20190727 Parsha Pinchas – Life is Precious
The Parsha for today is Pinchas. It is a story that really follows on the heels of last week’s portion. Israel could not be cursed by Balaam. But he advised King Balak to send his women into the camp to entice the Israelite men into abandoning Adonai and embracing Baal. Evidently, this plan met with some success whereas some of the leadership of the tribes of Israel were ensnared by the Moabite women. God commanded the guilty parties to be executed. Pinchas, a cohen took a spear and executed a couple in the act of their sin. The remainder of the Parsha deals with a census and a description of the sacrifices required for the Moedim or the Feasts of the Lord.
But the Haftarah Portion caught my attention so I will be teaching from Jeremiah today.
Jeremiah 1:1-10 The words of Jeremiah son of Hilkiah, one of the kohanim who were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. (2) The word of Adonai came to him during the days of King Josiah of Judah, son of Amon, in the thirteenth year of his reign. (3) It continued during the days of King Jehoiakim of Judah, son of Josiah, until the end of the eleventh year of King Zedekiah of Judah, son of Josiah—until the exile from Jerusalem in the fifth month. (4) The word of Adonai came to me, saying: (5) “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I set you apart—I appointed you prophet to the nations.” (6) Then I said, “Alas, Adonai Elohim! Look, I don’t know how to speak! For I’m still a boy!” (7) But Adonai answered me, “Do not say ‘I’m only a boy!’ For to everyone I send you, you will go, and all I command you, you will speak. (8) Do not be afraid of them! For I am with you to deliver you.” It is a declaration of Adonai. (9) Then Adonai stretched out His hand and touched my mouth and Adonai said to me, “Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. (10) See, today I have appointed you over nations and over kingdoms: to uproot and to tear down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Today, I am going to attempt to show you that Hashem really does know who we are. When I say He knows who we are, I mean He knows us specifically. He knows all about us. And because He knows who we are, our lives are precious in His sight.
In our text we see a story of a young teenager named Jeremiah and how God shares with Him how intimately He knows him. Jeremiah was a prophet in Israel. You may wonder what a prophet is? A prophet was one who would foretell future events; he was one who would receive a specific message from God to speak to people; and he was able to do this by the power of God. A person never just decides one day that they are going to be a prophet. You had to have a calling from God to do this. And it is actually in the midst of Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet that Jeremiah discovers something amazing about God. He discovered that God knew who he was.
We live in a digital world today that robs us of personal contact. Everyone seems glued to one kind of electronic device or another. Sociologists speculate on what effect this will have on our personal relationships. Living in such an isolated environment makes it difficult to imagine that there is a God who truly knows who we are; who knows us on an intimate level. A God that knows you better than any spouse can know you, better than any parent can know. God really knows everything that there is to know about you. That is truly an amazing thought! The creator of the universe knows everything about you, He knows you intimately. How intimately? Well, our text points out some things concerning you and your relationship with God.
I. BEFORE YOU WERE CONCEIVED, GOD KNEW YOU
That is a truly amazing statement and a true statement. I cannot imagine getting to know anyone any better than that. Think about that for just a second. Before you were ever conceived, God knew you! Not even your parents can say that. I remember how excited my wife and I were before each of our children were born. We couldn’t wait to see what they looked like, to see who they were. For nine months they are inside that belly and you get so excited about them coming out to meet you. For the first time in that delivery room you introduce yourself to your new child. We couldn’t wait to see what they would be like. We just couldn’t wait to meet them. But the Bible says that before we were even conceived, God knew us! That means before our parents got together, God knew us!
The word “know” carries with it a sense of relationship and approval. In other words, God had a stamp of approval on Jeremiah’s life. It means that God specifically knew Jeremiah and what he would become. Obviously, God was speaking to Jeremiah here, so you may think that God knew Jeremiah before he was born, but there is no way that he would know you because you are just an average Joe. However, God tells us over and over again in His word that He made us and formed us.
Psalms 139:13-16 For You have created my conscience. You knit me together in my mother’s womb. (14) I praise You, for I am awesomely, wonderfully made! Wonderful are Your works—and my soul knows that very well. (15) My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. (16) Your eyes saw me when I was unformed, and in Your book were written the days that were formed—when not one of them had come to be.
There is no arguing with this Scripture. He specifically says that God knit me together in my mother’s womb. David goes on to say; “your eyes saw me when I was unformed.” You can’t argue the fact that God knew you before you were even born. Another Scripture puts it quite clear for us as well.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them.
