The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah

The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah

Scripture: Jeremiah 1:5, Isaiah 1:19, Jeremiah 7:5-7
Date: 10/03/2015  Lesson: 1
"Jeremiah wasn't called to find solutions to the problems of the nation, or to become a great personality or charismatic leader whom the people would follow. Jeremiah had the singular mission to transmit the words of God to the people and their leaders."

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea

Daniel: A Reader's Guide by William H. Shea
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Good morning, friends. Welcome, again, to Sabbath school study hour. A very special welcome to our friends joining us across the country and around the world - our extended Sabbath school class, today. Also a warm welcome to the members here of the Granite Bay church and those who are visiting across the country. And I understand we even have some international visitors here this morning so a very warm welcome to all of you.

We're going to be studying our lesson quarterly - it's a brand-new one dealing with the book of Jeremiah. So for those of you here in the audience, you can open up your lesson quarterly to lesson #1 entitled the prophetic call of Jeremiah. For our friends joining us online, you can download today's lesson at the Amazing Facts website, just amazingfacts.org. We have a free offer that goes along with our study this morning entitled the two witnesses - and for anybody who gives us a call in North America, we'll be able to send this book to you for free. The number is 866-788-3966.

Again, that number is 866-788-3966. Ask for the book called the two witnesses. And for our international viewers, you can also download this free offer at the Amazing Facts website. It's a pdf format. The book, again, is called the two witnesses.

Well, at this time, I'm going to invite our song leaders to come out and they will lead us as we lift our voices in praise before we get to our study. Thank you, Pastor Ross, and hello to those of you who are joining us around the world. We're kind of keeping in theme with our new quarterly and we're going to sing #568 - make me a captive, Lord - this is a beautiful song; not one that we typically sing all the time. We're going to do all three stanzas. #568 - Join with us.

Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free; force me to render up my sword, and I shall conqueror be. I sink in life's alarms when by myself I stand; imprison me within thine arms, and strong shall be my hand. My heart is weak and poor til it a master find; it has no spring of action sure; it varies with the wind. It cannot freely move til thou has wrought its chain; enslave it with thy matchless love, and deathless it shall reign. My will is not my own til thou hast made it thine; if it would reach a monarch's throne it must its crown resign; it only stands unbent, amid the clashing strife, when on thy bosom it has leant and found in thee its life.

We have a special surprise for you and echoes of mercy are joining us today. Echoes, I know is not unfamiliar to many of you. They are our wonderful friends from a place very near and dear to my heart, Sacramento central Seventh-day Adventist Church. And they have been blessing many people with their beautiful, beautiful music. And so, today, they're going to be singing for us a beautiful song that we already heard them rehearse, called holy.

So welcome echoes of mercy. Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy Lord holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, Lord holy Lord of power, holy Lord of might heaven and earth are full of your glory. Holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, holy, Lord, holy Lord. Amen, that was beautiful. Well, at this time I'm going to invite you to bow your heads as we ask God's special blessing upon our study together.

Dear Father in Heaven, once again we are grateful for the opportunity to gather together on this, your Sabbath, to study Your Word. And as we begin our new study in the book of Jeremiah, we ask in a special way for your Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts, our minds, and lead us, Lord, into a deeper and fuller understanding of this very important message contained in this book. For we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. At this time, I'd like to invite Pastor Doug Batchelor, who will be leading us in our study today. Thank you, Pastor Doug.

And thank you, Pastor Ross. And thank you for that beautiful music. We appreciate that. Morning everyone. Morning.

We're going to start the study of a new quarter's lesson and I want to welcome those who are part of the class that are watching from hither and yon around the planet. If you're visiting, we are studying the first lesson in the new quarterly dealing with the subject of Jeremiah. And I'm very excited about this lesson. You know, periodically, someone will come up to me and they'll ask if I will sign or autograph a book. And they say, can you put in your favorite text? And my favorite text comes from the book of Jeremiah.

It's, in particular, Jeremiah 29:13, which is "you will seek me and find me, when you search for me with all your heart." And sometimes I'll actually include verses 11 through 13. There are many beautiful promises in the book of Jeremiah. Another great one you can find in Jeremiah 9:23 and it says, "thus says the Lord: 'let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindess, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,' says the Lord." That was really the message of Jesus: 'this is eternal life, that you might know me.' Now I say that because, when some people talk about Jeremiah he's referred to as 'the crying' or 'the wailing' prophet because so much of his ministry he was in mourning about the condition - the Spiritual condition of Israel, which was very difficult. He lived through one of the most devastating destructions that took place in the land of Israel.

Now the name Jeremiah means 'the Lord; exaltation of the Lord' - when you say 'ah' - like jeremi-ah - 'ah' in the Bible - elij-ah - usually is a derivative of the name yahweh and so that's what that means. The name of his book, in the latin vulgate of the Bible, it's called the prophecy of Jeremiah. In the syriac - or arabic versions, it's called the prophecy of the prophet Jeremiah. He was born - we're just giving you some background here - Jeremiah was born about 643 b.c. And the Bible's a little vague about the time of his birth, but as near as we can tell he began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of josiah's reign, or about b.

c. He was still what - biblically they called it a young man, if you started before you were thirty. He began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of josiah's reign. The duration of his prophecy was probably more than forty years. He prophesied during the reign of the span of Kings josiah, jehoahaz, jehoiachim, jehoiachin, and zedekiah.

And then, of course, during some of the captivity of the time of Nebuchadnezzar. His life overlaps the life of Daniel. Daniel was a young man during the time when Jeremiah was prophecy - prophesying - and his life overlaps the life of Ezekiel. We do not know exactly how Jeremiah died or exactly what the age was. After he goes off into Egypt near the end of his life, there's no final reckoning or account.

All we have is speculation about what may have happened. Almost nobody questions whether Jeremiah is the author of the book Jeremiah. Some people question whether he wrote the very last verses. Matter of fact, I might go there real quick. If you have your Bibles, turn to the book of Jeremiah.

Go to chapter 52. Jeremiah is one of the four major prophets in the old testament, that being Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Now some have argued that Daniel should be listed among the minor prophets because Daniel's got twelve chapters and Zechariah's got fourteen chapters, but Daniel's chapters are longer. Daniel is probably one of the major prophets. There are twelve minor prophets.

Jeremiah is unique among the major prophets of the old testament because he wrote two books. He wrote Jeremiah and then he also wrote the book of Lamentations. But if you go to Jeremiah chapter 52, there's something interesting here. You can read in verse 31, "and it came to pass in the thirty-seventh year of the captivity of jehoiachin king of judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-fifth day of the month, that evil-merodach king of Babylon," - now this is thirty-seven years after Jerusalem was destroyed. Jeremiah would have been ninety-five years of age at this point, if he wrote this part of the book.

But this part of Jeremiah also appears in 2 Kings, almost word for word, and many have believed that it's really an appendix - an epilogue that they took to just show the fulfillment of one of Jeremiah's final prophecies after the death of Nebuchadnezzar and it's put there for example. Who wrote the book of Deuteronomy? Moses. Moses. Did Moses write the part of the book of Deuteronomy where it says, 'and the Lord buried Moses and there was no prophet like Moses'? No. Or probably Joshua or somebody wrote that little epilogue at the end, right? And so he wrote the entire book - Jeremiah wrote all of Jeremiah, but he may not have written, of course, this - from verse 31 on.

Like I said, he would have been ninety-five. He was in Egypt and so it was just not likely, but almost no scholar questions that he's the author. Matter of fact, in the old testament, other old testament writers refer to Jeremiah as a prophet. In the new testament, Jesus calls him 'the prophet Jeremiah.' Well, that would be a pretty good endorsement, don't you think? As well as the other apostles, in their writings, they referenced the writings of Jeremiah and so Jeremiah is one of the best endorsed prophets of Scripture. One reason is he lived to see many of his prophecies come true.

They overlap with historical events that we can prove and we know from the dead sea scrolls that the things that Jeremiah wrote were written before they happened and then you can live to see the fulfillment of those things. And so, great prophet of the Bible. Something else interesting about Jeremiah is that he ends his life in Egypt. He sort of is the reverse of what happened in the Exodus. Because they turned to the Lord, there was this great Exodus.

They were brought from the slavery into the promised land. Jeremiah lived during a time when they turned from the Lord. They're conquered and then the remnant goes back to Egypt - the very place God told them not to go. And so, it's just a very interesting - and the other thing is Jeremiah was probably one of only a handful of people that took to the grave the secret of where the ark of the covenant was hidden. Now everybody says they know where the ark is, but you - nobody's produced it, right? The ark is probably still hidden.

Jeremiah, knowing that Jerusalem and the temple were going to be destroyed - you can read about this in the book prophets and Kings - he and some of the faithful priests hid the ark in one of the many caves that honeycomb the city of Jerusalem. The ark was a big golden box. They couldn't take it very far. Jerusalem was surrounded by Nebuchadnezzar and his army and they didn't want their most sacred objects - not the ark, but the Ten Commandments inside - to fall into enemy hands or be destroyed. It had fallen into enemy hands once during the time of Samuel when the philistines captured the ark.

