Before we start the devotions today, I want to thank all of you who posted the verse last Thursday that helps you face difficult times. It was uplifting to read through those verses and be reassured of God’s strength and love. – Audrey
“The word of the LORD came to me, saying, ‘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.’” Jer.1:4,5
Before Jeremiah was even formed in the womb, God knew who he would be. God set him apart, laid out his job description and really all that was left was for Jeremiah to be conceived, born and to obey. It sounds like the introduction to someone destined to be great! God pre-determined and carefully chose the perfect one for this position. He knows them and chooses them, and the path is waiting and ready. In reality Jeremiah would be known as the weeping prophet. In reality, he was called by God to preach to the Israelites and to warn them that their sins would be their ruin. He would spend his entire life imploring them to turn from their ways but was forewarned by God that his sermons would fall on deaf ears and not one would reform because of his ministry. NOT ONE person would listen or change. (Jeremiah 25:3) His dying years would be spent reflecting and mourning over the desolation of Jerusalem and the destruction of their beloved temple.
The weeping prophet—this makes my heart sad.
But what is God really saying here in reference to Jeremiah? I think the lesson is twofold. Firstly, obedience doesn’t come easily. Jeremiah is asked to obey in a life-long task that God has for him. Jeremiah’s life would consist of loneliness, being in the stocks, prison, chains, thrown into a cistern, being beaten and zero numbers to report to the sending mission committee. God does not promise him ease. He does not promise him fruit. He does not promise acceptance. He does promise him possible fear, hunger, war, rejection and hardship. But what does Jeremiah do? He obeys.
The second lesson is the ‘condition of the heart’ to go with that outward obedience. Jeremiah’s heart breaks for the people of Israel and he weeps. He weeps because they do not listen. He weeps because they do not change. He weeps because they will not choose God and all that He has planned for them over their own selfish ways and desires. He weeps because He knows the God that knows him. He does weep for the sadness of his calling. He does weep for loneliness and a break from the never-ending depressing results. But mostly he weeps because he has God’s heart for a lost and misguided people. I find it ironic that Jeremiah weeps for a people that do not trust their God and all the good He wants to rain down on them, and yet Jeremiah trusts this same God enough that he dedicates his whole life to a miserable calling.
I am so grateful to God for the book of Jeremiah and its counterpart Lamentations because even when things are toughest and we feel so inadequate or we feel like what we have to contribute doesn’t count, we can read and see that is never the case.
God responds to Jeremiah in these words: “The LORD reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, ‘Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant…Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you.” (Jeremiah 1:9,10,17-19)
Obedience flows from a heart that trusts God. And a soft and weeping heart flows from a relationship that loves people as God loves them. How do we do this? Well, you are doing it now. The first step is knowing Him, and we do that by reading His word. I pray He blesses you richly as you seek to know the One who loves you and knew you even before you were born.