Bible Study, Commentary

Jeremiah 20 – Solitary Man

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Jeremiah 20

Solitary Man


(Please refer to the Preface and Introduction sections found in the Jeremiah Chapter 1 commentary for some general information about this chapter by chapter study of Jeremiah).

Jer 20:1 Now Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things.

We will now see a major shift in the writings of Jeremiah. Up until now, the first 19 chapters have been all about Jeremiah’s call, and one prophetic utterance after another. The content was always about the main topic of emphasis of Jeremiah’s ministry, which was the imminent total judgment on Judah. Very little space was given to Jeremiah’s day to day dealings with the people, or the personal events in his life. Now we shall see what sort of response the leaders of the nation had to all these sayings.

Pashur belonged to the 16th priestly rotation of 24, the division of Immer (1 Chr 24:14). David had set up a rotation of 24 divisions of Levites to minister in the temple. Pashur’s actual father was named Melchiah (Jer 21:1, 1 Chr 9:12). Comparing Jer 20:1 and 21:1 would lead the casual reader to claim a contradiction. Rest assured that if you seek hard enough, you will find a reasonable explanation for all supposed conflicts in the word.

Pashur meant liberation and Immer meant talkative. How many false prophets are full of words, promising their hearers freedom but instead leading them in the opposite direction. Beware those who are only known for their multitude of words, but have no capacity to listen.

Jer 20:2 Then Pashur smote (struck, beat) 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.

This is the first time that Jeremiah’s calling is noted as part of his name, to emphasize the outrageousness of Pashur’s actions. He wasn’t just striking a man, but God’s mouthpiece. He not only struck him, but then put him in stocks, a painful punishment that contorted the body. The next verse says he was left there all night. To complete the insult, he was placed by one of the most important entrances to the temple. Shame is always high on the priority list when the devil shows up to afflict God’s people. Are we willing to suffer shame for his name?

Jer 20:3 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Pashur brought forth Jeremiah out of the stocks. Then said Jeremiah unto him, The LORD hath not called thy name Pashur, but Magormissabib.

Pashur’s new name meant ‘fear all around’, perhaps a reference to Ps 31:13, and already alluded to in Jer 6:25.

How many of us would of been thoroughly cowed after such an experience? You felt the anointing of the Lord. In boldness you stepped out in public, obedient to his command. You may of had a vision of your audience being smitten by the Holy Spirit of God, falling on their face in true repentance before an angry God. You expected God to be so pleased with your courageous actions, that surely a great blessing was in store just for you.
Instead this occurs. The chief ruler slaps you, and locks you up in a public place. You are immobilized, and exposed to the public who only hear the ruler’s side of the story. They will jeer you and mock you, and probably throw things at you all night long. Your humiliation cannot be any greater.

When you’re finally released, most would be understandably subdued. They may want to slink away and hide as quick as possible. Was that Jeremiah’s response? We shall see that God chose his servant wisely. Although he may of complained to God more than once along the way, he was made of sterner stuff than most. Immediately he begins to deliver a personal word of judgment to this apostate ruler. He didn’t turn the other cheek, or state that he forgave him. The spirit of God prompted him to speak God’s mishpat upon him. God had judged him and found him wanting.

This is why there is no one size fits all response to any personal situation in life. Of course, the response is never to go against God’s word. But don’t always be so quick to assume that you really know what God’s word has to say about a particular topic or situation. Jesus was led to forgive the Romans as he hung on the cross. Jeremiah was led to do something else. In the first case, Jesus was being offered up as the helpless, innocent lamb of God that would take away the sin of the world. In the second, Jeremiah is being asked to be God’s mouthpiece during a time of severe judgment. Different words were required.

This wicked ruler was aptly renamed by God. He went from being a liberator to one who would bring and experience fear all around him. Is this not the chief weapon being used by the enemy since 2020? Relentless propaganda at the masses, instilling total, all encompassing fear on every side. The blinded believe fear is all around them on every side. Submitting to every nonsensical mandate, doing whatever is asked, never stopping to question, all because fear has shut down all ability to reason.

Jer 20:4 For thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will make thee a terror (fright) to thyself, and to all thy friends: and they shall fall by the sword of their enemies, and thine eyes shall behold it: 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.

The exact meaning had been debated by many scholars. It is an expansion of the name change in the previous verse. The Hebrew is not clear, but the main idea is that God will make this man a terror. It could mean a terror to himself, to those all around him, or both. I tend to go with the latter. I believe that many leaders in our day either swallowed the lying narrative given to them from above in its entirety, or were intimidated into doing so. Either way, first they were filled with fear, and they did everything possible to instill fear in everyone around them. People believed every lie about how this was the worst disease ever to hit humanity. They then hammered it into their kids. They spread fear to their entire families. Fear round about, on every side. No personal freedom was too sacred to sacrifice. Fear captured us like nothing ever before. Never mind that there was zero evidence to back anything up. Fear, and only fear, ruled the planet.