They were not going to let that happen again and so it was hidden. And they somehow covered - hid - sealed the cave - the tomb where they put it and it has never been found. There could be one reason that gedeliah and the others, when they took Jeremiah, they almost took him forcibly to Egypt. He didn't really want to go - it could be because they knew he was one of the only living people that still held this secret. To our knowledge, that secret has never been written anywhere or if - the map has not been found and the ark is still hidden.

But Jeremiah likely knew where the ark of the covenant was hidden. He sometimes is referred to as 'the crying prophet' - 'the lamenting prophet' because he - well, he wrote the book of Lamentations, but he lived during a time of great apostasy but, in spite of that, his book is also filled with encouragement and hope. A lot of very positive things happened during his time. Some of the great promises in the Bible are in the book of Jeremiah. We're going to talk about some of the prophecies and we'll get to Jeremiah 1 in just a moment.

Jeremiah 7, verse 5, "for if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor, if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other Gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever." You'll see - and this is under the heading of the prophets - that the prophets had a message and their message was usually one of revival. I remember pastor Joe Crews who, of course, was the founder of Amazing Facts - he said that any good sermon should say something about sin and salvation because the message of the Bible is there's a problem but God has the answer. Every day in our lives we deal with temptation, struggle, victory - the story of the Gospel is the story of sin and salvation and the message of the prophets was 'God has a law but we've broken his law, but if you turn and repent, through God's power, of your sins, turn to God, receive his righteousness, you will be blessed. If you rebel, you're going to have problems,' which is probably a good place to read Ezekiel 18:23 - we'll do that now. "'Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?' Says the Lord God, 'and not that he should turn from his ways and live?'" Yes, and then, of course, he goes on and says, 'turn ye, turn ye, why will you die?' So the message of the prophets, though sometimes strong, was a message of mercy.

If you're warning a person to avoid a road where the bridge is out on a rainy night, you might be accused of being negative, but you're doing it to save their lives. And so, the prophets were often given messages of warning and sometimes at great risk. I'll, for instance, read Isaiah 1 - another one of the major prophets - now we're reading Ezekiel, a major prophet; Jeremiah, a major prophet; Isaiah, major prophet - he says in Isaiah 1:19, "'if you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword'; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." Not only does Jeremiah foretell the great judgment when the city would be destroyed, Jerusalem would be burnt, the greatest temple that's ever been built - the temple of Solomon - would be destroyed, but he also told them if they turned, they'd live. Isaiah also prophesied that. It says, 'if you refuse and rebel.

You'll be devoured. If you're willing, you'll eat the good of the land.' This was the message of Jeremiah. He said, 'you'll dwell in the land forever and ever if you repent.' Now, was that just the children of Israel dwelling in the promised land, or does that message apply to Christians in our day? Is there a land that we want to dwell in? Yeah, it's the promised land still and we want to dwell in that land. And so, these messages apply to us today. It's talking about the eternal blessing that God has.

You can read, for instance, in Matthew - now this is another prophet. Was John the baptist a prophet? Matthew chapter 3, verse 7, "but when he saw many of the pharisees and sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, 'brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, 'we have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." I just want to pause and remind you of something: in the vision that Daniel had about the tree, the tree is cut down, but the root is left in the ground so that it would come back. John the baptist was preaching a message saying, 'next time judgment comes, the tree is going to go, root and branch.

' The nation would be uprooted. And so he had a very difficult message to preach and it wasn't popular. If it's not bearing the right kind of fruit, it is cut down and thrown in the fire. He goes on to say, 'I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than i, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

" Who is he talking about? Jesus. So these messages - these prophets - often had tough messages. Now, what happened to Isaiah because of his prophecy? He was sawn in two by king manasseh. What happened to Jeremiah because of his difficult prophecies? He was put in prison - more than once, put in a cistern, threatened with death, persecuted. What happened to micaiah the prophet? When he gave a difficult prophesy? Ahab had him put in prison and said, 'feed him with the bread of affliction and the water of affliction until I return again in peace.

' And ahab never did come back. Matter of fact, Micah said, 'if you return in peace, God has not spoken from me.' Prophets were asked to give unpopular messages and sometimes they physically suffered for the message, but they needed to be brave and bold to give it. What happened to John the baptist because of his message? Preaching the truth is not popular and God needs people who will be faithful to proclaim the truth whether it's popular or not. Jeremiah was one of those people. Look at verse - or chapter 11, verse 2 - Jeremiah 11, verse 2 - and meanwhile, somebody's going to read Jeremiah 1:1.

