24 March • Friday of the Fourth Week in Lent
14. Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy, and he stood in the court of the LORD's house and said to all the people: 15 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all its towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear my words.”
20:1 Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. 2 Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD. 3 The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side. 4 For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. 5 Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon. 6 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.”
Why do dedicated Christians who serve God suffer unjustly? Answers to this question are not as readily identifiable as examples of its subject. Jeremiah is one such example. For all his dedication to the service of God, he suffered unjustly as the LORD’s prophet. Jeremiah was not unaware of the cost of obedience to God. God had warned him that kings, officials, priests and his own people would fight against him (Jer 1:19). But steadfast obedience is more trying than the first steps of faith.
Vicious attacks against Jeremiah are understandable if they came from enemies of God’s people. Pashhur was not supposed to be an enemy. A high-ranking priest, Pashhur’s ministry was meant to complement Jeremiah’s along with that of the kings. His opposition to Jeremiah revealed a false teacher who “prophesied lies” (20:6) and the spiritual decay that had spread to the heart of Judah’s top leadership. Pashhur’s ill treatment and rejection of God’s messenger signalled the rejection of God and his truth.
What can we do when we suffer unjustly in our service to God? We keep walking in obedience to God regardless of the difficulties that confront us. Like Jeremiah who continued to speak the truth of God’s judgement at great personal cost, we continue to discharge our God-appointed vocations against all odds. This obedience is costly but not blind. It is an obedience of faith in the sovereignty of God.
As the Divine Potter, God has the sovereign right to judge Judah for her apostasy. But judgement will not be the final verdict. God’s wrath will eventually reveal his sovereign mercy (Rom 9:22-24). We may not fully understand God’s ways in our suffering. But like Jeremiah, our obedience will lead us one step further into God’s redemptive purposes.
Heavenly Father, You are my sovereign God who works all things for good. Give me courage to keep walking in obedience to Your will, even though Your purposes are not entirely clear to me. Help me to trust in Your perfect dealings and remain in Your love amidst the storms of life.
Hear my prayer, Father, for the sake of Your Son who loves me and gave Himself for me. Amen.
Spend some quiet moments in God’s presence.
Identify one struggle you are facing in your Christian witness and service.
Tell God honestly how you feel about it.
Pray the prayer above.
Rev Dr Edwin Tay
Trinity Theological College