September 15, 2011

Young Jeremiah

The book of Jeremiah begins with the prophet's call. God appoints Jeremiah "a prophet to the nations," to which Jeremiah replies, "But I'm just a boy!"

Jeremiah's exact age is not mentioned.  No doubt he was young, but how young?  Was he, in fact, just a boy?  Or is the reference to his youth more of a figurative, poetic way of saying that he lacked experience?  Scholars may not know the specific answers to these questions.  However, I am convinced I know exactly how old Jeremiah was. 

He was 14.

Furthermore, I am convinced that not only was Jeremiah 14, but that he was a 14 year-old who lived with attention deficit.

In the book he wrote, Jeremiah's complaints are frequent.  He argues constantly with God.  He feels sorry for himself.  He casts blame on others.

All this will sound familiar to any parent of a 14 year-old boy.

Some examples, with the chapter & verse cited:

  • "God, you lie!" (4:10)
  • "People are stupid." (4:22)
  • "The world sucks." (4:23)
  • "Everyone hates me and curses me." (15:10)
  • "God, it's all YOUR fault!" (15:15)
  • "God, you're deceitful!  You're a deceitful brook.  You're a failure!" (15:18)
  • "I wish I'd never been born!" (20:14-18)
And then, right in the middle of all this, in typical teenage-boy-fashion that gives parents mental whiplash, Jeremiah says:
"Sing to the Lord!  Praise the Lord!"  (20:13)

I am aware that reading and interpreting scripture is never done in complete isolation.  It can never be completely objective.  What we see in scripture is always influenced, to some degree, by our present context.

Nevertheless, it's nice to know that even God's efforts to raise a teenage prophet had its own ups and downs.  And it's nice to know that, even though God must have known in advance of the challenges that would arise, God still called Jeremiah to a special, important role as a prophet.

For more fun, listen to this song in which some teens sing the praises of their "mama."

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