Who has that verse? Over here. We'll get you next, okay? Alright, Jeremiah 11, verse 2, "'hear the words of this covenant, and speak to the men of judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and say to them, 'thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'cursed is the man who does not obey the words of this covenant which I commanded your fathers in the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt,'''" - you mean even Jeremiah, hundreds of years after they came out of Egypt, is still saying they needed to obey that covenant - about eight hundred years after they came out, the covenant was still there and he said there's a curse on those who do not obey - when "'''...i brought them out of the land of Egypt, from the iron furnace, saying, 'obey my voice, and do according to all that I command you; so shall you be my people, and I will be your God.' That I may establish the oath which I have sworn to your fathers, to give them 'a land flowing with milk and honey,' as it is this day.' And I answered and said, 'so be it, Lord.' Then the Lord said to me, 'proclaim all these words in the cities of judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, saying: 'hear the words of this covenant and do them.'" Now, the reason that Jeremiah - his prophecy is focusing on Jerusalem and judah, is because Jeremiah lived when it was still fresh in their memories that the ten tribes had been carried away because of their disobedience. And so, all you've got left now are the people of judah - the priests - and Benjamin. And so, the message of Jeremiah was principally to what we would call the southern kingdom, because the northern kingdom, because of their disobedience and idolatry, had been carried off by the assyrians. Alright, and so sometimes these messages of prophets were difficult, but you find all of them are talking about 'God has made a covenant with you, believe the word of the Lord.

Obey the covenant, you'll be blessed. You disobey, there's going to be consequences. Prophets often talk about - I remember, you know, Karen, she always liked using the word consequences even when the kids were very little. And I thought, 'do they even know what consequences mean?' They figured it out pretty quick. Yeah, they - it didn't take long before they learned a word with four or five syllables.

Four syllables, yeah. I had to think about that. Alright, let's read - now we're in section 2 - Jeremiah's family background - let's get a little more background on him. Someone's going to read Jeremiah 1:1. "The words of Jeremiah The Son of hilkiah, of the priests who were in anothoth in the land of Benjamin," - alright, there was a town just north of Jerusalem called anathoth and it was - it was in the land of Benjamin.

Benjamin and judah bordered each other - it wasn't that far from Jerusalem. Let me give you a little more background on this: when Joshua brings them into the promised land and the land is being divided among the twelve tribes - you can read in Joshua 21:17, "and from the tribe of Benjamin, gibeon with its common-land, geba with its common-land, anathoth with its common-land, and almon with its common-land: four cities. All the cities for the children of aaron, the priests, were, thirteen cities with their common-lands." So what the Lord did, when he put the children of Israel in the promised land, as they divided up the land among the twelve tribes - how many tribes were there? Thirteen, really. I know that's confusing. Jacob had how many sons? Who? Jacob - twelve sons, right? One daughter we know of, dinah.

But what happened is, when Joseph was sold by his brothers - Jacob, one of his dying commands was - because I've been separated by this beloved son, I am going to give each of your sons ephraim and manasseh an inheritance equal to their brothers. Well that changed the number to thirteen. But when they entered the promised land, they divided it twelve ways. Why? Because levi did not get an inheritance. The Sons of aaron and the levites, because they were to scatter among the twelve tribes, to minister as priests to teach the law, they were all given portions among the twelve tribes.

They were the priestly cities, and some cities were for the levites and some for the descendants of aaron. The levites all could help in the temple, but only The Sons and descendants of aaron could serve as priests. There were differences between the levites and the priests, just like there might be between a deacon and an elder, you see what I'm saying? Priests were kind of like the elders, they were the pastors. And so anathoth was one of these priestly cities. This is where Jeremiah came from.

They were just building a case here that he was of the priesthood. He was acquainted with the word of the Lord. He had access to these sacred teachings. If you look in 1 Kings, for instance, verse 25 - I want to give you a little story - what family Jeremiah was from. He descended from the family of abiathar the priest.

Abiathar started out good, as a priest - most of his life was very good. He kind of made one major blunder near the end of his life. You'll remember that when Saul was king, one of the terrible things that Saul did, he felt that the priests were on the side of David and so Saul had all of the priests killed - the descendants of eli's family - one of them escaped with the ephod from the temple and ran to David for protection. His name was abiathar. Abiathar was with David through all of his running from Saul, through all of his trials.

