“Now the word of the Lord came to me (Jeremiah), saying, “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.”
Before Jeremiah had been fashioned by the hands of the Creator and placed within the warmth of his mother’s womb; before the Spirit of God had breathed into His lungs and brought Him to life; and before His heart had pumped blood in and out for the first time– Jeremiah had been known. This word – “known”- is the word “yada” in the original Hebrew. It means to be “acquainted with,” to have “knowledge of,” and to be “familiar with.” Prior to Jeremiah’s birth – God had knowledge of Him, knowledge that only a Creator could have of His own creation. He knew what he needed to be and He knew why He needed to be.
When the day of Jeremiah’s formation arrived, God took hold of the lump of clay that would be shaped into Jeremiah and lovingly began His work - purposefully, thoughtfully, and intentionally carving out every detail. He was fully aware of what He was doing. Nothing about this moment was accidental. There was a reason behind every feature – from the tiniest eyelash to the curvature of his small, pink lips.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
The Lord goes on in Jeremiah chapter 1 to say that not only was Jeremiah fully known by God before His formation, he was also consecrated-“set apart” and “dedicated” to the Lord – long before His arrival on earth. Prior to Jeremiah’s first breath, God had made a decision to use Jeremiah’s voice to proclaim His word to the people of Israel. There was purpose behind not only Jeremiah’s birth, but the timing of it. In Acts 17 verse 26, the author writes that God has determined the “allotted periods” and “boundaries” of man’s life. Israel’s rebellion did not surprise God nor did their captivity. He knew He would need a man that would stand in the gap, carry the burden of His heart for the people, and say what needed to said no matter how difficult it was to say it – during this very moment in Israel’s history. So, before Jeremiah’s birth, God consecrated him, setting him apart to be the man needed for that hour and appointing him “a prophet to the nations (Jeremiah 1:5).” To be “appointed” is to be “called, chosen, assigned, and ordained.” Jeremiah wasn’t just born. Scripture is clear. He was planted.
“…that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
The word “planted” in Isaiah 61 verse 3 is the Hebrew word “matta” which means “to place.” We, the people of God, are put in place by God – He who does nothing by accident - for the display of His glory. We are planted on purpose. Jeremiah was no exception. Although the time and place of Jeremiah’s birth may look like the “worst case scenario” – it was actually the very time within history he had been created for. God had an assignment for him on the earth. His life mattered. His life was needed right then, right there, right where His feet had been planted.
I have always had a deep love for reading. Even now, as a mother of fourteen, if I have five minutes to sit down and do whatever I want – I’m grabbing a book and losing myself in a story. A few words into the page, and I’m lost in my imagination – sword fighting on the moors of Scotland, packing my wagon to make the long journey west, riding a horse along the English countryside, or grabbing a paddle to churn my own butter. All of these images thrill me! There is just something about life back then that feels much simpler – much more like…me. This day and age with its electronic devices, fast pace, full schedules, and noisy highways – doesn’t seem to suit me as well. I have often found myself longing to hitch some oxen to a wagon and find a route backwards in time – to live in the days of my historical novels; the days I often feel like I would fit better in. And yet, as I read Jeremiah’s story, I know within my heart: there is no time in history I am better suited for than this one.
God knew who I would be. He knew that I would be the kind of person who would daily lock myself out of my phone and take multiple pictures of my thumb as I attempted to unlock it. He knew that I would be the mother who would need her adult sons to return home and set up every electronic device that I purchase and then return to fix it only days later when I break it. He knew I would be horrible at driving in busy traffic. He knew that I would prefer churning butter over posting live feeds on social media. He was aware of all of this and yet still, of all the times in history that He could place me on the earth, He decided on this time. There is no denying it. I was made for “for such a time as this (Esther 4:14, ESV).” And knowing that, changes everything.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
When we embrace that God not only formed us and shaped us purposefully, but that He also planted us here on the earth for His purposes – significance is found woven into the smallest of moments. We stop fearing the “times we live in” and begin to see why we were placed within this time. We embrace the ground He placed our feet upon and use the moments we are here for His glory. We begin to see that ministry doesn’t just happen at pulpits. It isn’t confined to altars, stages, and crowds of people. It also happens in homes, coffee shops, office buildings, and elevators. It happens at soup kitchens, around dinner tables, on basketball courts, and in living rooms – wherever He has planted His people.
My friend, if you are here on the earth, know this: THERE IS A REASON.