In Ephesians 1:3-6, Paul tells us that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. He predestined us to be adopted by Him as a son or a daughter. He did this because of His kindness. He wanted to lavish grace on us. David extols praise to God in Psalm 139 because he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (verse 14), and he was formed by God and woven together in his mother’s womb. When the LORD gives His first words to Jeremiah, He starts with the same idea. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” Before Jeremiah was even born, God consecrated him. God appointed him to be a prophet.
The Lord wants us to read in His word, understand what it meant for those it was written to, and then apply it to our lives. But how can we apply this verse in Jeremiah to us?
We aren’t prophets. We aren’t good. We don’t know how to speak for God.
Look at what Jeremiah says in verse 6. “Alas, LORD God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? He felt the same way that we do. We can’t speak for God. Jeremiah didn’t think he could speak for God.
Perhaps Jeremiah was just complaining?
I don’t think so. I think he just didn’t feel he would be up to the task at hand. He was a youth. He probably didn’t know how to speak. From the book of Jeremiah, in some of his lamentations, we can see that he is soft-hearted and faint-hearted sometimes. Speaking for God as a prophet would be a truly difficult life.
But look how God responds to Jeremiah. “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.” (1:7-8)
Can you hear His tenderness? He acknowledges Jeremiah’s fears. He assures Jeremiah of His presence.
The LORD doesn’t tell him He will deliver Jeremiah so that he doesn’t experience any trouble. No, He says that He will be with Jeremiah in the trouble, and then He will deliver him.
Sometimes my definition of deliverance is different than God’s definition. I think deliverance means avoiding all of the trouble. But God is too honest with us to let us go on believing that lie.
Now notice what God does next. He stretches out His hand and touches Jeremiah’s mouth.
Wait a second. What does that mean? How could He touch Jeremiah’s mouth?
We don’t know if this was a vision or a dream or an audible voice. But Jeremiah knew that this was from God. He had no doubt. Somehow, he knew that his mouth was touched by God.
And then God told him that He had put His own words in Jeremiah’s mouth. Holy words because they’re God’s words.
And then God gave him the overall plan.
Jeremiah would go to the nations and kingdoms “to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
I am so thankful that I’m not a prophet. I don’t want to have to experience disaster and turmoil and getting in people’s faces, and planting seeds.
Hmmm. What about Acts 1:8?
Jesus told the disciples and us, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem (our homes and families and neighbors) and in all Judea and Samaria (the areas near where we live), and even to the remotest part of the earth (everywhere).
God gave Jeremiah the words to say throughout his life. It was a hard life. He was shunned, even by his family, and beaten and tortured. But he knew that God had sent him.
Do you know that God has sent you to those around you?
Do I know that I should live my life so that others are attracted to Christ, and want the same for their lives?
Am I willing to “strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed?” (Hebrews 12:12-13)
Jeremiah was willing, even though just a youth. He plucked up iniquity, he broke down idols, he destroyed false thinking, he overthrew wrong ideas, he built paths to God, and he planted hearts open to the Lord.
Are you and I ready to walk with God and be His hands, feet, and mouth the way Jeremiah was? It will be quite an adventure, but it will be so worth the journey!