Chapter 1. Our Inclination to Hesitation

Jeremiah 1

An incident from the American Revolution illustrates what tragedy can result from hesitation. It is reported that Colonel Rahl, commander of the British troops at Trenton, New Jersey, was playing cards when a courier brought an urgent message stating that General George Washington was crossing the Delaware River. Colonel Rahl put the letter in his pocket and didn't bother to read it until the game was finished.

When he read the message, he realized the seriousness of the situation, and hurriedly tried to rally his men to meet the coming attack, but his hesitation was his undoing. He and many of his men were killed, and the rest of the regiment were captured.

Nolbert Quayle said, "Only a few minutes delay cost him his life, his honor, and the liberty of his soldiers. Earth's history is strewn with the wrecks of half-finished plans and resolutions that were not executed.”

Hesitation can be costly, especially in matters that pertain to God’s directions, instructions, production, construction, and submission to His commands. We would not be here if Noah hesitated to obey the Lord in building the ark. Rahab would not have survived the Jericho attack if she hesitated to provide refuge for the two spies of Israel.

Hesitation in what God tells us to do is an obstacle that almost every Christian wrestles with until the day they die. If you can conquer it and go ahead and trust God at His Word, you can accomplish some great things for the Lord and be used for His glory and service.

The Bible has a number of examples of great men who hesitated when they were approached by God and commissioned by Him for a task. Included in this list are men like Moses, Gideon, King Solomon, and the Apostle Paul.

In this book of the Bible, we find one more person who was hesitant at first when the Lord spoke to him, but this man who was a prophet of God, ended up being one of the most disciplined, determined, persevering, and steadfast man of God in the Scriptures. He obeyed God even though he was almost totally alone most of his life. He was warned that the people would oppose Him and that he would fail, but he remained faithful to the Lord for over four decades of public ministry to the kingdom of Judah. His name was Jeremiah.

The burden that this man carried for his people weighed heavy on his heart. He loved God’s people and wept for them often because of their sinfulness. He grieved so much that he has been called “The Weeping Prophet.”

In the curtain chapter of this book, we are going to focus on the issue of our hesitation toward God. Why are we hesitant to trust God sometimes and how do we overcome it? This first chapter provides some answers for us.

I. The Past of Jeremiah and the Plan of God 1:1-5

The words of Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: [2] To 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. [3] It came also in the days of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the end of the eleventh year of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah, unto the carrying away of Jerusalem captive in the fifth month. [4] Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, [5] Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Who is Jeremiah? We get a good glimpse here. Jeremiah was a PK. His daddy Hilkiah was a priest. They lived in Anathoth in the tribe of Benjamin. This city was set aside for priests to dwell. Anathoth was a place where the Kohathites lived. They were the priests that took care of the ark of the covenant, the altars, and the furniture of the temple. It was about three miles from Jerusalem.

Jeremiah grew up in a home were the Lord was greatly revered and loved. Parents, never underestimate the value and importance of your influence upon your kids. Point them to Jesus! Don’t let them become strangers to the Lord because you are unfaithful and backslidden.

When Jeremiah was born, it was a dark time in Judah. King Manasseh was the most evil king to rule over Judah. He promoted idolatry, immorality, the sacrifice of children to pagan gods including his own son, witchcraft, and a hatred for God and His Word for 55 years (2 Kings 21:3-9). The Scriptures were forbidden at this time. He did what he could to lead the people away from God.

A ray of light broke forth, however, when Josiah became the king at the age of eight. When he was twenty, this young man took steps to clean up the land and remove the idols after a copy of the Scriptures were found in the Temple and read to him.

The Temple was cleansed and repaired. Reformation was outward, but not inward in the hearts of the people. The king could not control their hearts. Their outward devotion was phony, fraudulent, or fake. If God does not have your heart, beloved, He doesn’t have you.

Jeremiah 3:10-And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.

God spoke to Jeremiah in Josiah’s 13th year of his reign (627 b.c.). Both of these men were believed to be close to the same age, making Jeremiah around 20 years old. After Josiah unexpectedly died in battle against Egypt, other kings ruled in Judah, but they were evil men. Jeremiah however, continued to be faithful to the Lord for over four decades and the reigns of several more kings, Zedekiah being the last. The fact that he was faithful and courageous for the Lord reveals the character and devotion he possessed.

His ministry in Judah ended when Babylon conquered Jerusalem in 586 b.c. Jeremiah was taken to Egypt and this is the place where he is believed to have died (Jeremiah 43 & 44).

The Lord made some very profound statements to Jeremiah in verse five. He revealed information about his past, and God’s purpose for his life. He said, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

God told Jeremiah that he knew Jeremiah BEFORE he formed him in his mother’s womb. Let that sink in for a minute! This word “knew” is from the word yadà {yaw-dah'} which is the same word used to describe the intimate love that a husband and wife have for one another.

Beloved, God loves you deeply, even before you were ever conceived He loved you. You are not an accident or a mistake, even if your parents might have made mistakes in their own lives. He is the One that formed you in the womb.

The word “formed” is from the word yatsar {yaw-tsar'} which means “to fashion, frame, plan or purpose.” The words “maker, creator, or potter” are formed from this word.

Psalm 139:13-16....For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.