The Call (Jeremiah 1:1-19)

Jeremiah: God's Word is a Fire in My Bones. "But if I say, 'I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,' his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bonesI am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot" (Jeremiah 20:9).

Outline and Structure (Jeremiah is difficult to outline because it is not always in chronological order.)
  1. The call of the prophet (ch. 1).
  2. Because of your sin, judgment is coming (chapters 2‒29).
  3. Book of consolation (chapters 30‒33).
  4. The prophetic warnings are refused and judgment falls (chapters 34‒45).
  5. Judgment against all the nations (chapters 46‒51).
  6. Historical appendix: the fall of Jerusalem (ch.  52).
Jeremiah ministered during the final days of Judah's existence as Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the people carried into exile. The account of this traumatic and pivotal episode in history begins with a teenager receiving a call from God (Jer 1:4ff). God has a purpose for each of his children and he longs for us to discover and understand what it is. We will only when we acknowledge that it's not about me. God's call is about God and his purposes for the world.

The great business of life is not for me to get God to do what I want but for him to get me to do what he wants! This requires a Copernican Revolution in our hearts. Copernicus (1473‒1543) caused a mega paradigm shift in human history when he discovered that we live in a helio-centric solar system and not a geo-centric one. Similarly, to experience God's call on our lives, we must discover that life is meant to be Christocentric rather than ego-centric.
  1. The context (1-3). [Jer 1:2, 4; Hos 1:1; Joel 1:1; Mi 1:1; Eze 1:3]
  2. The call (4-5). The basic ingredients of a call are found in the 4 verbs:
    1. I formed you (Gal 4:9; 1 Cor 8:3; Ps 139:13-16).
    2. I knew you (Eph 1:4; 2 Ti 1:9). The greatest of all human desires is to be known.
    3. I set you apart / consecrated you (1 Cor 6:19-20; 2 Pe 1:10)...for God's (holy) purposes.
    4. I appointed ["to give"] you ().
  3. The excuses (6).
  4. The rebuke (7).
  5. The promise (8, 18-19).
  6. The empowerment (9; Jer 15.16). God doesn't call the qualified. He qualifies the called.
  7. The job description (10). Notice the 6 verbs (4 negative, 2 positive). Preach repentance before promising salvation. Address sin before proclaiming God's comfort.
  8. The two visions (11-16; Isa 55:9-11; 6:9-10; Jn 4:8; 6:63).
  9. The command (17).
What we need (basic equipment for the prophetic office). In the Bible the prophetic ministry is not so much about fore-telling the future as it is about forth-telling the Word of God.
  1. Ears to hear (Jer 1:2,4,11,13, etc. cf. Jer 6:10‒11; Isa 6:9-10). In the midst of all the verbal inflation of his day, Jeremiah discerned the Voice of the Lord.
  2. Eyes to see (Jer 1:11,13). In the midst of prosperity and even religious renewal, Jeremiah saw what no one else did: judgment was coming.
  3. A mouth to speak (Jer 1:9‒10). Jeremiah's words were not Jeremiah's words. They were God's words. And that gave them power!
  4. A heart to feel (Jer 4:19; 9:1; etc.). Anyone who "enjoys" being a prophet is not a true prophet!
  5. Courage (Jer 1:8, 18‒19). Don't be controlled by your fears. 
For reflection:
  1. God knew you, formed you, and had a plan for your life before you were born or even conceived. Describe your thoughts and your feelings about this reality.
  2. When a person prays that God will reveal his sovereign purpose for his life so that he might know his "life's calling," what is that person really asking?
  3. Jeremiah needed to "destroy" before he could "build", to preach repentance before he preached salvation. Is that how you heard the Gospel (Mk 1:15)? Is that how you share it?
  4. Is there a call from God on your life? Describe how you understand it (Isa 6:8).
  5. Have you experienced a "Copernican revolution" in your soul (2 Cor 5:15; Gen 12:3)?
  6. Which part of the prophetic "equipment" is weakest in your life? Eyes? Heart?


