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The Call Of Jeremiah 1

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The Call Of Jeremiah 1

Jeremiah 1:1-10

I want to thank your pastor for the opportunity to speak at such a sacred and esteemed occasion.

Tonight is the anniversary of the horrific tragedy of 9/11/2001.  Some of you may be wondering how we can do this on the date of one of the greatest tradgedies upon American soil, and the reason is how could we address the situation any better than by releasing ministers into the endtime harvest to harvest as many people as we can from these trying times and circumstances.

But, I cannot launch into a sermon without touching on the Biblical precedent for such a service.

Please be aware of the fact that in the OT, Moses appointed Joshua to be his successor by the laying on of hands (Num. 27:18; Deut. 34:9).  So, we see there a type of consecration or ordination ritual or ceremony.

The ritual of divine impartation through the laying on of hands, seems to have come down from sacrificial ceremonies in the Tabernacle, where the priests heavily laid their hands on the heads of the sacrifices.

·        Moses laid his hands upon Joshua to identify with him.

·        Moses laid his hands upon Joshua to authorize his for service or ministry.  And, don’t miss the fact that

·        Moses laid his hands upon Joshua to impart to him the anointing and the power of his anointing into their Joshua’s life and leadership.

In the NT, “Christ called, appointed, and commissioned the twelve as a personal act, unattended, so far as the record shows, with any symbolic act or ceremony.”[1]

The first “ordination” ritual, ceremony, or service is believed to be that of deacons and is found in Acts 6: 1-6.

As we continue to survey the NT, we see that “Paul, although he had been called and set apart by Christ, submitted to the laying on of hands (Acts 13:1-3).”[2]  “The simplest interpretation is that the Church as a whole held a special service for this solemn purpose.  Further, there is no sign in 13:2-3 that this ‘consecration’ by the Church was more efficacious than the original divine call; the ceremony merely blessed Barnabas and Saul for a special work which was completed in the next three years.”[3]

And finally, we see instruction for ordaining elders in every city are found in Titus 1:5-9.  The terms shepherd, elder, presbyter, etc. designating different functions of the office of pastor.

(Hence, we have a Biblical warrant for a service of ordination, but what is “ordination”?)

       “In the limited and technical sense, ordination is the ceremony by which a person is set apart to an order or office; but in a broader, and in fact its only important sense, ordination signifies the appointment or designation of a person to a ministerial office, with or without attendant ceremonies.”[4]

       “Ordination is generally not regarded as giving a person special status to do what laypersons must not do.  Rather, in ordination a person is ‘set apart to do what laypersons may indeed do if need be; be s/he is set apart to give full time and energy to the work of God, having received God’s own call to do so, and in confident hope that his/her ministration will be the more effective because of that person’s calling, gifts and training.’”[5]

(As we approach this sacred service of ordination, we need to understand something about the calling, commissioning, credentialing, and cautiousness of those who are ordained to the Gospel ministry.  This brings to mind one of my favorite accounts of God’s call upon a person’s life, which deals with the life of the OT “Man of God” or prophet, Jeremiah.

       Turn with me please to Jeremiah 1:1-10.  Let me read this for you out of the NASB?

Here we see:)

I.     Jeremiah’s Call (vv. 1-4).

As we look at various elements of the call of Jeremiah, let’s keep in mind that these are common elements in the calling of all of God’s chosen servants.  Moses, Samuel, Amos, Isaiah, Ezekiel and other special servants of God experienced precise moments in their lives when they recognized the call of God.

In these words, Jeremiah states the basis of his call in the phrase, “to whom the Word of the Lord came.”  Every person who is licensed or ordained to the Gospel ministry must know that s/he is called by God.  Each of us must rely upon the Word of the Lord to substantiate our subjective feelings.


       I knew that God was calling me through a recurring dream, but God substantiated that calling through His Word in Ezekiel 3 and Ezekiel 33.  In Ezekiel 3, God commissions Ezekiel to be a watchman and to cry out whether anyone was listening or not.  He cautions Ezekiel to not be afraid or dismayed, for He had made his face and forehead as hard as the rebellious Jews that he would be speaking to.

In Ezekiel 33, Ezekiel is reminded of his commissioning as a watchmen to cry out and warn the people of approaching judgment.  I think often of these words in 33:33,

“...then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst.”

What has been accomplished is often not fully recognized until the prophet is gone!  What God does through His servant often goes largely unrecognized, until after that servant is dead.

(Be that as it may, let’s get back to the text.)

The word of God came to Jeremiah more than once.  God’s call is a one time happening or event, yet it is a constant tugging upon our hearts and our spirits.  It is a crisis, and yet also a process!!!  God’s call initially comes in a unique way, but God renews that call periodically, so that we may make our calling an election sure and remain true to that special calling.

