You Are Special
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.Jeremiah 1:4-5
Is it not remarkable that when God began to talk to this young man and send him to his ministry, the first thing he did was to sit down and share with him that,
God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life. Is not that what he is saying? This is the preparation of God. The remarkable thing is that this preparation began long before Jeremiah was even conceived. In other words, God said,
I started getting you ready, and the world ready for you, long before you were born. I worked through your father and your mother, your grandfathers and grandmothers, your great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers. For generations back I have been preparing you. What a remarkable revelation to this young man — that through the generations of the past God had begun to work!
When people face a crisis, they always start looking for a program, some method with which to attack the crisis. When God sets out to solve a crisis, he almost always starts with a baby. All the babies God sends into the world, who look so innocent and so helpless — and so useless — at their birth, have enormous potential. There is nothing very impressive in appearance about a baby, but that is God’s way of changing the world. That is what God said to Jeremiah:
I’ve been working before you were born to prepare you to be a prophet, working through your father and your mother, and those who were before them.
If you read this account as though this were something extraordinary which applied only to Jeremiah the prophet, you have misread this whole passage. I often hear people say of some noted person,
When God made him, he broke the mold. That is true, but what we fail to see is that this is true of each one of us. God never made another one like you, and he never will. God never made anyone else who can fill the place you can fill and do the things you can do. This is the wonder of the way God forms human life — that of the billions upon billions who have been spawned upon this earth there are no duplicates. Each one is unique, prepared of God for the time in which he is to live. That is the word which came to Jeremiah, to strengthen him.
Look, God said,
I have prepared you for this very hour, as he has prepared you and me for this time, for this world, for this hour of human history.
I heard this week a story concerning the death of a young man, a pastor. When he was dying of cancer, his father and uncle, who are twin brothers, came to see him. After visiting with them both a short while, he asked his uncle,
Would you mind if I talk to my Dad alone? His uncle was glad to wait in the hall. When his father came out, he said to his brother,
I want to tell you what David did while we were alone. He called me over to his bed and said, Can I put my arms around you? I stooped over as best I could and let him put his arms around me. And now, Dad, would you put your arms around me? I could hardly keep control of my emotions, but I put my arms around him. Then, with his arms around me, he said, Dad, I just want you to know that the greatest gift God ever gave me, outside of salvation itself, was the gift of a father and mother who love God and taught me to love him, too.
That is what God is saying to Jeremiah.
What a gift you have! How I have prepared you for this moment, through the generations which lie behind you, that you might live and speak and act in this time in history.
What Does Jeremiah 1:5 Mean?
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah was a man who was born into the priestly line of Levi and was called to be a prophet of the Lord. He was a man who would have to endure much hardship during his life and he even witnessed the shocking ransacking of his beloved city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and wept as he watched the destruction of the Temple of God, when his people were taken into captivity.
It is likely that Jeremiah was about 20 years old when he was called and received his commissioned to be a prophet of God, “Before I formed you in the womb,” Jeremiah was told, “I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you. I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah had a long ministry which spanned the reign of a number of kings of Judah… the first of which was king Josiah who was crowned at the age of eight and had been on the throne of Judah for 5 years when the Lord spoke to his servant.
Although we all have an assurance that the Lord knew each one of us before we were born and has scheduled each day of our lives, very few prophets were consecrated by God before they were born and appointed to be a prophet to the nations.
Jeremiah did not aspire to become a prophet or attend a school of prophets to learn the skills of ‘profiteering’ as is the case with many false prophets. He was not a prophet because of his ancestry nor did he receive it as an honorary entitlement.
Despite doubting his own ability to speak and showing concern about his age, Jeremiah had a calling on his life which was given to him by divine revelation. Although the call on Jeremiah’s life was devoid of great visions of heaven like Isaiah, or revealed to his parents like John the Baptist, the knowledge that he had been singled out by God and set apart for an important prophetic ministry must have been a great encouragement to this young Levite.
Jeremiah may have been divinely chosen and empowered by God for his prophetic ministry, but he was a man who was humanly hesitant and reluctant to take up this God-ordained role… and he was a man who had to endure much hardship during his ministry because of his God-ordained position.
Although he was a man who had to experience much hardship, loneliness, pain, and rejection, and became known as ‘the weeping prophet’, Jeremiah was a man who was greatly used by the Lord in the furtherance of God’s redemptive plan throughout his ministry and enjoyed much intimate fellowship with the Lord he served.
Just as God had a call on Jeremiah’s life, He has a call on the life of all who trust in Christ by faith, and God can use anyone in the furtherance of his redemptive plan if we are willing to submit to Him and be used by Him.
Scripture Reading — Matthew 6:19-24
“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:21
You might think of yourself as a well-adjusted grownup. But what happens when someone puts a scratch on your new car? What happens when the dog gets a hold of your new shoes? What happens when the market drops?
When things like that happen, we can get upset. And even if we stay calm and collected on the outside, on the inside we might get really angry, grow bitter, and even fall apart. Because that thing that we treasured has suddenly been taken away.
There’s nothing wrong with caring for your stuff, or saving for retirement. But Jesus wants to guard us from the temptation to turn material things into idols. If we’re not careful, we can make decisions based on the size of our paycheck or the gains in our portfolio instead of following God’s leading.
So Jesus rightly warns us when he says that where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Our time, attention, and resources can easily be given over to our money and our stuff if we aren’t paying attention.
Jesus’ desire is that we come to see our relationship with God as our most valuable treasure. Full life with God, the source of our joy and comfort and purpose, is greater than we can even imagine.