“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you;
Before you were born I sanctified you;
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
There are many fields where we must leave the work to the professionals. It would be utter folly to attempt dentistry on yourself, and working on gas lines or electricity, without proper training, can be deadly. However, when it comes to ministry, we need to realize that each and every Christian has been called. Paul explained, it is actually the believers, not the professionals, who are called to the work.
Ephesians 4:12 “. . .for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”
That being said, Jeremiah’s experience is a perfect example of the call of God on our lives. Four critical truths are revealed.
First, God explains to Jeremiah that “He formed him.” In other words, all of the gifts, talents, abilities, strengths and weaknesses that made up the man Jeremiah, were designed by God. It seems to me, our first response whenever we sense a call of God on their life, is to immediately bring up all the reasons we are not qualified. It is almost as though we have forgotten that God designed us the way He did so when ministry is accomplished, He alone receives the glory.
Second, Jeremiah is told that God “knew him.” Notice the tense. God has been watching Jeremiah; and all his faults, failures and sins were not a surprise to Him. While unrepentant sin will shelve us from usefulness in the Kingdom, our past sins and even present struggles, do not. One of the great pitfalls in the Christian life, is when we are constantly looking back at our faults, instead of keeping our eyes on Christ and pressing on.
Third, Jeremiah was told God sanctified him. The term sanctified means to set apart. God is explaining that Jeremiah was selected specifically for the task at hand. Sanctification carries at least two ideas. First, God has set us apart from all others, for the task at hand. Second, we set ourselves apart to God, from worldliness and sin, so we can be effectively used by Him. Many, who have the call of God on their lives, fail to remove themselves from worldliness, and as a result, never accomplish the task for which God designed them.
Finally, Jeremiah was told that God ordained him. Ordination today is often reduced to a church or ministry organization giving an individual a certificate of some kind, allowing them to do certain tasks within that organization. Biblically, the word means that God has placed His hand upon a person, equipping them for all that He has called them to do. When we are called by God, we are also equipped by God. You will never find a passage in Scripture where God asks someone to do the impossible and leaves them to their own strength. Nor will you ever find God calling you without equipping you. The problem is, the enabling only comes when the tasks is being accomplished.
One parting thought. In Verse 17, God tells Jeremiah to “prepare himself.” If you are sensing the call of God, it is time to get prepared. Personal study of the Word, and getting plugged into your church’s discipleship program, are essential to preparation for ministry.