Audio Worship "God With Us" Jeremiah 1.1-10

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1597

July 23, 2023

Jeremiah 1.1-10                 Click here for audio worship!

Dr. Ed Pettus


“God With Us”


The words of Jeremiah, the son of Hilkiah, one of the priests who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, 2to whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, in the thirteenth year of his reign. 3It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, and until the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, until the captivity of Jerusalem in the fifth month. 4Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” 7But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.” 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth. 10See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”



  • The Word of The Lord


You have probably asked, or at least heard someone else ask, about how the Word of the Lord came to the prophets in the Old Testament. Was it an audible voice? Was it a sense within the prophet? Was it a word from what might have been an angel? We would like to have the kind of clarity from God that people like Jeremiah had. More clarity, more direct, more confidence that a particular word is from God. I do not know how the prophets received the words they were given to say. But we are now in a different context, a different place and time and the ability to receive a Word from the Lord is with us just as it was with Jeremiah. We do have the Word of the Lord clearly revealed, directly given. The Word of the Lord has come to all of us in the Holy Bible. It contains all we need to know for life and faith. It reveals God’s will to go and make disciples, to love God and neighbor, to do God’s commandments, to… “fill in the blank here” with the many teachings for Christian life from Genesis to Revelation.

We have the Word revealed to us in a way that was not revealed in Jeremiah’s time. Paul writes in Romans and elsewhere that the revelation of God’s Word came through Jesus,

Romans 16.25-26, “25Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.”

The Word of the Lord came to Jeremiah and the Word of the Lord has come to us in unique and powerful ways. The Word that came to Jeremiah was one may disturb at first because it speaks four times of wiping out something. But, as with all the good news of the Bible, the Lord comes back with something greater than before, something built anew, planted more firmly. The Word that came to Jeremiah is this: "See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant."


The theme of the book of Jeremiah is found in these six verbs, to pluck up, to tear down, to destroy to overthrow, to build and to plant. The massive sin of Israel will bring an uprooting of their vineyards, a tearing down of their buildings and homes, a destruction of their cities, an overthrow of their government. The people of God were running from God, they even went so far as to forget God and worse: forgetting that they had forgotten. There may be no farther distance from God than forgetting that you have forgotten God. That is a long way from the loving obedient people God had intended.


So the prophet is sent, to speak the words of God, appointed over the nations of the world to call them back home, to warn them of their amnesia, to ask them to repent of their sin.


  • A Charge


The charge is specific to Jeremiah. We may not be called as a prophet to the nations, but we are called to follow Jesus, to live as He lived, and we are called to be Christlike so that all may see Christ in us and their own need to repent and believe. This is what it was like for Jeremiah. He represented the agenda of God, in many ways the prophet's life reflected the divine life of God. God had appointed Jeremiah over nations and kingdoms, because God is over nations and kingdoms. God said, "I have put my words in your mouth.” Jeremiah was the mouthpiece of God. Jesus calls all believers to be His mouthpiece, by the power of the Holy Spirit and by the power of the Word we have been given.

Jeremiah was reluctant because he was young and unable to speak. Imagine yourself as a prophet appointed over the nations, over the United States, to bring words of warning, - to pluck up, to tear down, to uproot, to destroy, to overthrow. Those are words of treason, words of threat, them's fightin' words. But that was Jeremiah's task, and no one was listening. This is the general charge given to us when we see sin rising up, when God’s way is abandoned, when idolatry reigns, when injustice is the way of systems and nations.

God charges us with calling people to repent. God charges us with making disciples. In Jeremiah’s time, God's people bore the penalty for their sin. They were exiled and a powerful empire ruled over them. It is difficult for us to understand, we have never had such an experience of displacement. Or, perhaps we have when our lives are changed by any outside force and our world is thrown into chaos and we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. Sickness, death, loss – all are enemies of life just as Babylon was an enemy to Israel. So God gives a charge to all Christians to pray against those enemies, to call others to God, to tell of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe we can trust God with putting the words in our mouths just as He did for Jeremiah, because God does not give us a charge and then leave us to our own strength or our own words. He is with us to guide us and give us the Words and He gives them through the Word, the Bible.



