When interpreting prophecy our circumstances/ knowledge of external events can help


Jeremiah was a young man when God started speaking to him prophetically. He struggled with his youthfulness.

Jer 1:6 “Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.’”

God then started speaking to him quite simply through nature. God asked him what he saw (Jer 1:11). Jeremiah replied, “I see a rod of an almond tree”. God then used this natural object to make a spiritual point using a pun. The Hebrew for Almond is Shaqed. It comes from the root Shaqad, which means to watch. Then the Lord said to him, “You have seen well, for I am watching (Shaqad) over my word to perform it” 1:12 (Barker 1999).
As Jeremiah was reflecting on this I am sure his mind was drawn by the Holy Spirit to the other times in scripture when an almond branch is mentioned.
One of the scriptures he would have been drawn to is the making of the golden lamp stand in Exodus 25:31-40. Being a priest he would have known about the lamp stand in the holy place which had almond branches. He would also have known that the almond was the first tree to come into bloom. This picture ministered to his sense of inadequacy over his youthfulness.

An almond tree in bloom on a cold late winter morning. The mountain in the background still has snow on it.
An almond tree with blossom in late winter

Another image of the almond rod that Jeremiah would have been familiar with is found in Numbers 17. Here the leadership of Moses and Aaron was being challenged by the people who wanted to replace them. In order to settle the matter God told them to get “a rod for each father’s household; twelve rods…You shall write each name on his rod” and to “deposit them in the tent of meeting”….”The rod of the man whom I choose will sprout.” Aaron’s rod went on to sprout and bud and bear ripe almonds!
1 Corinthians 4:21 makes it clear that a rod was used for discipline “What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a spirit of gentleness?
I’m sure these pictures strengthened and comforted Jeremiah when his ministry was being challenged by the leaders of Israel.

1. Introduction.
2. God is the only one who can interpret.
3. Bible is the best source.
4. Circumstances and knowledge can help.
5. Don't jump to conclusions.
6. Art or science? It'is only in part.
7. Ask for more.
8. Remembrance of the past can help.
9. How to interpret symbols correctly.
10. The importance of context
11. Don't add or subtract.
12. All prophecy must witness.
13. What if the opposite happens.
14. Dream interpretation.
15. Preparing to bring a prophecy.
16. How to bring a prophetic word.
17. Judging prophecy.
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