A STUDY OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

Serving God Brings Pain and Suffering

Jeremiah 19-20 SCC 1/15/17

 

WHEN IN CONFLICT WITH GOD YOU STAND YOUR GROUND PERILOUSLY

19:1-2 God told Jeremiah to Go and buy a potterís earthenware jar, probably a narrow-necked pottery flask used for carrying water because the Hebrew word is a word suggesting the sound water made as it was poured out. Next he was to take some of the elders and some of the senior priests and go to the valley of Ben hinnom, which is by the potsherd gate and deliver the message that the Lord would give him. The Hinnom Valley ran along the south and west of the city and served as Jerusalemís community dump. The Potsherd Gate is where the people carried their potsherds (broken pieces of pottery) and other refuse through to throw it in the Hinnom Valley.

19:3 The prophet was to call everyone in Jerusalem to hear the Lord's message, from the kings to the ordinary citizens. Israel's God, Almighty God, was about to bring a calamity of unheard of severity on Jerusalem.

19:4-5 The calamity would strike because the people because: (1) they had forsaken God and (2) they had turned the valley of Hinnom, and all Jerusalem, into a place of heathen worship, including child sacrifice. Their forefathers did not do this, and God had never commanded these atrocities.

19:6-7 Because of these sins, the Lord predicted that the place would receive a new name: The Valley of Slaughter v 6. The Lord would also turn the wise advice of the people of Judah and Jerusalem into foolishness v 7. As they had worshipped nothings there, so their wisdom would come to nothing. Their enemy would slaughter them there, as they had slaughtered their innocent children. No one would bury their dead bodies. They would become food for carrion birds and wild animals.

19:8-9 God would also destroy Jerusalem so that everyone who passed its ruins would whistle in amazement because of the devastation v 8. The siege of Jerusalem would be so bad that the residents would eat their own children, and one another, rather than die of starvation v 9.

19:10-11 Jeremiah was to break his jar in the sight of his hearers as a symbolic act, and announce that in similar fashion, the Lord would destroy the people and the city v 10. They would not be able to recover from this catastrophe any more than one could repair a shattered earthenware jar v 11. The only burial places would be in Topheth. The fireplace would become a cemetery. Judah was a hardened vessel incapable of changing. All the Lord could do with it now was break it.

9:12-13 God would also make Jerusalem a place of fire like Topheth, and its people a sacrifice v 12 because all the people, from the ordinary citizens to the kings, had turned their houses into altars dedicated to pagan godís v 13. The people had offered burnt offerings and poured out drink offerings on their flat rooftops to astral deities and other idols.

19:14-15 Jeremiah then returned from Topheth in the Valley of Hinnom to the temple courtyard v 14. There he preached to the people that the Lord was about to bring this calamity on Jerusalem and the towns of Judah because they had stubbornly refused to repent v 15.

NB: So repentance is admission of guilt and desire to change and go another direction. It includes confession of wrongdoing and commitment to get off that path. God places a high premium on repenting because it the only way to communicate agreement with God. Repentance is the way to agreement. Otherwise God describes you as stiff-necked. You are so to your own peril.

 

SERVING AGAINST GOD OR FOR HIM BOTH BRING PAIN AND SUFFERING

Getting in Godís way guarantees your demise 1-6

20:1-2 Pashhur was the priest, ...the chief officer in the house of the Lord. Probably his job was to maintain order within the Temple area 29:26. He had Jeremiah the prophet beaten, and put him in stocks for public ridicule. This is the first recorded act of violence done to Jeremiah. It reminds us of the captain of the temple guard who, years later, similarly imprisoned Peter and John in Acts 5.

