Posted by: mattcolvin | January 24, 2012

Prenatal Calling to Judge Nations in Jeremiah 1

Tuesday, Eve of the Conversion of St. Paul: Jeremiah 1:4-10.

YHWH makes clear that Jeremiah has a calling, like Samson, and John the Baptist, even before he is born:

“ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”

The Hebrew hiqedashtika does not denote “sanctification” in the technical systematic-theological sense (“change of ethical habitus”). It is a hithpael, and thus factitive: YHWH has “made you qadosh“, holy or set apart to Himself, sc. to do a special work.

Like Moses, Jeremiah has other ideas about his fitness for that work:

“ Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.”

Jeremiah’s job is similar to the apostles in Acts: he will appear before kings and nations, “to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” This is heady stuff: as the agent of YHWH, Jeremiah is to understand that his word is really His Word, for He has touched his mouth. Thus, although it may appear to secular historians that the Babylonians have overrun the world, in fact the changes in nations and powers have happened because of what Jeremiah has spoken in YHWH’s name.

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