Jeremiah is such a wonderful book. This great prophet was used by God extensively and his prophetic ministry. It has much bearing on the last days, but especially in the Tribulation and after that, regarding the restoration and welfare of Israel.
However, I want to look at an incident from his personal life and relate that to our days to draw parallels for our own instruction and maybe conviction. We will consider chapter 20 of his prophecy.
The one who was in the spiritual office in the Temple, the same one who should have known the Lord and the scriptures, was a reprobate, a false shepherd of the sheep. Make no mistake, the false shepherds hate the children of God and will dismiss them. In fact, they feed on them, as Ezekiel well outlines. This is what this reprobate did to Jeremiah –
Jeremiah 20:1-2 “When Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, Pashhur had Jeremiah the prophet beaten, and put him in the stocks that were at the upper Benjamin Gate, which was by the house of the LORD.”
People write to me decrying some of the pastors in churches and their dismissal of the Rapture and ANY prophetic subject. These are the Pashhurs of our time. What can we do about it? We can do no more than what Jeremiah did, and that was to proclaim faithfully the truth, for God will bring it about in His time. Jeremiah preached against the sin of the people and the coming judgment on the nation.
[B]. DO WE REMAIN SILENT OR SPEAK OUT?
Upon his release from the stocks, the prophet again told Pashhur exactly what was to happen to him (Pashhur). This is very instructive for us. We have a serious problem today, and I have written on it from time to time. The faithful servant of God who speaks out will be persecuted. I have been there. In fact, it is becoming worse than that, for some governments are introducing jail time for those who speak the truth. My last article covered that. In fact, the Australian government is now drafting “Disinformation Laws” where, if you write or express a view not according to government procedure, then you will be faced with very severe penalties. This will cover issues such as government policy, opposing the gay agenda, all the trans and gender matters, etc.
Jeremiah had two options. He could continue to speak out boldly with the possibility of grave consequences for him, or he could just go quiet and slink away. The Spirit of God led him to the former action. There is a time to speak out and a time to remain silent, and that is the dilemma God’s servant faces today. I do not have the answer for you, and even for me sometimes. It is very hard. It is alright to speak out when the penalties are not against you, but when they are such as some of us are facing and will increasingly face, then what do we do? We know what Jeremiah did.
Ecclesiastes 3:7 “a time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; A TIME TO BE SILENT, AND A TIME TO SPEAK.”
One other incident is well known by us – Acts 5:27-29 “and when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council and the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ Peter and the apostles answered and said, ‘WE MUST OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN.'”
[C]. GOD’S WORK CAN TAKE ITS TOLL
We now enter a serious area for the faithful servant of God. You might recall that, in all his troubles, Job cursed the day he was born. Under great spiritual stress, Elijah became despondent, even depressed. In John Bunyan’s great book, Pilgrim’s Progress, Christian fell into the Slough of Despond. Now we look at Jeremiah, so let us read a bit –
Jeremiah 20:7-8 “O LORD, You have deceived me and I was deceived. You have overcome me and prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all day long. Everyone mocks me, for each time I speak, I cry aloud. I proclaim violence and destruction, because for me the word of the LORD has resulted in reproach and derision all day long.”
Jeremiah analyzed his position and knew it was his preaching that brought derision and mocking to him. He preached coming destruction and violence to the people, for he preached about God’s judgment on Judah. Is that not what we do today if we are faithful to the word of God? God’s wrath is coming on a sinful world, and only Jesus can deliver a soul from that wrath that is coming.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is, Jesus who delivers us FROM THE WRATH TO COME.” He is the only refuge. That is what the preacher and teacher of prophetic events proclaim.
What is the world’s reaction – even though, sadly, it is in some churches also? They mock and deride God’s messenger. Like the Laodicean church, they live in luxury for the present and don’t want to hear the truth of God’s prophetic word. They care nothing about the restoration of Israel, and the Rapture is a fairy tale to them.
Woe to the preacher who cannot discern the signs of the time and decipher the times in which we live, to see the increasing darkness and wickedness in line with 2 Timothy chapter 3.
Jeremiah battled with why God had led him to that point where his life felt it was coming apart. All day long and every day, Jeremiah faced mocking, derision, rejection, and probably every other foulness, and this was because God gave him a message to preach that which was odious to the people. Today he would be arrested for “hate speech” or “disinformation.” Because it was God who gave him the message, then Jeremiah deflected the blame for his condition to God who commissioned him.
