From Jeremiah 14-17
Jeremiah was dangerously close to renouncing his prophetic call. He has been surprised by the unexpected suffering he is experiencing. He blames God and accuses him of deceiving him. He has to repent, renew his commitment to his mission and the LORD will protect him. In the gospel Jesus warns his followers to expect persecution. Following Jesus is not meant to be easy.
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Jeremiah is having a rough time delivering the word of the LORD to the people. He delivers a word of judgment to people who don’t want to hear it and they are turning on him. Jeremiah pleads his case before the LORD.
10 Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me.
11 The LORD said, “Have I not set you free for their good? Have I not pleaded for you before the enemy in the time of trouble and in the time of distress? 12 Can one break iron, iron from the north, and bronze? (Jer 15.10-14)
Much like Job, Jeremiah laments his birth (Job 3.1-3). He has become a source of ‘strife and contention’ in the whole land. He has a tough message to deliver. Judgment and punishment.
He absolves himself of any monetary debt. His persecutors have no reason to curse him for owing them money or being in debt to him, but they curse him anyhow.
The LORD responds reminding him of the times he has delivered him in the past.
The LORD will send ‘iron from the north and bronze’, the people of Babylon will not break. Judah will be punished. This is meant to comfort Jeremiah.
The LORD turns from comforting Jeremiah to condemn the people.
13 “Your wealth and your treasures I will give as spoil, without price, for all your sins, throughout all your territory. 14 I will make you serve your enemies in a land that you do not know, for in my anger a fire is kindled that shall burn forever.” (Jer 15.13-14)
When Babylon comes they will plunder Judah of all their wealth. They will be taken into slavery and serve their enemies in another land. Jeremiah asks the LORD for help.
15 O LORD, you know; remember me and visit me, and take vengeance for me on my persecutors. In your forbearance take me not away; know that for your sake I bear reproach.
16 Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.
17 I did not sit in the company of revelers, nor did I rejoice; I sat alone, because your hand was upon me, for you had filled me with indignation.
18 Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? (Jer 15.15-18)
Jeremiah asks the LORD to punish his persecutors and that he not be taken away into exile.
He is an object of scorn because of the message he preaches. He blames the LORD.
Jeremiah recalls the time when he first encountered the word of God. They were his joy and delight because he knew he was called. But look how his ministry has afflicted him.
Jeremiah commends himself before the LORD. He did not associate with revelers and rejoice in sin. Rather he was angered by their behaviour.
But now he is in pain, wounded and without healing. Has the LORD deceived him by giving him a rosier picture of what his ministry would be like?
The LORD responds to Jeremiah’s calling him a ‘deceitful brook’. He has to repent.
19 Therefore thus says the LORD: “If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them.
20 And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the LORD.
21 I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked, and redeem you from the grasp of the ruthless.” (Jer 15.19-21)
If he is to continue as the LORD’s prophet, Jeremiah must stop opposing the mission laid out for him. He must not be pressured by his persecutors into joining then or letting their behaviour continue unchallenged.
Jeremiah will be saved only through recommitment to the his original prophetic call.
The LORD will turn him into a fortified wall of bronze. The wicked will not be able to hurt him or win over him.
“Jeremiah reflected on what it had cost him to accept his prophetic commission. As he reviewed the events subsequent to his call, the honor and joy of being a prophet was replaced by self-pity. In his devotion to his calling, he had not sat among the revelers or indulged in their merrymaking (cf. Ps 1:1–2). He had experienced nothing but loneliness and isolation from his people. Had he forgotten that God was with him (1:8, 19)? He felt the heavy hand of the Lord on him, separating him and constraining him (cf. Ezek 1:3; 3:14; 37:1). There is often a price to pay for leadership. It may be the price of loneliness, misunderstanding, or separation from human associations. Jeremiah was so identified with God’s thoughts that he experienced the same indignation that God felt for the people’s sins.” (Huey, F.B., 1993. Jeremiah, Lamentations, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
Jeremiah formed his expectations of God and mission that did not include rejection by his people or failure to convince them that he was God’s spokesman. He had not anticipated that suffering could also accompany service for God. One’s call experience is the anchor of one’s life with God. Whenever doubt arises, one should always go back to the initial experience and remember that God’s promise includes his merciful and comforting presence, but it does not include the removal from persecution and oppression. In essence, to follow God means to be willing to face such obstacles. (Huey, F.B., 1993. Jeremiah, Lamentations, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mt 10.34-42)
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