Isaiah 6:8, 61:1-3
Last week we began this two part series which takes a look two individuals, Jeremiah and Paul.
As we discussed last week, Paul had a very sensitive nature, but because the world around him was hard of heart, it made him very frustrated, and his frustration often expressed itself in anger and violence against the Christians, that is, until Jesus Christ entered his life. Listen again to how Paul expresses this life changing experience (Galatians 1:15-16).
15 But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, (NIV)
As Paul looked back upon his life following his rebirth in Jesus Christ, he realized how much the Lord had been with him even from his mother's womb.
It was then, also, that Paul came to realize the task set before him, a task that was totally opposite to his former way of life. Now, let's turn in our Bibles back to Jeremiah 1:1-10, and take a look at Jeremiah's call into ministry.
1 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin.
2 The word of the LORD came to him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah,
3 and through the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
Since Jeremiah was the son of a priest, it is obvious that he was schooled in the Law as was Paul some 600 years later.
Jeremiah was also a very sensitive young man. He knew the difference between right and wrong.
He was impressed by the reforms that King Josiah had instituted, yet he doesn't seem to visualize himself as being any part of it as of the time of the Lord's calling to him. And then...
4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
5 "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."
Imagine yourself having the Lord speak to you in this manner. Does it make a chill go up and down your spine? Most people don't even want to wire a letter to the newspaper or to their elected officials about the problems they see.
Now, imagine that we, individually, are being called upon to go and see them in person, and tell them that God has sent us to them with a special message.
And in addition, imagine that we are being told to go to every trouble spot on the planet; to Iraq, or to Bosnia, or anywhere else, and not just to visit, but to speak to the leadership, and tell them that the Lord wants them to change their ways. We might start contemplating our life expectancy in terms of days instead of years.
And Jeremiah was being called to do just this. And remember that Jeremiah was probably a teenager at this time in his life, and he was probably scared out of his wits. How would we react? Probably just as Jeremiah did.
6 "Ah, Sovereign LORD," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am only a child."
We need to feel his fear and apprehension, just as he did, as if we were in his position.
Additionally, we need to empathize with the Lord, and understand His reason for calling upon Jeremiah.
We need to understand that the Lord doesn't make mistakes, and He most certainly doesn't take no for an answer, thought at times we may wish it were otherwise.
When He called to Jeremiah, He knew he had the right person for the job.
He knew that Jeremiah had a kindred spirit with Him, and that he had the heart and soul to fulfill the task He was setting before Him.
And we need to remember this about ourselves, too, every time we hear that still small voice of the Holy Spirit inside us telling us to do or say something. Jeremiah, as with most of us, also needed to have some assurance, thus the Lord comforted him.
7 But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you," declares the LORD.
9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "Now, I have put my words in your mouth.
10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." (NIV)
When we commit our lives to the Lord, and walk with Him, we also must remember that He is with us all the time, and that He will lovingly touch us, as He did Jeremiah, and put just the right words in our mouths, and help us with the task He has set before us. Jeremiah did all that the Lord called upon him to do, just as we also need to be kindred spirits in the Lord and do all that the Lord sets before us to do.
We need to recognize the evil in the world around us, and oppose it, and not try to pretend that it doesn't exist, so we don't have to get involved. The very fact that we do recognize it is proof that we are being called upon to do something about it.
This is what the Lord meant, when he said to Jeremiah, "I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow."
We who are kindred spirits in the Lord are being called upon to uproot evil and tear down its power structure, to destroy it and overthrow it. And at the same time, just as the Lord told Jeremiah, we are also being called upon "to build and to plant."
We are not just to speak out against the evil in this world, we are also to build, or rebuild a portion of the world God originally intended it to be, and we need to plant in it trees of righteousness, and trees that lead to eternal life.
We need to speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves, for people, for animals, and for the earth, for all have the right to live and exist as God originally intended.
We who are kindred spirits in the Lord are truly being called upon to be God's spokespeople in this world, and this should include every one of us.
We are to spread his message of reconciliation, and His message of unconditional love and compassion, that there would truly be peace on earth. We are to do this in both word and deed.
If others don't see in our lives the words that we speak, they won't believe us, and we need to be believable.
We need to be as Paul, as Jeremiah, and as Isaiah when the Lord called to him (Isaiah 61:1-3), and even more so.
1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (KJV)
And we need to be a kindred spirit in the Lord as was Isaiah, when the Lord said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" (6:8) We need to say with our heart and soul and with our mouth, "Here I am, Lord! Send me!"
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