Full text of Zac Poonen’s teaching on ‘Jeremiah and Lamentations’ which is part of the popular series called Through The Bible.
Listen to the audio version here:
Zac Poonen – Bible Teacher
Let’s turn today to Jeremiah, the book of Jeremiah, and chapter 1. Jeremiah was a man who preached to Judah, to the southern kingdom, for more than forty years and he never succeeded in turning Israel back from their sins. He was trying to save Judah from their sins — He was trying to save Judah from facing the judgment of God. He was the last voice that God sent to Judah to save them from being sent captive. And he never succeeded in getting them to listen. They never listened.
But he was not a hard man. Even though he spoke very strongly, he would weep in secret for their sins. He felt very deeply about the backsliding of God’s people. He was a very simple man. He started prophesying when he was very young. He was very sensitive in his spirit, and at the same time very strong. Those are good qualities for anyone who preaches God’s word, to be simple at heart, sensitive to God and to the feelings of others, and yet very strong when it comes to proclaiming the truth. And in that sense, he was like Jesus.
Jesus was also a very simple man, very sensitive. He wept over Jerusalem just like Jeremiah wept over Jerusalem. Once when Jesus asked His disciples, who do people say that I am? They replied, well, some say you’re Jeremiah. Come back again. Why did they say that? Because there’s so much similarity between Jesus and Jeremiah, and that’s a great compliment to Jeremiah, that people mistook Jesus for Jeremiah. And Jesus wept and suffered because God wept and suffered.
And Jeremiah wept and suffered here for the same reason. And yet, though he had a tremendous concern and he was the mouthpiece of God, the people just misunderstood him. Just like all the prophets through the generations have been misunderstood, persecuted, rejected, but he never gave up for 40 years. A tremendous example of a man who stood true till the end.
And many of his prophecies he wrote in a dungeon, what they call jails or prisons, it was just a dungeon, a pit in the ground like Paul. And he was prophesying under the reign of many kings. One year before he came on the scene, there was a revival under Josiah, after Manasseh had ruled, had an evil reign over Judah for 55 years. Jeremiah comes along after that, and Habakkuk was also prophesying around this time.
The prominent word, phrase that we find in the book of Jeremiah is the Lord of hosts. Many of these prophets spoke of the Lord of the armies of heaven. That comes about 82 times in this book.
Let’s turn with that introduction to JEREMIAH CHAPTER 1. The Lord called him when he was a young man. We see that from verse 5 and 6, and said to him, I formed you, verse 5, in the womb. Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. And before you were born, I consecrated you and I’ve appointed you a prophet to the nations.
So when was Jeremiah appointed a prophet? Before he was born. There’s a lot of dispute nowadays whether a child is a child when it’s in the mother’s womb. Here is a verse that should clear that doubt forever. That God anointed Jeremiah and called, consecrated him before he was born. I don’t know when, whether he was one month in the womb or two months in the womb, but at that point when he was just a small little dot in his mother’s womb, God had His eye on him and consecrated him to be a prophet. That’s a great encouragement for us to know that God had His eye on you when you were a little dot in your mother’s womb. He has a plan for your life, just like He had a plan for Jeremiah’s life.
Can you imagine when Jeremiah went through all those difficulties, how this thought must have encouraged him? Okay, I’m facing a lot of difficulties, but God knew me when I was in my mother’s womb and He had a plan for my life and that plan is going to be fulfilled and I’m going to respond to God. I want all of you to have that attitude whenever you face some trial. Remember that in your mother’s womb, God saw you, picked you out, had a plan for your life and He wants you to fulfill it. So don’t get discouraged.
Before he was formed in the mother’s womb, God says, I knew you and I consecrated you and I appointed you as a prophet. Then he says, Lord, I don’t know how to speak. It’s amazing how God picks up these people to be prophets who don’t know how to speak.
Moses was like that, Jeremiah, he says, Lord, I’m not a preacher. I’m not a person who can speak publicly. I want to encourage you, brothers and sisters, don’t think that God can’t use you to speak His word if you don’t have the ability to speak or you don’t have the boldness to stand in front of people. If you allow God to break you and to fill you with the Holy Spirit, He can make you His mouthpiece. It all depends on your walking with God.
The Lord said to Moses, I’ve made man’s mouth. Who made man’s mouth? You think I can’t make you speak? I know in my own life how I was a very shy, discouraged person when I was young and I found that when God anointed me, He could make me speak and He can do the same with you.
And I want to say this also to all of you. Don’t ever say to God, Lord, I’m so young, okay, you don’t have experience. But if the Lord has called you and consecrated you, your age doesn’t make a difference. You don’t have to wait till you’re old before you start serving the Lord. As soon as God’s called you and you find a burden in your heart and you seek God to be filled with the Holy Spirit, you can go forth and proclaim the word of God.