Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Jeremiah 1 Jeremiah’s Call
1 The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests living in Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
2 The word of the Lord came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah.
3 It also came throughout the days of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
4 The word of the Lord came to me:
5 I chose you before I formed you in the womb;I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.
6 But I protested, “Oh no, Lord God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am [only]a youth.”
7 Then the Lord said to me: Do not say: I am [only]a youth, for you will go to everyone I send you to and speak whatever I tell you.
8 Do not be afraid of anyone, for I will be with you to deliver you. [This is]the Lord’s declaration.
9 Then the Lord reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me: Look, I have filled your mouth with My words.
10 See, today I have set you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and demolish, to build and plant.
One of the most haunting figures in human history is that of the unheeded messenger -- the person who warns his nation or his generation about a crisis coming, but they do not listen. In pagan times, there was the prophetess Cassandra who unsuccessfully warned the Trojans about the wooden horse. In the last century, there was Winston Churchill whose warnings about the Nazis went unheeded in his “wilderness years.” Or again, there was Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who for a time was listened to by the world, but then sent out to the wilderness after he talked too bluntly to the West in his address at Harvard. But there is no question that the two greatest unheeded messengers of all are in the Scriptures. One is John the Baptist, who gave us the phrase “a voice crying in the wilderness;” and the other is the greatest of them all, Jeremiah, “the weeping prophet” whose name lives on in our term for such a lament, the “jeremiad.”
1. Calling means a Divine conception (vv. 4-6)
First, God knows Jeremiah intimately and fully as a person before he was conceived. “Before you were formed in the womb, I knew you intimately.” (v. 5) We often talk metaphorically about people being “a twinkle in their parents’ eyes,” but hardly anyone seriously goes back in their self-understanding to a time before their own conception. Yet the Lord tells Jeremiah that before he was formed in the womb, before he was conceived, he knew him intimately. The Hebrew word know is a rich in meaning, and speaks of knowledge that is both intimate and extensive. It is used of God’s special relationship to Israel – “You alone have I known of all the nations of the earth.”
(Amos) It was used of vassals and their overlords, and most famously of husbands and wives in sexual intercourse – Adam “knew Eve,” Genesis says. And in that same intimate and deep way, God says to Jeremiah that he knew him before he was formed in the womb.
God had assigned a specific task for Jeremiah while was still in the womb. “Before you were born, I consecrated you.” (v. 5)
2. Calling means a Divine comfort (vv. 6-8 )
Hearing such a call, Jeremiah was naturally overwhelmed, and who would not have been? His immediate response is to backpedal fast. “Ah, Lord God!” he says. “Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” (v. 6)
The year was 627 B.C., which was as momentous in Jeremiah’s day in the same way that the year 1989 was for us (the year the Soviet Union fell). 627 B.C. was one of those years when the tectonic plates of history shifted. In 627 B.C. Ashurburnipal, the last great king of Assyria died, and with astonishing speed the vast and seemingly massive Assyrian empire began to unravel. On the one hand, the race was suddenly on to see which power would succeed Assyria (the old superpower, Egypt or the new one, Babylon?)
At the same time in Judea Josiah was King. His great-grandfather was Hezekiah, the last good king before him. His grandfather had been Manasseh, a wicked king on every front, who had brought in all sorts of foreign gods, each with their evil practices, such as the worship of Molech and offering children as sacrifices. His father Amon, Manasseh’s son, was weaker but much the same. Josiah wanted wants to go back to his great-grandfather, and therefore initiated determined reforms, helped by the discovery of a copy of the book of the law in the temple.
But those reforms seem to have only been skin deep. The heart of the people had not yet turned back from idolatry. And Jeremiah was called to attack those half baked religionists of his day.
Your audience is whomever I send you to -- “You shall go to all to whom I shall send you.” (v. 7)
Your authority lies in saying to them whatever I say to you -- “You shall speak whatever I command you.” (v. 7)
Your assurance is that my presence and power will always be with you wherever you are and whatever you face -- “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” (v. 8) In other words, his assurance is simply that God’s presence will always be with him, and God’s purpose and power is there to rescue him.
3. Calling means a Divine commission (vv. 9-10 )
The early 17th century German poet, Paul Gerhardt, basing his verse on this guarantee, wrote:
“IS GOD FOR ME? I fear not, though all against me rise;
I call on Christ my Savior, the host of evil flies.
My friend the Lord Almighty, and He who loves me, God!
What enemy shall harm me, though coming as a flood?
I know it, I believe it, I say it fearlessly,
That God, the Highest, Mightiest, forever loveth me;
At all times, in all places, He standeth at my side,
He rules the battle fury, the tempest and the tide.
“A Rock that stands forever is Christ my righteousness,
And there I stand unfearing in everlasting bliss;
No earthly thing is needful to this my life from Heaven,
And naught of love is worthy, save that which Christ hath given.
Christ, all my praise and glory, my Light most sweet and fair,
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
1. The Plans of God For Your Life Are Factual.
2. The Plans of God For Your Life Are Findable.
God has a plan for your life and if you are going to find it its by Divine initiation.
1 Cor 2: 9 But as it is written: What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, and what has never come into a man’s heart, is what God has prepared for those who love Him.
By Personal investigation
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
3. The Plan of God For Your Life is Followable.
In spite of Internal arguments
In spite of external arguments “don’t be afraid of them.” There is always a them in the crowd, who see the negative more than the positive: “How long have you been sick?” “ In three weeks time it will be a month!”
He is with you in this. It the great co-mission. Take my yoke! Matt 11:28
Its My burden, just cooperate with me.
Some of you will choose a yoke that does not fit you, chafing you.
It doesn’t mean its not hard work, it just fits
4. The Plans of God For Your Life Are Fulfilling.
These are fulfilling because of Providential Enablement
The film Chariots of Fire: follows the life of Eric Liddle, a man who after winning the foot races in the Olympics went to China as a missionary and was later martyred there. Wondering at this godly man’s convictions, his siter asked him about doing such worldly stuff as being an Olympic hero. He responded, “When I run, I feel the smile of God upon me. I feel His Pleasure when I run.”