Jeremiah 1:11, “And the word of the LORD came to me, saying “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said “I see an almond branch.” Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”
I watch boiling pots. I’m not proud of it, I just always have.
I remember my mom telling me that they never boiled, and for some reason that bugged me. I had to prove her wrong. It’s a testimony to my attention span I was able to do it. It’s also a testimony to my stupidity that I tried. When I read a text like this it startles me. It’s a bit of wordplay in Hebrew, and if you keep reading there really is a boiling pot. The wordplay is part of a vision. God asks Jeremiah what he sees. There must have been an almond tree sitting in front of him. “Almond” sounds like “watching” in Hebrew. They’re pretty trees when they’re flowering and remind me of budding dogwoods in the south. So our Father is making a pun. That’s startling itself. But the frankness jars me.
Jeremiah is looking at an almond tree, and there’s two reasons you look at a tree like that. To see how pretty it is and to see if there’s something getting ready to eat. The second reason is far more popular among almond farmers. Hear God say “that’s how I watch My word.” What God says always happens because He is paying attention. If it’s written in His almanac, you can count on it. This is how alive and powerful His Word is. It moves with that much certainty. Our Father and God is a farmer watching over his crop. He’s cultivating and attending to every syllable like it’s a prize-winning flower. It isn’t merely data and He isn’t watching because He’s curious. We tend to abstract providence and sovereignty as doctrines impersonal and impenetrable. It isn’t like that for our God. He’s telling us He is intimately involved with how it all works out.
We get frustrated by our progress. Other folks kids are doing so well and look so good. Everybody else’s vacation on Facebook looks like it was planned by Travel and Leisure magazine. Our own spiritual rut feels like we’re a pickup stuck in mud 20 feet deep. Get your bible. Go and see, go and read it, go and tell yourself what it says. All of the promises great and small are personal. There are no impersonal promises, because there is no impersonal God to make them. He plans all His Yes blossoms in love. Picture this God, attentively scrutinizing, checking each flower of His promise for fruit, watching every moment in your life to see it bud. Hear God say, “What do you see?” Let’s tell Him we have seen the season and fruit of our forgiveness, our rescue in Jesus’ blood. And let’s ask for a new harvest of His promises! So He can say to this generation “see, I am watching over My word to perform it.”
May a church be planted in San Francisco because of that! May revival spread in our time because of that! May Christ be praised because of that! Then we can say to this generation: just watch, with careful undistracted love our great Farmer watches to make sure His Word blooms with blessing in our lives. Amen.