One of the best known methods of preaching is the use of illustrations. One of the greatest preachers of all ages was known to be the prophet Jeremiah. Watching the way he expounded his message will give every preacher a valuable tool in presenting his message to the listener. One takes the item or action and symbolically expresses that truth in a forceful way, as long as the audience understands the example being used. Jeremiah noticed a ?rod of an almond.? Jeremiah 1:11-12 God immediately spoke to him, saying, ?Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten My word to perform it.? The Hebrew name for the almond tree is sbaqedh and means ?the wakeful, the vigilant.? Jeremiah was inspired to see in this young shoot of the almond branch a symbol of God?s vigilance to keep His word of warning to His people. God would be watchful to fulfill all the warnings of punishment He had said would come upon the Jews. Shortly after, Jeremiah saw a pot of food boiling on the fire, with its face or front pointed toward the north-verse 13-14. Again, God indicated a divine symbolism: ?Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.? The boiling pot represented trouble and difficulty. The fact that it was facing north indicated that this difficulty would come from the north. The significance of the northerly direction was that Babylon would come from the north to attack Israel. In fact, Babylonia lay to the east of Palestine, the course to be followed was up along the Euphrates River, over the Fertile Crescent, and thus down into Palestine and to Jerusalem from the north!
Another time Jeremiah used an object lesson involving a linen girdle, the dress of the priesthood. Jeremiah 13:1-11 God told Jeremiah to purchase the girdle, to wear it for a time, not to wash it, and then to carry it all the way to the Euphrates River and hide it ?in the hole of the rock.? Jeremiah 13:4 Jeremiah did this and later God told him to return to the Euphrates, find the girdle, and bring it back to the land of Palestine. The girdle by this time had become marred, and God indicated to Jeremiah, ?After this manner will I mar the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.? (13:9) The symbolism concerned the portended punishment of captivity for wicked Judah in the land of Babylon. The girdle, being worn by Jeremiah for several days and becoming soiled, represented that the people of Judah had been God?s people for a time and become soiled with sin. As Jeremiah took his girdle to the Euphrates, so God would in time take the people to the Euphrates, and even beyond to Babylon in captivity. There they would be as it were buried, and become marred through punishment. As Jeremiah later went back to the Euphrates and retrieved the girdle, so God in due course would go to the people in Babylon and bring them back to their land.
Finally, and there are many others, Jeremiah was told to ?get a potter?s earthen bottle, and take of the ancients of the people, and of the ancients of the priests. And go forth unto the valley of the son of Hinnom.? Jeremiah had visited the house of the potter (Jeremiah 18:1-10) and found the potter had made a vessel that was marred. He then saw the potter destroy the vessel and from the clay make a new vessel, which this time was beautiful and fine. The principal lesson God pointed out to Jeremiah was that, as the potter had power over the clay to make the marred vessel into a good vessel, so God had power over the Israelites to make them into a new people, changing them from a nation marred by sin into one pleasing to God. Israel would be ?broken in the sight of the elders of Israel showing that ?Israel could NEVER be made whole again?. Jere 19:11 What a powerful tool, a way of teaching, and to the point when used with the power of speech.