Who is qualified to serve the Lord? In 2 Cor 2:16, speaking about being the aromatic reminder of life to believers and the aromatic reminder of death and judgment to unbelievers, Paul asks the question, “Who is adequate for these things?” Would anyone here have a problem simply declaring that you felt unworthy of the task? Certainly I wouldn’t.
Our God is a holy God, and righteous. He is perfect in all of his ways. His power is beyond knowing and his wisdom extends beyond our capacity to follow. The universe in all of it’s mighty expanse, Isaiah reveals to us would fit in his hand (Isaiah 40:12). Yet he is at the same time always near in his presence. There is no person hidden from his sight. There is no thought unknown to Him and there is no whispered word which his ears fail to hear. He is the one, who in his glory has the rightful power to judge and who has by his own name and holiness promised to do so.
Now then, who among us is worthy of the task? Is there anyone qualified to serve the Lord? What about you? If today God were to call you into his service how would you respond? Would you jump up and run to the front of the room declaring his call? Would you rationalize and argue saying that you are not trained, or you’re too old… or to young? Would you say, “I’ve already done my bit, let the next generation do it?”
Please open your Bibles to the prophet Jeremiah in the first chapter. Where we will read
Jeremiah is the son of a priest. He was no doubt preparing himself to be a priest but God was about to interrupt his life forever and call him as a prophet. The call is disconcerting enough. Jeremiah went from a destiny of predictable ministry to a completely unpredictable and out of his control ministry.
The historical setting is just as important as any. “Jeremiah was born during the reign of King Manasseh, the most evil man who ever reigned over the kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 21:1–18).”1 Manasseh the evil gave way to his son Amon who continued all of his father’s evil ways. But when Amon was assassinated Josiah ultimately became king in 639 BC at the tender age of eight ( 2 Kings 22:11). In the twelfth year of his reign Josiah began purging the land of Idolatry. but it wasn’t until the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign that he ordered the rebuilding of the temple and the long lost Bible was found (2 Kings 22:3). So at the point of Jeremiah’s call there really isn’t’ much good going on in Israel. At their heart, God’s chosen people remain ignorant of God’s word, God’s ways and of God in general. More than ignorant they were often hostile to God as well as to his messengers. That’s the situation in which God called Jeremiah to be a prophet during the thirteenth year of Josiah’s reign.
Starting in the fifth verse (Jer 1:5) God places his call on Jeremiah to serve him. This is the call that creates my main question this morning. God calls Jeremiah based on the fact that he has made Jeremiah. It’s not because Jeremiah is worthy but because God knew him and formed him. Look at the requirements that prefaced Jeremiah’s call:
1. I knew you
The call of Jeremiah is based first and foremost on the foreknowledge of God. When God says here “I knew you…” He’s not talking about mere mental assent. This word is used of intimate relationships. God knew Jeremiah intimately. More than knowing his name, he knew everything about him. God had divinely appointed Jeremiah before he had even been conceived. And that appointment first and foremost is based on the fact that God knew Jeremiah.
2. Before I formed you
I think the major focus is on the chronology of course but don’t miss that God is the one who made Jeremiah, just as God is the one who made you. If that’s the case than God’s choice of Jeremiah is no mistake – and neither is his choosing of you.
3. I consecrated you
Very briefly to be consecrated means to be set apart for God’s service. God has also consecrated you. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.
The fact of Jeremiah’s call is enough to establish it. Our father doesn’t make mistakes. He doesn’t mess up. He called Jeremiah and that should be enough. But that young man wasn’t sure he wanted to privileged Look at verse 6 (Jer 1:6).
Jeremiah’s objection was sincere. He evidently felt unworthy or in the least incapable because of his age. We might know Jeremiah’s concern. But what about you? What is your excuse for not serving God?
I can only think of four options
1. You’ve never thought of it
Or you don’t think God wants you to do anything. If you’ve never thought about what you can or should do to serve the Lord, perhaps you should ask him. There is a ministry for everyone. God has gifted every believer with skills for one purpose: To be of use to other believers to build them up and strengthen the church. That’s the meaning of 1 Peter 4:10,
“As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
2. You want to serve God but don’t know how or what to do. . That’s something I can help you with. First it means you start by asking God himself. Second come and talk to me or to someone else. God has given you the ability to serve him. If you seek it, you’ll find it.
3. God has instructed you to do something but re in rebellion/ disobedience. This is the worst case scenario. If you refuse there will be judgement. Jonah refused to obey and was severely punished, nearly to death if you will, before he repented. Don’t be a Jonah.
4. Like Jeremiah you might think you’re not capable or worthy. In which Case what God has to say next is the answer. Jeremiah was indeed sincere. He was young, probably somewhere between thirteen to seventeen years old when God called him. And when he voiced his concerns, God comforted him.
Look at Jer 1:7.
God turns off Jeremiah’s excuse because age is irrelevant. It’s not an issue of being 12 or 92 years old. It’s an issue of God’s command to go. Don’t use the “I’m too old” or “I’m too young” excuse with God. That’s not a valid reason. In fact everything pales in the face of God’s call and God’s command.
As God commissions Jeremiah he gives him four answers meant to bring comfort to his concerns.
1. Jeremiah was acting under God’s authority.
Inexperience is irrelevant. Jeremiah would go when and where and to whom God told him. Jeremiah is a servant of God – not people. Certainly serving God means serving people but it doesn’t mean you look to people for their approval. If God is your Lord, than you look to him for approval as you obey him in serving people. That should bring the question: Is God pleased with you now?
2. (verse 8) God stresses that he will protect the prophet.
Don’t be afraid he says, because I’m with you. It was impossible for Jeremiah to die while he still had God’s work to do. Murderers and thugs, accidents and sickness cannot circumvent God’s plans for you. Within reason we understand that everyone dies.
3. (verse 9-10) God himself would provide the message for Jeremiah. He didn’t have to somehow figure out what to say, or force it – God himself reached out his hand in a vision and touched Jeremiah’s mouth.
4. (Verse 10) Jeremiah, in the midst of any troubles could look back to this moment with certitude that God had called him.
Many times I have encouraged people to be certain and aware of their own calling. Do you know when you were saved? That’s the first place to consider. Some of you can answer that question with a time and a date even down to the minute. Some of us can only answer that with a vague date but a certain memory of coming to the Lord. But if you don’t know that you have come to Christ for salvation – this is the day to do it. Then write it down in your Bible.
The Lord is indeed calling you. The question is, will you answer.