The calling of the weeping prophet…
When I was a child at Sunday School, I memorized the books of the Bible in Amoy: 耶利米; 耶利米哀歌. So it’s Jeremiah then Lamentations. In Chinese, Lamentations is called the Laments of Jeremiah. I used to think what a sad prophet to have a book full of grievances expressing deep sorrows and much wailing. In fact Jeremiah was called the weeping prophet. After reading Jeremiah and learning many good verses from the book, I now appreciate more the great blessings this prophet called by/of God to bring His Words of comfort to people in a dark time.
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at 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 and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
These 3 verses described briefly Jeremiah’s family background, origin and extent of his ministry – he lived through the period of 5 kings: 3 kings of Judah and 2 of Israel – Josiah (31 yrs), Jehoahaz (3 mos), Jehoiakim (11 yrs), Jehoiachin (3mos 10 days) and Zedekiah (11 yrs). e.g. 19+11+10yrs + (3+3+5mos) + 10 days= 40 yrs 11 mos 10 days. source: http://www.complete-bible-genealogy.com/judah_israel_kings.htm. Calculations are mine. Jeremiah ministered till the people of Jerusalem went into the Babylonian exile.
The Call of Jeremiah
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5 “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.”
How did it feel for Jeremiah to have this assurance of the Lord speaking to him? That it was the ‘word of the Lord’… the Lord said to me.. these are repeated words through out the chapter.
v.5 God knew Jeremiah even before he was conceived… He was the one who brought Jeremiah into being. Before He created Jeremiah, God already had a plan for him. He picked Jeremiah. To set apart is to distinguish him from all others, to make him different and make a difference (for a purpose). From the womb, before his existence, God already called him to be a prophet. A prophet to the nationS, not just to Israel but to all the other pagan people in his time for more than 40 years – across empires – Assyria, Egypt, Babylon. Jeremiah died in Egypt.
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
Sounds familiar? Same excuse Moses gave – I’m not eloquent. Same excuse many give – I’m not experienced. I can’t do it coz I don’t know how.
7 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. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
The Lord’s response: Two don’ts and Two do’s and Four reasons
Do not say: No excuse
Do not be afraid: No fear
Must: go to everyone
Must; say whatever I command you
Reason 1: I send
Reason 2: I command
Reason 3: I am with you
Reason 4: I will rescue you
When God calls, we need not look at our weaknesses, we can be brave because He sends us, He equips us, He is with us and He rescues us.)
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
When God calls, He equips in very tangible, specific ways. He also directs in detailed concrete ways – He told Jeremiah exactly what he’s going to do and say.
11 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
13 The word of the Lord came to me again: “What do you see?”
“I see a pot that is boiling,” I answered. “It is tilting toward us from the north.”
When God called Jeremiah, He opened his eyes. He affirmed that what Jeremiah saw was true, correct. He assured Jeremiah that what he saw was exactly as God sees and will come true.
14 The Lord said to me, “From the north disaster will be poured out on all who live in the land. 15 I am about to summon all the peoples of the northern kingdoms,” declares the Lord. “Their kings will come and set up their thrones in the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem; they will come against all her surrounding walls and against all the towns of Judah. 16 I will pronounce my judgments on my people because of their wickedness in forsaking me, in burning incense to other gods and in worshiping what their hands have made.
17 “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. 18 Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. 19 They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
God’s call is positively preparatory. He gives advanced notice. Get ready, Jeremiah. God’s call is affirming/strengthening: Stand up and say. Do not be terrified or you will be the one terrified. I have to be brave or God will be the one to terrify me before the enemies.
v.18-19 Final words of encouragement and strengthening: God promised to make Jeremiah strong – fortified, an iron pillar, a bronze wall – that can stand firm amidst all the people of the land; people who would be against Jeremiah. God also assured Jeremiah that majority would not win over one man. BECAUSE I, The LORD, am with you and will rescue you.
God knew me before I was conceived in my mother’s womb.
God has a purpose for my life. He set me apart to do something for him.
God equips: He’s the one who gives wisdom. He gives the words to say.
God accompanies: He goes with me in each task He sends me to do. He is with me.
God assures: When God calls, it is not to a smooth journey. In fact, there often are resistance, troubles, obstacles and sufferings He puts me in. But His Word assures me – not to be afraid. He fortifies me to be strong- to stand up, stand firm and stand tall. He will rescue me from whatever that might made me fall.
What did God call you to do? How are you responding to the call? Be assured, be equipped, be brave for God said: I am with you and I will rescue you. You can do it!