Calling of a Prophet
The prophet Jeremiah provides us with a remarkable study in steadfastness in the Lord. From his premortal performance to his mortal ministry we are given an often painful portrait of what a prophet goes through to serve God in correcting his own people.
Called in his youth (Jer. 1:6), and somewhat reminiscent of Enoch, Moses, and at least two Josephs (Jacob’s son, and Joseph Smith), the young man was concerned that he lacked the verbal skills and social respect required for Israel to listen to him. The Lord’s response was simple. “Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee” (Jer. 1:8).
Then Jehovah bestowed upon the boy a blessing (Jer. 1:9) with the prophetic charge to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down” that which is evil in Israel on one hand, and on the other hand he was to also “build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10).
These opposing metaphors are sequentially correct. Israel was laboring in idol worship — “playing the harlot” (Jer. 1:20) and changing themselves into “[plants] of a strange vine” (Jer. 1:21). This wickedness must be repented of first, and then the true construction of a Christ-like soul can take place only after the soil of their souls has been appropriately prepared.
LDS Scholars David Rolph and Jo Ann Seely have cogently collected the following background materials on this Old Testament prophet in their analysis of Jeremiah and Lehi — his Book of Mormon counterpart and contemporary.
This excellent analysis provides helpful insights into the world of the Jews during Jeremiah’s tumultuous ministry. I am personally humbled as I study this 40 year mission of Jeremiah — he labored with such a wicked people, in such precarious times, and without the hope that captivity and exile could be avoided. Yet, he persevered and stayed the course the Lord laid out for him.
No wonder Lehi rejoiced, while still in Jerusalem, when he learned that the city would be destroyed by the Babylonians. While this seems inappropriate or insensitive at first, Lehi correctly recognizes the Lord’s mercy in preserving the righteous. After reading the declaration of destruction and captivity in the prophetic book delivered to him he declared, “thou art merciful, [for] thou wilt not suffer those who come unto thee that they shall perish!” (1 Nephi 1:12-15). Meaning, that he knew God would preserve the righteous, even through the punishment of the wicked.
We, too, in these latter-day times rife with wars and rumors of wars, take comfort and know of the mercy of God. Nephi taught, “For the time soon cometh that the fulness of the wrath of God shall be poured out upon all the children of men; for he will not suffer that
“Indifference to the Savior or failure to keep the commandments of God brings about insecurity, inner turmoil, and contention. These are the opposite of peace. Peace can come to an individual only by an unconditional surrender — surrender to him who is the Prince of peace, who has the power to confer peace. One may live in beautiful and peaceful surroundings but, because of inner dissension and discord, be in a state of constant turmoil.
"On the other hand, one may be in the midst of utter destruction and the bloodshed of war and yet have the serenity of unspeakable peace. If we look to man and the ways of the world, we will find turmoil and confusion. If we will but turn to God, we will find peace for the restless soul. This was made clear by the words of the Savior: "In the world ye shall have tribulation" (John 16:33); and in his bequest to the Twelve and to all mankind, he said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth….