Summary: Using the Bible’s foreviews of the careers of John the Baptist and the Prophet Jeremiah, this sermon encourages believers to persevere in the expectation that God has just as clearly foreseen their conformity to the image of Christ.
Third Sunday in Advent
“God’s 20/20 Foresight”
We have all heard the proverb that says, “Hindsight is always 20-20.” I don’t know of another proverb that says anything similarly pithy and witty about foresight. An obvious reason, I suppose, is that foresight isn’t anything like 20/20. In my experience, it’s more like 20/2000 or something worse.
In God’s case, however, foresight is definitely 20/20. Did you notice that both lessons today – the one from Jeremiah and the one from Luke – both of them are about men who got a 20/20 look into their futures?
God did gave them an overview of their lives – directly to Jeremiah, and to John the Baptist through the prophecy his father Zachariah sang in the Temple when his tongue was loosed when he endorsed naming his newborn son John. While John the Baptist was just a baby, and when Jeremiah was probably in his teens, God provides an accurate outline of what their futures will hold, what they will do in God’s service, and the kinds of trials they will face in His service.
When we look in Scripture, we don’t see a lot of this. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the time God never gives this kind of preview to his children. There are two conclusions we might draw from that fact. A wrong conclusion would be this: that God has a wonderful plan for only a few of his children – people like Moses or Abraham or Jeremiah, or the Virgin Mary, or John the Baptist. God has a clear and precise plan for THEIR lives, while the REST of us kind of MUDDLE THROUGH somehow.
The TRUE conclusion goes like this: We have a destiny just as sure as Jeremiah or John the Baptist, but they get to see a preview of that destiny, while ordinarily we don’t. God knows our future just as much as he knows Jeremiah’s or John’s. He has plans FOR US just as much as he ever did for Jeremiah or John. But, he doesn’t show them to us. I believe the Bible teaches this, and I want to show you a couple of reasons why. I want to point to a few particulars in the 20/20 foreviews God gives to Jeremiah and John the Baptist and ALSO point out where the Scripture says the same thing is true for you and me.
Let’s begin with something which makes SOME people uncomfortable, though why it should is a mystery to me. God’s plan for Jeremiah and for John the Baptist PREDATES the birth of either of them. Remember, to Jeremiah God said this: 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.”
We have already looked at the Angel Gabriel’s comments to Zacharias about John, and at the time Gabriel makes these statements, John has not even been conceived in Elizabeth’s womb. So, even before John is a twinkle in his father’s eye, God knows him, knows his mission, and gives him a name.
Do you suppose this kind of thing is true about you or me? King David seemed to think so, when he wrote one of the most favorite songs in the Book of Psalms. In Psalm 139, David says this:
My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
David compares his life to a tale that God has written down in a book, including every day of David’s life. There they are – in God’s book – when none of them had yet come to pass.
Someone might way, “Well, okay. But that’s just another one of those special people.” And, yes, David is special. But when God puts this song in Israel’s hymnbook, so that it becomes the song of worship and praise for all God’s people, the point is that what David says about himself here is true for all who sing this song. God knows you and me just as he knew David. He saw who we were before we were even formed in our mothers’ wombs. And all our days were written in God’s book, the days fashioned for each one of us, when as yet there were none of them.
And, what about those days? God told Jeremiah and John the Baptist some things about the days they would have. The mission he had from God was spelled out for Jeremiah, and also for John, with some specificity. In Jeremiah’s case, God even told him he would face opposition and persecution, and that Jeremiah would prevail over all of it. Does God ever tell you and me anything about our days?