When we feel decieved by God

 When we feel deceived by God

Jeremiah 20:1-18

“O Lord, you have deceived me and I was deceived; you have overcome me and prevailed.”

 

            If Jeremiah had a kindred spirit, it was found in Job. As we saw in the lament of Job, he felt abandoned by God after experiencing the tragedy of losing everything.  Consequently, Job concluded that it would have been better for him not to have been born.  Jeremiah echoes these same words in chapter 20.  When Jeremiah experienced God’s call to become a prophet, there was no doubt a spirit of excitement and anticipation.  It was a great honor to join the ranks of the great prophets of Israel.  But his joy soon turned to frustration and disillusionment.  The prophet who longed to proclaim God’s message would become known as the weeping prophet.  His ministry was one marked by depression, rejection, and discouragement.  Instead of pronouncing hope and joy to the people, he would be known as the one who pronounced judgment and distress.

             In chapter 20, we find that even Pashhur, the priest, turned against Jeremiah.  The one person whom we would expect to side with Jeremiah in denouncing the sins of the people is the one who became Jeremiah's greatest antagonist.  Pashhur would have Jeremiah beaten and put in stocks.  Feeling alone and abandoned, Jeremiah cried out his complaint.  He accused God of deceiving him.  While he had desired to proclaim a message of comfort to the people, the statement he was commended for preaching was only one of violence and destruction.  Instead of being received as a prophet, he faced constant reproach and derision. Jeremiah was discouraged as the people laughed at his message and mocked him in disbelief that God would punish them.  

            As much as Jeremiah wanted to abandon his ministry, he could not.  The more he sought to be silent, the more the Spirit of God burned within him.  Jeremiah faced an inner battle.  If he proclaimed the message of God, the people abused and rejected him.  If he stayed silent, he would have no inner peace.  Even his friends turned against him.  Yet,  surprisingly, amid his lament, he breaks out in a song of praise to God (verses 12,13).  The change of attitude and emotion is abrupt and unexpected.  Yet as he contemplates his struggles, he is reminded that the final chapter is not yet written.  No matter how deep his despair is in the present, he realizes that God will not abandon him and that God will always prevail.  In the end, God does not forsake the righteous, and he does examine the heart of people.  God may seem silent in the present, but he will not remain silent forever.  God’s justice will prevail.

            At a first, glance, when we examine our country, it seems the unrighteous are winning the day.  Like those in Jeremiah’s day, we read of pastors abandoning their prophetic responsibility to proclaim God’s word to preach a message that promises peace and prosperity rather than calling people to repentance and transformation (Jeremiah 23:16-17). Those who strive to uphold God’s morality and faithfully proclaim his word are labeled judgmental bigots.  But our hope is that God will prevail.  He will establish his righteousness when he returns to set up his kingdom.  God will bring judgment upon sin and vindication for his people.  Ultimately, it is not the righteous but the wicked who will face “everlasting disgrace.” Although, for a time, Jeremiah felt deceived by God, nevertheless, he affirms that God is not the deceiver but the deliverer (vs. 13).  God’s righteousness will prevail, and that gives us confidence in the present. 

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