Years ago, there was a television series called the “A TEAM”. It was a group of individuals trained in combat to come into a situation—with a plan—to solve any problem presented to them. The leader always closed the show with this resolving statement, “I love it when a plan comes together.” He was proud of his plan and he was proud of his team that executed the plan. With a flick of his cigar, the show ended. The following week was a new problem with a new plan.
Does your life feel like it is one continual problem after another? Well, God has a plan. He loves it when His plan for us is believed and followed because that is when His best comes together for each one of us. He is our Hope and future.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Background: The prophet Jeremiah saw Israel morally disintegrating and being destroyed militarily by its enemies. He saw Babylon attack Jerusalem in 586 BC and many of its people exiled to foreign lands. According to the NIV Quest Study Bible Jeremiah’s grim prophecies, in both poetry and prose, continually warned Judah about God’s approaching judgment because of the people’s constant, willful disobedience. Yet intermingled with all the dark messages were words of hope about Judah’s future redemption. Watch for Jeremiah’s encouragement—prophecies that are still being fulfilled today whenever sinful hearts are transformed by God.
His audience to whom he is speaking and writing are the people of Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of their last five kings. His audience also include you and I. We often quote Jeremiah’s message from God, “I know the plans I have for you…”, but this quote is more powerful when we understood the time and context in which it was written. We will do that in our study of this profound prophet who encourages us with Hope—who is the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Jeremiah 1, The Message
Demolish, and Then Start Over
1 1-4 The Message of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah of the family of priests who lived in Anathoth in the country of Benjamin. God’s Message began to come to him during the thirteenth year that Josiah son of Amon reigned over Judah. It continued to come to him during the time Jehoiakim son of Josiah reigned over Judah. And it continued to come to him clear down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah over Judah, the year that Jerusalem was taken into exile. This is what God said:
5 “Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.”
6 But I said, “Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!”
7-8 God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’
I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.
I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.
Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.”
9-10 God reached out, touched my mouth, and said,
“Look! I’ve just put my words in your mouth—hand-delivered!
See what I’ve done? I’ve given you a job to do
among nations and governments—a red-letter day!
Your job is to pull up and tear down,
take apart and demolish,
And then start over,
building and planting.”
Stand Up and Say Your Piece
11-12 God’s Message came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
I said, “A walking stick—that’s all.”
And God said, “Good eyes! I’m sticking with you.
I’ll make every word I give you come true.”
13-15 God’s Message came again: “So what do you see now?”
I said, “I see a boiling pot, tipped down toward us.”
Then God told me, “Disaster will pour out of the north
on everyone living in this land.
Watch for this: I’m calling all the kings out of the north.”
15-16 “They’ll come and set up headquarters
facing Jerusalem’s gates,
Facing all the city walls,
facing all the villages of Judah.
I’ll pronounce my judgment on the people of Judah
for walking out on me—what a terrible thing to do!—
And courting other gods with their offerings,
worshiping as gods sticks they’d carved, stones they’d painted.
17 “But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work!
Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say.
Don’t pull your punches
or I’ll pull you out of the lineup.
18-19 “Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work.
I’m making you as impregnable as a castle,
Immovable as a steel post,
solid as a concrete block wall.
You’re a one-man defense system
against this culture,
Against Judah’s kings and princes,
against the priests and local leaders.
They’ll fight you, but they won’t
even scratch you.
I’ll back you up every inch of the way.”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
God is God and we are not. God always has a plan. The Plan was formed before we were born. God’s Plan is always the perfect Plan. “Just do it!”
When the plan is counterculture to the world, follow the plan anyway. God knows what is best and what He can do through each one of us. Jeremiah would have had a much easier time serving as priest; therefore, his first, natural response was to question God’s call. Offering sacrifices was one thing, but preaching the Word to hardhearted people was quite something else. When you read his book, you will see several pictures of his ministry that reveal how demanding it was to serve the Lord as a faithful prophet.
Jeremiah was born during the reign of King Manasseh, the most evil man who ever reigned over the kingdom of Judah (2 Kin. 21:1–18). The son of godly Hezekiah, Manasseh came to the throne when only twelve years old, and the officials around him easily influenced him toward idolatry. “They paid no attention, and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel”. When Manasseh died, his evil son Amon continued his father’s evil practices.
So, Jeremiah grew up in Anathoth at a time when idolatry flourished in Judah, children were offered in sacrifice to idols, the Law of Moses was disregarded and disobeyed, and the nation seemed to have no hope. Godly priests were not greatly appreciated.
God calls Jeremiah to bring encouragement and Hope to His people. Isn’t this what God calls each one of us to do?
We are going to be challenged by the prophet Jeremiah, aren’t we? I pray we will learn from you in ways that continue to transform our lives, making your plan for us clearly understood. It seems it is not so much about what is going on around us but what you are doing IN us.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen