“Hear the word of the Lord, O house of Jacob, and all of the families of the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 2:4). What is interesting is the fact that the prophet Jeremiah admonishes “all of the families of Israel” to hear the Word of the Lord. The Hebrew word “mispach” that is used here is translated “families” in the KVJ, ASV, NKJV, NASV, RSV and many other reliable translations of the Bible. Only the translators of the relatively new ESV have chosen to translate the word as “clans”. The author may have had in mind “families” in a larger sense, but the fact is that the word “families” is a reliable and accurate translation of the Hebrew word. The point is that the “word of the Lord” is for everyone and not just a few people. The “word of the Lord” was for every family as is indicated by the verse. The prophet could have been inspired to write to the nation in general, but in this case it was for “all the families of the house of Israel”. What biblical truths and values does the phrase suggest?

The phrase suggests that the “word of the Lord” is to be the standard, authority, and guide. The people of God had abandoned the Word of the Lord and so the great prophet Jeremiah was calling them back to it. This pattern is seen over and over in the history of the human race. Generations have departed from the Word of God as their pattern and then other generations have come along and returned to the biblical pattern. Paul taught that later on in the First Century and beyond that some people would depart from the Word of God (1 Timothy 4:1-4). Paul also taught that the Word of God is to be the final authority (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When Jeremiah called the people to hear the Word of the Lord he was calling them back to the standard and guide that they should have been following rather than follow the traditions of the world nations around them.

The phrase suggests that the “word of the Lord’ is to be heard. Jeremiah was a prophet and so he was verbally preaching the Word of God in various places. In addition to verbally speaking the Word he was also writing it such as in the book of Jeremiah so that the people could hear the reading of it and in generations to come people could continue to read it. Moses commanded that the Law be read in the hearing of the God’s people (Deuteronomy 31:9-13). There is value in the preaching of the Word verbally (2 Timothy 4:2, Romans 1:16) and there is also value in simply hearing the Word read (1 Timothy 4:13).

The phrase suggests that the “word of the Lord’ be read to “all of the families”. This passage demonstrates the value and the place of the family within the nation and the people of God. Since the beginning (Genesis 2:24) the family has had the God given place of being the foundation of the human race. Nations are not the foundation. Education and money is the not the foundation. Human laws are not the foundation. The foundation of the human race in every nation and culture since the creation has been the family. The Word of the Lord was to be read in the hearing of “all of the families of the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 4:2) because it would be in the families where spiritual progress would be made. The same progress in the 21st Century will also take place as the Word of the Lord is made known in the family.

by Wayne Brewer