The Word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond-tree. Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten” My Word to perform it. And the Word of Jehovah carne. unto me the second time, saying! What seest thou? And I said, I see a seething pot: and the face thereof is toward the North. Then Jehovah said unto me, Out of the North an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.-JEREMIAH i. 11-14.
THE subject is vastation, or the laying waste of the land, by powerful enemies, And the spiritual topic is the laying waste of the mind by indulgence of evil.
There are two visions, forming an enacted parable. Jeremiah was a prophet and a seer, one whose inward spiritual eyes were opened, so that he saw things that were going on in the inward world of the spirit. These visions were formed of the spiritual substances of the spiritual world, to represent conditions of the human mind. Many such cases are recorded in the Scriptures.
A rod represents power, authority, ability, as in the sceptre of the ruler. And, as the ruler’s work is to keep things in order, and, for that purpose, to correct and discipline those who are in disorder, so the rod represents correction and discipline, including the punishment which it can inflict.
In this case, the rod was from an almond-tree. Trees, growing and bearing fruit, represent the principles which are growing in men’s minds, and bearing fruit in the practical life. The different kinds of trees represent different principles, different states of mind, in men, individually, and in the church collectively. Hence much is said of trees, in the Scriptures.
The almond was the first tree to awake, in the new season. It bloomed in January, and it bore fruit in March. And so it was the herald of spring. In the Hebrew, the name for the almond means hasty; and the almond was called “the hasty tree,” and “the awakener.” And you will observe the application of this name, in the Lord’s reply to Jeremiah, ” Thou hast well seen, for I will hasten My Word, to perform it;” as if Jererniah, had said, ” I have seen .a rod of a hasty-tree.” And so the almond-tree became a representative of things which come quickly, and which are near at hand, or of the quick fulfilment of a promise or a prophecy.
Spiritually, the almond-tree, catching the first coming of the new season, represents the perception of interior truth, as it applies to our inward life; and which is derived. from such goodness of heart as exists in the natural mind, when regenerating. And the fruit of the almond represents the practical goodness, in the work and uses of daily life. And when a branch of the almond-tree is used for a rod, it represents that our perceptions of interior truth should be used to correct and discipline the desires and notions of our natural senses. And, for this purpose, the letter of the Scriptures, and especially the Ten Commandments, constitute the most external form of that rod. For the letter of the Divine Word is the means by which truth comes to our perception. And so, in all our practical life, in feeling, in thought, and in act, the letter of the Divine Word should be our rod of correction and discipline. As, in a school, the teacher uses the rod to call attention, and to warn, and to discipline, so the Divine Teacher holds before us, at all times, the rod of His Word, affectionately calling our attention to good and true principles, and to good actions; gently warning us of any deviation from the laws of life; and, for our permanent good, disciplining us in our wrong-doing.
And he who is thus led to resist his own evil inclinations, and to do good, exclaims, O Lord, ” Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” It is necessary for our Lord, in His loving providence, to “Rule all nations with a rod of iron;” i.e., to discipline all things which dwell in our minds, by the exacting laws of natural truth, truth applied to our natural life of conduct. Thus, the first vision, that of an “almond-tree,” indicated that something was impending, which would come speedily. And the fact that a rod of almond was seen, foretold correction and discipline. And the second vision, that of the “seething pot,” indicated in what form the discipline would come, and whence it would come.
THE SEETHING POT.
In the second vision, Jeremiah saw a ” seething pot,” or a boiling caldron, a flesh-pot, on the fire, the contents boiling up, puffing up above the edges, running over, wasting and spoiling, and damaging the things they were falling upon.
In the literal representation, this boiling flesh-pot represented the City of Jerusalem, in great commotion, because of the army of Nebuchadnezzar, which was soon to come down upon it from the North. The boiling over of the contents of the pot, fitly represented the conditions of confusion, distress, and destruction of the Jews, surrounded by their fiery enemies.
Spiritually, a pot, as a hollow vessel, represents a doctrine a statement of truth, which is a hollow vessel in the mind, holding such things as our will and our understanding place in it. Many different men may hold similar doctrines, as doctrines, and yet very different things are in those mental vessels. In any case, the vessel in use takes its character from its contents. The contents may be good, wholesome food, or very bad food deadly in its character. In a bad sense, the fleshpots represent the pleasures of the senses, because their contents are the lusts of the flesh. We remember that, during the journey from Egypt to Canaan, Israel “lusted after the flesh-pots of Egypt,”, and spoke contemptuously of the manna, which the Lord provided, as “light food,” not heavy enough to satisfy their gross tastes and appetites.
A man may hold a true doctrine, as a doctrine, and yet he may fill it with the lusts of the flesh, and the sensuous thoughts of his natural mind. For instance, a rnan may believe in a God; and he may believe that he should thank God for the blessings of human life; and, in sitting down to his dinner, he may ask a blessing upon the food before him; and yet he may eat like a glutton; and he may even live to eat, rather than eat to live. And, in this case, although, figuratively, he uses a good pot, or doctrine, he fills it with the lusts of the flesh, for his food; and he uses the fallacies of the senses, for water and self-love for fire. And his mental pot boils over, and spoils everything. In the general history of a church these conditions exist at the end of that church, or dispensation, when evil passions rule men, even with those who have the doctrines of the church. And this evil spirit of self-love keeps everything in a condition of boiling over, going beyond bounds, until it produces its own spiritual destruction.
