Jeremiah 1

God speaks to Jeremiah

1 This book tells about Hilkiah's son, Jeremiah, and the words that he spoke. Jeremiah was a priest. He lived at Anathoth, a town in the land that belonged to the tribe of Benjamin. 2 The Lord first spoke to him when Amon's son Josiah had been king of Judah for 13 years. 3 The Lord also spoke to him while Josiah's son, Jehoiakim, ruled Judah as king. He continued to speak to Jeremiah until Josiah's son Zedekiah had ruled Judah for 11 years. In the fifth month of that year, Judah's enemies took the people of Jerusalem away as their prisoners.

1:2When we write Lord like this, it is a special name for God. Sometimes people write it as ‘Yahweh’, or as ‘Jehovah’. It is his own name that he told Moses. See Exodus 3:14. It means ‘I am who I am’. This shows that God has always been there and he always will be there.

God chooses Jeremiah to be a prophet

4 The Lord gave me this message: 5 ‘I already knew you before I made you inside your mother's body. I chose you to be special before you were born. I chose you to be my prophet, to speak my message to other nations.’

6 I answered, ‘Lord God, I do not know how to speak. I am only a child.’

7 The Lord said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am only a child.” You must go to everyone that I send you to. You must say whatever I tell you to say. 8 Do not be afraid of them. Remember that I will be with you. I will keep you safe.’

9 Then the Lord touched my mouth with his hand. He said to me, ‘I am giving you the words that you must speak. 10 Look! I give you authority to tell nations and kingdoms what will happen to them. You will pull some of them out of the ground, like a plant and its roots. You will knock down and destroy some of them. You will bring an end to their power. But you will build up other nations and make them strong.’

The Lord shows Jeremiah two visions

11 The Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’

I replied, ‘I see the branch of an almond tree.’

12 The Lord said, ‘Yes, that is correct. I am watching carefully to make sure that what I say will happen really happens.’

1:12The Hebrew words for ‘almond’ and ‘watching’ sound nearly the same. The almond tree is the first tree to have flowers, in the spring. God was telling Jeremiah what would happen. All the things that he had said would soon happen.

13 The Lord asked me again. ‘What do you see?’

I replied, ‘I see in the north a pot with boiling water in it. It will pour its water in this direction.’

The Lord said, 14 ‘Yes, trouble like boiling water will come from the north. It will destroy all the people who live in this land. 15 I will call all the nations that are in the north to come here. Their kings will come and they will sit on their thrones at the city gates of Jerusalem. Their armies will be all around the walls of Jerusalem and the other cities of Judah. 16 I will punish my people for the wicked things that they have done. They have turned away from me. They have offered sacrifices to false gods. They have worshipped idols that they have made with their own hands.

17 You must be ready to move, Jeremiah! Go and say to the people whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of them. If you are afraid of them now, when you are among them, I will cause you to be very frightened! 18 I, the Lord, promise that I will make you as strong as a city with strong walls around it. You will be as strong as an iron pillar, or a wall that is made of bronze. You will speak a message against the whole nation of Judah. You will speak against its kings, its officers, its priests and all its people. 19 They will attack you. But they will not win against you, because I will be with you. I will keep you safe.

That is what the Lord says.’