Finally, when David was installed as king, abiathar became the high priest and he served with David for forty years. Had a long life. He even outlived David. But the problem was, when David was getting old and he was going to die, David said, 'I want Solomon to be king.' Abiathar joined a rebellion of adonijah, along with joab. So that rebellion died, adonijah was slain, joab was slain, but king Solomon said to abiathar - and I can read it to you here in Kings chapter 2, verse 26, "and to abiathar the priest the king (Solomon) said, 'go to anathoth, to your own fields, for you are deserving of death; but I will not put you to death at this time, because you carried the ark of the Lord God before my father David, and because you were afflicted every time my father was afflicted.

'" Jeremiah, now is a descendant of this line of aaron. You realize there were seven different streams of aaron that you get a family tree that grows as time goes by. Do you know that John the baptist's mother - it says that elizabeth was of the daughters of aaron. So John the baptist also had this priestly line in him as well. And you can read in the book Prophets and Kings, "a member of the levitical priesthood, Jeremiah had been trained from childhood for holy service.

In those happy years of preparation, he little realized that he had been ordained from birth to be a prophet under the nations and when the divine call came, he was overwhelmed with a sense of his unworthiness. 'Ah, Lord God,' he exclaimed, 'I cannot speak, I am a child.'" Now we're getting ahead of ourselves, but we're going to read that next. So he came from the prophetic line - unfortunately, abiathar wasn't always a faithful priest. Jeremiah descended from hilkiah, who also was not always faithful. He was during the time of josiah, but not afterward.

And some of the priests kind of went back and forth, depending on who was the King. Eli was a good priest, but he wasn't very good in the way he trained his sons and so that's the kind of background. So Jeremiah could have gone either way. Now it talks here, under the next section, about the prophetic call of Jeremiah. Someone is going to read for me, in just a moment, Luke 1:15 - who has that? Back there? Okay, just get you located.

Alright, I'm going to read Jeremiah 1 through 5 and this is the call of Jeremiah: "the words of Jeremiah The Son of hilkiah, of the priests who were in anathoth in the land of Benjamin, to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of josiah The Son of amon, king of judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign." - Now I want to pause right here. Josiah - good king/bad king? Which was it? Good king. Not just sort of good, very good. In fact, there's really nothing that can be found wrong with josiah - the only thing was he kind of went into battle at the end - got killed fighting against the Egyptians and he probably shouldn't have gone into that battle but he was not wanting Egypt to start getting a foothold in Israel. He - it says, matter of fact, from a little child he began to serve - I think it was seven years of age.

There were two Kings that started serving very young - well three - manasseh, then you've got josiah, then you've got joash. Josiah was faithful all through his life. Joash later apostasized - started good but went bad. Josiah was faithful the whole time - restored the worship of God, restored the temple of God, restored the passover, brought about a revival, tore up the idols, dug up the graves of the false priests, burnt their bones - I mean, he just really had a zeal for purifying the land. He not only purified judah and Jerusalem, after ten of the tribes were carried off he went up into the north and he did some purifying there as well.

I mean he just was very zealous for a return to the true God. He's the one that cried, you know, when they read the book that they had found in the temple of the Lord. He was a good priest - a good king, rather. So Jeremiah begins to prophesy during the time "...of josiah, The Son of amon, king of judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. It came also in the days of jehoiakim The Son of josiah, king of judah, until the end of the eleventh year of zedekiah The Son of josiah, king of judah, until the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month.

Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying: 'before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.'" What is that teaching, predestination? Or does that mean that God's got a plan for everybody and when he called Jeremiah, Jeremiah chose to listen to that plan? Are there examples in the Bible of people that were initially called and then turned away from their call? Was Saul chosen to be a king? King Saul? Who chose him? God. Was he given the Holy Spirit? Did he even prophesy? But then did he nurture a proud heart and eventually turn away? Was balaam initially a prophet of God? But he, consumed with covetousness, eventually sold his soul, as did Judas. When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles preaching, teaching, casting out devils, was Judas one of the twelve that went out doing that? Did he ever feel his heart burn within him as he heard Jesus preach? Did he ever feel the stirrings of the Spirit and go out and preach and enjoy seeing people turn from their sins? Probably, but he was struggling with a secret sin he would never release and he self-destructed. So Jeremiah was called - he had a calling. By the way, you've got a calling.

God has a plan for your life and he will mobilize and activate that plan as you surrender to his call on your life. He may not tell you, right away, what it is. Jeremiah - how old was he when he was called? Well, we don't know. Near as we can tell, you begin to serve as a priest at 30. He felt he was too young.

He was not quite 30 yet. King Solomon, when he began to rule - notice that Solomon also said, 'I am just a child. I don't know how to go out or come in.' Solomon was also somewhere between twenty-five and thirty. You weren't really considered a man until you were thirty. Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was thirty.

