Jeremiah 20:1-5 Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD. And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magor-missabib. For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon, and shall slay them with the sword. Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.
I couldn’t imagine being “smitten” while I’m preaching. But Jeremiah was. And the man who “smote Jeremiah” was none other than one of his contemporaries, another priest. That was very demeaning. Very rude. Very uncalled for. However, this morning, Jeremiah’s response is what sticks out to me. Here are a few observations from this morning’s Scripture reading, and Jeremiah’s response to the situation:
- God’s message will not always be popular – more and more in this day and age, God’s message isn’t popular. The further we get from a Judeo-Christian society here in the US, and it’s influence in the world, it is not popular. It wasn’t when Jeremiah preached it. It wasn’t in the disciples’ ministry (most were tortured to death). It hasn’t been in ministries over the years since Christ (I think of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). It wasn’t with Christ (He was tortured and killed). Doctrinal and social issues that we hold near and dear are being alienated and looked down upon at an increasingly, somewhat frightening rate.
- Jeremiah stood on God’s Word even though it meant potential negative consequences – though he was smitten, and though he was taken to the stocks (a very uncomfortable place to be), he continued to preach God’s Word without faltering or compromising its message. I believe strongly that we will soon have to make that choice in our context – in our churches, colleges, schools, and even individual and family lives. We will be called names, lose our jobs and businesses, and may have to choose between a pure message and the “law of the land”. And yet we see Jeremiah’s example of standing for principle and doctrine despite the consequences.
- Jeremiah understood the importance of God’s Word in his heart – He was tempted to quit. He was fearful. He was in distress. He was criticized, called unpatriotic, and I’m sure a bigot… But because he had God’s Word in his heart, like a burning fire, he couldn’t but speak God’s message in the midst of it all. Might we get His Words in our hearts, and memorize and meditate upon them, that when the trials and temptations come (which they will), we too will continue, and not be able to “forbear”.
Jeremiah 20:7-9 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the LORD was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
- If we stand with the right message, and the right spirit, those who criticize may come and seek the message in a time of need – A group from the king, including the one who smote Jeremiah, came to him seeking an answer from the Lord in the very next chapter (Jer 20:1-2). My dad called it the “season of the soul”. And when people are hurting, and they are fearful, and when people are searching for answers, they won’t think of the family member or coworker that is just like them. They will most likely think to the one with principle and conviction, who hasn’t wavered and who serves the Lord. Might that be us. May we preach with conviction and passion, and without compromise. But let us preach in love (“charity”) so that when the time comes that people are seeking God’s message, they know where they can seek it.