The following are excerpts from a sermon yesterday by the Rev. Kyle Austin at Occoquan Bible Church in Woodbridge, Va.
In Jeremiah 1, we are told that God has Jeremiah’s life, soul, actions and ministry under his microscope. What will God do with such information? He will empower and protect Jeremiah if he is faithful. Let’s look at it together.
The Lord speaks powerfully in Jeremiah 1:4-8. He says, “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.’”
A theme of inadequacies regarding the lips runs through these verses. But God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee In the belly, I knew thee … and I ordained thee a prophet.”
Jeremiah’s call comes in the form of a dialog because God loves us. He wants to know us and seeks relationships with His creation and with His people.
This is unpacked in these next few verses in Jeremiah 1. Notice the four actions of God toward Jeremiah.
1) God formed him.
2) God knew him. “To know” carries a personal commitment. The Hebrew word here is “Yada.” It is used for a relationship between a husband and wife. It is used also for Yahweh’s commitment to Israel. God was deeply committed to Jeremiah, like he is to us, even before Jeremiah’s birth and before our birth. God has a claim on our lives, like Jeremiah’s, prior to any other relationships.
3) God set Jeremiah apart for a purpose, for spiritual and eternal significance. When objects were set apart for God, they were used solely for Yahweh, and it was an act of blasphemy to remove them from God’s sovereign right to them. Jeremiah and us are God’s very own special portion.
4) God appointed Jeremiah. He gave him authority and empowerment.
What was Jeremiah’s response to God’s four actions? He is struck with terror over the magnitude of the task God gave him. Verse 6 says, “Then said I, ‘Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.’”
Jeremiah was a prophet to the nations — it was a special appointment, there were no limits to God’s sovereignty over the nations. No wonder he hesitated. Jeremiah’s fear leads him to plead his inability: 1) He was youthful. 2) He was not eloquent.
God answered in a whisper. And he explained that this ministry was to be so dark, that he did not need someone with smooth lips and a large vocabulary.
God addresses the subject of Jeremiah’s fear. What do we fear? What is it that we place great value on? Have we placed great worth in knowing what God wants us to do and then fleshing it out. Don’t be afraid. God said, “I am with you.”
Verse 1:19 concludes with God saying, “They shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee.” It was a continuing conviction for Jeremiah to know that he was simply speaking the word of Yahweh given to him. He declared it in times of extreme peril or times when it may have been to his advantage to modify God’s word.
God has always engaged in such rescuing activity, even against mighty foes like Pharaoh. Jeremiah seems to have had a sense of kinship with Moses.
We are not called to be prophets today like Jeremiah, but we are called to be faithful to His word. I read about a story of a convicted murderer this week who was not wanted by his mom and never knew his dad. Through the ministry of a chaplain, he found out that God wanted him and God even had a purpose for him in this world. That brought tears to the convicted murderer and greatly changed his motivation.
That man has been used to bring many other felons to Christ. How about you? Do you realize that God wants you and has set a purpose aside for you since the womb? How is that truth affecting you?