JEREMIAH CHAPTER 20.
(Chapter 19, 14-20, 18.)
Various Experiences of Jeremiah.
PASHUR OPPOSES JEREMIAH. — Chap. 19, 14. Then came Jeremiah from Tophet, where his last parable had been proclaimed, whither the Lord had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the court of the Lord’s house, the outside court, where the people assembled in the largest numbers, and said to all the people, probably after repeating the prophecy pronounced in the Valley of Ben-hinnom, v. 15. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, whose majesty and supreme authority is here purposely emphasized, Behold, I will bring upon this city and upon all her towns, all the suburban villages, all the evil that I have pronounced against it, threatening destruction to the capital and death and captivity to its inhabitants, because they have hardened their necks, like a rebellious beast of burden, that they might not hear My words. Cp. chap. 16, 12; 18. 10. Chap. 20,1. Now, Pashur, the son of Immer, the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, the highest commander of the Temple-watch, who was superior even to the captains of the individual orders in charge of the Temple in the course of their service, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. V. 2. Then Pashur, by virtue of the police- and judicial power vested in him, which he believed he must exercise in this instance, smote Jeremiah, the prophet, whose office is here purposely mentioned, and put him in the stocks, a five-holed instrument of torture in which the neck, the two hands, and the two feet were thrust, that were in the high gate of Benjamin, the northern gate in the inner court of the Temple, which was in the house of the Lord. V. 3. And it came to pass on the morrow, after Jeremiah had been kept in this crooked posture over night and suffered all its tortures, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The Lord hath not called thy name Pashur, which has been interpreted by linguists as meaning "largeness and security on every side," but Magor-mis-sabib, that is, "terror round about," the name, of course, signifying the fate that would befall him for his blasphemous behavior toward the Lord's servant. V. 4. For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will make thee a terror to thyself, so that his evil conscience and the fear of God's wrath would leave him no rest, and to all thy friends, who would be dismayed upon discovering the extent to which they had been duped; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, as a result of their having given heed to Pashur's leading them astray, and thine eyes shall behold it, and thus be tortured by anxiety for an indefinite, time; and I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive into Babylon and shall slay them with the sword, captivity and death being the fate which He had determined for them. V. 5. Moreover, I will deliver all the strength of this city, the total resources of the capital city, and all the labors thereof, what they had gained in the course of time, the uncounted material wealth, and all the precious things thereof, whatever treasures had been heaped up there in the course of time, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah, their riches as amassed from time to time, will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them and take them and carry them to Babylon. V. 6. And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house, all the members of his family following him in his wickedness, shall go into captivity; and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there, far from the land of his fathers, thou shalt die and shalt be buried there, thou and all thy friends to whom thou hast prophesied lies, abusing his office of priest for the purpose of deceiving people. Like Pashur, there are many men in high offices in the Church today who abuse their position for the purpose of leading men astray and dragging them down to ruin with themselves.
THE PROPHET’S JOY AND SORROW. — V. 7. O Lord, thus Jeremiah now addresses the Lord in bringing his complaint over his persecutions to His attention. Thou hast deceived me, rather persuaded, enticed me, and I was deceived, he had yielded to the Lord in accepting the office of prophet; Thou art stronger than I and hast prevailed, His Spirit having taken hold of Jeremiah and constrained him to make known the Lord's Word and will, just as he had done; I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me, sneering and jeering at him when he exercised his office. V. 8. For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil, or, "For as often as I speak, I must call out, I must cry, I am compelled to cry, concerning violence and desolation," he was obliged to raise his voice in complaint, because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me and a derision daily, the message which he proclaimed brought nothing but scorn upon him. V. 9. Then I said, or, "If I said," I will not make mention of Him, nor speak any more in His name, in trying to escape the unpleasant experiences which attached to his fearless testifying, but His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, which, without an outlet, would surely consume him, for which reason he must reveal what was communicated to him, and I was weary with forbearing, with refraining from testifying for the Lord, and I could not stay. He now states the reason for not keeping his resolve to hold his peace concerning the message of Jehovah. V. 10. For I heard the defaming of many, as they talked about him and his office in a derogatory manner: Fear on every side, or, "Terror round about!" an attempt to deride the prophecy against Pashur. Report, say they, and we will report it, that is, they want people to bring any sort of accusation against Jeremiah, and they would immediately act upon such information in bringing the matter to the attention of the authorities and having him punished. All my familiars, men who enjoyed his confidence, whom he considered his friends, watched for my halting, for any indication of stumbling on his part, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, be induced to commit some sin, and we shall prevail against him, getting the better of Jeremiah in this situation, and we shall take our revenge on him. Over against this behavior of his false friends the prophet states the firm conviction of his heart: v. 11. But the Lord is with me as a mighty terrible one, as a mighty hero to defend him; therefore my persecutors shall stumble, come to grief in the very way in which they hoped to see the prophet humbled, and they shall not prevail, as they had hoped to; they shall be greatly ashamed, for they shall not prosper, have no success in their plotting and scheming against him; their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten, they would be heaped with eternal disgrace, the ignominy of which would attach to them forever. This confidence on the part of Jeremiah now finds expression in a fervent appeal to Jehovah to take his part and defend his cause. V. 12. But, O Lord of hosts, that triest the righteous, not judging superficially or hastily after the manner of men, and seest the reins and the heart, acquainted with the innermost thoughts and desires of men, let me see Thy vengeance on them, for, after all, it was the Lord's matter to take up; for unto Thee have I opened my cause, placing his own suit or case in the hands of Jehovah. V. 13. Sing unto the Lord, praise ye the Lord, this being the attitude of the heart trusting in His promises, for He hath delivered the soul of the poor, of the lowly and unfortunate, from the hand of evil-doers, the believer thus possessing the gifts of the future by faith. But since Jeremiah, for the present, sees nothing but misfortune and sorrow, he cries out in the bitterness of his soul over his unhappy condition: v. 14. Cursed be the day wherein I was born; let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed, since life had not brought him blessings, but only afflictions and misery. V. 16. Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man-child is born unto thee, making him very glad, for the birth of a boy was a very happy event. V. 16. And let that man be as the cities which the Lord overthrew and repented not, that is, which He destroyed without mercy; and let him hear the cry in the morning, namely, that of people besieged and oppressed, and the shouting at noontide, the wild battle-cry of the invading army, v. 17. because he, the person who brought the news, slew me not from the womb, or that my mother might have been my grave and her womb to be always great with me, so that the prophet would never have seen the light of day. V. 18. Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, to experience nothing but misery, that my days should be consumed with shame? This cry is wrung from his lips because his office was apparently without success, because his prophetical laboring was in vain, since he was unable to save his people from destruction. Cp. Job 3, 3 ff. Similar periods of depression are liable to strike all Christians, wherefore it is necessary that all without exception grow in trust in His mercy.