Isaiah 63-66

  1. The Solitary Avenger, the Anointed Conqueror (63:1-6)
  2. The Good, Ever-Loving Father and Lord (63:7-64:12)
    1. Remembrance/recollection (63:7-14). Rehearsing the theological significance of the Exodus, and the elements of God's character: kindness, compassion (63:7) and love and mercy (63:9).
    2. Prayer/plea/petition (63:15-64:5)
    3. Confession of helplessness/hopelessness (64:6-12)
John Oswalt
  • [The Divine Warrior] (63:1-6).
  • [God's Love and Man's Rebellion] (63:7-14).
  • The complaint (63:15-19).
  • The petition (64:1-5).
  • The contradiction (64:6-7).
  • The petition repeated (64:8-12).
  • God's continuing revelation (65:1).
  • Israel's problem (65:2-7).
  • A remnant of the faithful (65:8-11).
  • God's promises remain (65:12-16).
  • [New heaven and new earth] (65:17-25).
  • A final diatribe against ritualism (66:1-6).
  • Hope and abundance (66:7-14).
  • Judgment and hope (66:15-24).
Alec Motyer
  1. The final poem of the Anointed Conqueror (63:1-6).
  2. The remembrancer's prayer (63:7-64:12).
    1. Recollection (63:7-14).
    2. Where is the Lord's love? (63:15-16)
    3. Why does the Lord remain estranged? (63:17-19)
    4. Why has the Lord not acted? (64:1-3)
    5. Is there still hope? (64:4-5)
    6. Helplessness and hopelessness (64:6-7).
    7. The unchanged God (64:8-9)
    8. Can love still be withheld? (64:10-12)
  3. The Lord's response (65:1-16).
    1. The Lord's world-initiative (1)
    2. Provocation and penalty (2-7)
    3. Blessing for the remnant (8-10)
    4. Contrasting destinies (11-16)
  4. All things new: 1. The New Creation (17-18a)
  5. All things new: 2. The New City and its people (18b-20)
  6. All things new: 3. The New Society (21-25)
    1. Security of tenure (21-22)
    2. Prosperity in blessing (23)
    3. Peace with God, universal harmony (24-25)
  7. The House and its people: Welcome and refusal (66:1-21)
    1. Trembling at Yahweh's Word (1-2)
    2. Refusing to listen (3-4)
    3. Trembling...or else!... (5-6)
    4. Suddenly! Joy for Jerusalem! (7-14)
    5. The equally certain doom (15-17)
    6. World pilgrimage to Zion (18-21)
  8. The House and the cemetery (66:22)
Alan Harman
  1. The Day of Vengeance (63:1-6).
  2. God the Father and Redeemer (63:7-64:12).
  3. A Patient and Compassionate God (65:1-16).
  4. The New Heaven and the New Earth (65:17-25).
  5. Distinguishing True and False Worshippers (66:1-9).
  6. Zion Triumphant (66:10-24).
Derek Kidner
  1. The Solitary Avenger (63:1-6).
  2. The Crying Needs of Zion (63:7-64:12).
    1. God's former mercies (63:7-14).
    2. God's forlorn family (63:15-64:12).
  3. The Great Divide (65:1-66:24).
    1. The owned and the disowned (65:1-16).
    2. New heaven and earth (65:17-25).
    3. Worshippers, welcome and unwelcome (66:1-5).
    4. The last intervention (66:6-17).
    5. The nations gathered in (66:18-24).


The Grace of God in Isaiah

  1. The Grace of:
    1. Initiative (Isa 1:18).
    2. Forgiveness (Isa 6:6-7).
    3. Presence (Isa 7:14).
    4. Gentleness (Isa 9:6).
    5. Faithfulness (Isa 16:5).
  2. The Grace of the Servant:
    1. Shepherd (42:1-4)--How A Servant Serves.
    2. Prophet (49:1-4)--The Servant's Toil and Reward.
    3. Conqueror (50:4-9)--The Servant's Victory Through Humiliation.
    4. Martyr (52:13-53:12)--The Servant's Shocking Salvation.
  3. The Result and Response of Grace (Isaiah 54-55). A Time To Be Found.
  4. The Climax and Ultimate Reality of Grace (Isaiah 60-62). The Goal of Salvation.


Do Not Neglect Meeting Together (2016 West Loop Reflection)


  • The WHY of West Loop is to always declare grace (Ac 20:24), rest (Mt 11:28) and freedom (Gal 5:1).
  • The HOW is through Scripture (2 Tim 3:16) and life together (1 Jn 1:3), i.e. through Bible study and community.
  • The WHAT is to give generously of our life, time and money--all of our resources (Dt 6:5; Lev 19:18; 2 Cor 5:15).

Preaching through the entire book of Isaiah since early 2016 has been one of my most satisfying endeavors as a Christian. For the last two years, I have been studying every chapter of Isaiah by reading and referencing Isaiah scholars (Oswalt, Motyer, Kidner, Ortland, etc). I and a few others have preached on all 57 chapters of Isaiah in over 50 sermons (53). God willing I may finish the last 9 chapters in 2017, and then begin my next OT book, possibly Jeremiah.

"Trust God" (Isa 7:9; 12:2; 26:4; 40:31) is the emphatic repeated theme of Isaiah for his people in the midst of difficulties and adversities. The Israelites should trust God when they were under attack from powerful Assyria (ch. 1-39). They should trust God with hope and wait on God when they were defeated and exiled in Babylon (ch. 40-55). They should also trust God when they return from Babylonian exile and need to rebuild their broken and devastated city and land from scratch (ch. 56-66).

Philippines UBF, under the stewardship of William Altobar, has grown from 1 chapter to 6 UBF chapters and church plants in the last 5 years. Over the past 2 years they are also welcoming more and more children from their neighborhoods, comprising of poor squatters, who are referred to as informal settlers. Malaysia UBF is a lively community led by Ison Hong and Vincent Lee together with a handful of devoted young Malaysian leaders. In May 2016 we held our first Manila Malaysia Bible Conference in the Philippines based on Isaiah with the theme: My Eyes Have Seen the King. It has been my utmost joy, delight and privilege to visit and fellowship with them each year.

NCWS (neighborhood community worship service) is thriving through the pastoring of Henry Asega and Kevin Albright. By God's grace, I also have the privilege of serving and supporting them through preaching and teaching at their worship services monthly.

In 2016 I prayed that it may be the year of Bible study, just as the psalmist delightfully proclaimed, "How I love Your instruction (your law)! It is my meditation all day long" (Ps 119:97, HCSB). I prayed that as a community, God may open our hearts to "delight in the Lord's instructions (law of the Lord)...day and night" (Ps 1:2, HCSB).

For 2017, along similar lines, I pray that it may be the year of studying the Bible together. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deedsnot giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." I pray that we may study the Bible together in a safe authentic community "so that we do not drift away" (Heb 2:1).

  • "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm" (Heb 10:23, NLT).
  • "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works" (Heb 10:24, NLT).
  • "...let us not neglect our meeting together" (Heb 10:24, NLT).