And, in this condition of disorder and weakness, an enemy from the North comes down upon the mind, and destroys the remainder of its life.
It is said that the pot had its face to the North; i.e., its opening was towards the North. In ancient Israel, in a rocky land, thickly inhabited, dry wood for fire purposes was scarce. And, for economy, the ordinary Israelite dug a pit, in the centre of his earthen floor, in his dwelling; and in this hole he made a fire of dry sticks, or other fuel, and set on the pot, to boil his food. To save heat, he piled stones around the pot, leaving an opening, through which he could supply fuel.
In the vision seen by Jeremiah, probably this boiling-place was present, as well as the pot. And probably the opening for fuel was facing the North, as would be meant by the face of the pot being toward the North; for, through this opening for fuel, the face, or open mouth, of the pot, could be seen.
THE POINTS OF THE COMPASS.
The points of the compass represent different mental standpoints. The East, where the sun appears to rise, represents the higher and more interior states of mind, which first recognize the Lord; i.e., the love-principle, which looks to the Lord. The South, where the sun is at noon, and when there is the greatest light, represents the intelligence of truth. The West, which the sun appears to reach last, in its daily progress, and which is opposite to the East, represents a more obscure state of mind, as to love and goodness; i.e., a more external state, more natural than spiritual. And the North, which is opposite to the South, represents a more obscure state of mind as to the truth, or intelligence, a natural state, rather than a spiritual intelligence.
Thus, the North indicates a natural-minded state. And, in the unregenerate man, this natural state is a state of false ideas rather than truths. In this obscure condition, there are no spiritual truths known to the mind; and hence there is no protection by truths against the evils of self-love. And then the lusts of the flesh rush into action, and fill even the pots of doctrine with ideas which are false and feelings which are evil. And then the mental pots boil over, while their faces are towards the North, receiving whatever may come to the mind from the cold-hearted and obscure things of the unregenerate man.
And there is also a more profound meaning in the facing of the pot, when we consider the nature of the face. In the human body, the face is the index of the mind; for whatever is active in the mind expresses itself in the face. And when the man stands upright, his head, including the face, stands above the other parts. Hence the face represents the inward life, the interiors of the man. Hence, to see a man’s actual state of feeling and thought, you look into his face. And when you wish to come into contact with anything, you turn your face towards it. But, if you wish to show your aversion, you avert your face, or turn your back towards the person or thing which you dislike. In this sense, the face of the pot being turned towards the North, means that the mind thus represented, was turned towards the spiritual North, and open to the influences flowing thence. This representative meaning is the same as the other, in general principles, but from a different standpoint.
The representative picture is strong. The boiling, seething caldron, with its contents puffing up, boiling over, running to waste, and being burned and destroyed, and injuring whatever they fell upon, well represents a man’s state of mind, when the obscure and deadly influences of his own sensuous lusts of self-love are firing his whole mind, and drawing upon himself all the evil influences of the hells, which come rushing upon him like the army of Nebuchadnezzar, to push him to destruction. Necessarily, evil and falsity must work the destruction of every mind which is open to their influence, and closed towards the heavens.
These visions were the first which carne to the youthful prophet, Jeremiah, in the beginning of his career. And they enabled him to understand something of the nature of his mission and work. The first vision, of the almond-rod, taught him that his errand was to use the rod upon the Israelites, to correct, admonish and discipline them, in a very degenerate age, when even the leaders in the church were given up to selfish and sensuous life. And, in the midst of such conditions in a declining state of the church, the prophet was to lift up his voice, in outspoken correction.
And he had a sad story to tell, the story of the destruction of the church and of the nation. And so Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet,” the author of the “Lamentations.” All about him, the conditions of the people were degenerating, ripening in evil, and hastenIng to destruction. And, in the circumstances, the Lord put upon Jeremiah his great mission; ” See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” For, even in such times, and amid such conditions, some men would heed the prophet’s warning, and would turn to him for help: and to them he was to carry the Word of God, and thus to build a new life, by planting in their hearts new affections, and in their understanding new thoughts, and thus training them into a new practical life.
We wonder at the dreadful conditions existing in Israel, in the days of Jeremiah, even amid a people who then had the learning of the earth, and who boasted of themselves as the chosen people of God.
But, to-day, similar conditions may be developed in our minds, if we allow evil influences to operate within us. Our Lord’s plain truth, as an impersonal prophet, walks through our minds, to-day, with serious warning and correction. The almond-rod is as necessary for us as for ancient Israel. It is not spiritually safe for any one of us to live through one day without passing under the rod of the Divine Word all things that we feel, think, and do. In our mental furnishing, we have the most approved pots of doctrine. But what are we boiling in these pots? And whence are the fires which supply the heat? And what is the kind of spiritual water, in which we are boiling the daily food of our inward life? It is time for us to do the work of Jeremiah, in our own minds, ” to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and to plant.” “Therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee.”
Author: Edward Craig Mitchell 1903