Jeremiah 20 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Chapters 18 and 19 are rather brutal. The tensions are rising as Jeremiah continues to be faithful to God’s Word. We must keep in mind that all Jeremiah is doing is repeating the message God is giving Jeremiah. The message does not originate with Jeremiah. All Jeremiah needs to do is relay the message to the people. He did not add or subtract from God’s message. This is a good reminder for any preacher or speaker. Faithfulness to God’s message is not just important; faithfulness is what God demands. Faithfulness is the only option.
The first few verses in Jeremiah 20 reveal the animosity many people have toward Jeremiah. Remember, according to 1:1, Jeremiah comes from a priestly family. Yet Jeremiah faces opposition from a priest. A priest and not just any priest opposes Jeremiah. Pashhur is a chief officer in the house of the Lord. What? A chief officer in the House of the Lord is preventing God’s chosen servant from speaking? Pashhur then punishes Jeremiah? This is an extremely serious sin. The chief office of the house of the Lord is punishing the prophet of the Lord. Pashhur is in trouble, not with Jeremiah, but with God.
Yet, Jeremiah does not take this sitting down. Jeremiah rebukes Pashhur by giving him a new name: Terror on Every Side. And God unloads on Pashhur in v. 4. Can you imagine having God against you? Can you imagine God promising to punish you, carrying you away to another country after you watched your friends die by the sword? What a terrible word against Pashhur, v. 6 “To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.” What similar fate awaits anyone who opposes God and His gospel.
In vs 7-18, we read of the anguish of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is hurting and he rightly sees God as the reason for his pain. Jeremiah is conflicted. When he speaks, he gets in trouble (vs. 7-8). In v. 7, people say something like the following, “Oh, oh. Here comes Mr. Terror on every side! Jeremiah who thinks the sky is falling. Mr. Terror on every side, are we all in trouble? Just because you are all gloom and doom? Can’t you say anything positive?”
Yet Jeremiah cannot keep God’s Word to Himself. In v. 9, God’s message has to come out. “. . . there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones. . . .” In fact, Jeremiah cannot keep God’s message bottled up inside. There is a compulsion that comes from His calling. This is similar to what Paul says in Romans 1, “14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel . . . .” Look at I Cor 9:16-17, “16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.”
Jeremiah praises God in v. 13 and curses the day he was born in v 14. Read the rest of v. 14 – 18. If you had a vote, would you have included that in Scripture? This complaint is inscripturated for all to see. In other words, God put in sacred Scripture these complaints. This ought to remind us that not every Christian is happy all the time. Some of us get discouraged or depressed. Some of us suffer from depression. Is that due to genetics, circumstances, injustice or pain inflicted on us? Few of us know the reasons why we experience the feelings we do. Our depression may be a combination of many factors. But many believers have suffered the dark night of the soul or experience ongoing feelings of discouragement.
You are not alone if you feel or have felt that way. All you have to do is read Jeremiah, Job, or the Psalms. In fact there is an entire book called Lamentations. You might find some very comforting verses there. And while you are at it, learn about William Cowper who along with other Christian greats, struggled mightily in this area.
Thank God the Scripture give full vent to our many emotions. Thank God that He understands we are but dust. The cry, ”My God, My God why have you forsaken Me?” is not the last word. While it is an important word, the resurrection of Christ is a powerful response. May Christ’s victory temper our discouragements with a hope that does not disappoint.