Unlocking the Deeper Meaning…
"Now the word of Yahweh came to me, saying," Jeremiah 1:4 WEB

The majority of translations render  the Hebrew word hayah in this verse as "came." This is unfortunate. The root meaning of hayah is "to be," not "to come." The reason for the us of the word "came" is that it makes sense in a sentence. If this were translated literally, it would read: "Now the word of Yahweh was to me, saying." It doesn't flow well, but it has a lot of meaning packed in it.When you look at Jeremiah's call to ministry, you will notice how different it is than Isaiah's. We find no winged creatures, smoke, or shaking thresholds in Jeremiah's recollection of God's call to him. Just because it was not flashy does not mean it was not significant.

Jeremiah recognized God's word in his heart over time. How do we know? The word hayah tells us so. It appears in verses 2, 3, 4, 11, and 13. It's not until verse 6 that we find the word "said" attributed to God.God worked in Jeremiah's life over the course of time to bring the young man to the realization a calling and purpose for life. It was not an instantaneous vision; it was a process.

Most of us can identify more with Jeremiah than with Isaiah. God works in and through people, circumstances, prayer, scripture reading, and any number of other influences to teach us what His will is for us. The goal for us is this: are we alert and sensitive to God's word as it comes (is) to us? Are we willing to respond positively when we understand Him?Jeremiah had a long and challenging ministry, but he fulfilled it with great vigor. Will you?
When we face the most difficult times in our lives it is natural to question why things like these happen when we have a God who loves us so much. As a hospice chaplain I hear many people say they don't feel that it is appropriate to question God when a tragedy happens. I respectfully, gently, but passionately disagree! The reluctance to approach God with our painful questions often stems from a misunderstanding of our relationship with our heavenly father. If our earthly fathers were responsible for helping us understand life, how much more would God want to answer our questions?
Jesus set an example for us in this regard. He directly questioned God's actions! Here is an excerpt from my book When Gospels Collide that shows how Jesus directly confronted his father with the ultimate question:
365. Jesus Dies on The Cross
aMatt. 27:45-54; bMark 15:33-39;
cLuke 23:44-48; dJohn 19:28-30
a45Now b33when the sixth hour had come, c44darkness came a45over all b33the whole land until the ninth hour. b34At a46about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, b34"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which is, being interpreted, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" b35Some of them who stood a47there, when they heard it, said, b35"Behold, a47this man is calling Elijah." d28After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I am thirsty." d29Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there. a48Immediately one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar. d29So they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it to his mouth, a48and gave him a drink, b36saying, "Let him be. Let's see whether Elijah comes to take him down a49to save him." d30When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, c46crying b37out a50again c46with a loud voice, said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit! d30It is finished." Having said this, he bowed his head; c46he breathed his last a50and yielded up his spirit. a51Behold, c45the sun was darkened, a51the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split. a52The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. a53And coming out of the tombs after his resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared to many.
Most translations of this passage do not convey the desperation of Jesus' question. What he was saying is, "My God, my God, why did you give up on me? Why did you turn your back on me?" In his darkest moment, the humanity in Jesus could not find the divinity that was his innate nature. He was truly alone. Even those standing around him watching him die had no idea what he was saying. Not more than a few days before, many hundreds of people cheerfully greeted him as he came into Jerusalem for Passover. Now, only a handful of people stand around waiting and watching for him and two common criminals to die. THIS is the moment when the big questions have the right to be asked.
YOUR of pain and uncertainty is the time when the big questions can be asked of God as well. He is big enough and tough enough to take whatever questions we ask. The question for us is this: are we big enough and strong enough to handle the answers when God gives them?

For most of my life I thought that the opposite of fear was bravery or courage. It seems to make sense: brave people have less fear than the rest of us wimps. What makes sense from a human perspective may not be what God wants us to know.

In 1st John 4:16-21, we see the opposite, or antidote, to fear from God’s point of view:

4:16 We know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. 4:17 In this love has been made perfect among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, even so are we in this world. 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has punishment. He who fears is not made perfect in love.  4:19 We love him, because he first loved us. 4:20 If a man says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who doesn’t love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?  4:21 This commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should also love his brother. [WEB]

Now we see that courage is not the opposite of fear. LOVE is the opposite of fear! How does that make sense? What’s the difference between courage and Love?

Courage is an internal feeling I have that gives me the ability to do things that other fearful people cannot or will not do. Notice all of the “me” related words in that sentence: internal, I, me, other. Courage is too closely related to pride to be something that God would want for us. Courage is something that “I” create. “Love” is something that God alone creates.

Love is a gift from God that connects me to him and to the people in my sphere of influence. When I recognize the depth of love God has for me it is easier to overcome the things that once caused me to be afraid. When I am connected to God through this love, I am the beneficiary of His power. When I am connected by love to the people around me, I am the beneficiary of their love and support as well.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear. . . .” To the degree that I am fearful, my ability to love and be loved is limited. How do I change it? Humble myself before God and ask Him to make me a more loving and lovable creature.

You gotta know this passage because it will change the way you love, the way you are loved, and the way you face the fears and challenges this world will surely send your way.


J. Brent Eaton