Jeremiah 1:4-19 – The Call of Jeremiah


Jeremiah 1:4-19


Jeremiah is called by God to bring a word from God to the people of Israel.


The call of Jeremiah follows a literary convention for the reporting of divine calls. The call of Jeremiah from his mother’s womb is thereby shown to be at God’s initiative, not his own. From the perspective of the audience, they should be able to see that Jeremiah was called because of “them” (1:8)! Six words are used to describe the word that Jeremiah is to bring to Israel: pluck up, pull down, destroy, overthrow, build, and plant. All but the last two are words of judgment, which the readers already have experienced, but which remain the word of God in some way for every generation of readers. The two positive words (build and plant), not yet a reality for the readers, hold out hope for their future. These six words constitute a leitmotif for the book of Jeremiah (for example, 12:14-17; 18:7-9; 24:6; 32:41; 42:10; 45:4). How the people respond to this word of God will shape their future.

Jeremiah is uniquely called to be “a prophet to the nations” (1:10). This is not a call to do “mission work” among the nations, but a commission to proclaim a word to Israel that will catch up the future of other nations (especially Babylon). This word is a testimony that God’s presence and activity has to do with the peoples of the world, not just Israel. This word of God is an effective reality in the life of other nations, whether they realize it or not.