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Lowell Brueckner

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The Touch of God

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                  Chapter 1:7-19

 

Holy Spirit preparation

Please open your own Bibles. The entire text will not be included in these articles.

We can make a comparison between Samuel, to whom God spoke, launching his ministry, when he was only twelve-years-old, and a very young Jeremiah. “Samuel did not yet know the Lord” (1 S.3:7), and did not recognize His voice, so that God had to call to him three times, before he understood, through Eli, Who was speaking to him. Samuel knew his old superior and went to him, before he came to know God. To whom anyone resorts for answers determines his spiritual relationship. Anyone can judge his own life by Samuel’s example to see whether or not he has direct contact with God. Once Samuel had a genuine encounter with God, all that was expected of him was to deliver His word to Eli.

 It is obviously essential that the Lord’s servant must have personal knowledge of Him at the onset of his calling in life. We can see that, certainly, Jeremiah already knew God and, of course, God knew him, because he speaks freely with the Lord at the beginning of his book. God preordained him to be a prophet to the nations… to our nation and to every nation, through the inspired Book, which contains his writings (v.5).

Introduction to Jeremiah

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Jeremiah 1:1-6
 
Today, I begin the expository study of the book of the prophet Jeremiah. I do hope you will follow me through this effort to give us, as God's people, a better understanding of His word. The plan and purpose of God for this book began before Jeremiah's birth. It was urgent, for He called him at a very young age. He preserved this word and placed it permanently in our Bibles, because of it's importance to our lives. I cannot over-emphasize the need that we have to be attentive to God's voice by studying and heeding His word. Please open your Bible and follow along verse by verse. As always in an expository study, you will have to follow along in your own Bible, because it would add a lot of volume, if we included the entire text.

Jeremiah’s person and ministry

In 1976, a well-known and appreciated 75-year-old preacher, named Vance Havner, from the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, publicly reminisced about his life’s calling. He said, in his heavy southern drawl, “I never knew the day when I did not feel called to preach.”  He preached for the first time at age 12. Charles Spurgeon was not much older, when he began to preach. The first time that he was invited to preach in London, some smiled at his country accent. They had no way of knowing that one day London would not have an auditorium big enough to attend the crowds that came to listen to him.

 All good commentators agree that Jeremiah was very young, when God called him into the prophetic office: "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." Jeremiah spoke very literally, when he argued of his incompetence for the ministry, particularly because of his youth: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." Adam Clarke estimated that he was about 14-years-old.

 He was born a priest, therefore of the tribe of Levi, and came from a Benjamite town, called Anathoth. When Solomon was a new king, he deposed his high priest, Abiathar, banning him from Jerusalem and sent him to this town a few miles northeast of the great city (1 K.2:26-35). Abiathar came first to David in exile, having escaped the massacre of the priests in Nob (1 S.22:20). Jeremiah could have been a descendent of the disgraced high priest, although from the time of Joshua, Anathoth had been given as a residence for the priesthood (Josh.21:18), so already there were priests living there.

 There is no mention of a wife or family, but his father was Hilkiah. Possibly, he was the high priest, whose timely discovery of the Book of the Law in the neglected temple, ended King Josiah’s search for the true God, which began when he was 16 years old (2 K.22:8). It happened in the 18th year of Josiah’s reign and brought revival to Judah.   

 A contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, was also a priest. However, a prophet, unlike a priest, is not born a prophet, but called by a God, who does as He pleases. It is His way to call the unlikely ones and we see that pattern throughout the Bible, particularly in Christ’s calling of His disciples. 

 

Penetrating Power in Evangelism

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 I want to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to read from the writings of a man of God, whose name we don’t often hear these days. Yet he was a vessel, who made a significant impression, not only on the church, but on the entire world, through great missionary endeavors.

 Albert B. Simpson was raised in a strict Calvinistic Scottish Presbyterian tradition, to the extent that, when he came under deep conviction of sin, his parents, either did not know how to help him or, more probably, thought that it was improper to interfere with God’s work of salvation. However, young Simpson struggled under the weight of sin for too long and found no relief, until he discovered a line in Walter Marshall’s Gospel Mystery of Salvation, “The first good work you will ever perform is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” This little ray of light, given by a human writer, brought Simpson to commit his life to “Jesus Only”, his burden was lifted and he was gloriously converted.

