The task is demanding but the promise is assuring
Jeremiah was called to one of the most demanding positions in the nation of Israel: “a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Unlike the calling of this father and grandfather, who were called to be priests, this was the calling to be a prophet. To speak the words of God to people who didn’t want to hear from God and had no interest in obeying God. It was a thankless, discouraging (v11-12) and dangerous (v13-17) role. And yet, God gave the promise that: “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born'” (Jer. 1:5). God knew Jeremiah, chose Jeremiah, and appointed Jeremiah. He was known by his name and hand-picked for the job by God. From this moment on Jeremiah had to accept that his future is not his own. He belonged to God and was, forevermore, going to carry out God’s distinct plan and purpose for his life. Yes the task was demanding but the promise outweighed the demands. God, in His grace, allowed Jeremiah to understand that it wasn’t Jeremiah’s plan but Gods and as such, He was going to be with him wherever he would go.
2. The task was overwhelming but the promise is strength
In answer to this calling Jeremiah, I suspect like most of us, protested: “But I protested, ‘Oh no, Lord, GOD! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth'” (Jer. 1:6). Jeremiah felt totally inadequate as a public speaker. He didn’t know what to say and so started to panic! Yet God has a way to overcome weakness and our insufficiencies, doesn’t he? Our talent and gifting, our personality or experience may appear inadequate, but God always .. always … equips those he calls. Now notice that God didn’t turn to Jeremiah and say “Oh no Jeremiah, you’re the most talented speaker in all of Isreal!”. In fact, by His actions God agreed with Jeremiah and then did something about it. We have the promise of God’s provision. “Then the LORD reached out His hand, touched my mouth, and told me: I have now filled your mouth with My words” (Jer. 1:9). “Yes, you’re right Jeremiah! You have no ability to be my spokesman. You have nothing worthwhile to say … hold still ….. !” The touch was not so much to purify as it was to empower. God doesn’t always use the most talented, He uses the one who has been touched by God. This is all we need to succeed in living out the call of God on our lives – His touch.
Finally God gives Jeremiah this promise:
And I, behold, I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, 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 they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, declares the Lord, to deliver you.”
I’m pretty sure that Jeremiah didn’t feel like a city surrounded by large walls and watchtowers – yet God promises that “I make you this day” – before any words had been spoken or victories won God gave him everything that was needed. And yet, the most wonderful promises of all: “for I am with you”.
Today we have a God who stands with us the call He has placed on our lives. He has not left us to our own devices. Yes the task to live out the gospel is demanding and we often feel inadequate but God has given us everything that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), including Himself.