August 12, 2019

God Equips Whom He Calls

INTERESTING FACTS : "When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

DAILY READING : Jeremiah 1-3, 4-6

TEXT : Jeremiah 1:4-10 "Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. 6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. 7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. 8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. 9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth. 10 See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant."

TRUTH FOR TODAY : God Equips Whom He Calls

For today's devotion, I don't think I can improve on the following commentary given by D. Young.

I. THE PURPOSE OF WHICH JEREMIAH WAS BROUGHT INTO EXISTENCE. This is stated in a very solemn and impressive way in ver, 5. Jehovah presents himself to Jeremiah as he who formed him in the belly, and even before then recognized him as one who was to do a special work. So with regard to Moses, Isaac, Samuel. The circumstances of their birth direct our thoughts to the special ends to be worked out by their earthly life. To each of them the same words might have been spoken as to Jeremiah. Moreover, if true of them, this word is true of all. Jehovah is the Fashioner of all mankind, and since he does nothing without some purpose, it follows that for every one of us, equally with Jeremiah, there is a recognition, a consecrating, an ordaining. In a few instances there may be a special publication of the purpose, but the purpose itself is real in every instance. Therefore our business clearly is to find out what God would have us be, our eyes open to his presence, our ears to his voice. Then if we have discovered what God would have us be, if there is a deepening impression on our minds that we are in the right way, this very thought, that God saw the proper work of our life or ever we entered upon it, will assure us that the work cannot fail. We shall feel that requisite strength in the doing of it, and full success at the end of it, are made certain. The failings of life come ? and it is easy to see that they must come ? from putting our own purposes athwart the settled purpose of God. We may rebel against the work which he calls upon us to undertake, but it is very certain that any work put in its place must end in disappointment and disaster. To Jonah as to Jeremiah, God might have said somewhat the same as is here recorded. It is an awful thought for sinners, in the collapse of their own plans, that they might have been successful and rejoicing, if only they had been from the heart obedient to the plans of God.

II.THE ANSWERING PLEA OF JEREMIAH. An opposing plea it can hardly be called, but it is the not astonishing statement of a difficulty that from the human point of view looks very great. When God makes his first approaches to men, asking them to do something special, what is more natural than that they should see huge difficulties in the way of obedience? How fertile was the self-distrusting Moses in suggesting difficulties when God came to him in Horeb (Exodus 3:4)? Take special notice that the difficulties of such men as Moses and Jeremiah are not meant to be mere excuses, but are felt to be real reasons. Such is emphatically the position here. Jeremiah was but a lad; it is possible that he had net yet attained to what we should call a young man (Genesis 41:12; 1 Kings 3:7). At such an age one is valued for listening and learning rather than for talking. That the prophet made such an initial reply to Jehovah was a good sign rather than a bad one. Deep humility and a keen consciousness of natural weakness are welcome features in the man whom God would make his servant. It is tolerably certain that among the elders of Anathoth Jeremiah would have the reputation of being a quiet, unpretending lad. If a young man of another reputation had stood forward as a prophet, there would have been fair ground to charge him with presumption. But when one stands forward who ever looks doubtfully on his own abilities, is no self-asserter, and forms by preference a member in the background of every scene, such a standing forward at once suggests that there is some superhuman motive behind it. Jeremiah's plea is therefore a recommendation. Unconsciously he gives a valid certificate of fitness for his work. At the same time, this plea suggests all the difference which there is between the youthful Jeremiah and the youthful Jesus. Jesus in the temple seems in his natural element, not too young even at twelve years of age to show an ardent interest in all that concerned Divine worship and service.

III.THE AMPLE ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH JEHOVAH GIVES TO JEREMIAH. In a few words, God puts before his servant all that is needed and all that can be supplied.

1. There will be clear commands from God,and from the prophet there must be corresponding obedience. Not with Jeremiah rests the deciding of whether he shall go here or there, or to what place first and to what last. He is always a sent man, and when he comes into the presence of his appointed audience, his message is a provided message. Thus it is ensured that he never finds himself in the wrong place or speaking at the wrong time. Well does God know how little we are able, of ourselves, to decide when to speak and when to be silent, what to say and what to leave unsaid.

2.One consequence of God's message faithfully delivered will be hostility and menace from the hearers, and therefore there is an exhortation to courage,and an indication of the ground which makes that courage possible. When Jeremiah gets into a certain presence and speaks a certain word he will be threatened. The threatening must be expected; it shows that the arrow of God's truth has found its home. All the powers of the human face will be called into malignant exercise against the prophet. The eye, the tongue, the muscles of the face will all be joined in strong combination to express the contempt and hatred filling the brain that lies behind. In no way can Jeremiah escape this experience; he must face the enemies, but in doing so he has the assurance that his Commander is near to deliver.

3. God makes now an actual communication to the prophet. The path is not yet taken, the audience is not yet in view, but by way of earnest inspiration the words of the Master are put into the servant's mouth. This of course was an indescribable experience. What it is to have the words of God in one's mouth can only be known by an actual enjoyment of the privilege. The only way in which we can discern how real and fruitful this experience was, is by observing its effect. There is no more hesitating, no turning from one answered plea to find another more cogent. Henceforth the prophet goes on steadily and faithfully in his mission, and his perfect service is best proved by this, that in due time he meets with the indicated opposition, and receives from God his promised protection.
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