Saturday after the Twenty-Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Jeremiah 20:1-18 (NKJV)
1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck 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. 3 And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, “The LORD has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. 4 For thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies.'”
7 O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me. 8 For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, “Violence and plunder!” Because the word of the LORD was made to me a reproach and a derision daily. 9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name.” But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not. 10 For I heard many mocking: “Fear on every side!” “Report,” they say, “and we will report it!” All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying, “Perhaps he can be induced; Then we will prevail against him, and we will take our revenge on him.”
11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty, awesome One. Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail. They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper. Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten. 12 But, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, and see the mind and heart, let me see Your vengeance on them; For I have pleaded my cause before You. 13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For He has delivered the life of the poor from the hand of evildoers. 14 Cursed be the day in which I was born! Let the day not be blessed in which my mother bore me! 15 Let the man be cursed who brought news to my father, saying, “A male child has been born to you!” Making him very glad. 16 And let that man be like the cities which the LORD overthrew, and did not relent; Let him hear the cry in the morning and the shouting at noon, 17 because he did not kill me from the womb, that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb always enlarged with me. 18 Why did I come forth from the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?
When Jeremiah carried his divine warning into the court of the Lord’s house, Pashhur the priest beat and restrained him overnight. He ridiculed and discredited Jeremiah for daring to speak words against the temple. However, this only caused Jeremiah to announce the threat of the apostate nation’s doom more emphatically and pointedly than before. He identified the destroyer “from the north” as Babylon. He singled out Pashhur as one of the victims of war and exile.
Jeremiah proved to be an iron pillar, unbending and unbent by opposition. However, he was not a self-made hero. In the latter verses of the chapter he reveals how desperately he needed God to fortify him with spiritual stamina for the task, which was so distasteful to him. He was so troubled by this call that he even tried to ignore the divine impulse to speak as an inspired prophet. He was filled with terror by the whispering of former friends, plotting to take revenge on him. In order to overcome his frustration and fear he had to remind himself that, because the Lord had promised to be with him “to deliver” him, his persecutors could not overcome him.
Prayer not only quieted his fears, but also gave him the boldness to praise the Lord as if He had already delivered him from the hand of evildoers. However, the moment he took his eyes off the Lord and became introspective, he slipped back into dark brooding over his fate. The sudden change of mood from praise for God to deep melancholy will not surprise anyone who has wrestled with God and His will for their life.