In Jeremiah 20 (which can be read in its entirety here), we see opposition to prophet Jeremiah beginning to harden, the start of the chapter gives us a glimpse into his persecution at the hands of those who did not want to heed God’s word.
Pashhur, the chief officer in the temple, heard Jeremiah prophesying and had him beaten and put in the stocks (verse 2). Jeremiah was subject to painful public disgrace and was regarded as a false prophet. Pashhur was a priest and he was not willing to listen to words of warning from God.
Ironically, all the torture and humiliation that he inflicted on Jeremiah was done at the house of the Lord (verse 2, at the upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple). That was the place where the priest held power and used it to defy the authority of God. He clearly was no man of God for he did not fear what God had to say or His authority, neither had discernment to know what was from God, guided people away from God and humiliated and inflicted pain on those who were obedient to God, like Jeremiah.
For us: A position of leadership or influence within the church does not automatically equate to their life being led right with God and their words or perspective the truth. Each and every one of us are to read the word and discern and see if those who occupy those places are in submission to God (Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world, 1 John 4:1).
We as a people can lean towards being intellectually lazy and refrain from making the time and effort to study the word of God. The Lord blesses us with great biblical teachers who help us understand the word but may we remember that they are after all human and we have to be cautious to not impetuously believe one person’s teachings or interpretation over the word of God, because if we do that, we leave ourselves open to being led astray in our understanding of scripture and regarding their words and thoughts above God’s.
Invited to share our heart with God
Jeremiah with his heart heavy, pours out his burden to the Lord. He complains and attributes his suffering to the Lord. In Jeremiah 1, we read that Jeremiah was reluctant to be a prophet, but God says that He chose him to be one. And in this chapter, Jeremiah says that all he gets as a prophet is insult and reproach.
Jeremiah shares that he was torn between the tension within himself of not wanting to proclaim God’s word because of what it subjects him to, and yet he could not keep from his calling of speaking out God’s word. Prophetic reluctance over divine compulsion is what we see here described.
For us: We are invited to share our heart as is with the Lord, Jeremiah did not soften his words or his emotions when he spoke to God. He was completely honest with what he felt. This is such an encouraging reminder for us to know that we do not have to blur or soften our heavy emotions before we take them to the Lord, or even our hesitation or struggle with being obedient to His calling. God wants us to approach him in all honesty with all our struggles because He will minister to our needs accordingly.
In verse 11-13, we see Jeremiah’s faith strengthen. The first thing he reminds himself of and is comforted by is the continual presence of God with him like a mighty warrior. Through it all there was no doubt about God being with him. God’s presence strengthened and sustained him and he reminded himself that nothing can stand against God, His plans and His purposes.
For us: May we remember that the Lord is with us through whatever situation we might be going through. He will never leave us or forsake us. Draw strength from that truth and know that no scheme of Satan will prevail against the plans of God. Stand firm in His strength and rest in that truth.
Commune with God
Deep in despair, heart heavy, very much in the midst of his trying circumstance, Jeremiah found himself being strengthened as he communed with God.
For us: This is a wonderful reminder for us that there is so much power in prayer. Often times when things worry us, we can spend many a minute fretting over it, but fail to take it to God as often as we allow those worrying thoughts to fill our minds. I am guilty of doing that, I have to remind myself that instead of thinking and worrying about it so much let me just talk to God about it and that has been such a game changer for me. Mind you, it is something that I have to constantly be intentional about.
Jeremiah portrays that the impossibility of enduring and going through his situation is made a possibility because of God and he says in verse 12b “For to you I have committed my cause.”
I found these words very encouraging. What cause lays heavy on your heart today?
Is it your health or that of a loved one, your financial situation, lack of work, a strained relationship, the mental health of a dear one, the spiritual state of a spouse, a child, sibling or friend. Whatever it is, know that just as Jeremiah did not have to see through his cause on his own strength, but instead committed it to God, so can we.
So, dear friends commit that which causes your heart to be heavy and your mind to worry to God. Commit it to Him because He is your mighty warrior, your ever-present help, your rock and your fortress, your provider and protector, your Sovereign God and your loving heavenly Father who created you, sees you, hears you and cares for you.