You couldn't serve as a priest until you were thirty. David began to reign when he was thirty. Joseph went out over all of Egypt when he was thirty. Up until then you sort of felt like you were still learning. You could go to war at twenty years of age, but you could not serve as a priest.

So Jeremiah was somewhere between twenty-two and thirty years of age when he got this call and he surrendered it. 'Before I formed you in the womb.' Alright, let's talk about someone else who got a call. Who's got Luke 1:15? Back here. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

" Well that sounds something like what God said to Jeremiah, 'before I formed you in the womb I knew you.' Does God know all things? All knowledge - every detail of our lives. And John the baptist also, from his mother's womb he was formed - he was called. You can read Isaiah 44, verses 1 and 2. It says, "yet hear now, o Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus says the Lord who made you and formed you from the womb, who will help you: 'fear not, o Jacob my servant; and you, jeshurun, whom I have chosen.

'" - That's just another way of talking about Jacob. When did God declare that Jacob, the younger, would rule over esau, the older? Do you remember when rebekkah was pregnant - while they were still in the womb - she felt them having - kicking inside - and it looked like they weren't just kicking her, they were kicking each other. And the Lord said, 'you've got two nations inside your womb.' Boy, talk about indigestion. (Laughter) having two nations at war inside - to go through nine months of that and - but the angels said, before they were even born, that the older would serve the younger. And so, even from the womb, Jacob, which ended up being the nation of Israel, was called.

And so God is saying to Jeremiah, and he says to Isaiah, and he says to us, and John the baptist, that 'I have a plan for your life even from the very beginning and I've called you.' And if you surrender to that plan - you know, there are some people, they resist God's plan for them for years. Did Jonah run from God? It may not have been the first time when you read about it. Someone is going to read for me Isaiah 6:5. Who has that verse? Right up front here? In just a moment we'll get to you. I'm going to start out by reading Jeremiah 1, verse 6.

We read verses 1 through 5. It says in verse 6, "then said i: 'ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.'" Not too often does a person write an emotion. But you realize, when you say 'ah' it almost - what does that mean? 'Ah' - doesn't that mean the same thing in every language? Or when you right the word 'oh' - when God says, 'oh, that there was such a heart in them that they would fear me and keep my commandments.' Almost comes from the word - God so loved the world. It's almost like you've got a word with an emotion built in. He says, 'ah, Lord God! I'm just a child.

I'm a youth. I can't speak. I'm not eloquent. I live in this, you know - it says anathoth and its pasture-lands. Did you catch that earlier? It was a farm town where the priests would grow their vittles.

What did Moses say when he was called? And this is Exodus 4, verse 10, Moses said, 'oh, Lord my God, I am not eloquent.' You can just hear the anguish. 'I am not eloquent, neither in the past nor since you've spoken to your servant; but I'm slow of speech and of tongue.' See, Moses struggled a little bit because he lived the first four or five years with his mother hearing Hebrew. Then he got dumped in the palaces and now he's got to learn Egyptian so his Hebrew's not great and his Egyptian is now muddled because, during those formative lingual years, he's been learning Hebrew and he never claimed to be eloquent. Now God said - now he hasn't spoken Egyptian in forty years. You know, you start to lose it.

He's been speaking the language of midian - some aramaic - and now he's got to go back and talk to the pharaoh. He says, 'I can't speak that tongue anymore.' Did he feel worthy? the Lord said to him, 'who has made man's mouth? Who makes the mute or the deaf, the seeing or the blind? Is it not i, the Lord?' Did something happen with the apostles when the Holy Spirit came on them where they suddenly - fishermen became very eloquent? Can God give you the words to speak? Did Jesus say, at one point, 'when you're brought before Kings and rulers for my name's sake, take no thought what you'll say for it's not you that speaks, but I will speak through you'? I have to claim that promise when I get up to preach. You're going to read for us Isaiah 6:5 - who has that? Right here. "So I said: 'woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'" And so this happens also to Isaiah when he gets his call, he says, 'oh, woe is me! I can't do this. I'm a' - pardon me - 'I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.

' So what did God do for Isaiah to help deal with the unclean lip problem? An angel is sent with a coal from the altar and places it where? On his lips. And he empowers him to preach. You find several times, those who are called by the Lord, they don't feel like they're worthy. In Luke chapter 5, when Jesus is calling the apostles and he's saying, 'follow me and I'll make you fishers of men.' He fills Peter's boat with fish and when they see this miracle - you can see in verse 8, when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees and he said, 'depart from me Lord, for I'm a sinful man.' 'I can't do this.' And what does Jesus say? 'Don't be afraid, follow me and I'll make you a fisher of men.' And so you can almost always see that when these people are called to these great callings, they feel like they're unworthy. That's a good thing.

