(First in a series of unforgettable passages in Jeremiah. It’s a huge book–52 chapters–so this series will be ongoing.)
1:4-5 The Foreknowledge of God
“Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Paul said, “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles….” (Galatians 1:15) He’s saying, “God set me apart when I was still in the womb.”
Other scriptures on this subject are Isaiah 49:1, Luke 1:13-17, and Romans 9:10-23. And of course the pre-eminent passage on “before you were born” is the 139th Psalm.
1:4-19 The call of God upon Jeremiah. You will enjoy comparing this call–and Jeremiah’s response!–to Moses’ in Exodus 3-4, Isaiah’s in Isaiah 6, and Paul’s, given in three different places in Acts (chapters 9, 22, and 24).
–First, God gives His plan for His spokesman
He is to share God’s Word (1:9), not his own message. He is to root out and pull down and destroy, then to build and to plant (1:10). The negative–the hardest and riskiest part–comes first. No one plants a crop without first clearing “new ground.” No one erects a skyscraper without first removing the other structures on the lot, then digging down for a good foundation. So, we go down before we go up.
–The excuse Jeremiah tosses up: I’m too young! I smile at that because at my age–in six months, I hit 80! (O my goodness! Am I blessed or what?)–some of us may be saying, “I’m too old.” Neither excuse holds water with the Lord God. Simply stated, it’s not about us.
–God’s answer for every excuse man can dream up: “I will be with you.” Check that out. See it in Exodus 3:12; 4:12,15. See it with Joshua in Joshua 1:5,9. With Gideon in Judges 6:16. And with you and me in Matthew 28:18-20 and Hebrews 13:5-6. We love how David said, “(In the valley of the shadow of death) I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me” (Psalm 23:4). The presence of the Lord makes all the difference. Jesus said, “I will not leave you as orphans” (John
Vs. 8 I am with you to deliver you.
Vs. 16 Why God is angry at His people: “They have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.” That’s it in a sentence. It’s this way through Jeremiah: The people never simply forsake God, but they also turn to other gods and do despicable things.
Vs. 19 They (the big shots of your own land) will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you, says the Lord, to deliver you.
–Notice that Jeremiah was not to fear his audience: God would not allow it.
Do not be afraid of their faces (1:8).
Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. (1:17). If you get stage fright before them, the Lord says, I will humiliate you in front of them. No timidity allowed.
–God is insulating His spokesman: I have made you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land…. (1:18) Imagine a bronze wall with someone slinging tomatoes against it. They hit and splatter and create a mess, but no real damage is done.
2:13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and have hewn themselves cisterns–broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Israel’s sin in a sentence. The metaphor is perfect in summing up what God’s people have done.
The image is unforgettable. Someone turns away from a bubbling artesian well with its steady supply of cold refreshing life-giving water in order to dig out for himself a hole in the ground where he will store rainwater. And that hole leaks. So, the choice is between “living waters” and nothing.
2:32 “Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.” God thinks what they have done is completely unreasonable; it makes no sense. This reminds us of His statement to Isaiah. “The ox knows its owner and the donkey (knows) its master’s crib, but Israel does not know; My people do not consider” (Isaiah 1:3).
When I preach the statement that “the donkey knows his master’s crib,” I think of my mule Toby. Growing up on the Alabama farm, while my big brothers plowed the tractor, I drew the short end of the straw and plowed the mule. Sometimes I would work all day in the bottomland a mile from the house. At noontime, my mother or a sister would walk out in the back yard and pull the rope on the bell. I could hear it ringing across the ridges. Toby’s ears would perk up. He knew what it meant too. From then on, he wasn’t good for anything. Too bad if I wanted to finish a couple of rows before heading home. I would strip the harness from him and slap him across the backside and up the hill he would go. Ten minutes later when I arrived at the house, he had eaten his nubbins placed out there by our Dad, and was rolling in the dust. My mule knew the way home. Do you?