masses; hence the expression: “… cry in the hearing of Jerusalem.” The good news for Jeremiah was – he not only had an imperative but a promise of God’s presence – “speak to them all that I command you…for I am with you…” (vs.17a, 19b). The Christian can relate, he or she has just about the same imperative and promise (Mt. 28:19,20), but with a far greater announcement.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” That’s not only part of the opening line to Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, it’s also a decent way of characterizing the historical backdrop for the book of Jeremiah. Only, the percentage of time that was good was much, much less than the time that wasn’t. I’ll explain why I say that and how we know that in a moment but first let’s quickly see how Jeremiah is introduced to us. He is the prophet whose words we read – “the words of Jeremiah” (1:1a) and the prophet “to whom the word of the LORD came” (1:2a). He was one of those holy men that Peter described who was carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:19-21), writing with his personality and writing style all intact, yet so sovereignly superintended that the result of his script was, none other than, God-breathed Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16).
“He Humbled Himself…” (Phil. 2:8)
It’s difficult to comprehend the magnitude of what’s written above…
The great, eternal Son of God humbled Himself?
He was in eternal, joyful communion with the Father and Holy Spirit for all of all eternity. Ever since the angelic hosts were created, He received and enjoyed their worship. He benevolently reigned over all creation since there had been a creation, and then, when the fullness of time had come, He added humanity to His Deity, was born of a woman under the Law.
Restorer. Notice how the chapter begins: “Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South” (vs.1). And so the dismal days of unbelieving, lying, self-protecting behavior that earned Abram a reprimand from an ungodly king were behind him. Interestingly, it’s as though the geography reinforces that idea. After all, Abram went – now watch how the text describes the locale – “to the place where his tent had been at the beginning” (vs.3b) and “to the place of the altar which he had made there at the first” (vs.4a). In back-to-back verses that specification is given. These historic reminders bring us back to Genesis 12:8 – the place where Abram built an altar and worshipped the LORD before going to Egypt. In one sense, yes, it was ‘back to square one.’ But it’s also as though Abram was getting a fresh start since he was back at the place where he was before he failed. Even though he faltered he would still become ‘the father of the faithful.’ A spiritual slump in Egypt didn’t send Abram into early retirement. You could say that here in Genesis 13 we get a kind of hint of what we would see so vividly displayed later on in redemptive history in the life of Peter – God is a restorer. Although sin is serious, it does not indefinitely sever a believer from usefulness. Peter, for example, was called to strengthen his brethren and feed the flock post his thrice denials (Lk. 22:32; Jn. 20:15-17). So there is indeed good news for failures like Abram, Peter, and us – God is a restorer. He can restore years (Joel. 2:25-26), nations (Jer. 30:17), joy (Ps. 52:12), and all things (Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 21:1-5) – including faltering patriarchs and stumbling saints.
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content (Phil. 4:11)
In the previous verse, Paul, having recently received the gift delivered by Epaphroditus, rejoiced in the Lord that the Philippians’ care for him had flourished again (4:10). Although the church loved the apostle dearly, it had been about ten years since they were able to send him an offering (cf. vs.15-16). Don’t forget, in those days they couldn’t simply wire the funds to the apostle Paul’s bank account. Not to mention, Paul’s journeys were both frequent and many, which made him a difficult man to locate. Whatever the exact circumstances were Paul said they “lacked opportunity” (vs.10).