Hear His Calling

14 08 2009
Jeremiah 1 August 14, 2009

Jeremiah 1

1 These are the words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests from the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin.2 The Lord first gave messages to Jeremiah during the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah.s3 The Lord ‘s
messages continued throughout the reign of King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s
son, until the eleventh year of the reign of King Zedekiah, another of
Josiah’s sons. In Augusts of that eleventh year the people of Jerusalem were taken away as captives.

Jeremiah’s Call and First Visions

4 The Lord gave me this message:

5 “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

6 “O Sovereign Lord ,” I said, “I can’t speak for you! I’m too young!”
7 The Lord replied, “Don’t say, `I’m too young,’ for you must go wherever I send you and say whatever I tell you.8 And don’t be afraid of the people, for I will be with you and will protect you. I, the Lord , have spoken!”9 Then the Lord reached out and touched my mouth and said,

“Look, I have put my words in your mouth!
10 Today I appoint you to stand up
against nations and kingdoms.
Some you must uproot and tear down,
destroy and overthrow.
Others you must build up
and plant.”

11 Then the Lord said to me, “Look, Jeremiah! What do you see?”
And I replied, “I see a branch from an almond tree.”
12 And the Lord said, “That’s right, and it means that I am watching, and I will certainly carry out all my plans.”
13 Then the Lord spoke to me again and asked, “What do you see now?”
And I replied, “I see a pot of boiling water, spilling from the north.”
14 “Yes,” the Lord said, “for terror from the north will boil out on the people of this land.15 Listen! I am calling the armies of the kingdoms of the north to come to Jerusalem. I, the Lord , have spoken!

“They will set their thrones
at the gates of the city.
They will attack its walls
and all the other towns of Judah.
16 I will pronounce judgment
on my people for all their evil—
for deserting me and burning incense to other gods.
Yes, they worship idols made with their own hands!

17 “Get up and prepare for action.
Go out and tell them everything I tell you to say.
Do not be afraid of them,
or I will make you look foolish in front of them.
18 For see, today I have made you strong
like a fortified city that cannot be captured,
like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.
You will stand against the whole land—
the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah.
19 They will fight you, but they will fail.
For I am with you, and I will take care of you.
I, the Lord , have spoken!”

Josiah was eight when he assumed the role of king and Jeremiah began hearing from God in Josiah’s 13th year of reign.  That means Josiah would have been about 21.  This gave Jeremiah about 18 years to preach before Josiah is killed by Pharaoh Neco II.

Josiah instituted many reforms and got rid of the symbols of idolatry.  But at his death, the downward slide of Judah began to take over.

There is no doubt that the Lord was talking to Jeremiah.  He is regarded as one of the two great prophets , but Christians, Jews, and Islam.

God tells him, I’ve known you for a long time – before you were even born – and I’m the one that formed you there.  I am your creator!

But, in typical fashion, Jeremiah, like many before and after him, claims to be unqualified. In this case, he states his youth as a limiting factor.

Rarely does God take no for an answer though.  No excuses here, he just says “Go. Don’t be afraid, say what I tell you to say, and I will protect you.”

And then the hand of God touches Jeremiah.  Unlike Isaiah’s experience, or others, we aren’t told of how Jeremiah reacted.  However, God goes on to tell Jeremiah his role and authority to carry out that role.

We often think that the servants of the Lord are only to bring blessings.  But here, God says he’ll also  be tearing down, destroying, and overthrowing.  Others, he will build up and plant.

God tells him that He is watching and God’s plans will be carried out – like an almond tree that grows, because that’s what it was supposed to do.

Then Jeremiah is told of God’s plans to send an invading army from the north.  Like a pot of boiling water, it is ready and already spilling out.

God tells Jeremiah that the people are going to experience discipline (judgment) for their  disobedience.

The invading armies will attack.

And yet, God is fortifying Jeremiah.  He will be made strong – unless he cowers – if he  is afraid, he will look like a fool.

God has made him strong like an iron pillar or a bronze wall.  He will stand against the whole land.  They will fight him, but they will fail – because God said so.