Throughout this prophecy, written by Jeremiah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he constantly repeats the fact that the Word of the Lord had come to him.  He lives, moves and has his being within the sphere of the divine call of God.  In Israel priests were priests by birth, but prophets were only prophets by calling.

       Those of us who are called to the Gospel ministry are not what we are by education or degrees, or by the wills of our mothers or the will of people, or by desire.  Those things have their place, but we are what we are by the divine call of God.

Ephesians 4:11, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”

(Now that we have looked briefly at his calling, let’s take a look at Jeremiah’s commissioning.)

II.    Jeremiah’s Commissioning (vv. 5-10).

A commission is an instruction or a charge to perform certain acts or duties.  In this case the acts and duties of a prophet.


       Jeremiah’s commissioning by the Lord is found, firstly, in the same words as his call.  His commission or charge begins with the words, “The Word of the Lord came to me.”  His authority to carry out the will of God is found in the words, “The Word of the Lord came to me.”

(In the next verse God gives to Jeremiah some further authority or credentials to carry out His commission.)

A.    Jeremiah’s credentials (v. 5).

Jeremiah’s credentials entails more than formal education in one of schools of the prophets!

In our day of education worship, it seems that everyone has a string of letters behind his name.  There is nothing wrong with education.  Those of us who are called into the Gospel ministry must prepare ourselves by increasing our knowledge of the Word of God.  The Word says that we should be diligent to show ourselves approved unto God as a workperson that does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.  But formal education cannot and should not become a minister’s number one priority or authority.  Education with God is great!  But education without God is nothing.

·        It’s better to have your B.A., i.e. your born again.

·        It’s better to have you Masters, i.e. you have studied at the feet of the Master.

·        It’s better to have your PH. D., i.e. you can pray heaven down.

       Our ultimate credentialing is that we have been called and commissioned by God Almighty!!!

(How did God set Jeremiah apart to his prophetic ministry?  What was the authority of Jeremiah’s commission?  God set Jeremiah apart through His own divinely providential actions.  Those actions included:)

1.     Precognition (v 5).

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.”

We see here the sovereign grace of God.  God calls whom He will and chooses whom He will, and God is not dependent upon time.  He knew Jeremiah before he was born.  Not only did God know him before he was born, but evidently He formed Jeremiah in the womb based upon that knowledge.  With God there are no surprises.  With God there are no emergencies.  God does not move from crisis to crisis.  God plans.  God had a plan for Jeremiah’s life.

       God has a plan for my life.

       God has a plan for lives of those who are being ordained tonight.  And,

       God has a plan for your life!  (Even those of us who are called, but not being ordained tonight.)

(But we see something else in this verse.)

2.     Preconsecration (coining a new word) (v 5).

Based upon His foreknowledge, God formed Jeremiah in the womb of His mother, but before He did that He consecrated Jeremiah.

The word ‘consecrated’ comes from one of the most important words in the OT. ‘qadash’, “Holy.”  God consecrated, or sanctified, or set Jeremiah apart for His special use in the prophetic ministry.

       This evening’s setting apart must be done by God.  We don’t really ordain or set apart, we only acknowledge what God has ordained or set apart.

       God has also set apart or sanctified every believer to serve Him.  You don’t need a license to serve God.  You have already been sent by God.  Go into the harvest and work, and whatever is right, He will pay you!!!

(But that is not all.  We also see here:)

3.     Preappointment (coining a new word) (v 5).

Based upon His precognition and preconsecration God preappointed Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations.

The word ‘appointed’ means to decree, command, or ordain.

       Here is the true ordination.  It is God that ordains a person to be a minister and all the church does is recognize and identify with that ordination.

       Although the ordination is presented as happening in the present, it is—in a sense—a foreordination because God foreknew Jeremiah and (coining a new word) fore-consecrated him.  The whole sequence of God is:  “I knew; I consecrated; I formed; I appointed.

(So we can see that Jeremiah’s credentials were based upon God’s foreknowledge, fore-consecration, and foreordination.  Now let’s look at what Jeremiah was commissioned to do.)

B.    Jeremiah’s commission (vv. 5-10).

(Jeremiah’s commission was to be:)

1.     A prophet (v. 5).

Jeremiah was appointed to be a prophet.  Today we think of a prophet as one who predicts; but prediction was one small part of the prophetic task.  The task was to be God’s messenger, spokesman or “announcer.  The prophet was primarily a proclaimer or preacher of God’s Word.  In contrast with the priest, who represented the people before God, the prophet represented God before the people.

       Although modern pastors are both priests and prophets, God still needs a person to represent Him and speak His Words to the people.  I can here Isaiah crying, “Lord if you want somebody, here am I:  send me!”

(As a prophet Jeremiah had two main functions:)

a.     To go (v. 7).

