Jeremiah 1:1-10

Sermon preached on 14th October 2012

Jeremiah: An introduction

Italy

Is the Book of Jeremiah, which seems to be full of doom and gloom, really relevant for us today?  Well, yes it is!  But how is it relevant?

1.       Jeremiah helps us to know God better

There is a very personal reason for reading Jeremiah: it will enrich your spiritual life.

2Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture – including Jeremiah – is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”  

We see that Jeremiah, like Jesus, was concerned with the inner relationship with God, not just an outward religious expression. For example Jeremiah 24:7, “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God.”

So Jeremiah helps us to get to know God better.

2.       Jeremiah helps us understand the New Testament better

Many thoughts and expressions in the New Testament derive from Jeremiah.  For example the expression ‘den of robbers’ which Jesus used when he cleared the temple is found in Jeremiah.  The idea of the New Covenant is found in Jeremiah.  To understand these New Testament passages we need to understand the underlying text in the Old Testament.

3.       Jeremiah helps us understand our own (Western) society better

Francis Schaeffer, who wrote Death in the City, described Jeremiah as the quintessential prophet for the postmodern age.  He wrote, “Jeremiah provides is with an extended study of an era like our own, where men have turned away from God, and society has become post-Christian.  We can see the same corruption and decay in our society as we read about in the pages of Jeremiah.  Through his writing he is still a prophet to the nations.”  Schaeffer wrote 40 years ago, and it is even more for us relevant today.

  1. Jeremiah helps us understand the end times better

There are many thoughts in Jeremiah which help us to understand how the world is shaping up for the end times.  As an example, the fall of Babylon, which Jeremiah prophesied would occur, is a type of the fall of the kingdoms of this world found in the Book of Revelation.

Jeremiah the man

We know more about Jeremiah than any other Old Testament prophet.  He has been called the ‘Weeping prophet‘.  The rabbis said he began wailing the moment he was born.  He was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” [Isaiah 53:3].  He has been described as the most Christ-like prophet.  In fact there are many parallels between Jeremiah and Jesus.

  • Both wept over Jerusalem
  • Both experienced rejection from their immediate family
  • Both loved Israel deeply
  • Both failed in their ministry in turning the people back to the Lord; but fruitfulness came after their death.

… and there are many more similarities.

Some details of his life are given in Jeremiah 1:1-5.

  1. He was the son of the manse – he came from a priestly family;
  2. He was born in the village of Anathoth, which was just north of Jerusalem, and close enough to see the city walls.
  3. He prophesied during the reigns of 5 kings of Judah, Josiah (the reformer king); Jehoahaz (king for 3 months); Jehoiakim (the despotic king – 11 years); Jehoiachin (3 months) and Zedekiah (the puppet king and the last king of Judah – 11 years).
  4. He lived from about 640-570BC, and ministered for at least 40 of those years, from 627BC-586BC.

Jeremiah’s call

Jeremiah was 17 years old when he was called by God.

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 to the nations [Jeremiah 1:4-5]

Here we see that God did some wonderful things for Jeremiah even before he was born or knew anything about it.  Jeremiah’s response to this was, “Ah Sovereign Lord!”  This very appropriate since it shows us that Jeremiah recognized God as Sovereign in all of life.

God said to Jeremiah, “I formed you in the womb.”  This reminds us of Psalm 139:13-14,

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

What was true for David, and what was true for Jeremiah, is also true for every human being – and for you!  These verses show God’s intimate love and care for you.  It shows that the foetus is a person, created in the image of God, and that there is a personal relationship between the unborn child and God.  Maybe this is one reason why children find it so easy to believe in God.

Members of Parliament have been talking about lowering the age limit for abortion to 20 weeks, or to 12 weeks.  The arguments revolve around when life begins.  But the Bible shows us that even conception isn’t our real beginning!  Somehow, in some inexpressible way, God has a personal knowledge of individual persons even before we were conceived.

I believe God gave Jeremiah this knowledge because he was going to need it.   Jeremiah would face many challenges in his ministry and he needed to know the inner security which can only come from knowing you are a child of God.

Likewise, Paul recognized God had called him before he was born:

God “… set me apart before I was born, and called me by his grace.” [Gal 1:15]

He also recognized this truth for all Christians:

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” [Ephesians 1:4]

Jeremiah was 17 years old when God called him.  How did he respond?  You would think he would ‘go for it’ as a great privilege to be a prophet to the nations.  But the news comes to him as a big surprise, and then he begins to object to it: “Hang on a minute Lord, this prophet to the nation’s thing … it doesn’t sound like a great idea.  Prophecy is not one of my spiritual gifts.  And I only got a D grade in public speaking last year.  Besides, I’m only a teenager!”

Jeremiah’s response is very much like our response to God’s call!

Then God says, “Jeremiah, don’t give me that stuff!  Enough of those excuses!  Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child’.  You must go to everyone I send you to and say what I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” says the Lord.

Then, v9, God equips Jeremiah with the gifts and anointing for the task.  God will do the same for us when he calls us.

God tells Jeremiah not to be afraid; that he promised to be with him and to rescue him.  A greater promise you cannot have.  So Jeremiah gave himself fully to his call.

Missionary Jim Elliot gave his live fully for Christ on the mission field and was killed by a South American tribe.  He said in this well-known quote,

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

The things we give up for Christ (e.g. control of your own life) are things you can’t keep anyway; but the things we gain as a result of faith in Christ (e.g. eternal life,) whatever the opposition may be, is the ting you cannot lose.

Jeremiah was no fool; he gave himself to God’s call.

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4 Responses to Jeremiah 1:1-10

  1. Pingback: Jeremiah 1:11-19 « Sermon notes and other resources

  2. Pingback: Jeremiah 2 « Sermon notes and other resources

  3. Pingback: Bible prophets: Jeremiah | The Great Tribulation is Coming

  4. Pingback: Verse of the Day 12-11-12 | ricklee's poetry plus

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