Rise Above Discouragement
August 19 2012 (Jer. 20:1-13)
When Pashur, a priest charged with temple security, heard Jeremiah preach he had the prophet beaten and put in stocks . The next day Jeremiah announced that God had given Pashur a new name, one that meant “terror on every side.” The priest and his family would be carried captive to Babylon, along with the temple treasures . But when alone, the bold Jeremiah again cries out to God in despair. He is driven to prophesy, but terrified by the hatred and antagonism which his words generate . Jeremiah knows the Lord is with him in all his hardships , but even the sense of God’s presence cannot console him. Why, Jeremiah cries out, was he ever born?
1.The doom of Pashur, who ill-treated the prophet. (Jer.20:1-6)
Jer.20:1 Now Pashhur the son of Immer, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. 2 Then Pashhur struck Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the Lord. 3 And it happened on the next day that Pashhur brought Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord has not called your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. 4 For thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes shall see it. I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall carry them captive to Babylon and slay them with the sword. 5 Moreover I will deliver all the wealth of this city, all its produce, and all its precious things; all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hand of their enemies, who will plunder them, seize them, and carry them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies.’”
Pashur smote Jeremiah, and put him in the stocks. Jeremiah was silent till God put a word into his mouth. To confirm this, Pashur has a name given him, “Fear on every side.” It speaks a man not only in distress, but in despair; not only in danger, but in fear on every side. The wicked are in great fear where no fear is, for God can make the most daring sinner a terror to himself. And those who will not hear of their faults from God’s prophets, shall be made to hear them from their consciences. Miserable is the man thus made a terror to himself. His friends shall fail him. God lets him live miserably, that he may be a monument of Divine justice.
2. Jeremiah complains of hard usage. (Jer.20:7-13)
Jer.20:7 O Lord, You induced me, and I was persuaded;
You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.
I am in derision daily;
Everyone mocks me.
8 For when I spoke, I cried out;
I shouted, “Violence and plunder!”
Because the word of the Lord was made to me
A reproach and a derision daily.
9 Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name.”
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
10 For I heard many mocking:
“Fear on every side!”
“Report,” they say, “and we will report it!”
All my acquaintances watched for my stumbling, saying,
“Perhaps he can be induced;
Then we will prevail against him,
And we will take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me as a mighty, awesome One.
Therefore my persecutors will stumble, and will not prevail.
They will be greatly ashamed, for they will not prosper.
Their everlasting confusion will never be forgotten.
12 But, O Lord of hosts,
You who test the righteous,
And see the mind and heart,
Let me see Your vengeance on them;
For I have pleaded my cause before You.
13 Sing to the Lord! Praise the Lord!
For He has delivered the life of the poor
From the hand of evildoers.
The prophet complains of the insult and injury he experienced. But vs. 7 may be read, Thou hast persuaded me, and I was persuaded. Thou wast stronger than I; and didst overpower me by the influence of thy Spirit upon me. So long as we see ourselves in the way of God, and of duty, it is weakness and folly, when we meet with difficulties and discouragements, to wish we had never set out in it. The prophet found the grace of God mighty in him to keep him to his business, notwithstanding the temptation he was in to throw it up. Whatever injuries are done to us, we must leave them to that God to whom vengeance belongs, and who has said, I will repay. So full was he of the comfort of God’s presence, the Divine protection he was under, and the Divine promise he had to depend upon, that he stirred up himself and others to give God the glory. Let the people of God open their cause before Him, and he will enable them to see deliverance.
His post as “chief officer” placed Pashur in charge of the temple police, who guarded the treasury and maintained order on the temple grounds. The name was common, and this Pashur cannot be confidently identified with the Pashur of 1 Chron. 9:12.
This is the first instance of physical violence against God’s prophet. The word translated “beaten” in the NIV is yakkeh, which means “struck.” It’s possible that a furious Pashur struck him with his hand ( Matt. 26:67 ). However the “stocks” were clearly intended not just to restrain but to punish. The Heb. word (mahpeket) means “causing distortion,” and the stocks forced arms, neck, and legs into an extremely painful position. Pashur’s unjust treatment of Jeremiah led to a word of divine judgment, which the prophet delivered the next morning.There is little glamour in ministry. Jeremiah experienced the down side of God’s calling and shares the anguish he feels. Rather than taking God’s Word to heart, his listeners insult and reproach him and even make fun of his pronouncements . It hurts deeply when a minister really cares for the people he or she serves, and they do not respond.Jeremiah again begs to see his ministry vindicated and his enemies fall. God assures him he will, and he rejoices.