A QUESTIONABLE PRIVILEGE
Lord, give me the grace to fully appreciate my assignment from You.
Read JEREMIAH 1:1–19
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.
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.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Would you as a teenager be anxious to tell all the adults around you that Yahweh is displeased with the way they are living?
Jeremiah begins by telling readers that God spoke to and through him right through his 40-year ministry, in times of hope and of despair for Judah. It begins in the 13th year of Josiah’s reign. Josiah is a godly young man, now aged about 22. Jeremiah, another godly young man, is probably filled with hope that the corner has been turned and Judah will once again become the nation that God wants her to be. At that point, God speaks to him. He was born into a priestly family, but God is now calling him to be a prophet to announce his message to Judah and the nations.
God insists that Jeremiah has been specially chosen for this ministry, chosen even before he was born. Wow, what a privilege! Jeremiah displays no arrogance, and understandably he questions his own capabilities. His questioning reminds us of Moses’ reactions, and God answers Jeremiah similarly: “I am with you” (19). Jeremiah is able to hold on to that promise throughout his long and difficult assignment. The first message is to Jeremiah himself, basically telling him that the words that he must speak will be very negative words about judgment and disaster. It is interesting that Josiah’s reforms, which are set to begin five years later, won’t help Jeremiah’s message, probably because they will not fundamentally affect Judah’s attitude or behavior.
God’s calling is always a privilege, but Jeremiah’s experience tells us that it may not always be a delight to follow that calling! The comfort is that the point of stability in what seems to be an impossibly hard task is “I am with you.”
Pray for someone you know, or know of, called upon to speak hard words for God. May they speak accurately, not judgmentally or arrogantly, and may they know God’s presence.
Lord, I believe that Your presence surrounds me in any and all circumstances and that, as You assured Jeremiah, You are with me to deliver me (1:19).