  • Making Up Excuses


Our tendency is to read the Word of the Lord and come to know the charge and calling given to us, and yet, we also, like Jeremiah, are good at coming up with excuses. For Jeremiah is was his age, too young, and his ability to speak because of his age. We have all the excuses as well:

I’m afraid. I don’t know enough Bible. I don’t know how to witness. I don’t what to say. Perhaps the problem is not in any of these excuses, but perhaps it is our lack of trust that the Lord will do for us what he did for Jeremiah.

Fact is, God has done for us what He did for Jeremiah. He has promised us His presence, His Word, His call and charge. He has promised all we need to give us the ability and courage to act and speak as ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5.20), “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.’

God is making His appeal through us! No excuses, no worries, no fear.



  • Do Not Fear


A common and frequent charge to us is “do not fear”. Fear is perhaps the biggest obstacle to following the Word of the Lord. If we were to study the Bible looking for the various phrases about not fearing, we would see multiple accounts of God or an angel commanding us to fear not or do not be afraid or some other phrase that assures us that God is with us and we need not fear anything. Fear leads to anxiety, paralysis, forgetting God,

Society and, frankly the devil, are making fear even more prominent by making offensive speech anything that includes Jesus or the Bible. Anything that excludes anyone. The list of offenses is long and ridiculous. Someone jokingly said that Payday candy bar was changing its name to not offend those who do not have a job. It is not that funny anymore.

This leads to a great reason we need not fear. For there is hope! Jeremiah was not just full of words of destruction. He also spoke of building and planting. Israel will have a future despite their transgressions. The book of Jeremiah states these words of God in 31.28, " I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the LORD." According to that speech, there will be a new covenant and God's people will know the Lord and sins will be forgiven and remembered no more. This is our reason for hope and no fear, because God is watching over us to build and to plant. Hope for ourselves in difficult times, hope for families, hope for schools, hope for the lost, hope for our nation in difficult times. With this kind of hope, we need not fear.

This theme of tearing down and building up is repeated in the person of Jesus Christ. The people of God do not bear their sins, Jesus does. In his suffering and death, he is torn down. You may recall the claim the Pharisees made against Jesus when they said, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.'"Matthew 26:61

He was talking about His body, destroyed and resurrected. And with His body is carried the church. Not the physical building or the temple, but the practices, methods, laws, rules, and function of the people of God. All of that would be torn down with Jesus and be built up again in His resurrection.

This same theme is found in Jesus’ teaching. (Matthew 16:25) "For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." We have to lose our life to to find it. We have to tear down the old to build the new. We have to uproot in order to plant. This is the Christian life, dying to self and living to God.

This is a theme carried from the days of Jeremiah, to the life of Jesus Christ, to our lives – to pluck up, to tear down, to destroy to overthrow, to build and to plant. Death and resurrection, exile and homecoming, dying with Christ to live, baptized into His death and raised to new life in the resurrection.


The wisdom literature knows, there is "a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;" (Ecclesiastes 3.2) There have been times in our lives when everything seemed to be uprooted, but now may be the time to replant.




  • I Am With You


A final word of hope and courage! God is with us just as He was with Jeremiah. That promise is given again and again with Jesus. In His birth narrative at the beginning as well as at the end when He charged the disciples to make disciples prior to His ascension. It is in the promise to send the Holy Spirit. It is in the letters of the apostles when they talk about the Holy Spirit in us. The knowledge of God with us gives us hope and courage to face the problems of modern life and modern thought that goes against the Bible and all that God intends for human life and purpose. One of the major themes in the New Testament for the church is to build up and to plant. Paul echoes this in his letters,


2 Corinthians 10:8 For even if I boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.


2 Corinthians 12:19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.


Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.


Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.


We are called and charged to build up. There is no need to tear each other down. If such a tearing down is needed, God will take care of that. For those of us who believe, the tearing down was accomplished at our baptism. Romans 6:3-4 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.


God has worked in our lives to pluck up our sin through Jesus Christ, to break down our self centeredness, to destroy all the enemies of the Lord, to overthrow sin, the devil, and death itself. In Christ He has already built us up by His Spirit and Word and planted us in the place where He has called us to share the charge and calling of being a Christian, reflecting the Lord and Savior by obeying His Word and abiding in His love. Through it all is the promise that God is with us. He spoke to Jeremiah with those words, do not be afraid, for I am with you. He spoke to us in Christ, do not be afraid, for I will never leave you or forsake you. Fear not, church, God is with us, to give us Words to speak and things to do or not to do, all for the sake of building up the church that we might grow even stronger to go and make disciples, fulling His call to the church. To God be the glory. Amen.