The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I set you apart;
I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
- Jeremiah 1:4-10
The post title says Jeremiah, the prophet. The full title is a service of disambiguation to differentiate between the intended topic and Dr. David Jeremiah or, of course, the bullfrog. Joy to the world, for all three.
I just finished the book of Jeremiah a few days ago for my daily Bible study. I read a few verses, no more than a chapter, per day. So, it took a while. I took a lot of notes, but I really didn’t know what direction to take the notes. I was reading for my own personal growth, not research for the blog.
As for the inspiration for the introduction to what I hope to write over the next few says, my wife accidentally gave me the thought for the first bit of scripture in the checkout line today. The store had 30+ checkouts and she hates doing self-checking. She also knows that I hate wasting time waiting. She wandered a little ways and pulled in behind a woman in a motorized cart. There were actually two ladies, one in the cart and her ambulatory friend standing nearby. There were only a half dozen items on the belt. This was a good choice.
Then, hidden in the motorized cart came item after item. The first woman paid for her few things and the woman in the cart was still loading the belt. A couple of times she had to move the cart backwards or forwards. What complicated the cart movement is that she had inadvertently left her oxygen on the belt.
About this time, my wife turned to me and said, “Don’t shoot me. I’m not Indiana Jones. I did not choose wisely.”
She must not have whispered softly enough, because the ambulatory woman walked back and apologized. At that, my wife and the woman that was standing got into a lively, friendly discussion. The woman was helping her friend who was on oxygen to get around. My wife talked about taking two ladies in their 80s out to brunch and a little shopping whenever she could. When the other ladies left, everyone was laughing and exchanging memories.
My wife chose wisely after all. But I doubt if she is Indiana Jones in disguise.
That brings me to Jeremiah 1:4-5. Jeremiah didn’t look through a list of job openings and see the great starting salary of “prophet” and choose to be one. That’s probably how the king’s advisors got their jobs. They might have said, “King, don’t listen to Jeremiah telling his tale of doom. Listen to us, instead.” Before Jeremiah was in the womb, God knew him. Before he was born, God set him apart for ministry. Then, God makes that ministry very specific. God chose Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations. What nations? Judah and Israel? I think Jeremiah was a prophet to all of the nations on earth at the time, and if you read God’s prophesies in the book of Jeremiah, they apply to us, today. What Judah was guilty of is no different than what the worldview is today.
Yet, the denominations of today make the same mistake that Israel and Judah made in the days of Jeremiah. They try to convince us that much of the Bible is outdated. Those rules only applied in biblical times. Let’s move on. Yet, our gods may be plastic, steel, and silicon instead of the “stick gods” of Jeremiah’s day, but they are just as real. Sex sells everything on TV. It’s amazing how the marketing people can use sex to sell TVs, cars, food, and dining room furniture. I guess that I am getting old when I don’t see the connection. Or is it that God has cleaned out that room in the attic of my soul?
I’m not prepared for a theological discussion on predestination. Some argue that free will is the driving factor. Each of us could ignore God. As for me, God placed a burden on my heart that lasted fourteen months until I finally surrendered. I would admit that I am stubborn, but I’m too stubborn to admit it. I’d always been the overachieving good kid. I didn’t think that I had to change. What I found out was that God had chosen me. His argument tormented me for 14 months. He wasn’t going to give up until I caved. I used my free will to surrender to God’s will. Beyond my experience, I won’t argue further about predestination. Yet, these verses are clear. Jeremiah was chosen before he was born.
Maybe this was a second choice. Oswald Chambers wrote about a choice for ministry being different than the choice at conversion / salvation.
Jeremiah didn’t think that he was old enough to be a prophet. Didn’t you have to be old with a gray beard for the governing leaders to listen? Moses couldn’t speak in front of a crowd. Others asked, “why me?” All wondered what gifts they had to bring to the table. (Isaiah might be the exception. “Here I am, send me.”)
Did any of them deserve the honor? Romans 5:8 says, ”But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” None of us deserves the honor. Read Jeremiah and then time travel to his death bed and ask was all of the hardship worth it? He’d say, “Yes.” But there might be a glistening of the eyes when he said it.
Do you have a compulsion to do something that would bring the love of Jesus to others? Do you read the Bible and the same thought comes back to you? Do you argue with God after feeling these feelings and thinking these thoughts to the point of obsession? Do you say I’m not worthy? Maybe God is calling you into service. I believe that Chambers was only partly right. When we are saved, we are also called to a ministry. God may not reveal that ministry for a long time, but He didn’t save you for you to sit and watch TV or play video games. Jesus may have been talking to the eleven in Matthew 28:18-20, but the Great Commission is meant for all believers. We can’t all go to the ends of the earth, but we can go to the ends of our world.
Jeremiah had excuses, but God touched his tongue and said that He had put His words into Jeremiah’s mouth. God said that He would protect and rescue Jeremiah. We can rely upon God to protect us.
You don’t choose God. God chooses you. Because you are so wonderful that you deserve it? No. You just get to the point where you will never be truly happy on earth until you surrender to God’s will, and let Him have control. It’s not that God is tormenting you. He is giving you a taste of life without Him, but only a taste. Once you accept Him, you will wonder what Joy could ever be greater than this, especially when you are actively doing what God wants you to do. I have often thought that God was guiding the direction of my writing. Then, I saw a documentary on C. S. Lewis who had said that he didn’t write any of his novels or books. He simply took dictation. Taking dictation from God is a joyful experience, but maybe God has other plans for you.
What will be more joyful than doing God’s will on earth? That’s easy. The worst day in heaven will be exponentially more joyous than any day here on earth.