The world hates any mention of its sin and coming destruction. They try to silence the preacher. In my Australian State, under a new law, if I now speak against homosexuality and where it is leading or warn against the adoption of aboriginal satanic culture, I will very likely be jailed, which purpose is to silence me. Jeremiah was shut up in a slimy, stinky cistern to silence him. Church ministers – hopefully not too many – don’t have the courage to speak out against injustice and to preach the coming judgment of God against a sinful, hateful world. Some ministers have no conviction, and after all, the offerings will be down if people leave.
[D]. THE FIRE OF GOD CAN NOT BE CONTAINED
Jeremiah 20:9-10 “But if I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ 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. For I have heard the whispering of many, ‘Terror on every side! Denounce him; yes, let us denounce him!’ All my trusted friends, watching for my fall, say: ‘Perhaps he will be deceived, so that we may prevail against him and take our revenge on him.'”
There is a verse that says this – Jeremiah 23:29 “‘IS NOT MY WORD LIKE FIRE?’ declares the LORD, ‘and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” AND another passage – Jeremiah 5:14 “Therefore, thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, ‘because you have spoken this word, behold, I am making MY WORDS FIRE in your mouth and this people wood, and it will consume them.'”
It is the word of God that is a fire burning into the heart of man with conviction and judgment and the words of fire that will consume the sinful people. That is the message that was given to Jeremiah, and faithfully he preached, but the consequences of faithfulness all fell on his head as it has done for thousands of years upon the faithful preachers of the Bible.
The beautiful thing in these verses, 20:9-10, is that the word of God is not bound, not contained, and it breaks out from Jeremiah even though his body and emotions may not want the consequences. That is a description of a man on fire for the Lord. O, how we need those men and women today! How we need the word thundered out, “Thus says the Lord!” The word of God cannot be held in. Preachers of judgment and prophecy will be denounced, and others are waiting for them to fall, and others will take revenge and legislate against them. No wonder Paul said that in the last days, difficult times will come (2 Timothy 3:1). It means times of considerable hardship.
[E]. NOW WE HAVE A DRAMATIC CHANGE
Jeremiah was in a pool of misery by his own juniper tree, but then he expresses a dramatic truth.
Jeremiah 20:11-13 “But the LORD is with me like a dread champion. Therefore my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will be utterly ashamed, because they have failed, with an everlasting disgrace that will not be forgotten. Yet, O LORD of hosts, You who test the righteous, who sees the mind and the heart, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have set forth my cause. Sing to the LORD, praise the LORD for He has delivered the soul of the needy one from the hand of evildoers.”
The Lord is his Champion, and a dreadful One at that, not to the prophet, but to the prophet’s enemies. He knows his enemies will stumble and then fall in the judgment that will come upon them. Today, persecutors in government and the judiciary and in dictatorships do terrible things to Christians, but we know they will face the most dread retribution, even though they think they have prevailed. What a horrible time the great white throne will be for horrible people.
Verse 20 says they will be utterly ashamed. I have said before that those agitators and promoters of the so-called “gay pride” who mock and persecute Christians and bring in prohibitions against them, they will be utterly ashamed at the great white throne – no pride there, no perversion, only wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Jeremiah states in verse 12 a truth about the mind and the heart. God sees through us and tests the motives of the righteous. He knows about our preaching. He knows if we are genuine or not. He knows if we compromise His word because of fear, or a false sham, or for sinister motives, or are just too lazy. In that same verse, Jeremiah cried for vengeance on those who were persecuting him. In a time of judgment, that may be a legitimate prayer and certainly will be in the Tribulation in Revelation 6:9-10, but in the Christian era, we cannot pray that prayer even though we know it will happen one day unless a person repents.
Jeremiah could rejoice in verse 13 that God delivers the souls of needy ones from persecutors. But straight after that, he lapses back into his woes again, and they are not pleasant but describe a man tormented through suffering from the hostility of enemies with their persecutions.
[F]. WOE TO ME FOR THE DAY OF MY BIRTH
Jeremiah 20:14-18 “Cursed be the day when I was born. Let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, ‘A baby boy has been born to you!’ and made him very happy. But let that man be like the cities which the LORD overthrew without relenting, and let him hear an outcry in the morning and a shout of alarm at noon because he did not kill me before birth, so that my mother would have been my grave, and her womb ever pregnant. Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?”
Human beings are a complex mix of emotions, for God made us with emotions. As strange as it may seem to some people, God has emotions too. Often, we read of these in scripture, and the range of emotions with God is great. I cannot understand that any better than I can understand the existence of God when human minds ask unfathomable questions like, “What was there before God? There must have been something?” We answer that with “In the beginning,” for God has always been. Many things are far too complex for the human mind and intelligence.
