Background: Jeremiah first hears from the Lord during the reign of Josiah. Josiah was one of the last of the kings of Judah (Israel by this time had been scattered by Assyria). Josiah finds the law of God during some temple repair, reads it, and tears his clothes in mourning. "Go, inquire of the LORD for me," he tells his servants, "for great is the wrath of the LORD that is aroused against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book" (2 Ki. 22:13). So his servants go and inquire, and the word comes back that Josiah is too late. Israel's sin has gone on too long. Basically, the hammer started falling before Josiah came on the scene, and although God will spare Josiah, the hammer still must fall.
So here is Jeremiah, who describes himself as a "youth" (I don't know if this means teens, 20s, or anything under presedential eligibility). God comes to him, and the first thing Jeremiah records God saying to him is:
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you
Whoah. God zooms down, out of all the people in the world, and before Jeremiah was a crying baby, God had his focus on Jeremiah. Wait. No, it's even more extreme: before Jeremiah was even a blip on a sonogram, God knew him...! I cannot comprehend that. But that's what God says.
Before you were born I sanctified you (set you apart)
I ordained you a prophet to the nations.
Nothing like destiny, eh?
But I am a youth! says Jeremiah. Don't say that, says God, because I will lead you, and you will say what I command you. Don't be afraid. I am with you to deliver you. (*including when you are left in a pit*)
Then God tells him what his task as prophet is going to be. And is it a man-sized job or what?!
See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To root out and to pull down,
To destroy and to throw down,
To build and to plant.
Yowzers! Here's this young guy. God tells him, I've had my eye on you since before you were born. You are my prophet. I will send you, I will tell you what to say, don't be afraid, I'm with you. Now, your life's task, starting now as a young guy, is to prophecy over full-fledged nations and to root out, pull down, destroy, throw down, build, and plant.
No wimpy job for Jeremiah. No starting nice and easy.
So prepare yourself, Jeremiah. Is there a back door he can slink through right now? God lays it on the line:
Do not be dismayed before their faces,
Lest I dismay you before them.
It's all or nothing. It is time to man up and trust God completely.
(Funny, isn't it, how the Bible's definition of strength and wisdom and "manning-up" is to depend fully on God? But that's truth for ya!)
God then gives Jeremiah some strong backing. He says he's made Jeremiah:
-a fortified city
-an iron pillar, and
-bronze walls against the whole land
And then the last send-off before Jeremiah starts his work. I've never seen Braveheart, but this seems like a Braveheart moment:
"They will fight against you,
But they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you," says the LORD, "to deliver you."
And that's it. Jeremiah has received his call. His destiny. His task. His life's job. His empowerment (totally God and God alone). And he's off to take on nations!
It's like the beginning of an adventure movie. Only, like romantic weddings that segway into the trenches of marriage, Jeremiah's commission would lead him into the life of the mourning prophet.