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Age is no barrier to God


When God informed Jeremiah that he was to be a prophet to the nations, Jeremiah's immediate response was that he was still a youth. The Hebrew word for "youth" can refer to an infant (Exodus 2: 6), a young boy (1 Samuel 2: 11), a teenager (Genesis 21: 12), or a young man (2 Samuel 18: 5). We don't really know Jeremiah' age when God called him but the ESV Study Bible informs us that he was still dependent on parental support as he had not reached adulthood. Jeremiah's response is probably due to humility on his part rather than any reluctance or unwillingness to serve God. He said that he was not able to speak publicly due to his age and inexperience.

God does not rebuke him for this reference to his age. God's reply to Jeremiah was, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak." In other words, God is promising to speak for Jeremiah and to speak through Jeremiah. Jeremiah is to be God's ambassador and he will be equipped by God for His service. With such an assurance, age was irrelevant. It is interesting to contrast God's response to Moses when he made a similar protest in response to God's call. Moses pointed out that he lacked eloquence and that he had always had a speech impediment. God reminded Moses that He was the creator of human speech faculties and that Moses' speech difficulties presented no hindrance to God's service. Moses then overstepped the mark by insisting that God should choose another messenger. God then displayed His anger at this lack of faith on Moses part. God is more tolerant to Jeremiah as He discerned that Jeremiah had perceived a genuine difficulty in obeying God's command - not a reluctance on his part.

God emphasises that Jeremiah is going to be empowered for the important commission he was undertaking. A series of very powerful images presents the invincibility of God's servants while they are engaged in His service. God promises Jeremiah, His servant, that he will be a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls, against the whole land, against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the people of the land." God is talking to a young man from an unknown family living in a small village, from a disgraced line of priests. But God is not saying that he will rely on Jeremiah's natural ability to survive - his resilience. God is saying that He will equip Jeremiah for the task which lay ahead of him. God promises him "I will make him a fortified city, an iron pillar and bronze walls." God will help Jeremiah to withstand opposition from the different social groups he will address.

God promises even more than this for Jeremiah. He will represent God and will be acting entirely on God' s behalf and on God's authority. "See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant." God is putting the youth, Jeremiah in a position of responsibility over the nations. He is clearly seen as God's ambassador and as such he represents Him. If God's will involves the destruction of a nation, Jeremiah will be God's agent in announcing this.

When we begin to grasp the greatness of the one who is giving us the commission to serve Him, how irrelevant and feeble are our excuses or genuine perceived obstacles. Age presents no problems to God's service. If Jeremiah was not too young, equally we are not too old for serving the master. Like me, your employer might have considered you old enough to retire from full-time employment, but that does not debar us from His service.

There’s a work for Jesus, ready at your hand,
’Tis a task the Master just for you has planned.
Haste to do His bidding, yield Him service true;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.

Work for Jesus, day by day,
Serve Him ever, falter never; Christ obey.
Yield Him service loyal, true,
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.

There’s a work for Jesus, humble though it be,
’Tis the very service He would ask of thee.
Go where fields are whitened, and the lab’rers few;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.

There’s a work for Jesus, precious souls to bring,
Tell them of His mercies, tell them of your King.
Faint not, nor grow weary, He will strength renew;
There’s a work for Jesus none but you can do.
[Elsie D Yale - 1912]

R. Neilly