Destiny: Your Place in God’s Plan: A Study of Jeremiah 1
In Star Wars, it’s the Force—the destiny that guides and empowers heroes toward their pre-appointed purposes. That’s a powerful idea in our culture, because secularism insists life has no ultimate meaning. We want to feel like there is some plan for us somewhere. But where do we find that destiny? When I was a teenager, people were looking to the Age of Aquarius (“When the moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter aligns with Mars, then peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars”). We’ll never find our destiny in the stars, but we can find it in the Scriptures. A good place to begin is the first chapter of Jeremiah, the story of the call of Jeremiah into the prophetic ministry.
1. We’re Destined For Our Times (Verses 1-3)
The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the priests at Anathoth in the territory of Benjamin. The word of the Lord came to Him in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah, and through the reign of Jehoikim son of Josiah king of Judah, down to the fifth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, when the people of Jerusalem went into exile.
God called Jeremiah into the ministry during the thirteenth year of King Josiah, the last good king of Judah. Josiah became king at age 8. When he was 16, he make a commitment of his life to God. At age 20, he led a revival. The very next year, God called Jeremiah into the ministry. These two young men—king and prophet–worked side by side to bring about revival. When Josiah was killed in battle, Jeremiah mourned. Things went downhill from there. The nation of Judah had four remaining kings, each one worse than his predecessor.
In other words, Jeremiah began at the high water mark of his nation’s spirituality. His earliest years were encouraging, but then his influence was rejected. Jeremiah was destined by God to live in a culture that was collapsing. Despite his anointing from God, he had very little effect on his culture.
We may be discouraged by the downward spiral of our society, but God has placed us here to witness to our generation, whether they listen or not. The Lord planned the day of your birth and the speed of your life. You are destined to be alive to serve Him in times like these.
2. We’re Destined For Our Tasks (Verses 4-16)
In the next paragraph, the Lord told Jeremiah exactly what he wanted him to do.
The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Notice these parallel Scriptures:
- Psalm 139:13-16 (David)
- Isaiah 49:1-3 (Isaiah)
- Galatians 1:15-16 (Paul)
- Job 10:8-12 (Job)
- Esther 4:14 (Esther)
Each of these heroes had a pre-appointed set of duties to fulfill, and so do you. Whatever your background or struggles, God knew from your conception and birth why He brought you into the world and what He wants you to do. This overwhelmed Jeremiah, who cried: “Alas, Sovereign Lord. I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put My words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
That verse—Jeremiah 1:10—is the key verse in the book of Jeremiah. It tells us that Jeremiah’s words would be authoritative over the nations of the world. His word would be more powerful than the armies of Egypt, of Moab, of Syria, of Judah, and even of Babylon. Nations would be uprooted, torn down, destroyed, and overthrown in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies. But it would also be a message of hope. A glorious future would be planted, would be built on the words and the message of Jeremiah.
Our tasks will be different from the one given Jeremiah, but in the will of God just as crucial and timely.
3. We’re Destined to Triumph (Verses 17-19)
After giving Jeremiah two introductory visions (an almond branch and a boiling pot), the Lord told him: Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
What a message for us. We may be outnumbered, but we’ll never by overcome. Your life can have far greater significance than you’ll ever realize if you’re committed to God with all your heart and committed to fulfill your destiny. You don’t have to be great; you just have to be surrendered to Christ.
Conclusion: Years ago when I was in college I met a man named Albert McMakin. I wish I could remember more about meeting him. My memory is hazy. It seems to me that some of us college guys went to some kind of meeting and he was there. He was introduced, and afterward we went up and introduced ourselves to him. You’ve probably never heard his name. He was a farmer, the son of a sharecropper in North Carolina. But back in the 1930s, he had become a Christian. He was a young adult, a young man—early twenties—a young farmer. He had old farm truck, and that was before there were that many vehicles on the road. But he had a truck. Well, about that time some Gospel meetings were taking place nearby, and Albert—a brand new Christian and excited about Lord—wanted to take some teenagers to that meeting. These were local farming kids and high school students. He went up to one of them and said, “Why don’t you do with me to the Gospel meetings over in the big tent? Go with me to hear this ‘fightin’ preacher everyone’s talking about.” But the teenager said no. He wasn’t interested. Albert said, “If you go, I’ll let you drive my truck there.” Well, that changed things and the teenager went. And before the meetings were over, that teenage boy, whose name was Billy Graham, was saved. If I recall correctly, we asked Albert McMakin what it was like to have had such a role in evangelistic history, and he said something to the effect that he only did what we’re all supposed to do—invite people to hear the Gospel and help bring them to Jesus.
I believe God preordained those circumstances and gave Albert McMakin that old farm truck and allowed him the destiny of being in the right place at the right time. He wants to do something similar with us. We are destined for our times; we are destined for our tasks; and we are destined to triumph. God has a plan, and that plan is activated at the moment you stand before Him as Jeremiah did and say, “Well, this is scary, but let’s go for it. I’m ready to get myself ready. I’m ready to say, “All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.”