Amen. Arrogance in ministry is a bad combination. I heard about a proud young preacher that got up to speak one day and he was just so sure that he was going to knock the ball out of the park with his sermon, he got up there just very cocky and tried to preach and just realized that without the Spirit of God - ugh - he was firing blanks. He just wasn't getting through and after he mumbled through and muttered through his sermon, he lost his place in his notes and he kind of bowed his head and he came back down. And at the door, one of the old timers in the church said, 'young man, if you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up.

' If you want to have a successful ministry, one of the good things is to not be doing it trusting in yourself, but to have a spirit of humility in that. So you'll notice that all these great prophets are saying, 'I am not able to do it.' It's a good thing that we have that promise of Jesus, 'I am with you unto the end of the world.' Amen? Amen. Alright, let's go into the almond branch. This is one of the prophecies of Jeremiah you find in chapter 1 - Jeremiah 1 verses 11 through 19 - I'm just going to read through this. Jeremiah 1:11 - 19, "moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Jeremiah, what do you see?' And I said, 'I see a branch of an almond tree.

' Then the Lord said to me, 'you have seen well, for I am ready to perform my word.'...do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. For behold, I have made you this day'" - notice the promise he makes to Jeremiah. You've got some tough things to say, but don't be afraid. I am making you - "'a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land - against the Kings of judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land.'" - In other words, you don't have to be afraid. I'm going to give you strength and resilience.

And you know what? Jeremiah, against all the persecution - forty years of preaching an unpopular message - he survived the Kings, the priests, the false prophets around him that kept predicting his doom - they all perished. When Nebuchadnezzar came and the city was destroyed and the temple, they took Jeremiah out of the prison and king Nebuchadnezzar said, 'I heard that you told them to surrender and live. Because - and your prophecies have all come true, you are free to go. Here's a credit card' - he basically gave Jeremiah a budget - he said, 'you can go wherever you want.' And all those who were giving Jeremiah a hard time and persecuting him, they were all judged by the King. That's the scenario for you and me.

Here in this life, the devil may give you a hard time but if you stand up for Jesus, when the King comes, you will be rewarded and they will be punished. What happened to Jeremiah will also be the lot of those that serve the Lord faithfully. Ezekiel 2, verse 6, "and you, son of man, do not be afraid of them nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you dwell among scorpions; do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house." Have you ever had to walk through briers and thorns? You have to just pick your way through very carefully so that you're not injured. That's what he's saying to Ezekiel. You might look like you're hedged in with briers and thorns on every hand, surrounded by scorpions - don't be afraid.

You ever camp where you know there's scorpions? You've got to check your shoes in the morning? He's telling Ezekiel, "do not be afraid of their words or dismayed by their looks, though they are a rebellious house. You shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or whether they refuse, for they are rebellious." I know one pastor said, 'I'm afraid to make altar calls at the end of my sermons because what if nobody comes up?' And the old evangelist told him, don't be afraid. That's not your problem. You invite people to come. You preach about sin and salvation and then whether they come or not, your soul is clear.

You are to give the word of the Lord. If they respond, great. If they don't, that's between them and God. Can you imagine how bad Noah felt? Talk about a difficult altar call. (Laughter) I mean, there he stands at the door of the ark before it shuts - preach for a hundred and twenty years, make an appeal, and no one comes but your family.

But he did what God told him to do, right? And so that's what God says to his prophets, 'you preach. You leave the results with me. Don't worry. If they don't listen, they don't listen.' And so - and then, you know, the other thing that you want to notice about this is God wants his prophets to be bold. Someone's going to read for me acts 4:31.

Who has that verse? Alright, we'll get to you in just a moment - acts 4:31. He was asking Jeremiah to be a bold prophet - to not be afraid. You know, when Jesus preached, was he timid or was he bold? You can read in John 7:26, "but look! He speaks boldly and they say nothing to him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?" Jesus preached with boldness and, those that follow him, we must have that same kind of courage. Acts 4:13 - how did they know that they were followers of Jesus? It says, "now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

" Jesus said some very unpopular - was John the baptist bold? Yes. 'The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are' - do you know the rest of that? - 'As bold as a lion.' Acts 4:29 - listen to what they pray about, "and now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word." They're praying for what? Preach the word for boldness. Don't we need more of that holy boldness today? Amen. Alright, go ahead, read for us acts 4:31. "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the holy ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness.