A prophet was to go wherever God would send him/her.  The message of God had to be taken to all who needed it, no matter where they lived.  So prophets were somewhat like the old, old TV. show, ‘Paladin’, “Have message will travel.”

       Don’t forget that every believer, in one sense and in some way, is an ambassador of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Although every Chrisitan is an ambassador of Christ, the one who is called to the Gospel ministry has a special commissioning in this area.

(But the primary function of the prophet was:)

b.     To speak (v. 7).


(What exactly was s/he to speak?)

(1)    What God commanded him/her.

The prophet was to speak all that the Lord commanded him.  The prophet was to speak only what the Lord commanded him.  The prophet was the mouthpiece of God and had no message, except the one that God put in his/her mouth.

       The message that the prophet was to speak often came by a vision.  A vision is a dream, revelation, or oracle from God.

       A vision is also mental picture of what God wants to accomplish through a particular person, which comes about through time spent alone with God in His Word.

       Today, God gives His vision to His man or woman, through His written Word, the Bible.  It is His vision of what He is going to do with His Church.

(The prophet was to speak only what God had commanded him/her and:)

(2)    The Words of God (v. 9).

The act of commissioning is seen in God touching the prophet’s mouth.  God touched the prophet’s mouth and put His words within Jeremiah’s mouth.  He gave Jeremiah a message to proclaim.

       Christ’s commission to all Christians sums up the same idea in the words,

Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Emphasis mine).

       But the commission is of particular significance to the one who has been called by God to the Gospel ministry.  S/he is called to preach and teach the Word of God!

·        Once Jesus touches you, you can never be the same.

·        Once you have experienced the touch of God, you have a message to give to the nations.

·        Once you have felt the hand touch of the Master, you will know what it is that God wants you to say.

He touched me.  Oh, He touched me.

And oh the joy that floods my soul.

Something happened and now I know,

He touched me and made me whole!

Those of us who have been called and commission by God have been touched by God, and therefore:

I’ve got to preach, because people are in darkness and Jesus is the Light.

We’ve got to preach, because people are hungry and Jesus is the Bread of Life.

We’ve got to preach, because people are thirsty and Jesus is Water of Life.

We’ve got to preach, because people are sick and Jesus is the Great Physician.

We’ve got to preach, because the world is lost and Jesus is the Savior.

We’ve got to preach, because people are sad and Jesus is the joy of my salvation.

We’ve got to preach, because people tired and Jesus said, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give rest.”

We’ve got to preach, because people are troubled and Jesus brings peace.

We’ve got to preach, because people are trapped and Jesus is the Way.

We’ve got to preach, because people are being lied to and Jesus is Truth.

We’ve got to preach, because people are discouraged and Jesus is the Hope of Glory.

We’ve got to preach, because the storms of life are raging and Jesus is the anchor of our souls., a refuge, a high tower, a strong tower, a fortress, a shield, a buckler, a rock, a hiding place.

We’ve got to preach, because we are on trial for our sins, but Jesus is the Advocate or Lawyer who will plead our case in heaven.

We’ve got to preach, because people are dead and Jesus is the Life.

(The message that God gave Jeremiah was two fold.)

(a)    To pluck up, break down, destroy,

       and overthrow (v 10).

Jeremiah’s message was one of the coming judgment of the Lord.  Before anything can be built, often something else must be torn down.  God would have to pluck up, break down, destroy and overthrow the Israelites before He could bless them.

       Preachers likewise today must pluck up, break down, destroy, and overthrow ideologies, isms, schisms, imagination, worldly values, certain traditions and every other thing which lifts itself against the knowledge of God.

(But that was not the sum of Jeremiah’s message.  Jeremiah’s message was also:)

(b)    To build and to plant (v 10).

Jeremiah’s message was a message of blessing and our message today is a message of the blessings of salvation.  Once the old has been plucked up, once the old has been broken down, once the old has been destroyed, once the old has been overthrown, then the new can be planted and built up.  Then the new nature can take control.  Then the new seeds can be planted.  Then the new values can begin to take root.

(But notice the attitude of Jeremiah about all that is happening to him.  Notice:)

III.   Jeremiah’s Cautiousness (vv. 6,8).

(His cautiousness can be seen in:)

A.    His reluctance (v. 6).

The phrase, “Alas, Lord God,” carries with it the idea of sadness and lament.  Jeremiah was reluctant to shoulder the burden of the call because of who he was.

       Great men usually lament over their shortcomings, rather than boast of their strengths.  Jeremiah lamented over the fact that he did not know how to speak.  Jeremiah felt sadness when He contemplated the fact that he was but a youth.

       Jeremiah’s attitude reminds me of a tremendous question put forth by Paul, in the midst of talking about being a preacher of the Word of God.  That question is brought up in

2 Corinthians 2:14-17 (NASB-U), “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. [15] For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; [16] to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.  And who is adequate for these things? [17] For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”

“And who is adequate for these things?  Who is sufficient or competent to manifest and be the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ which leads to life and death?”  What a question!

