What is Your Calling is a website I just discovered. Their website is “A new look at a big question.” There are video testimonies of people who have found their calling, why they are on earth and how they can change the world. There is the testimony of a marital arts instructor, a skateboard builder, and a teacher of poor children in an inner city. All of these people were motivated by helping others and not the bottom-line. A comment at the website gave this definition of calling: “Your calling is the one in which your deep gladness and the world’s need meet.”
Paul writes about God’s calling for your life in Ephesians 4:1: “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
There is a flesh and blood example of God’s calling in Jeremiah chapter one. From Jeremiah’s calling we learn that
1. God’s Calling in Not Based on Personality (1:1-3)
Jeremiah and Isaiah had very different personalities. Charles L. Feinberg says that the book of Jeremiah is “the most autobiographical of all the prophets” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary Vol. 6 page 357). Whereas Isaiah says little about himself, Jeremiah tells us everything. In 4:10, Jeremiah complains to God, in 9:1, he weeps over the sins of his congregation, and in 20:9, he is so discouraged with ministry he vows never to preach again. God, however, greatly used both of these personalities. We don’t have to be a to either type “A” or “B” for God to use. We just have to surrender our personalities to Him to conform into the image of Christ.
2. God’s Calling is From God (1:4-9)
God’s calling originated in eternity past according to 1:4-5 when God knew or predetermined His plan for Jeremiah before his conception in his mother’s womb. That is also true for you and me. Jeremiah made excuses and said he lacked ability and experience. God did not except those excuses. But rather, God touched Jeremiah’s mouth and gave him the ability to speak for Him. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 encourages with this assurance: “Faithful is He who calls who will also do it.”
When I was first called to preach, I was discouraged that I could not preach like my veteran pastor. What I did not know at the time was I was not supposed to preach like my pastor; I was to preach like Tim White. But God did help me to grow as a preacher. He touched my mouth.
3. God’s Calling is Both Negative and Positive (1:10-19)
Our calling includes negatives (four descriptions of negatives in verse 10) and positives (2 descriptions of positives) in verse 10. Our ministry is destructive when we like a farmer uproot sin and like a contractor demolish wrong. Our ministry is also constructive when we plant the seed of God’s Word and build up and edify God’s people. God gave Jeremiah three concrete examples of his destructive and constructive ministry.
First, God showed Jeremiah a blossoming Almond tree in 1:11-12. The Almond tree would bloom in January, when all other trees were still dormant, and signal that spring was on the way. God explained that Jeremiah was to preach that Judgment Is Near. The Babylonians would soon defeat Judah because of their refusal to repent. Judgment is also near for all who do not know Christ. Even if they live their three score and ten, they soon will face God. The coming of Christ is 2000 years closer than when Paul preached His imminent return.
Second, God revealed to Jeremiah a boiling pot of water about to spill out and scald all its victims in 1:13-16. Have you ever been boiling water to cook corn on the cob and you got a steam burn or you dropped the cob in the boiling water and some splashed on you and burned? God was telling Jeremiah to preach that not only was judgment near but this Judgment Will Be Severe. In Lamentations, the sequel to the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah recorded Israel’s Great Depression and the severity of the Babylonian Captivity when he described the people of God starving and dying in the streets because of the two-year siege.
In the Tribulation Period that follows the return of Christ, there will be Mother of all Great Depressions. According to Revelation 13:16, 17, the economy will be so bad that sinners will sell their souls to buy and sell. Our economy may be headed in that direction and preparing the world for the Tribulation. See the post: Is The Standard and Poor’s Downgrade a Bad “Sign”?
Third, God showed Jeremiah, that although the city of Jerusalem would fall, and its walls of stone and wood would be broken down that Jeremiah would be like a “fortified city, a iron pillar, and a bronze wall” (1:17-19). Judgment is near and when it comes, judgment will be severe, but God Will Help Us Through It All. Twice God said to Jeremiah and you and me who are living out God’s call for our lives, “I am with you to deliver you” (1:8, 19).
Someone described Jeremiah’s life as “one long martyrdom.” He spoke God’s messages of judgment for all who would not repent (his 13 messages are recorded in chapters 2-25) and he was consequently rejected by friends and family. Yet God used the hardships and tribulations of Jeremiah not only to minister to the remnant of his day but to you and me who are living out God’s call for our lives. Because of Jeremiah’s faithfulness to his call we have the book of Jeremiah to encourage us to faithfully accomplish God’s call no matter how difficult.