The Expository Files



God Knew You Then

“Before you were born I consecrated you…”

Jeremiah 1:4-10


 Jeremiah was a prophet who began his work in 627 B.C. and continued until he was taken to Egypt in about 587 B.C.  During his lifetime he saw the Assyrians, once the powerful and dreaded enemies of Israel and Judah, crumble and fall. He warned of coming disaster due to the unfaithfulness of the people of Judah. He would live to see his prophecies fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem by the invading armies of Babylon.


During his service as God’s prophet, he pled with the people to repent and warned of the consequences of failure. He was branded as a traitor by ungodly kings. He precisely foretold that captivity in Babylon would last for seventy years. It would be decades after his death that the seventy years would be fulfilled and that, as yet unborn foreign kings would allow a remnant to return and rebuild Jerusalem, just as Jeremiah had said.


Jeremiah did not want to be a prophet. He was not seeking to become a prophet when God called him. So why did God choose Jeremiah?


Appointed By God

Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,  "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4-5). There are several things here that are wonderfully awe-inspiring if we reflect upon them. It says something about the omniscience of God.  Jehovah God told Jeremiah that He “knew” him before Jeremiah had been formed in the womb.  He already knew of Jeremiah’s strengths and weaknesses. He knew that Jeremiah possessed something that God desired to use during a particularly trying time in Judah’s history.  God had appointed a special task for Jeremiah before Jeremiah was born, but Jeremiah would not know of it until he had grown to be a young man.


What does this mean to us? After all, we are not prophets like Jeremiah was. No, we are not. But we are human beings created in God’s image. We each have strengths and weaknesses; abilities and limitations.  We also have opportunities to do what God has appointed for us to do. What is that? It is to become like Jesus; “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29). It is up to each of us as to whether we will accept God’s appointment or not, just as it was to Jeremiah.


Excuses Will Not Do

Then I said, "Alas, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, Because I am a youth."  (Jeremiah 1:4-5). Perhaps Jeremiah was overwhelmed by the task as hand, but he was dealing with One who knew him better than he even knew himself! Jeremiah thought that perhaps he lacked the ability to do the job. But God knew that he could, and had even known this before Jeremiah had been born!


We should remember that whenever we are facing challenging times or tasks. There is confidence and strength to be found in knowing that God says we can do it, and He has always known that.  We can succeed. We can serve Him acceptably. If we falter, we can get back up. As we sometimes sing, we have “blessed assurance”.


Trust in God and His Word

But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, "I am a youth,'  Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak.”  (Jeremiah 1:7). Jeremiah may have been quite young, but Almighty God is eternal! Jeremiah’s duty, young or old, is to obey the voice of God. The word and the power is God’s. The words Jeremiah delivered would not be the words of a youth, but the words of God.


Likewise with us as we speak the truth. We must never set aside God’s mission to us!  Our first priority must be to obey God in everything. Let us not doubt His eternal wisdom. Let us not alter His message found in the Scripture. Let us be true to Him!


Fear Has No Place

"Do not be afraid of them, For I am with you to deliver you," declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 1:8).  This world has never given a warm welcome to those who would dare speak God’s truth. It much prefers those who would bow to worldly pressures to conform to it. Jesus said to His disciples, “And you will be hated of all on account of My name, but it is the one who endures to the end that will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22). Later, as Jesus was speaking to His apostles shortly before His arrest, He said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).


The Word Has Been Delivered

Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me, "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9).


When we preach and teach and live what the Bible says, then we do not need to be wondering whether we are right or not. The Scriptures come to us from the mind of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and God is right. Truth has already been settled; not in a human court or counsel, but in heaven at God’s throne.


When Jeremiah spoke by the inspiration of God, the Spirit guided him. Today, God’s will has been revealed to us through the writings of those individuals God selected for the task. Jeremiah was not the only one. The Lord “stretched out His hand” and touched the mouths of Matthew, John, Paul , Peter, James and many others. When we, in turn, speak these things, we are speaking as “the utterances of God” (2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 Peter 4:11).


The Work Which We Must Do

"See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, To pluck up and to break down, To destroy and to overthrow, To build and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10).  This also well summarizes our mission today as those who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sometimes, when confronted by doctrines contrary to those which the Lord has spoken we must “pluck up” and “break down”.  Also, we are tasked with “building up” and “planting” with the gospel of truth. Our work is incomplete if it is all “breaking down” or if it is all “building up”.  Suffice it to say there must be both aspects and there are plenty of opportunities for both. Our mission is to make known the will of our Lord Jesus Christ. For this we have been appointed and the Lord has said that we are adequately equipped for the task. He will help us as well. Let us then, like Jeremiah, get along with the purpose God has given us to fulfill.


 By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 21.2; February 2014