We were created to do good works and the Bible says that God has prepared us in advance to do those works.
There is no doubt that the Bible teaches God knew us before we were born. He didn’t just know Jeremiah but He knew each and every one of us before we ever took our first breath on our own.
You may be wondering why it is such a big deal that God knows us. The big deal is if God knows you then that means He knows what you are going through in life. If God knows us, that means we are not all alone, that means you haven’t been forgotten. God knows the very trial that you are dealing with. God knows the struggles that you are facing in life. God knows the temptations that you come up against. God knows your family situation and He has promised us that He will never leave us nor forsake us. God knows all about your financial dilemmas. He is concerned about you and He knows you. He hasn’t forgotten all about you, He knows your street address. He knows the number of hairs on your head. Before we accept Him as our Savior, there is a God that knows who you are and knows what you have need of and wants to meet those needs. He knows us so well that He knows what is best for us even better than we do. God sees the life that you have come out of, but He also sees the life that you are going into.
Knowing that God knows us should give us confidence. God told Jeremiah this at the beginning of His calling to be a prophet in order to give him confidence. He was commissioned by God to spread a message of judgment to the people of Israel. This isn’t exactly what you would call a fun message to preach. It was as though God was telling Jeremiah, “I know you have got a tough message to deliver but let me tell you something. I know you! I am not going to leave you alone. I am going to be by your side as you deliver this message.” God is giving this same message to some that are here today. He wants you to know before you leave this place that He will not leave you; He is by your side every step that you take. The first thing to know with our relationship with God is that before you were born, God knew you:
II. BEFORE YOU WERE BORN, GOD SET YOU APART
Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I SET YOU APART;”
God set Jeremiah apart. That means God had a specific purpose in mind for Jeremiah before he was ever born. In Jeremiah’s case, he was set apart for the purpose of being a prophet. Jeremiah was born with a certain task he was created to perform.
Each person in this room was created for a specific reason. Each person in this room was created on purpose for a purpose. This indicates to me that there is no one on the face of the planet who is a mistake. No one accidentally came into this world. Some parents may not have expected you, but no one was an accident because God had you in mind before you were ever born. Not only did He have you in mind, but He also had a purpose in mind for you when you came into this world. That is a message that people need to hear! We hear too much that we are no good; we hear that we were a mistake; we hear that we have no purpose in life, but that is not what God says. God says that you were created for a God-given purpose. There is a reason you are here. God made it very clear in Jeremiah’s life that he was here for a purpose.
He even said in Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,” declares Adonai, “plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them.
God told Jeremiah He had set him apart. The phrase, “set you apart” means to separate. In other words, God made Jeremiah kadosh, or holy. His calling was on Jeremiah’s life to perform a specific task.
God has a calling on your life for a specific task. God has specific directions for your life. Before you were born, God knew you, also, before you were born, He set you apart:
III. BEFORE YOU WERE BORN, GOD APPOINTED YOU
According to Webster’s the word “appoint” means: “to assign officially; equip or furnish.” We could read this Scripture like this: “I assigned you as a prophet to the nations.” “I will equip or furnish you to be a prophet to the nations.” God didn’t hardly give Jeremiah a say in the matter. God appointed Jeremiah to be a prophet before he was even born; He equipped him to be a prophet before he was born. What an amazing thought! Jeremiah could have thought, “Wait a minute. Don’t be so quick as to tell me what I am going to do. I’ve got my rights! You can’t just tell me what to do, I have some decisions I want to make on my own.”
That kind of thinking is backwards. That type of thinking is where we say, “God was created for me. He was created for me to call out to for help; He was created for me to grant me my wishes.” The Bible makes it very clear that we were created for God to do with as He chooses.
Each of us are in the same situation as Jeremiah, whether you know it or not. God knew us before we were conceived. He set us apart before we were born. He appointed us to do good works before we took that first breath.
God had paid a lot of attention to each and every one of us. Even before we were a twinkle in our parent’s eyes. That makes us special. I’m saying every human being is special. You are special. I’m special.
So, when God created us for doing good deeds what can we do? Treat that person sitting next to you like they are special. The second most important law is “love your neighbor as yourself.” That is one of the best good deeds you can do.
Put others ahead of you. Remember, every life is precious. From before birth to burial, every life is precious to our Heavenly Father. He sent His son to die for each of us. That’s how special human life is to God. It is up to us to recognize that and act appropriately.
I challenge each of you this week and all the coming weeks to treat everyone around you like the special person they are.