What’s the Meaning of ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you’?

Can you explain this Bible verse: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you”?

This phrase comes from the opening lines of the Book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament. This particular verse (Jeremiah 1:5) and the ones that follow are a call to leadership for the not-so-confident Jeremiah. Essentially, God is saying that he’s given Jeremiah many gifts, and Jeremiah doesn’t need to be afraid. God knows Jeremiah; he was born for the role that’s being prescribed for him.

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Jeremiah becomes a prophet and predicts the fall of Judah to Babylon and that many of Judah’s people will be captives in a foreign land. So, the job of being a prophet wasn’t an easy one. Often in our lives, we’re called to confront difficult situations, or we see things going awry for others and want to call them out of harm’s way (just like Jeremiah). The Book of Jeremiah may indeed be a good one for people in similar situations. They will read about Jeremiah’s journey as well as God’s promise to eventually save God’s people. And hopefully, they’ll discover the confidence to follow God’s call in their own lives.