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Chapter 1:11-19 (ESV)

Posted on June 09, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 1:11-19 (ESV) - And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”

The word of the LORD came to me a second time, saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the LORD said to me, “Out of the north disaster shall be let loose upon all the inhabitants of the land. For behold, I am calling all the tribes of the kingdoms of the north, declares the LORD, and they shall come, and every one shall set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, against all its walls all around and against all the cities of Judah. And I will declare my judgments against them, for all their evil in forsaking me. They have made offerings to other gods and worshiped the works of their own hands. But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the LORD, to deliver you.”

Question to consider: Can you think of a time when you were compelled to speak the truth to people who did not want to hear it?

The first word of the LORD which came to Jeremiah was through a vision of an “almond branch”. It could also be translated as a “watching branch”. It was named this way because an almond tree was the first of the trees to blossom so it was a sign that the change of seasons was coming. The LORD gave this vision to Jeremiah to let him know that His word against Judah was about to come to pass.

It is important to remember from the first part of this chapter that this word came to Jeremiah when Josiah was in his thirteenth year as king. Josiah was made king after his wicked father, Amon, was murdered by a group of Israelites who conspired against him the second year of his reign. Amon was murdered at twenty-four years-old so his son, Josiah, was only eight when he became king. If the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of his reign, it would have made Josiah twenty-one. The other prophet to warn king Josiah of coming judgment was Zephaniah, and Josiah repented of the wickedness of Judah and began his reforms about seven years later.

The vision of the boiling pot was an image of the armies coming from the north streaming in like stew boiling over the sides of a pot. Ezekiel also was given a vision of such a pot to describe the city of Jerusalem, but in his vision, the inhabitants of Jerusalem were like the meat cooked inside by the fires of the battlements set against them (see Ezekiel 11:1-12).

Even though the nation of Babylon was located to the East of Judah, the armies came from the north. The plans for this siege originated many years earlier under the reign of Josiah’s great-grandfather, Hezekiah. After the LORD granted Hezekiah twenty more years of life after his illness, the son of the Babylonian king, Baladan sent an envoy to give Hezekiah a get-well present. In an act of foolish pride, Hezekiah showed them all of the treasures of Judah, and the LORD pronounced this future judgment through the prophet Isaiah. 

When Jeremiah was given this vision to announce to king Josiah, he was given the instruction to “dress for work”. The original Hebrew was “gird up your loins”. I have never understood why the translators seem to avoid using the literal phrase throughout the scriptures. The girding of the loins was done to prepare for battle. Essentially, they brought the hem of their tunic up between their legs and tucked it in their belt to free up their legs. Jeremiah was about to go up against the false prophets, kings, religious leaders and people of Jerusalem who would do their best to destroy him. However, the LORD assured Jeremiah that despite their desire to kill him for this message, He would protect Jeremiah like an impenetrable city.

Often in scripture, those who walk with the LORD feel like they are up against the world. It can be difficult to hold to the truth when it goes against the culture.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being with Jeremiah in the face of a culture that did not want to hear the message of repentance that You had him speak. Please continue to be with us today as we stand up for the truth of the gospel in the midst of a culture which loves its sin more than the truth. May the Holy Spirit continue to convict the world of sin as we proclaim the righteousness that comes by faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.