Jeremiah 20 has the prophet in a tight spot. Pashhur, the priest and chief officer of the house of the Lord has had enough of Jeremiah. “Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord”. Jeremiah was beaten and had to endure painful public disgrace. He wasn’t only regarded as a false prophet, but surely also as a traitor, discouraging the people who still trusted in help from God or Egypt against Babylon. Jeremiah doesn’t back down, but when Pashhur lets him out of the stocks the next day, he gives God’s words to him.
“I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends…. And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. 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”. His position as priest and chief governor would not help him. He was one of those who prophesied lies, and he and his friends who heard him would all die in Babylon. There is a price to pay for dishonoring God, and it will be step and inclusive for Pashhur and his friends.
Jeremiah has a chat with God about his life. Jeremiah explained to God that he was compelled to his prophetic work. He had not desired it or pursued it, yet God prevailed upon him to take on this prophetic work. And now, it feels to him like he’s become a mockery for the people. Jeremiah is overwhelmed by the load he carries. “For the word of the Lord has become for me a reproach and derision all day long”. He’s bummed out and since his prophecies were so long coming, the people around him were ridiculing him whenever he spoke of the future.
In his frustration, Jeremiah threatens to stop his prophesying work. But he can’t, as God’s Word “in in my heart as it were a burning fire”. He’s consumed with speaking truth from God. And as he wrestles with his life calling, he remembers “the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me….for to you have I committed my cause”. He knows that in the end God prevails and he will too. With that recognition, he shifts to praising God for who He is. While he knows his pain and problems aren’t over, he also knows who holds the future and is confident in Him!