God called Jeremiah to be His prophet while Jeremiah was still a young man. God’s words are recorded by Jeremiah in the first chapter of a book which bears his name. “Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 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” (1:4, 5). Jeremiah responded that he was too young and could not speak well. God tells Jeremiah not to say that, “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 (v. 7). It was important that Jeremiah be sure of his calling because his mission was fraught with peril and discouragement.
He preached 40 years during the last five kings of Judah, warning the kingdom that their end was near if they did not repent and do right. His message was largely dismissed. Even after the fall of the nation and the captivity by Babylon, Jeremiah preached. His message had changed. He advised the people to quite resisting. Since they were going to be in captivity for 70 years, they should be submissive to their captors and humble themselves to the plan of God, but they would not. Jeremiah’s message was scorned as God had predicted. Jeremiah faced much ridicule and danger.
Of particular interest to the theme of this paper is an incident from Chapter 32. King Zedekiah imprisoned Jeremiah because he was prophesying against the city and against the king. While in prison, a relative of Jeremiah came and offered to sell him a piece of land. Jeremiah bought the land, sealed the title in a clay jar, and asked his cousin to put it away for many days. After Jeremiah completed the transaction he gave praise and honor to the great and mighty God. His elation midst the bleakness of his surroundings is evident in 32:17, 18 as he declares, “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: . . .the Great, the Mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is his name, . . .”
After obedience and praise, Jeremiah expresses puzzlement about the order of the Lord, ”And thou hast said unto me, O Lord God, Buy thee the field for money, and take witnesses; for the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans (v. 25). God took no offence at Jeremiah’s question. “Why?” and “How?” do not necessarily express doubt or lack of faith. They are tools of conversation one might have with a friend. And the response in verse 26 was, “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for me?” Then God assures Jeremiah that although it is true that the city will be crushed for many years, the time will come when He will bring His people back, “and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely:” (v. 37).
Jeremiah lived at a time when almost everything that could go wrong did go wrong. But notice that Jeremiah’s story is one of the intimate relationship he had with the Lord God. He did not doubt his call; he did not delay in his obedience to the most minute detail; he believed God, and he ignored the circumstances.