Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏹️

Almond Flowers #5, by Eugenia Gorbacheva, 2023

Moreover the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it. And the word of the Lord came 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 the Lord said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
Jeremiah 1:11-14

In calling Jeremiah to prophesy God uses what is present in the immediate environment, the branch of an almond tree and a cauldron of soup. There is no need for visions or showmanship. As Charles Spurgeon puts it,

"We might have thought that, as a preparation for his prophetical work, he would have seen mysterious wheels full of eyes, or flaming seraphs and cherubs, or the wonderful creatures that were caused to appear in the dreams of Ezekiel and the revelation to John. Instead of this, Jeremiah simply sees a rod of an almond tree'."1

The Hebrew word for almond tree is similar in sound to the Hebrew word for watchful, so this may be a play on words that is lost in translation. Perhaps though this is God just finding out if Jeremiah sees what is in front of him, with some detail (an almond branch, not just a tree branch). The most basic requirement for a prophet is to see. God then uses the cooking pot boiling over as a metaphor for an unknown enemy overflowing Judah and destroying Jerusalem. If we pay attention while cooking our pots do not boil over, and we do not waste what we have. If we are neglectful we pay the price of loss and waste, and in the worst cases go hungry.

Everything is a metaphor for something else, if we take the time to see beyond the obvious. There are lessons to be derived everywhere we look, in everything we do. Working with exactly what is in front of us sometimes offers us the greatest insights into what we need to do, or how we need to change: this is like that. I use exactly this technique when teaching workshops on personal and organisational change. Some of the best metaphorical storytelling, and the utilisation of 'what is', lies in the book of Jeremiah, as the next few reflections will show.

1 The Lesson of the Almond Tree, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, April 7 1881 from the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 46