But We Do See Him
Jeremiah 19 -21
Last week, in an expansion beyond the focal passage, we
looked at Jeremiah’s persistence in announcing the message of judgmental terror
I. Jeremiah and the Kings – During his time of prophesying Jeremiah dealt with conditions during the time of four kings
A. Josiah reigned 31 years – killed in a
battle with Pharaoh Neco [see 2 Kings 23:25]; Jehoahaz, (son
of Josiah) three months –imprisoned by Neco and he
died in Egypt; Eliakim, son of Josiah whose name
became Jehoiakim, reigned 11 years and taxed the people
heavily to pay Neco and “did evil in the sight of the
Lord according to all that his fathers had done.” Nebuchadnezzar began his
II. The broken flask – Jeremiah 19:1-15
A. An unrepentant nation sees a message of the irremediable state of their rebellion
1. God commanded Jeremiah to buy a Potter’s earthenware flask.
He bought a potter’s flask, gathered some of the elders from the people
and from the priests and Preached to them at Ben-Hinnom
[1-3]. This was a combination of word and symbol to a select group. Surely the
vivid action of the symbol would etch the message in the minds of these elders
and they would spread this message to the people throughout
2. He preached to them about their conscienceless cruelty. This message addressed both the kings and the people for a sustained line of pagan religious conduct. Evidently, only a small number had responded in conscientious repentance to the reforms of Josiah.
· They had used the valley for rituals designed to appease other gods. 4a
· This worship had involved the sacrifice of their own children [2 Kings 21:5,6; 23:5, 6]. Josiah had destroyed these places [2 Kings 23:10] during his reform and had destroyed the priests responsible for conducting these ceremonies [2 Kings 23:5, 8, 20] According to Huldah the prophetess, [2 Kings 22:14-20]the reforms of Josiah formed a short parenthesis in the fine-grinding movement of divine judgment that was coming on Judah.
· Part of the judgments would be a replication of the terror and slaughter that had been an act of religious worship for the people. They would now experience a slaughter in which their blood would run, and a siege that would pres them to the edge of starvation and cause them to eat their sons and daughters and neighbors. Jeremiah 19:6-10]
He broke the flask and said
III. A Priest retaliates
A. Pashur the priest. Son of Immer, beats Jeremiah and put him in stocks.
Upon his release, Jeremiah prophesied the doom of Pashur,
his friends, and Judah – 20:3-6. Jeremiah did not succumb to the intimidation
of Pashur but upon release gave a stronger message
about divine judgments and its certainty toward
C. Jeremiah reflects on the burden and the glory of being a prophet under stringent commission. His reaction involves both praise and Complaint 20:7-18
1. The word he preaches seems like such an exaggerated concoction that he is ridiculed, and seemingly embarrassed, for its extravagance. Perhaps Jeremiah believed that in the end the people would appreciate him for telling the truth, but he found that their hostility merely increased in proportion to his insistence on the divine revelation. God, Jeremiah concluded in these moments of despair, had deceived him and yet had overpowered him so that the unpopular message continued to flow and to bring greater reproach on the head of Jeremiah. 7, 8
2. So onerous was this treatment from his countrymen, that Jeremiah determined that he would discontinue proclamation of his message. It was a vain effort. When he tried not to speak, he was unable to restrain himself. Spiritual truth presses on the mind and affections in such power, that the physical impact is observable. Jeremiah could not keep it in without physical damage. [verse 9] Compare with the physical impact that conviction of sin had on David in Psalm 32:3, 4.
3. They ridicule his message and plot against him. For the sake of revealed truth, Jeremiah had sacrificed a relationship with “close friends” [?!] who not led in the plots to provoke his downfall; they sought to deceive him somehow, perhaps playing on their past friendship and put him into a position where they could easily destroy him in an act of vengeance for his relentless accusatory and unflattering prophecies. 10
4. God will vindicate him and punish evildoers. The sobering verdict of “eternal dishonor” (ESV) should startle us as to what is at stake in opposition to God and his Christ. Jeremiah cannot escape the necessity of praise to God for the obvious manifestations of surprising deliverance 20: 11-13
D. Jeremiah, in the most pathetic images, wishes he had never been born 14-18. He curses the day that he was born and the man that brought news to his father of the birth of a male child. That man, the bearer of good news at the moment of his birth, becomes the focus of Jeremiah’s distress. Rather than announce the news of birth, the man should have killed Jeremiah in his mother’s womb. Surely Jeremiah has in mind his own plight [18:20b; “I stood before you to speak good or them”] and shifts the treatment that he is receiving to the unnamed announcer of his birth. Is it just for such responsibility to rest on those that announce events, either as good or bad, so that they are cursed for eventualities over which they have no control? That is what has happened to him and if it right for the mere announcer of truth to be endangered for his faithful announcement, then Jeremiah feels justified in cursing the man that announced his birth. These dynamics, both in Jeremiah and in his perception of the cursedness of his birth-announcer, were duplicated in the life of Christ and his designated messengers, the apostles See Colossian 4:2-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:2.
IV. In a desperate move. King Zedekiah sends Pashur, son of Malchiah [not the priest] to seek a more consolatory word from the flint-headed prophet Jeremiah.
A. Aware of the impending attack of Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah sent Pashur to request a message from Jeremiah that perhaps God would miraculously intervene as he had done so frequently in the past of these chosen people. He wanted merciful intervention apart from repentance. The option of intervention always is open on the basis of repentance as Jeremiah made clear in 25:1-7. We see clearly the results of divine revelation placed before sinful men when God grants them the option to respond on the basis of their “free will.” They were given a clear word with clear conditions stated and a certain outcome in the case of non-repentance with the promise of no harm if they repented, and on the basis of their own spiritual perceptions and affections they were allowed to respond. Such is the goodness of free will that only hatred, lies, vengeance, deceit, and opposition flow from it. Again we see both the necessity and grace of the New Covenant of God’s sovereign and irresistible intervention to give a new heart and infuse by his Spirit the true knowledge of God into the graciously chosen remnant.
B. Through Jeremiah, God promised that all their weapons of war would be ineffectual and He Himself would fight against them in fury and great wrath. Sword and pestilence will constitute the means of the divine action against the inhabitants of the city.
C. The royal family and its servants as well as the inhabitants that survive will be turned over to Nebuchadnezzar who, without compassion, will strike them with the edge of the sword. (7)
D. The only escape is to surrender, to go out of the city into the power of their besiegers, the mighty Chaldean army. (8-10)
E. Embedded within the grossness of all the other sins that saturated the culture of Judah, one sees that injustice was rampant, and God called for a steady administration it. How could a society so perverse in its attitude toward divine law and so resistant to divine revelation ever be equitable and forthright in its vision of justice for the people. It could not. It would be virtually impossible for justice to be clearly in vision when every other virtue was obliterated or severely compromised.
A. The minister of divine truth may easily tire of a nonchalant or hostile response to his faithful exposition of the Bible.
B. Such a minister must not give in to thinking that his offense is greater than God’s and his feelings more to be regarded than God’s holiness.
C. These instances of continued resistance and hostile opposition to the divine message should confirm for us the depth of human depravity and the obstreperous senselessness of the human heart in truly spiritual matters. Left to our selves we court and win disaster.
D. If God saves such sinners, all who have these same propensities of moral hardness, what must be the wrath that the Son of God turned away from us when he died the “Just for the unjust.” As we will continue to emphasize, Christ the only true Prophet, Priest and King.