Interesting that Jeremiah does not go straight into Pashur’s judgment, but in all those whom he was responsible for. He was supposed to be a leader of the people. He will have to watch them be killed, his entire nation fall, and the residue carried off into exile, where they also will be killed.

Jer 20:5 Moreover I will deliver all the strength of this city, and all the labours thereof, and all the precious things thereof, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.

We love to quote how the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Why doesn’t anyone quote this verse, where it clearly says that the wealth of the just is being laid up and given to the sinner, once the just become sufficiently unjust? Do you see why you just can’t go around in your Christian life quoting religious slogans? It gets the crowd fired up, and temporarily relieves them of the stress of their day to day lives, but is of no use when it comes to actually helping them understand and embrace reality. Most of the time it’s just a con by a lazy preacher who does not bother to hear the true word of the Lord for his congregation today, but reverts to what usually works in getting a positive emotional response, so the people can leave church with a good feeling, and the pastor’s pay cheque is safe for another week.

What this verse is saying to us today is that the wealth of the Christian west is being given to the antichrist beast system of the new world order. Have we ever seen more money wasted in such an insane quantity as we’re seeing today? The money laundering in the meaningless wars, the lawfare that our own governments are using against their own citizens, is unprecedented in history.

Jer 20:6 And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends (aw-hab – loved ones), to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

It’s at the end of this discourse that we find the real reason this man is being judged. He is acting as a false prophet – speaking lies about the fate of Judah and its inhabitants. Notice he was a chief governor, not even known as a prophet per se, yet God charges him with the same crime as any false prophet. This would apply to all liars, who speak of the future with an opposite story than what God is saying. While all in the world speak lies about what’s going on, false prophets are those who speak in the churches. This verse teaches us its not just people who call themselves prophets that need to beware, but all of God’s ministers. Any of them who tell the people that reversal, restoration, and material blessing is just around the corner in this time of judgment, are guilty of this very same sin. God will not tolerate his ministers prophesying lies to his sheep. Quit being afraid of the congregation. Stop sugar coating things. It is better to know the truth, and try to prepare accordingly, than to willingly stay ignorant, and be swept away when the storm breaks forth.

False prophets will be taken in by the deception of the antichrist system. It will capture them and in that system they will die. And not only them, but all their loved ones. Pastors that embraced the jab and all that entailed, will not only destroy their congregations, but themselves as well,

Jer 20:7 O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

The rest of the chapter is devoted to the heartfelt cry of anguish, grief, perplexity and sorrow of the prophet. These 12 verses contain some very strong language as to the depiction of the prophet’s inner state.

This first sentence may also be translated as persuaded instead of deceived. Many rather use the word persuade, as its much less controversial. Deceive sounds like something that only the devil would do. The question then becomes: ‘Would God ever intentionally deceive someone’?

The story of the prophet Micaiah says yes. 1 Ki 22:20-23 speaks of how God sent a lying spirit into the mouth of Ahab’s false prophets. Now one could argue that God sent a lying spirit into the wicked and not the righteous, and you would be right. It would be a terrible thing if God sent lying spirits into his own obedient children! So this example does not readily apply to the verse in question.

Yet i think we can make sense of this verse and still retain the King James translation by stating that this is Jeremiah’s perception of what has happened to him. God did not say he did this, Jeremiah believes God did this to him. In reality, the deception comes from two things. One is a misunderstanding by Jeremiah as to the high personal price he would be forced to pay when he took on this assignment from Yehovah. The second is that God did not inform Jeremiah in advance of every bad thing that would happen to him once he started to prophesy. God was under no obligation to do so. What is recorded here is an accurate representation of what Jeremiah believes God has done to him, whether justified or not. How many of us have felt that at one time or another God didn’t give us enough of the details of what would occur should we decide to obey him, and now it seems as if the consequences are more than we can bear? It feels like God has tricked us.

Jeremiah sort of hints that since God was so much stronger than himself, he really didn’t have a chance to resist God’s will. In effect, if he’d known how much suffering he would have to ensure, he may of declined more strenuously, if he had the strength to do so. He is suffering shame and persecution daily. It’s not a one time thing. He states it’s universal. Everyone mocks me. While perhaps not strictly true, it certainly felt like it to him.

I’m thinking of something that one of the very few Canadian doctors that stood up to the genocide said. He said the nation has about 100,000 doctors, but only about 10 have publicly stood up and opposed the lying murderous governmental narrative on the jab and all the garbage surrounding it. That is .01 of 1% of the doctors, or 1 in 10,000. All of them have suffered greatly, with most losing their careers. No one would question the truthfulness of the statement if they stated that everyone mocked them, as statistically speaking, everyone is on the other side.

Jer 20:8 For since I spake, I cried out (shriek from anguish), I cried (call out, proclaim) violence (cruelty, injustice, false dealing) and spoil (desolation, destruction, oppression, robbery); because the word of the LORD was made (became) a reproach (disgrace) unto me, and a derision (I was made a laughing stock), daily (all the time).

Whether he spoke softly or with great passion, he kept speaking the same message. Unbridled wickedness in the land had led to total destruction. The result was persecution. People hated him, and treated him with contempt. This occurred continually. Perhaps the closest example today was how the media treated Trump from 2016 onwards. Was there ever a day that he wasn’t maligned, slandered, lied about? The world was so obsessed with him, most of us regularly watched in utter fascination, sort of like when we can’t turn away from a train wreck. It was just too spectacularly awful to ignore. In essence, Jeremiah is pouring out his complaint to the Lord, about the price he is being asked to pay in doing God’s will.

Jer 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing (keeping it all inside), and I could not stay (I could not morally justify it).

We run across another famous verse. Have you ever had a prompting like this? Only the mature can really discern between a divine compulsion, and a sinful desire to give someone a piece of our mind! We’ve all seen those well meaning brothers or sisters tell us that they just felt compelled to point out our faults, as if the very fire of Jeremiah was in their bones! Most of the time it’s probably just our fleshly tendency to criticize and put someone else down. Remember that Jeremiah is not talking about speaking judgment over any specific person, he was talking about speaking any and every word of the Lord that came to him. He was so tired of the opposition, it had wore him down. Yet a genuine calling is not so easily set aside. God has invested a lot in each and every one of us. It took the blood of his son to make us worthy and able to perform his good work. If your task is truly from him, it will not be so easy to walk away from it.

Jer 20:10 For I heard the defaming (slander) of many, fear on every side (terror all around). Report (predict, say something bold), say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting (waiting for him to fall), saying, Peradventure (perhaps) he will be enticed (deceived), and we shall prevail (overcome)lo against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.

Familiars is a strange word. It is composed of two words, en-oshe and shalom. En-oshe means mortal, or people in general. It’s from a root meaning frail or feeble. Shalom is of course something most of us are familiar with. It means well being, safe, healthy, at peace. So maybe the idea is this phrase represents Jeremiah’s acquaintances, frail men whom he thought he was at peace with.

All of us have witnessed this type of behaviour continually with the mainstream media. They have honed taking quotes out of context to a fine art. The internet age has paradoxically been the worst thing ever for free speech. Since all public discourse seems to be confined there, technology can totally control what is said and not said. One can take the tiniest phrase and turn it into something exactly opposite of what was meant. Not only is this enormously damaging to the truth, but it has a profound chilling effect on anyone else wanting to speak up in a hostile culture. Soon we will have AI instantly transform anything true into whatever demonic thing it wants to be said, and you will not be able to tell what is real and what is not. I believe we’re almost at that point.

Within the church, we all have seen the youtube videos of the keyboard warriors in their basement, throwing out thunderbolts of heresy accusations against everyone who has even the smallest divergence of opinion. I know I have been guilty of watching the worst of someone’s teachings, and condemning the person in their entirety. While we are never to let down our guard against false teachers, we must be careful that we are not slandering the man just because we don’t like his personality or his style, rather than his doctrine.

Jeremiah’s enemies watched his every word and action. All they needed was one mistake. Just one prophecy that they could twist to make it sound like he was blaspheming. Or even worse, that he was actually working for the Babylonians! This was the greater danger, as preaching defeat of Judah’s armies sure sounded like he was trying to discourage his own nation’s forces, and helping the enemy. His enemies probably had no trouble in painting Jeremiah as a traitor, and no true patriot. We shall see in subsequent chapters how this tactic was used against him. All to say that the devil will always find a way to turn the bulk of the people against you. I have always stated that if most love you, then that should scare you more than anything.

Jer 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty (gibbor) terrible (dreadful) one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion (disgrace) shall never be forgotten.

We see that Jeremiah had not lost all hope. While we have quite a few of his doubts and fears recorded, here he declares those universal truths that have sustained believers in all ages. God is with us, who shall be against us? He is all powerful. He is terrible in his wrath to behold. His enemies shall be defeated. God will make an utter end of them. His greatest enemies will be object lessons, perhaps for all eternity.

Jer 20:12 But, O LORD of hosts, that triest (tests, examines) the righteous, and seest the reins (kil-yaw – the kidney, the minds, innermost man) and the heart (labe – feelings, intellect, the centre of a man), let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I opened my cause (revealed, advertised my controversy or suit).

Most of us breathed a sigh of relief when we wrote that last test in our last year of schooling. No more exams! Well I do have some bad news for you. Your exams never end, once you come to Jesus. God will never stop testing you, to show you what’s really inside of you. He knows what’s in there, but you don’t.

Jeremiah was confident that God would not reject him. Some would think that God may of been mad at him always complaining about how tough he had it. Yet God never rebuked him, although he did point out in a previous dialogue that it would only get harder, not easier. So Jeremiah was confident that although he knew that God was always testing him, he still could ask him to avenge him of his enemies, as he brought his case or suit before him, and did not try to take matters into his own hands.

Even though we may not have much power to avenge ourselves in this day of destroyed freedoms, let us always remember to turn to God when we need our enemies taken care of.

Jer 20:13 Sing unto the LORD, praise ye the LORD: for he hath delivered the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

It is only natural to want to see evildoers destroyed. Do not all great movies basically showcase the good triumphing over the evil at its climax? Do not let muddled preaching make you feel guilty for something that is righteous. We don’t fantasize about murdering our personal enemies, but we do long for the destruction of all evil doers, so that the suffering of mankind shall cease.

Remember Jesus cannot come back to rule and reign until he first destroys all his enemies.

Jer 20:14 Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed.

This final passage is so reminiscent of the anguish of Job. I am sure Jeremiah was fully familiar with that writing. What we see here is Jeremiah’s human reaction to the first physical beating and imprisonment. We love to read about Peter and John, who after being whipped went out of the temple rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame in his name. We think we’re all destined to react like that if it happened to us. More likely our reaction will be like Jeremiah. I love the 7 part series called ‘Prepare to Stand’ by Andrew Brunson, where he so humbly and honestly revealed all the things that he went through while in a Turkish prison for 2 years. He shared the positive, but was not shy about speaking about his failures also. By making himself so vulnerable in sharing such intimate details, he made himself so relatable to his viewers. He gave us such confidence that if this happens to us, even if we stumble and struggle, it’s not the end. God can still help us make it to the other side.

On the other hand, I watched another testimony of a brother who was held hostage for several months by Muslims. They treated him horribly, even cutting a finger off. Yet his testimony came without much personal spiritual struggle. He had no trouble keeping near perfect faith every day, never reacting poorly to his captors no matter how he was treated. He came off as some sort of superman, and one couldn’t really relate to him. His testimony actually left me cold, and a little intimidated.

I think we will all be able to relate to Jeremiah’s lament that is found here. He begins by using familiar phraseology for his time period and culture. Curse the day I was born. Let not that day be called blessed. Today we may say: ‘My life sucks. I’m totally screwed. I’ve had it and I’m outta here.’.

Jer 20:15 Cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, A man child is born unto thee; making him very glad (saw-makh saw-makh – joyful, joyful).
Jer 20:16 And let that man be as the cities which the LORD overthrew, and repented not: and let him hear the cry (outcry) in the morning (at dawn), and the shouting (clamour) at noontide (continually);

Jeremiah’s misery causes his lamentation to go from bad to worse. Obviously Jeremiah is not wishing a curse on a specific man, but the fact that his father was made aware of his birth, thus legitimizing it. Jeremiah wishes that man had been struck down like Sodom, or destroyed like Samaria by the Assyrians, for example. In other words, instead of bringing his father initial joy, only to have it end if grief, so Jeremiah feels like the gift of being born has been outweighed by the misery his life has now become.

Biblical writers sure knew how to paint vivid word pictures.

Jer 20:17 Because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave, and her womb to be always great with me.
Jer 20:18 Wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labour and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?

This is a very bitter utterance. Not only does he wish that someone had killed him as soon as he came out of the womb, but better yet, that he had actually died in the womb. If neither of those could occur, then he wished his mother would of stayed perpetually pregnant with him, and never come to term.

This passage is a great lesson in not letting our trials due to obeying God overcome us to such an extent that we become consumed with bitterness. You might say that Jeremiah had become offended at God. While he never directly blamed God, he came very close a couple times. Once he accused God of deceiving him. He tries to wilfully stop preaching. He continually asks for vengeance.

Yet while we may want to use these passages as cautionary tales to try and avoid falling into the same frame of mind, I believe they are a great comfort. Notice that God never charges Jeremiah with any sin or disobedience. He was ok with Jeremiah venting to him. So much of our church culture does not allow us to be real with one another. Why can’t we tell people how we really feel? Why can’t we humble ourselves and ask for help if we really need it?

The road ahead may be darker than we can imagine. The word of the Lord may be difficult to obey. The opposition that we will face may be much more than we expect. Yet let us remember verse 13, and sing to the Lord, and praise him, knowing that he will ultimately deliver us from the hand of all evildoers.

Solitary Man

Photos courtesy Depositphotos



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