God knew Jeremiah and pre-destined him to be a prophet among the Jewish People.
In the Biblical model of prophets, a prophet is a spiritual leader ordained by God to convey His message, or be His spokesperson.
Indeed, we do see this idea in today’s Haftarah:
“‘Do not say, I am too young. You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.’ … Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:7–10)
Of course, apart from Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), the greatest prophet was Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; Acts 3:22)
“Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew [yadah] face to face.” (Deuteronomy 34:10)
The Weeping Prophet
“Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.” (Jeremiah 9:1)
Some have called Jeremiah “The Weeping Prophet” because of his terrible grief over the sins of Israel—sins that would result in certain judgment and punishment unless the people repented.
Although Jeremiah was born into a priestly family around 650 BC, God had already called him and set him apart for service as a prophet to the nations even before his development in his mother’s womb!
In Hebrew, the word for womb is רחם (rechem), which is also the root for the word רחם (rachem), meaning mercy, pity, or compassion.
The Hebrew reveals that God created the woman’s womb to be a place of mercy for the unborn child. Even while we are as yet unformed in our mother’s womb, God loves us and has compassion on us.
Jeremiah was a child of destiny; he didn’t look for his calling—it came to him.
God didn’t scrutinize Jeremiah’s track record as a youth to determine if he was fit to be a prophet. This was God’s plan for Jeremiah before he was even born—a pre-natal destiny.
Although he was timid by nature, after receiving his calling, he fearlessly proclaimed the Divine message of repentance to a nation that did not want to listen.
That message always held out the promise of restoration after judgment, and to deliver it, he lived a sacrificial, consecrated life—one man standing against the tide of sin.
The Promise of the Almond Tree
In today’s Haftarah, the Lord gives Jeremiah a vision that conveys both warning and reassurance—the vision of the almond tree.
“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree [shaked],’ I replied. The LORD said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching [shoked] to see that My word is fulfilled.’” (Jeremiah 1:11–12)
Without an understanding of Hebrew, we can totally miss the clever wordplay in this vision.
An almond tree in Hebrew is שקד (shaked), and to be watchful and awake is שקד(shoked)—the same three consonants, but with different vowel sounds.
God then shows Jeremiah a vision of a boiling pot tilting toward Israel from the north.
The Lord said to him, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land…. I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me.” (Jeremiah 1:14–16)
The vision of the almond tree, therefore, reveals that God is watching our actions. He sees sin and we will be judged.
The fact that the almond tree is one of the first trees to flower after winter, alludes to the urgency of repentance, for God is watching.
The vision of the almond tree also speaks of restoration.
We see this later in Jeremiah when God makes the following promise that refers back to the vision of the almond tree:
“Just as I watched over them to uproot and tear down, and to overthrow, destroy and bring disaster, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 31:28)
A Treasured Possession Holy to the Lord
“For you are a people holy [kadosh] to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen [bachar] you to be His treasured possession [segullah].” (Deuteronomy 14:2)
Haftarah Pinchas ends with the assurance that Israel is kadosh (holy, set apart) for the Lord.
“‘Israel is set aside [kadosh—holy] for ADONAI, the firstfruits of His harvest; all who devour her will incur guilt; evil will overtake them,’ says ADONAI.” (Jeremiah 2:3)
This is a word of warning: in the heavenly courts, the enemies of Israel are pronounced guilty and they will be judged accordingly.
One cannot be anti-Semitic and still expect to see God’s full blessing upon their lives. God has promised the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) that He “will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Just as Jeremiah had a special destiny, so does Israel because God designated it as kadosh—set apart to Him for special service.
God is watching over His Word to perform it, and He certainly will restore Israel in these end times as He has promised.
God also promises that He will deliver us.
He tells Jeremiah in this Haftarah: “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified…. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:17–19)
Over and over again in Scripture, God tells us, “Fear not, for I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
We need not be afraid, even when something (or someone) comes against us, for God promises His help. The battle is the Lord’s. We need only stand firm in faith, trusting in the Word of the Lord.