Legions of the Unjazzed
James C. Denison
The number of text messages sent and received today will exceed the population of the planet. If MySpace were a country, it would be the eighth-largest in the world. 2.7 billion searches are performed on Google every month. More than 3,000 new books are published every day. China will soon become the number one English speaking country in the world. One hundred percent of the college graduates in India can speak English.
One out of every eight couples married in the US last year met online. By 2013 a supercomputer will be built which exceeds the computing power of the human brain. By 2023, it will cost less than $1,000. By 2049, that $1,000 computer will exceed the computational capacities of the entire human race.
No one knows where the future is going. I read Alan Greenspan’s new book this week, and was fascinated. As you know, he was the chairman of the Federal Reserve for nearly 20 years, working with four presidents. I had no idea that economists had so many tools at their disposal to use in predicting future financial trends.
But despite the greatest sophistication in human history, we still don’t know what the future will bring. Will there be a recession? Will the subprime mortgage crisis affect us all? Will the dollar hold its value against foreign currencies? No one knows.
There’s only one Chairman who can see tomorrow today. He is God Almighty, the awesome and holy Lord of the universe. But he is also intimately interested in you. Today we’ll learn how to return the favor–why you and I should pay the price to know this God more intimately than ever before. And we’ll see what happens when we do.
What God has done for us
God “knew” Jeremiah. The Hebrew word is a completed action: he knew all about him. Everything. Everything he would ever do, and say, and think, and feel. Before he made him at conception and brought him into the world. He knew the good–the achievements, the success, the faithfulness to God. He knew the bad–Jeremiah’s times of depression, of despair, of feeling rejected by God and his people. Jesus says that even the hairs on our heads are numbered by God. He knew him.
He formed him: “Before I formed you.” The same word is used in Jeremiah 18:4 for a potter making clay. It is used in Genesis 2:7 for God making of man from the earth. It means that he made him as he wished him to be. As a potter can make anything from clay, so God made Jeremiah. He formed him as he was and is.
He sanctified him: “before you were born I set you apart.” The word means to separate something for a job, a task, a purpose. The New Testament speaks of God’s people as “saints”–the “separated ones.” God made us for himself. We are a means to his end. We exist for his glory. He made us for his purposes.
And he called him: “I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Appointed” means to set apart for a task. For Jeremiah, it was to be a prophet to the nations. To speak and record the word of God for the people and for posterity. God clearly brought his plan to pass, as we are reading the words of that prophet today.
Why is this episode in Holy Scripture? Jeremiah obviously knew all of this. The Holy Spirit led him to record this for your sake and mine. So we could know that what God did for Jeremiah, he has done for every one of us as well. He “knew” you–everything you would ever do, before he “formed” you. He made you, then set you apart for himself. And he has called you to a purpose in his Kingdom. He has a plan for your life–a plan to prosper you and not harm you, a plan to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). His plan is good, pleasing, and perfect (Romans 12:2).
All of this is what God has done for us. And he’s not done yet.
What God will do for us
Here’s what God will do for us. First, he plans our lives (v. 7). Jeremiah thinks that he cannot speak, that he is too inexperienced. God says: I have a plan, and you’re in it. I will send you, and I will tell you what to do. If you know where to go and what to do, you know all you need to know.
He protects us (v. 8): “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.” When you don’t want to follow his plan, to go where he sends and say what he says, remember that he will protect you when you are in his will. But only then–he cannot protect those who will not follow him, any more than a shepherd can protect a sheep which wanders from his care. The safest place in all the world to be is the center of the will of God.
He provides for us (v. 9): “Now, I have put my words in your mouth.” Why words? Because this is what a prophet would need. Jeremiah would need to say, “Thus says the Lord.” Whatever you need, God will give you as well. He equips the called–he does not call the equipped.
And he uses us (v. 10). God has a global purpose for our lives. Jeremiah could not imagine a use this great, but God could. He couldn’t imagine affecting nations and kingdoms–to uproot and tear down, destroy and overthrow, build and plant.
But this is what God did with Jeremiah. He used him to call his people to repentance. When they refused, he used him to call them to judgment and exile. Eventually they would return from their slavery in Babylon and never be the same again. No more idolatry–they would worship the one true God. And through their nation would come the Messiah for all the world.