I don’t remember exactly when I first believed that I was being called to lead, but I know it goes way back into my childhood.  I was raised in a secular home though – and really didn’t have much of a concept of God.

Around the age of 14-15, though I was pretty nerdy and shy, people began to seek me out to speak and lead in  spiritual matters.  But without a good foundation, I ran away for awhile.

Over the last 15+ years, God has been actively prodding me to speak.  I seem to see things that others don’t.  I have big picture ideas in my head that seem to get lost in the busyness we call life.

Probably the scariest of all these impressions is that the church, the organized church, is missing the point.  People have not torn down their idols  or high places.  They continue to walk in two places, serving polytheistic gods.  They are unwilling to let go of their humanistic idols.

Much like Jeremiah, I argue with God.  First, I don’t have the education necessary to do this.  Theologically, I’ll get blown out of the water by those who can quote Greek and Hebrew – or who know the Bible  through and through.

Yet, I hear God saying, to me, through this passage is, “So what?”  Since when did education have anything to do with success?  I can use you if you let me use you – but otherwise, you’ll just look foolish.

I’ve been touched by God before, but I let the cares, stressors, and idolatry get in the way.  I begin to lose sight of that moment.

Upon arriving in this area, I was shocked at the state of the church.  I didn’t want to, but I had to say something.  It wasn’t my choice.

What I find confusing is that despite God’s promises to protect, I still lost my job.  Now, granted, I wasn’t stoned, hung, crucified, or murdered in some other horrible way, but losing my paycheck and health insurance is still pretty scary.

I wonder when this will be, but I’m pretty sure Jeremiah had the same questions.

I am convinced that I need to look at these promises differently.  God doesn’t say that Jeremiah won’t be harmed.  Only that they will fail and he won’t be captured.

I need to see this spiritually.  I’ve always felt that the forces were not “flesh and blood” but powers of Satan.  I believe that Satan was trying to destroy my spirituality and stop the message I was preaching.  And, granted, there were times when I did hesitate, or was in bondage so I couldn’t speak – but I will never stop.

I may be wounded, but the Word of God will prevail!

What I hear, in this passage is that  my courage and willingness to be obedient is what keeps me from looking foolish.  And yet, isn’t it just like God to ask someone to do something foolish, so they won’t look foolish.  For isn’t preaching a message of repentance pretty foolish in an age when people just want to be told that everything is fine?

Father God,

For several months I’ve been wanting to dive into Jeremiah’s story.  I’ve felt this leading from you.  I’m sorry it’s taken so long.  I see so many similarities between this story and what happened to me here.  I have 100 excuses, but none of them valid.  Please forgive me for taking so long.  I sometimes wonder if I would have been more bold if I had taken this up – or less.  Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so beaten up and attacked?  Either way, those days are passed and I’m ready to hear your words.

As I stated above, one of ny biggest questions centers around the idea that “no harm will come to me.” While this seems to be a popular myth within the church world, I really don’t see any basis for it in the Bible accounts.  Some seem to think that being in Your Will is the safest place on earth.  I don’t believe that – in my head.  However, my heart wants to believe that.

Instead, what I believe is that “they can kill the body, but not the Spirit.”  They may hurt me, kill me, or worse, make my life a living Hell – but they can never take away your love and grace.  Being a melancholy though, I have a real propensity to give it up.  Sometimes it just doesn’t feel like I want to keep doing this – I just want to crawl into a cave and be  depressed.  I want to throw away my faith, like I did 30 years ago.  I want to hide from you – as if I could.  I want to quit being so bold about the things I see.

It is hard for me to be in organized churches.  The mediocrity, the majoring in minors, the gossip, the lack of worship – and by that I mean inspired worship.  I want to help – but on the same token, I’m afraid to be me.  For some, like my wife, it’s good enough.  For my kids, it’s really good.  For me, I see it as destructive to your image.

Lord, let me never speak out of my own pain – only out of your calling.

Teach me to rely on you – always.

Thanks God.

I love you too!





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