Jeremiah 1 – The Prophet’s Call & Apostles and Prophets

Hands OutI understand now, You had the prophets of the Old Testament, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel and all them to prepare the way for Jesus, plus to teach us about the end of the world.  The prophets couldn’t be seen as apostles because they had never seen Jesus.

1 Bronzefigurine of Anat
Bronze figurine of Anat wearing an atef crown with arm raised (originally holding an axe or club), dated to 1200-1400BC, found in Syria.

And I guess Jesus’ disciples, except maybe John, weren’t prophets, but apostles because they had seen Jesus.  Of course, since John wrote Revelation I guess that would make him an apostle and a prophet too?  This is confusing to me.

So there aren’t any prophets or apostles now days, but I know You still talk to people because You talk to me.  This is where we differ, I’m not a people person, I have my limitations.

So since there’s no more prophets, then…

Jeremiah 1
The Prophet’s Call

 1 The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin:

1:1-3 – the background and setting of Jeremiah’s call are stated concisely but comprehensively.

“Jeremiah” – nine other Old Testament men have the same name (1 Chr 5:24, 12:14, 10, 13; Neh 10:2, 12:1, 34), two of whom were the prophet’s contemporaries (Jer 35:3, 52:1).

“Hilkiah” – means “The LORD is my portion.”  Two other men named Hilkiah (a common Old Testament name) were also Jeremiah’s contemporaries (Jer 29:3; Ezra 7:1).

“Priests” – like Ezekiel (Eze 1:3) and Zechariah, Jeremiah was both prophet and priest.

“Anahoth” – the Hebrew word is the plural form of the name of the Canaanite deity Anat(h), goddess of war.  Anathoth had had priestly connections in Israel as early as the times of Joshua (Josh 21:18) and Solomon (1 Kgs 2:26), and its pagan origins had presumably been almost forgotten by Jeremiah’s time

2 Ketef Hinnom Amulets
Ketef Hinnom Amulets:
Two tiny silver scrolls in the form of amulets were discovered at a burial cave at Ketef Hinnom. Written in ancient Hebrew script dated to the 7th century BCE, the scrolls comprise the earliest-known fragments of a biblical text and pre-date the earliest scrolls from Qumran by more than 300 years.

Present-day Anata, three miles northeast of Jerusalem, preserves the ancient name, though the ancient site was about half a mile southwest of Anata.

“Benjamin” – Anathoth was one of the four Levitcal towns in the tribunal territory of Benjamin (Josh 21:17-18), and after the exiles Benjamites settled there again (Neh 11:31-32).

2 To whom the word of the LORD came in the days of Josiah the son of Ammon king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign.

“Josiah” – he was the last good and godly king of Judah.  Jeremiah sympathized with and supported his attempts at spiritual reformation and renewal, which began in earnest in 621 (see Kgs 22:3-23:25; 2 Chr 34:8-35:19).

“Thirteenth year” – 626 B.C.

3 It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

“Jehoiakim” – his predecessor (Jehoahaz) and successor (Jehoiachin) are not mentioned since they each reigned only three months.  In contrast to his father Josiah, Jehoiakim was a wicked ruler (2 Kgs 22:36-37; 2 Chr 36:5), as Jeremiah discovered almost immediately.

“Eleventh year…in the fifth month” – Ab (July-August), 586 B.C.

“Zedekiah” – the last king of Judah, as wicked in his own way as Hehoiakim.

4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

1:4-19 – the account of Jeremiah’s call includes two prophetic visions and some closing words of exhortation and encouragement.

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

6 Then said I, Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.

3 Herodian Sundial
Herodian Sundial:
This tiny sundial (only 2 inches wide by 2 inches high) may be the only known surviving artifact from the Temple of King Herod. It was found during excavation of a pile of debris attributed to the destruction of the Temple.

“I cannot speak” – like Moses (Ex 4:10), Jeremiah claimed inability to be a prophet; God nevertheless made him His spokesman (15:19).

7 But the LORD said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.

Youth and inexperience do not disqualify when God calls (see 1 Tim 4:12); He equips and sustains those He commissions.

8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

9 Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.

10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

“To root out…pull down…destroy…throw down…build…plant” – Jeremiah is to be primarily a prophet of doom, but he is also to be a prophet of restoration, even if only secondarily.

11 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou?  And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree.

12 Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it.

“Hasten” – the Hebrew for “hasten” sounds like the Hebrew for “almond tree.”  Just as the almond tree blooms first in the year (and therefore “wakes up” early – the Hebrew word for “hasten” means to be wakeful), so the Lord is ever quick to make sure that His word is fulfilled.

13 And the word of the LORD came unto me the second time, saying, What seest thou?  And I said, I see a seething pot; and the face thereof is toward the north.

4 Houseof God Ostracon
House of God Ostracon:
This Ostracon (writing on pottery) was discovered in Arad, an ancient Judean administrative center. Written in ancient Hebrew script dated to the early 6th century BCE, it is presumed to be one of the earliest epigraphic references to the Temple in Jerusalem.

14 Then the LORD said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.

15 For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set everyone his throne at the entering of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.

