Explaining the Book

Bible Study Guide

Jeremiah

Did God Know Jeremiah Before He Was Born?

In Jeremiah 1:5 God tells Jeremiah that he knew (ידע – yadang) the soon-to-be prophet before he was even born! But what does that mean?

You might think it’s an easy question to answer. Know means know. Right? Well, no.

There are nuances to that Hebrew word. It can obviously refer to intellectual knowledge. But that word can also communicate volitional knowledge — in other words, choosing.

Here are a few examples of when know doesn’t mean know — but rather something like choose

God Chose Abraham

In Genesis 18:19 God says that he knew Abraham — that he would raise his children to fear the Lord. A number of translations have in place of the word know the word chose.

God then is saying that he chose Abraham so that or in order that or with the purpose that Abraham would raise his children to fear the Lord.

Did God choose Abraham? Yes! God chose to tell Abraham to leave his country. God chose to make promises to him. God chose to make a covenant with him. God chose to give him the sign of circumcision. So, yes, God chose Abraham!

God Knew Israel

A second passage where the word know is used to refer to God’s choosing is Amos 3:2.

He says “You only have I known from all the families of the earth”. Now, that can’t be referring to mere intellectual knowledge. God knows everything and everyone. It’s not as if he only knows Israel and the rest of the nations he’s ignorant of.

No, God there is saying that he chose the nation of Israel out of all the nations in the world.

And actually God goes on to say that his special choosing of them was a reason that God needed to punish Israel — because they had sinned against his gracious choice of and dealings with them.

God Chose Jeremiah

So, yes, God knew Jeremiah before he was even born. He certainly knew of his future existence. But beyond that, God chose Jeremiah.

But you might be wondering what God chose him for. The answer is to be a prophet to the nations!

Implications of God’s Knowledge of Jeremiah

Now, there are a few implications that flow from considering God’s knowing and choosing Jeremiah before he was even born. Let’s look at two such implications…

God Forms Babies in the Womb

God takes credit for forming babies in the womb in Jeremiah 1:5 and elsewhere in Scripture.

We’re so scientific and naturalistic in this age. We see a baby being formed in the womb with our modern instruments and we think – “Oh, that’s just the natural process of things”.

But that doesn’t explain why it happens. Additionally, who or what made those so-called natural processes anyway? Who or what sets them in motion?

Well, the Lord takes credit for it. That’s one implication of the teaching of Jeremiah 1:5.

There’s a second like unto it…

Roe V. Wade

At the time I write this post, forty-three years ago (in 1973) on January twenty-second seven so-called Justices in the United States Supreme Court overruled two of their colleagues to legalize the murder of unborn babies in this nation.

That was the case of Roe v. Wade.

Murder. Legalized in our country. For 43 years.

God have mercy on us.

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