God has emotions, and I think the angels do too. There are verses to indicate that, but I won’t go on a tangent here. Man was made in the image of God, and whatever that truly means, then it must include the capability of emotional behavior. Sometimes that behavior causes us great conflicts. Look at Jeremiah here. He regrets the day he was born, and yet he has the fire of God in his soul to go out courageously and proclaim with the greatest conviction the message God has given him.
The hand of God was about to fall, so how could Jeremiah remain silent? It ate away at him and could not be contained. When a man reaches the point that Jeremiah did – a deep conflict of soul and “a shattering of the bones” – what does he do? Many times in our lives, we come to similar positions where a decision is made, and it can either break us or strengthen us. Some cave in and walk away from God’s commission, and some resolutely stand on the ground of faith and go forward with the Lord in even greater strength. Jeremiah was in the latter category. We see that from the remainder of his prophecy.
We must not look at the prophet and think, “Well, that was all well and good for Jeremiah, but it does not apply to me.” Yes, it does! Each one the Lord has commissioned to proclaim His word, and if He has given you the word in clarity, you MUST preach His word. We just plead with those in unfaithful pulpits who would rather compromise God’s word than suffer for their preaching. Can we even say that if all your congregation loves you, then you are not faithful to God’s word? All through scripture, every faithful preacher met with opposition. If you have no opposition in your preaching, then are you faithful to the true word of God?
Today, in a lot of churches, when a man speaks of the very soon coming of the Rapture and the Tribulation and of the Lord that removes believers from that time of judgment, you will meet opposition from those who either won’t believe it or have sadly spiritualized away the scripture or mangled it to remove Israel from the picture and so many other reasons. We need to speak truth.
Jeremiah cursed the day of his birth. He hated that day because it now gave him such reproach and shame. The emotions were in conflict – preach the word, but shy away from preaching! Did he suffer? He certainly did suffer, and emotionally it was tearing him apart. I know of ministers who love the acclaim of their people and have boats and all sorts of luxuries. This is not a biblical man of God, for all genuine preachers in the Bible suffered for their preaching, and I have not even begun to speak of the satanic attacks against faithful preachers.
A hurting and ruptured soul seems to find itself going back to first causes, and in the prophet’s case, it was his birth. O, if something had gone wrong so that he was never born and never had an existence.
Listen, you non-committed preachers! Are you a disgrace to God in your weak non-confrontational preaching? Do you please itching ears? Remember, you WILL give account to God for what you preached. If you are one who neglects preaching on prophetic matters, especially in these increasingly chaotic days when men live in uncertainty, then you are failing in your ministry. One-quarter of the Bible is prophecy (all the prophetic books and all other passages), so if you avoid the signs of the times or the preparation of the people for what is disturbing them, then you ought to be ashamed.
Why is it that preachers do not give out the warning of God’s judgment and the old words “flee from the wrath of God”? Why is it that they won’t preach on the Rapture and subsequent happenings? This is why –
. They don’t believe these things themselves. That is terrible, but some have a background of Preterism and covenant theology. These people need to apply themselves to a literal study in the literal word. For some, the emerging Reformation theology of the 1500s did not progress past that point. Some have never bothered to study the subjects, considering them not to be important.
I have heard some say, “Well, that is Old Testament, so it does not apply to me.” Just remember, the Old Testament scriptures were the scriptures of the New Testament church of which Paul spoke in 2 Timothy 3:16 and Peter spoke of in 2 Peter 1:21.
. Some preachers feel not confident enough to speak and warn on these subjects. Then they need to study the Bible sincerely and avail themselves of so many good resources that are easily obtainable in these days. Spend time. Redeem the time, for the days are evil.
. Some are afraid of reaction. They know a few in their congregations might be skeptical or begin to murmur. Maybe a few people will leave, and the offerings will be down. Maybe a complaint will be made about them. Well, what of it? Go study Jeremiah. Look at the way he was persecuted and badly treated. Isaiah was sawn in two. Go read Hebrews 11 and see what happens to God’s servants. Those preachers who live in luxury and have a comfortable existence are not the true and faithful preachers of the word.
Jeremiah spoke of impending judgment in days not unlike ours. Pastors, preachers, prepare your people with the true grounding of the scriptures, not neglecting the signs of the times and the events that follow on, for the time is very short.
LASTLY, REMEMBER THIS! 2 Timothy 4:8 “In the future there is laid up for me the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who HAVE LOVED HIS APPEARING.”
There is a crown of righteousness laid up for ALL those who love the Lord’s appearing – the Rapture. Are you going to deprive your people of that crown because you were unfaithful in your preaching and never taught the Rapture and the earnest waiting for it like the saints in the New Testament days did? Be honest here.