“Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ Then I said, ‘Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.’ But the LORD said to me, ‘Do not say, “I am a youth,” because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,’ declares the LORD. Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth'” (Jer 1:4-9).
The book of Jeremiah opens by drawing an obvious analogy between Jeremiah and Moses, both of whom expressed strong resistance to their callings because of their inabilities to speak (compare Jer 1:6 with Exod 4:10). The most blatant comparison to Moses appears in Jeremiah 1:9: “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” This phrase appears nearly word for word in God’s promise to raise up a future prophet like Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18, and quite remarkably, nowhere else in the Hebrew Bible other than one more verse that refers to Jeremiah: “A prophet I will raise up for them from among their brothers like you, AND I WILL PUT MY WORDS IN HIS MOUTH, and he will speak to them every thing which I have commanded him” (Deut 18:18; see also Jer 5:14). Is Jeremiah, therefore, the promised prophet like Moses? And if not, why this extraordinarily unique comparison? Jeremiah did not perform signs and wonders like Moses (Deut 34:10-12), nor was he a redeemer like Moses who brought his people out of exile (Exod 3:10). Jeremiah was, in fact, dragged back to Egypt against his will (Jer 43:1-7).
But at least in one significant way, the comparison sheds invaluable light on Jeremiah’s prophetic calling. Moses was the prophet of the Sinai Covenant, who brought to the people of Israel a law etched upon stone tablets (Exod 24:12). Jeremiah was the prophet of the New Covenant, who prophesied to the people of Israel about the writing of the law upon our hearts! “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD, I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jer 31:31, 33).
Jeremiah was not the Prophet like Moses. But in his days of rampant disobedience and terrible suffering, Jeremiah served as a divine token and reminder that the New-Covenant Maker was still on his way! In these dark days, therefore, let Jeremiah’s promise continue to serve as a divine token and reminder that our Redeemer is coming soon, that light will conquer darkness, when all of the New Covenant promises are finally fulfilled!
“For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.’ ‘This is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins'” (Rom 11:25-27).