Jeremiah 1

God speaks to Jeremiah

1 Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah, spoke to the people of Israel. He was a priest. He lived at Anathoth, a town in the land that God gave to the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God spoke to him when Josiah, son of Amon, had been king of Judah for 13 years. 3 God continued to speak to him all the time that Josiah's son, Jehoiakim, was king. And he went on speaking to Jeremiah for the 11 years and 5 months that Zedekiah was king. Zedekiah was a son of King Josiah. After this, Judah's enemies took the people from Jerusalem away to a far country.

God chooses Jeremiah.

4 God spoke to me. 5 ‘I knew you even before I made your body inside your mother's body. I chose you before you were born. I decided that you must be a prophet to all the countries in the world,’ he said.

6 ‘Great and powerful Lord,’ I said. ‘I do not know how to speak. I am only a child.’

1:6When 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.

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 You need not be afraid of them, because I am with you. I will save you,’ he said.

9 Then the Lord touched my mouth with his hand. ‘Now I have put my words into your mouth,’ he said. 10 ‘Look, I give you authority over countries and kingdoms. You can pull them down or break them up to destroy them. You can build them up and make them safe.’

The Lord shows Jeremiah two pictures.

11 The Lord spoke to me. ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ he said.

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

12 ‘Yes, that is correct,’ he said. ‘I am watching my words. And I will cause them to happen.’

1:12The words for ‘almond’ and ‘watching’ sound nearly the same in the Hebrew language. 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 spoke to me again. ‘What do you see?’ he said. ‘I see a boiling pot. It is in the north and it is pouring this way,’ I answered. 14 ‘People from the north will pour out. And they will kill all the people who live in this country,’ the Lord said. 15 ‘I will bring all the nations who live in the north,’ he said.

‘Their kings will come and they will sit in the gates of Jerusalem. They will rule there. They will be round its walls. They will be round all the towns of Judah. 16 I will be the judge of my people, because they have turned away from me. They have done very wrong things. They have given gifts to false gods. They have worshipped things that they have made with their own hands. 17 You must get ready! Stand up. And say whatever I tell you. Do not be afraid of them. If you are afraid of them, I will make you afraid in front of them! 18 Today I have made you as strong as a city with great walls. You will be like a tree that someone has made from iron. You will be like a metal wall to stand against the whole nation. You will stand against the kings of Judah and their officers. You will stand against the priests and the people of the country. 19 They will fight against you. But they will not win, because I am with you. I will save you,’ says the Lord.