Jeremiah’s Prophetic Signs Jeremiah in fact is an especially important Old Testament prophet. In some ways, his entire life was a sign of faith. Scholars recognize the many prophetic signs he performed.* He didn’t simply speak the Word of the Lord, he lived it. Consider just a few of his prophetic actions in the account of his life in
- He wears a waistcloth, buries it and digs it back up, symbolizing Israel’s corruption, sin and humiliation (cf. Jer 13:1–11)
- He is celibate: symbolizing God’s judgment on Israel and his separation from wicked Israel (cf. Jer 16:1–4)
- He refashions a spoiled vessel, pointing to God’s willingness to forgive and remake Israel (cf. Jer 18:1–12)
- He breaks a pot to symbolize the irrevocable divine decree of judgment (cf. Jer 19:1–13)
- He takes a cup from the Lord and gives it to the nations to drink, symbolizing coming judgment (cf. Jer 25:15–29)
- He makes and wears yokes, announcing that the Babylonians are coming to conquer Jerusalem and take the people away as slaves (cf. Jer 27:1–28:17)
- He purchases a field to indicate God’s promise of a future restoration (cf. Jer 32:1–15)
- He rewrites a scroll after the king destroys it to show that God’s words endure (cf. Jer 36:1–32).
- He hides stones in the mortar used for Pharaoh’s palace as a sign that the Babylonian king will conquer Egypt (cf. Jer 43:8–13).
- He writes about the coming judgment upon Babylon in a book and tells Seraiah to read from it in Babylon and throw it into the Euphrates (cf. Jer 51:59–64) to demonstrate that the exile had been foretold!
Jeremiah as a New Moses Indeed, Jeremiah is described as a New Moses, as Dale Allison shows. His calling in Jeremiah 1 in many ways mirrors the calling of Moses in Exodus 3.
- Both complain that they are not good speakers (Jer 1:6; Exod 4:10).
- Both are told “you shall speak all that I command you” (Jer 1:7; Exod 7:2).
- Both are comforted by being told that God will be with them (Jer 1:8; Exod 3:12).
- Both are told that the Lord’s words will be in their mouth (Jer 1:9; Deut 18:18).
The list goes on and on.
Jeremiah then is a kind of New Moses. It is no wonder then that he predicts the coming of a New Covenant, using language of a New Exodus:
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant which they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33 But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:31–33)
When God’s people looked for deliverance, Jeremiah was not far from their mind. This is evident in 2 Maccabees. There we read about a mysterious appearance of Jeremiah who is credited with giving the sword to Judas Maccabeus that he used to defeat Israel’s enemies. As Onias the high priest is praying over the people, he spots none other than Jeremiah in the crowd:
Onias, who had been high priest, a noble and good man, of modest bearing and gentle manner, one who spoke fittingly and had been trained from childhood in all that belongs to excellence, was praying with outstretched hands for the whole body of the Jews. 13 Then likewise a man appeared, distinguished by his gray hair and dignity, and of marvelous majesty and authority. 14 And Onias spoke, saying, “This is a man who loves the brethren and prays much for the people and the holy city, Jeremiah, the prophet of God.” 15 Jeremiah stretched out his right hand and gave to Judas a golden sword, and as he gave it he addressed him thus: 16 “Take this holy sword, a gift from God, with which you will strike down your adversaries.” (2 Macc 15:12–16)