“Kingdoms of the north” – since Assyria posed a minimal threat to Judah after the death of Ashurbanipal in 627 B.C., reference is most likely to Babylon and her allies.

“Gates of Jerusalem” – since the gateway of a city was the place where its ruling council sat the Babylonian’s replaced Judah’s royal authority with their own.

16 And I will utter my judgments against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

“Gird up thy loins” – get ready, as Paul warns us about the devil, for us to always be ready (Eph 6:11-17).

18 For, behold, I have made thee this day a defensed city, and an iron pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, against the priests thereof, and against the people of the land.

“Defensed city” – a symbol of security and impregnability.

“Iron pillar” – expression signifies dignity and strength.

“Brazen walls” – Jeremiah would be able to withstand the abuse and persecution that he was going to experience.

19 And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the LORD, to deliver thee.

Apostles and Prophets

5 engraving depicting a large fish
An engraving depicting a large fish thought to represent the story of the Biblical prophet Jonah found in a tomb. It and an inscription in the same tomb may be the oldest archaeological evidence of Christianity, excavators say.

It is significant that the apostles and prophets are listed first among those to whom Christ “gave gifts.” This order is seen again in 1 Cor 12:28 which states:

And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The Ephesian passage, however, defines the purpose served by all of these gifted men:

For the perfecting of the saint’s, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Eph 4:12-13).

Most have had some contact with an evangelist or pastor, but we don’t know any legitimate apostles or prophets.  An apostle was one who had been an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ and who could perform miraculous signs (see Acts 1:21-22; 2 Cor. 12:12).

8 cave of St. John the Baptist
During 16 years of excavating Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley, archaeologists uncovered a unique building that might have been the house of Elisha the prophet.

The term “prophet” was always used to describe a miraculously-inspired individual (or in the case of a false prophet – one who claimed inspiration) (See 1 Cor. 13:1; Eph. 3:5; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 Jn. 4:1).

True apostles and prophets do not live among us today. Yet, the Lord designed that they equip and edify us. How can this be? 

The answer is seen in the fact that both apostles and prophets were individuals who received new revelation. To the apostles Jesus said:

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come (Jn 16:13).

Paul affirmed:

Whereby, when ye read ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.

Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (Eph 3:4-5).

This fact explains why the apostles and prophets are listed first in God’s plan for the equipping of His people.

7 lost city’ where Prophet Abraham lived.
Researchers working in the area have discovered what they are terming a ‘lost city,’ where Prophet Abraham lived. They have also found silver coins from the treasure of Alexander the Great.

Revelation of the Lord’s will as to what we should be and how we should live is indispensable in equipping us to serve. What would the evangelists preach and what would the pastors teach were it not for the revelation furnished through the apostles and prophets? 

The very existence of the church necessitated the foundational work of these men. Of God’s household, the church, Paul wrote:

And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Eph 2:20).

While the work of evangelists and pastor/teachers is important, only the apostles and prophets are described as being the foundation upon which the church is built.  It has been popular to say that the “foundation of the apostles and prophets” means the foundation which they laid, i.e., their revelation.

However, the figure used by Paul is that of a building. The cornerstone of the building is the Person of Jesus Himself.  According to verses 21 and 22, the building itself also consists of people – believers.

6 Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley
The cave of St. John the Baptist is a relatively new place of pilgrimage in the Holy Land – Israel.
The Gospel does not tell us much about the life of John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke, however, states that: “The child grew up and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his public appearance to Israel” (Lk 1:80).
It is believed that the Cave of John the Baptist is a place in the “wilderness” where the saint lived up to the time of his preaching and the baptism of our Lord. The rocky place that still preserves today the ancient cave, is in the land of Tzuba, which is the nearest settlement to the famous Ein Karem (the place where het was born), slightly west of Jerusalem.
In a legend about this place, it is said that Elisabeth had fled with baby John, the night when crazy King Herod ordered the killing of all infants from his land, two years and younger (Matt 2:16). A cave similar to this one was portrayed on a souvenir from the Byzantine era that was found in the Holy Land and brought later to Italy; it is a disc engraved with a picture and the words: “God’s blessings for the refuge of St. Elizabeth.”

Consistency with the figure would appear to demand that the foundation also refers to people – identified as the apostles and prophets. If this conclusion is accurate, then this constitutes positive evidence that apostles and prophets were not to be a permanent “office” in the church today.

For, just as the Cornerstone has been laid, Jesus Christ, so also has the foundation been laid and the church built upon it. There is no need for other cornerstones (other Christ’s), since Jesus finished His work which still benefits the church.

Just so, there is no need for other foundations (latter-day apostles and prophets), since their revelational work was completed and we still benefit from it. It was in obedience to the apostolic revelation that the three thousand were added to the Lord’s church (Acts 2:14-41).

Obedience to the same revelation today will add people to the same body. But notice also that these newly-constituted people of God:

And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42).

Their continued existence as the church depended upon the apostolic revelation designed that they might be “complete in Christ”:

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:

That we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby the lie in wait to deceive;

But speaking the truth in love may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ (Eph 4:13-16).

The same is true today. Our growth toward maturity in the faith depends upon our learning and vigorously applying the apostolic revelation.

…there will be false prophets, huh?

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