 A. B. Simpson was founder of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, a movement which was dedicated to taking the gospel to the far ends of the world. This is the movement, to which A. W. Tozer belonged and, in fact, Tozer wrote Simpson’s biography, Wingspread. My father also belonged to the C&MA and loved to read Simpson’s Christ-exalting books. 

Hear Him!

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 “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!”  Matthew 17:5

 I will not try to hide the fact that one of my favorite authors, if not my favorite, is A. W. Tozer. There are several reasons for this. First of all, Tozer belonged to the same denomination, in which I was raised as a boy, so I especially appreciate some of the truth that they emphasized (just to mention two favorite verses… “Christ in you, the hope of glory” and “not I, but Christ in me”). Secondly, Tozer lived near enough to this generation to speak of trends that are still in the forefront in our day and he knew where they would lead us. Above those two reasons, Tozer had a gift of expression, when he spoke or wrote about God and His Son that warms my heart more than any other writer. Of course, I consider the material of many more authors to be valuable. We need the body of Christ, the saints of all ages, which comprise the Church, whether they are alive or have already passed on to Glory. We only see a small part of the whole spectrum of truth. Others in our day see other things, and down through time, men of God saw gems of scriptural truth, which can enrich us today. We need to read good books… lots of them! The people of God have always done that.

 At the same time, I find things in which I disagree with Tozer, although they are not many and certainly not vital matters. We should follow no man exclusively, because we are all brothers in imperfection and we only find perfection in Christ. I mention Tozer, because you will see that I have presented some of his thoughts previously and I want to do some again. Here are some things that Tozer had to say concerning loyalty and following man. Tozer was a pastor, principally in two churches in his lifetime, one in Chicago and the other in Toronto, so he is speaking on this subject from a pastoral standpoint. He always pointed his people to Christ alone:

 In Rut, Root or Revival, chapter five, he said: “Faith in Jesus is not commitment to your church or denomination. I believe in the local church… I believe in the divine assembly. We ought to realize that we are, as a group of Christians, a divine assembly, a cell in the body of Christ, alive with His life. But not for one second would I try to create in you a faith that would lead you to commit yourself irrevocably to a local church or to your church leaders.”

Personal Power and Group Pride

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As I prepare and share radio programs on the Old Testament kings, I am made aware, once more, of man´s inability to handle power, no matter how great his character and spiritual maturity. We need constant reminders of the propensity of a common fault in human nature. David fell and a long line of Israel and Judah´s kings followed him. I just studied good King Uzziah, of whom it was said that “he became exceedingly strong… he was marvelously helped till he became strong.” But then, “When he was strong his heart was lifted up, to his destruction.” He became furious, when the priests tried to advise him for his own good, and ended his life alone and in disgrace.

 The apostle Paul understood this defect in human nature, even in those born again, and was humble enough to write of his own personal experience: “Lest I should be exalted above measure… a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me… for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  

 Don’t think that Tozer chose this text, looking for a sermon for his Sunday morning service in his church, or that he prepared it for preaching in one of the annual “Councils” (as they called them) of his denomination. That is, he wasn’t motivated by an urge to have an interesting text to catch the attention of the thousands of people attending from all parts of America and representatives of various parts of the world.

 We lived within 300 miles of Chicago, where Tozer was pastoring a church. I was only 19-years-old when Tozer died and I don’t remember ever hearing him in person, but I have read every book I could find of his and listened to dozens of his tapes. My dad heard him on various occasion in these “Councils”, that I mentioned, or in pastoral conventions, because he belonged to the same denomination. Also, I communicated for at least ten years personally, by letters and by telephone with a good friend of Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill. Len preached in Tozer’s church, prayed alone with him and considered him his mentor.

 No, from what I know about Tozer, he didn’t write this chapter because its theme would fit nicely into his book. He wrote it because he knew personally some of these “kings¨, just like the one described in Ecclesiastes, and I suspect that he found some of them in the organization that he belonged to. Tozer had enemies, who didn’t like him, because he brought to light the situations that he knew on his back doorstep. I had a friend, who was a student at a Bible school under the same denomination. Tozer came to talk to the students at the school’s “spiritual life week”, and afterwards was severely criticized by some of the professors.