20:3-6 When Jeremiah was released the next day, he did not change his message. Instead, he changed Pashhurís name to Godís new name for him, Magor-missabib, meaning terror on every side v 3. Because Pashhur refused to pay attention to Godís message, while your eyes look on, Pashhur would see Godís wrath v 4. This is the first explicit reference to the place of exile in the book. He would watch in terror as his own friends would fall to the sword. The wealth of the city would be taken by the Babylonians v 5. Pashhur, who would terrorize Jeremiah for the message he proclaimed, will be terrorized and his family would go into captivity to Babylon, where they will die v 6 because you have falsely prophesied (2:8; 10:21; 14:14-15; Lamentations 2:14).

NB: Never put words in Godís mouth. Never take words out of his mouth. Never exchange his words for yours. Never have God speak out of both sides of his mouth. Never make God stutter. Never ignore Gods words. Donít Pashhur the Words of God!

Staying true to Gods Word guarantees pain and suffering 7-18

20:7-10 Jeremiah opened up his heart to God. He felt God had deceived him by letting him be a laughingstock and mocked by the people for his message v 7. He felt betrayed by the Lord. He faithfully proclaimed violence and destruction, but was rewarded by reproach and derision v 8.

Application: Godís message is Good News to us but to the world it is foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18) and it stinks (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Jesus said that in the world you will have tribulation (John 16:33). Jesus also said, If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19).

Discouraged, Jeremiah considers withholding Godís Word to avoid persecution. But when he did, then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it v 9. He heard the mocking of his message Terror on every side! His trusted friends were watching for his fall. They wanted a false prediction so they could accuse him of being a false prophet and take our revenge on him v 10 (Deut 18:20). He had become a Magor-missabib (terror on every side) of sorts himself and the people may well have applied this nickname to him.

Application: If Jeremiah wasn't ashamed to preach bad news, we shouldn't be ashamed to preach the good news. David also said, ďEven my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against meĒ (Psalm 41:9, 12). The Lord Jesus Christ suffered similar opposition.

20:11-13 Though Jeremiah felt deceived because of his persecution, he still realized that the Lord is with me like a dread champion v 11. Since Jeremiah and God were on the same side, Jeremiah is confident my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. That God dost test the righteous v 12. He sees the mind and the heart so the testing is revealing about our thought and motives.

Application: Godís motive in testing is your maturity (James 1:2-4). Maturity is full development through continual growth. God wants us to fully mature in godliness, Christlikeness. So testing.

His request is let me see Thy vengeance on them because to Thee I have set forth my cause. This perspective allowed Jeremiah to sing to the Lord, praise the Lord v 13! He is confident God would deliver his soul from the hand of evildoers.

20:14-18 In a sudden change of emotion, Jeremiah again plunged to the depths of despair v 14. Perhaps he realized that the vindication which he desired could come only through the destruction of the city and nation which he dearly loved. Normally the birth of a male child was the best news a man could receive v 15. The messenger of Jeremiah's birth would have been better off, from the prophet's perspective, if he had been slain by the Lord, as when the Lord overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah v 16. The prophet wished the Lord had slain him in his mother's womb rather than bringing him to birth v 17. Similar to Job, his agony made him wish that he had never been born v 18. He asks, why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow? These verses indicate that human life exists in a mother's womb before birth. Jeremiah existed as a person in his mother's womb. His self-pity could not erase the fact that he had been selected by God while in the womb for the task he was performing (1:5).

Application: What can we learn about Jesus suffering in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-45):

(1)  Suffering purifies faith. When God can see Christ in us, then the suffering has done its work. God chips away everything thatís not Christ.

(2)  Suffering focuses our faith on God and not on others. Hopeless, we look up not in.

(3) Suffering clarifies our faith. We see God in a new light. Godís purposes are much deeper and His ways beyond our finding out. Suffering delivers a greater capacity to discern Gods work in your life.

 

SO WHAT?

1. If you love God and love men and have compassion for them, you will pay a real price emotionally, personally, and spiritually as you serve.

2. What does God expect of Jeremiah? What does God expect of every person who delivers the truth into a lost age like ours? He expects you to go right on with his truth even if people are against you.

3. Service in the kingdom, doing the will of God, obeying Jesus Christ, will regularly be costly. Doing Godís will may get you in trouble.