By Debbonnaire Kovacs, posted Aug 13, 2015
Our God is a God who speaks. What would it be like to be one of his mouthpieces? If you would like to know, study Jeremiah’s whole life, from reluctant youth with a tendency to blame God and doubt his dealings to mature prophet who speaks the word of God in love and boldness. Here is one way to imagine his call. Based on Jeremiah 1:1-10, 17-19.
Jeremiah lived in the priest-city of Anathoth. When he was called, he was about twenty years old, and King Josiah, who had ascended to the throne at the age of eight, was only twenty-one. Josiah had already done a great deal in an attempt to lead his people to reform (II Kings 22, 23). But Judah, though at first they seemed to reform, simply would not really commit their lives. They had plenty of false prophets saying, “Don’t worry, you are God’s chosen people, nothing can happen to you.” Judah preferred to listen to them.
Jeremiah tells us nothing about where he was or what he was doing when the word of the Lord came to him. We are free to imagine the setting in any way we please.
* * *
Yahweh! Speaking to me!
My heart beats like a war drum, and my palms feel wet. I remember the story of Isaiah, who saw a vision of the courts of Heaven, and thought he would die because he had seen God. But what is this He is saying?
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you.”
Me? I have a wild, momentary notion that He has gotten me mixed up with someone else. Consecrated me for what?
“I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Oh, no! I can’t be a prophet! What do I know about being a prophet? And what does He mean, “to the nations”? No other prophet has been told to prophesy to any other people than his own. I force words from my mouth, and they jerk out, dry-sounding.
“Ah, no, Lord God! I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth!”
But He stops me. “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever I command you you shall speak.”
I bow my head. It is His will. He does mean I shall prophesy to other nations. But with His words. (They will hate me.)
He knows my thoughts. “Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you.”
I look up again, and feel my fear receding. Then He reaches forth His holy hand to touch my very unholy mouth–a wonderful and awful experience! “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
I am growing frightened again. Not very reassuring words, these. They really will hate me. But when He has shown me strange visions of an almond rod and a boiling pot, and declared troubling judgments against Judah, He ends with promises.
“But you, gird up your loins; arise and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. And behold, I make you this day a fortified city, and iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its princes, and the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you, for I am with you, … to deliver you.”
And He is gone. All seems dark, bereft of His brightness.
I cannot help wishing He had chosen someone else. But I am His to command. Let me not be found wanting. May my words be His, and not mine, all the days of my life.
I wonder, will prophesying make me tremble as I am trembling now?
No matter. He promised to protect me. Whom shall I fear?
Yahweh has spoken.