I hope you had a great weekend. It was certainly a beautiful two days here in Madison. Today, we will continue looking at the Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is one of the more interesting prophets due to his personality. He has been called "The Weeping Prophet," but I think we can also call him the "Prophet With A Personality." We will see this more as we get further into the book.
"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 in the nation.'" (Jeremiah 1:4-5)
This verse has been used time and time again in the argument against abortion. This verse (or word from God) was simply meant to be assurance to a young Jeremiah. God is simply saying to him, "I called you for the mission long before you were even thought of by your parents." God is assuring Jeremiah that his purpose and mission have been ordained by the Lord.
Jeremiah is just a young man when he receives his calling. "Ah, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child." (Jer. 1:6) Jeremiah is simply using this as an excuse. He is trying to argue that he is not qualified. Of course this would be a great time to use one of the newest cliché's used in church talk: "God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called." Jeremiah's excuse is very similar to that of Moses. In Moses' case God met his objection by providing him a "mouthpiece;" Aaron. In professional wrestling, which I am glad to say I don't watch that much anymore, the ability to speak is a great asset. Storylines are often enhanced by things that wrestlers are able to say. Some wrestlers are great talkers and performers in the ring. They usually are very successful. Then there are those who are great performers in the ring, but put a microphone to their mouth and they fizzle. So, in the past (not so much in modern era) the wrestler would be given a manager who would do the talking. In other words, they became the mouthpiece for the wrestler. One of the greatest examples was Andre the Giant. Andre the Giant was a Phenom in the ring. But, when it came to speaking...well, it was difficult to understand a word he said. Even though he had a hall of fame career (The World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame was created just for him) his greatest achievement perhaps of his career came when he was given a "mouthpiece" to do his talking. (*With his manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan by his side he wrested Hulk Hogan before an indoor record crowd of over 93,000 people at the old Pontiac Silverdome.) Well, that is information I'm sure you will be able to live without. Anyhow, God gave Moses a mouthpiece. What about Jeremiah? God simply puts the words right on Jeremiah's lips. "Now, I have put my words in your mouth." (Jer. 1:9) God will do the talking but through Jeremiah.
Chapter one of Jeremiah is a classic call narrative. The prophet is called, encouraged, and then given a basic understanding of the calling's mission. God tells Jeremiah: "See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (Jer.1: 10) Wow, I'm so thankful he simply called me to preach. Jeremiah is given authority to both destroy and to build. His mission would involve both judgement and renewal. God does assure Jeremiah that God is on Jeremiah's side, and will be with him throughout his career. Jeremiah will have God's protection. Keep this all in mind as the story plays out.
Jeremiah is faced with quite a task. Keep in mind, God called him long before he was even conceived. This is, therefore, what Jeremiah was born to do. This brings a question to mind: "Was Jeremiah ever free to do as Jeremiah wished? Could Jeremiah have his own dreams and goals?" Hmm...think about it as it will play out as the story goes. I think we will see that those words I began with that are often used to address abortion mean a whole lot more than what we often use them for. Let me ask another question: "Do we ever see ourselves as totally belonging to God?" I think that's what we hear God saying to Jeremiah at the very beginning. From the beginning Jeremiah is warned: "They will fight against you..." (Jer. 1:19a) Keep in mind, this is not Jeremiah's fight. What reason would Jeremiah have to go to Jerusalem and preach against the people? This is God's fight. God assures Jeremiah that they "will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you." (Jer. 1:19b)
Does Jeremiah really have a choice in all of this? Can we say "no" to God and get away with it? Was there any chance of God saying "O.K., Jeremiah, You're right. I don't know what I was thinking. You are way to young for this and you have a ways to go before you can speak to crowds. So run along and take care of yourself?" Umm...no! Yes, we can run, but if God has called us, we can't hide from God's presence. In fact God sent Jeremiah a sign to confirm his calling. In this sign God showed Jeremiah an almond tree. God asked Jeremiah what he saw and he said: "I see the branch of an almond tree..." Then God said, "You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled." (Jer. 1:11b,12) God is going to make sure that everything happens as it should.
Tomorrow, we will get into Jeremiah's work. Please join me tomorrow. Have a great day! -Pastor Rick