A Prophet Like Moses: Jeremiah 1

Derek Kidner could really write. Here are the opening paragraphs of his book on Jeremiah:

“In the last decade of the longest, darkest reign in Judah’s history, two boys were born who were to be God’s gifts to a demoralized and damaged people. The reign was that of Manasseh, a half-century of deliberate reversion to the deities of Canaan and Assyria, to the black arts of magic and necromancy, to human sacrifice (even in the king’s own family), and to such travesties of justice that, in the langague of 2 Kings 21:16, ‘he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another’ with ‘innocent blood’.

The two new lives in question were those of Josiah, born in 648 BC, and Jeremiah, perhaps his slightly younger contemporary. . . . As reforming king and outspoken prophet, these two were to give their country its finest opportunity of renewal and its last hope of surviving as the kingdom of David.

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, it was my privilege to preach Jeremiah 1, “A Prophet Like Moses,” at Kenwood.

In Jeremiah 1 we see:

Jeremiah 1:1–3, Jeremiah’s Setting
Jeremiah 1:4–10, Jeremiah’s Call
Jeremiah 1:11–16, Jeremiah’s Message
Jeremiah 1:17–19, Jeremiah’s Help

Jeremiah began to prophesy in 627 BC and continued to prophesy down to the exile of Jerusalem in 586 BC. The last datable event in the book of Jeremiah is the release of Jehoiachin around 560 BC, indicating that Jeremiah was active from 627 BC until 560: 67 years. If he was 20 when he was a young man called to prophesy, he would be in his 80’s by the time of Jehoiachin’s release in Babylon.

This means, among other things, that by the time Daniel was taken captive in Babylon in 605 BC, Jeremiah would have been prophesying for 22 years. If Daniel was 15 when exiled, Jeremiah would perhaps be in his early 40’s.

Then when Ezekiel was taken captive in 597 BC, again, Jeremiah would have been prophesying for 30 years, and he would probably be about 50.

At the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, Jeremiah would probably be about 60.

This book of Jeremiah is his whole adult life. It began, really, before the Lord formed him in the womb, but he’s a young man when the Lord calls him in Jeremiah 1:6–7. As we’ll see, his whole ministry he will prophesy that judgment is coming. He begins prophesying in 627 BC, and judgment begins after 22 years in 605, falls again 8 years later in 597, and is completed after another 10 years in 586. So 40 years after Jeremiah began to prophesy, what he announced came to pass.

Jeremiah’s ministry is a testimony of persistent faithfulness across long years declaring the bad news that judgment is coming.

God keeps his word. He had promised to raise up a prophet like Moses, and in Jeremiah God did just that.

Jeremiah’s objection when God calls him in Jeremiah 1:6 is reminiscent of both Moses (Exod 4:10) and Isaiah (Isa 6:5). Isaiah and Jeremiah each noticed this, and having noted it, they recorded it because they intended to present themselves as prophets like Moses. They saw themselves as the realization of what God promised to do in Deuteronomy 18:15­–19.

Like Moses they would be opposed.
Like Moses, they would be vindicated by God.
Like Moses their lives were installments in a typological pattern to be fulfilled in Jesus.

Are you with Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Jesus, or are you with those who stone the prophets and seek to slaughter the heir to have the inheritance for themselves?

Why would God choose a young prophet, a prophet with unclean lips, or a prophet who wasn’t eloquent?
Because God’s power is the point, not the prophet’s standing in the community, perfection, or persuasive ability.

What enabled Jeremiah?

God’s word announced to Jeremiah realities he does not know in 1:4–5.
God’s word of command overcame Jeremiah’s youth in 1:6–7.
God’s word promised God’s presence in the face of Jeremiah’s fear in 1:8.

God’s touch put God’s word in Jeremiah’s mouth in 1:9.
God’s word announced salvation through judgment in 1:10.
God is watching over his word in 1:11–12.
God summons the agents of his judgment in 1:13–16.

And God’s word readied Jeremiah for his task in 1:17.

The city of Jerusalem will fall, but God will make Jeremiah stand.
The pillars will be torn down, Jeremiah’s word upheld.
The walls breached, Jeremiah’s prophecies validated.

Kings, officials, priests, and people will not prevail against the prophet who has God’s word in his mouth.

God knew him in the unsearchable past.
God was with him in his disputed present.
God promised to deliver him in the fiery future.

Key Dates for Jeremiah

640–609 Josiah’s Reign
648 Josiah born
640 8 year old Josiah becomes king (2 Kgs 22:1)
632 16 year old Josiah seeks God (2 Chron 34:3)
627 young man Jeremiah begins to prophesy (Jer 1:2)
622 Law of God found in the temple by Hilkiah (2 Kgs 22:3–20)
612 Nineveh falls to Babylon
609 Babylon advancing, Josiah killed by Pharaoh at Megiddo
609–598 Jehoiakim’s reign
605 Babylon defeats Assyria and Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish
605 first siege of Jerusalem, Daniel and others exiled to Babylon
604 Jehoiakim burns Jeremiah’s scroll (Jer 36)
598–587 Zedekiah’s reign
597 second siege of Jerusalem, Ezekiel and others exiled to Babylon
586 temple destroyed, exile to Babylon

[It looks a lot better on the word doc, so I’ve uploaded it. Couldn’t figure out how to make the formatting show up in this post.]

This sermon was preached on the tenth anniversary of 9/11. On September 11, 2001, we saw that even what seems most strong to human reckoning can be unaccountably destroyed.

Ten years later, we can affirm anew that God’s presence is our source of security, God’s word is our certain hope, God’s kingdom is our city with foundations, and God’s glory is our heart’s joy.

3 Responses to A Prophet Like Moses: Jeremiah 1

  1. RD September 16, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    Thanks for taking the time to put this together for us! Great stuff, Jim!

  2. John September 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Thanks for faithfully preaching the word, brother! I don’t know if you know, but Billy and I tag-teamed this at Redeemer…we were up to chapter 15 when I left. Really looking forward to this!

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