In part 4 we saw that some people were said by God to be wicked from the womb. In this part we shall look at the opposite state, being born to election by God.
Jeremiah 1:4-5. “The word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations..'”
Jeremiah was known by God before he was conceived, and elected to the role of prophet before he was born. How can this be? Is there unrighteousness with God? Does He capriciously select one for a useful role in life, whilst declaring another to be a rebel from the womb?
No, He does not. But ask how the average evangelical would handle the verses brought forward in part 4 and now in part 5. A Calvinist might rise to the occasion and say that this is exactly what he considers election is all about. An Arminian might be hard put to it to figure out a logical answer. The majority of believers would probably just pass these verses by, and try not to give any further thought to the matter.
The Lord declared that He knew Jeremiah before he was conceived. Therefore Jeremiah existed before he was conceived. It’s not good enough to say that in the mind of God He was able to see down the corridors of time, and know that if He chose Jeremiah he would respond positively, and make a good job of it. That solution has been in print many times, but it doesn’t hold water. It’s what is described in today’s colloquialism as “a cop out.”
We need to accept the Lord’s words at face value. Why? Because that is how He intended us to understand them. He was making a statement to reveal something that neither Jeremiah, nor any one else, could possibly know without divine revelation. It was the Lord who declared a man to be wicked from the womb, and now the same Lord has declared another man to be elected from the womb. What’s the problem? If we were to accept the pre-existence of human beings, there would be no perplexity. But because most people fight shy of the concept, they have to resort to devious means to explain something that is basically very simple to understand.
Here is another text. Isaiah 49:1-2 “Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother He named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of His hand He hid me; He made me a polished arrow, in His quiver He hid me away.”
Isaiah is giving virtually the same testimony as that recorded of Jeremiah. We might also quote the testimony of David, from Psalm 71:4-6 “Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For You O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord from my youth. Upon You have I learned from my birth; You are the One who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of You.”
There is no name attached to this Psalm, but we may safely accept David’s authorship by looking at verses 22-23, where David speaks about playing musical instruments and singing to the Lord.
This is by no means the end. Let us read of Samson in Judges 13:3-5 “The angel of the Lord appeared to the woman [Manoah’s wife] and said to her, ‘Behold, you are barren and have no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.'”
Next we turn to John the Baptist. Luke 1:13-15 “The angel said to him, ‘Fear not, Zachariah, because your request was heard, and your wife Elisabeth will bear a son to you and you shall call his name John, and you shall have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the eyes of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink, and he shall be filled with holy spirit even from his mother’s womb.'”
Now the story of John is valuable from another textual reference, found in John 1:6 “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” He was sent. From whence did he come? Certainly not from the earth. Like Jeremiah, the Lord knew him before he was conceived. Our Lord also spoke about John in this manner, (Luke 11:10) “For this is he of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You.” [Note, the word messenger is “Angel” in the Greek. It is also Angel in Malachi 3:1, where the original is found. In fact Malachi means “My angel.”]
John the Baptist was an angelic messenger sent from heaven to prepare the way of our Lord. Bear in mind that as the word angel means “deputy”, or “messenger”, it must not be thought of as a particular “class” of heavenly beings. They were called “stars” in Job 38. They only become “angels” when sent on errands from the throne of God.
The mounting evidence from this part shows that God has made choices from amongst His heavenly host before they come to the earth. It is therefore a logical extension of thought to say that the heavenly environment provided “sons of God” with freewill choices before conception and birth. Based on this, some are elected to high office by God whilst on earth; others are said to be “wicked from the womb.” The doctrine of election takes on a new meaning once pre-existence is understood. We must speak of election again in a later number.