1/30/2017

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?