" So what does God want to do with us when he fills us with the holy ghost? They spoke the word with what? Boldness. The Holy Spirit will give you boldness and that's what these prophets had. Would we all agree prophets had the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit gave them courage to say what needed to be said for God even though it wasn't popular. God needs to give us this holy audacity to say things that may not be politically correct, they may not be well received, but it's the Word of God. Hebrews 4:16, "let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy," - not only do we preach boldly - what did Paul say we do with the armor of God? "Praying" - and this is Ephesians 6:18 - "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints - and for me," - now what does Paul want the church to pray for? - "And for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

" You know what you pray for? What you are tempted not to have. And for Christians, we are tempted to be timid about our faith. That's why we need to pray that God'll give us this boldness and Jeremiah is a great example in the Bible of somebody who lived during a very difficult time, but he stood up for the Lord. Some of the most beautiful verses in the Bible, you're going to find in the fifty-two chapters of Jeremiah, and so we're looking forward to studying this together as we proceed. We do want to remind you the gift offer, for those that maybe missed it at the beginning.

For anyone who would like a copy, we'll send the book the two witnesses. It talks about the Word of God and the inspiration of God's Word and just ask for offer #195 when you call - 866-788-3966 and, not only that, you can just - that's one - I'm sorry, that's 866-study-more. You can also read it online for free. Simply go to amazingfacts.org and you can find the book the two witnesses. Thank you for studying with us, friends.

God willing, we'll study his word together again next week. My greatest wish is that my children will see me the way I see my - my own father. He - he's a very devoted man and that kind of framed my childhood going forward from there, where I was always involved in church work and I had a very rich experience with the Lord at a young age - all the way up through college. And after I got married I got in a company called comcast and I spent the past, roughly, eight and a half years - nine years - at comcast and I was actually watching television with my son and a comcast commercial came on the air and he said, 'oh, daddy, that's comcast. That's where you work daddy.

' And most fathers would be proud of something like that, but it really struck me that, you know, my son's getting older and he does not see me as a servant of the Lord. He sees me as a servant of my company and I knew that I would have to make some changes because I wanted him to know me as a man of God. I never thought I would be a preacher or anything like that, but I knew that there was room in the work for me and for my talents and I wanted my son to see me operating in the work. That's when I knew that my time there was coming to an end. I was sitting in my office one day and I was kneeling in prayer and I said, 'God, you know, show me what you want me to do because this seems like a big move here and, you know, everyone's thinking I'm crazy and I don't know exactly how, you know, things are going to go if they don't go well.

' Crazy thought when you're thinking about God. And I lifted my head up in prayer and there were just like a flock of oh, maybe three hundred birds that were just flying and they were swooping down over the water and they would fly back up and then they would chase each other around and, you know, I was just looking at the pattern of the giant flock and the promise of the Lord came to me where he says that, you know, he takes care of the sparrows and you don't see them worrying about how they are going to be taken care of from day to day. You know, they don't, you know, wring their hands wondering, you know, will there be any worms to eat tomorrow. And that promise really stood out to me and he said, 'how much more do I love you?' You know, I'm not going to send you on a mission to do my work and leave you high and dry, because you claim to be my child, you claim to be my son, and everyone knows that.' That assurance allows me to know that whatever happens here, whatever happens after here, we're sons of God and there are certain things that we shouldn't worry about. From the day we arrived at afcoe, it's been obvious that God has blessed the Amazing Facts ministry, the afcoe program, and I will be using my afcoe experience, no matter where I go, to reach people, because the personal touch of face-to-face evangelism, speaking and sharing the word of God out of your own mouth, there's no replacement for that and Amazing Facts has been very instrumental in helping me find the area of the work of God and showing me how large and how broad it is.

It's been a tremendous blessing to be in a place where we're around people seeking to do God's will and listening for his voice in their life and that's very, very important today. Together we have spread the Gospel much farther than ever before. Thank you for your support. Someone once said, 'pick your heroes very carefully or you might become like them. Sadly, most people today in the world admire the wrong class of heroes - strong athletes, talented actors or singers whose personal lives are often exposed for violence, drugs, or immorality.

This is not new. The world typically chooses the wrong heroes. Remember, the people chose Barabbas instead of Jesus. Well, if you're ready to meet a new batch of positive role models, I'd like to invite you to participate in an inspiring new series of meetings that will be broadcast live from Lansing, Michigan, October 2nd. It's called Heroes of Faith.

This new evangelism series is for the whole family and it'll highlight some of the real heroes of history from the Bible. Plan now to attend with your friends and family as we learn from the past how we can be heroes of faith today. To find out more or register your home or church, go to theheroesoffaith.com and become a hero by bringing a soul to Christ.

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