(But Paul goes on to point out His own adequacy, sufficiency or competency, which was being constantly attacked by the Judaizers and other sects, by contrasting himself and his co-laborers with others.)

       We see before us the contrast between sincere and insincere ministers.  The difference is seen in the fact that the insincere peddled the Word of God, while the sincere proclaimed the Word of God.


       The Greek word means “To peddle, to pawn off a product for gain.  The word is used in the Greek Translation of Isaiah 1:22 for those who mix wine with water in order to cheat the buyers.  It is used by Plato to condemn the pseudo-philosophers.  It was used in the papyri for a wine dealer and for running a junk store.  The word refers to those who would peddle or merchandise the Word of God for profit.”[6]

       Those who were sincere proclaimed the Word of God.  I used the word ‘proclaimed’ because it is the interpretation of the Greek word kerusso.  Preachers are called to proclaim, herald or kerusso the Gospel.  The very word for proclaiming the Gospel, kerusso, connotes sincerity.

“1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald; always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed” (Thayer’s Greek/English Lexicon).

(While Paul’s cautiousness is seen in this powerful question, he also spells out the characteristics of his compentency.)

       Paul knew that he and his co-workers were insufficient in themselves and that gave him great reason for cautiousness and wondering whether they were adequate for such a task.  Yet, Paul knew that their adequacy and sufficiency rested in Christ and the following actions that He produced in them, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

       As the apostle Paul begins to proclaim the basis of the competency of himself and his co-workers, he repeats the Greek word alla, which means ‘but’.  Thayer says that

“The repetition of the Word, alla, gives emphasis in an ascending scale.”[7]

So, each one of this statements is more important than the one that precedes it.


       Consequently,

1.     Paul and his co-workers spoke from sincerity.

We, preachers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, must be sincere.  We must have integrity.

(Their competency is further highlighted by the fact that:)

2.     Paul and his co-workers spoke as from God.

They spoke with power and authority.

(Their competency further lies in the fact that:)

3.     Paul and his co-workers spoke in Christ.

The sphere of their lives and hence the sphere of their preaching was Jesus Christ.  Paul said,

1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

This does not mean that Paul only talked about Jesus Christ.  When we survey the epistles that He wrote, we see that He discussed a wide variety of subjects related to salvation and the Christian life.  He talked about marriage, singleness, sex, money, life, death, ministry, burdens, sorrow, repentance, etc., etc., etc.  But this does mean, that all of His preaching always proceeded from and led back to Jesus Christ!  All preaching roads must lead to and away from Calvary.  One preacher used to say, “Whatever else you do make your way, as quick as you can, cross-country to Calvary!”

(The fourth characteristic of their competency is seen in the fact that:)

4.     Paul and his co-workers spoke in the sight of God.

They spoke with a sense of gravity and sincerity knowing that they would one day stand before the bema judgment seat of Christ and give an account of the deeds that they had done in this body.  They behaved in the light of the fact that one day the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, would judge their stewardship of the flock over which they were undershepherds.  They preached as if God, Himself, were standing to the side of the pulpit watching their every movement and weighing their every word:  because He was!

(But notice what God has to say to Jeremiah.  Notice:)

B.    God’s reassurance (vv. 7,8).

(God’s reassurance is in two specific areas:)

1.     “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because it is not you who have chosen to go, but I who have sent you (v. 7).

I been saved since I was 8, had a spiritual experience with the Lord at 14, accepted my call into the ministry at 21, and began pastoring two days before my 22nd birthday.  I celebrate 30 years in the Gospel ministry on March 6, 2004.

2.     “Do not be afraid?”  (v. 8)

(Why not?  Because, God said:)

a.     “I am with you...”  What better company could Jeremiah want.  Jehovah, I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be with him.  Jesus has promised that He would never leave us nor forsake us.

b.     “...to deliver you.”  God makes known to Jeremiah exactly what His plan entails.  He did not call and commission Jeremiah to desert him, but to deliver him.  God will deliver His prophet from the hands of the enemy until his ministry is complete.  The apostle Paul said in

2 Timothy 4:18, “The Lord will deliver me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.”

God will protect and deliver His servants until they have completed their assignments!

       It is with great sacredness and seriousness that we approach this great service of ordination!!!


----

[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid, p. 812.

[3] Ramsey, St. Paul the Traveler, pp. 66,67.

[4] M.F. Unger, Unger's Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1957, p. 811.

[5] R.L. Saucy, The Church in God's Program, pp. 114, 115, from A.R. Vine, The Congregational Ministry in the Modern World, ed. H. Cunliffe-Jones, p. 10.

[6] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

[7] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

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