Jer. 23:9-40; 18:18-20:18
Just because a person proclaims to be a prophet does not give reason to believe and obey his messages. As Jeremiah continued to preach to the people, he was confronted with false messages from those who were teaching that all was well and that there would be peace. The people believed the pleasant words of the false prophets instead of the harsh words from the true prophet Jeremiah. As water takes the path of least resistance, man has the tendency to also roll with the flow of ease. Many years later, the apostle Paul warned Timothy, a young preacher of those who would speak words that would soothe “itching ears.”
Jeremiah was heartbroken by the deception of those false prophets. Imagine being inside a burning building calling for its occupants to flee to safety while someone else was reassuring them that they would not be destroyed and to remain in place. That same problem is faced by preachers and teachers of God’s word today. False prophets/teachers proclaim that if one will only believe in Christ, he will be saved—that obeying God is trying to “earn one’s salvation” and is useless. (Please look ahead to Rom. 6:15-18 to see that refuted by the apostle Paul.) Jeremiah was speaking of physical salvation whereas; Paul was addressing eternal salvation of the soul.
The people of Judah continued their anger against Jeremiah as they laid out plans against him. They denied the truth of his prophesies. The heartbreak in him turned into anger. Jeremiah called upon the Lord to swiftly administer His wrath upon the people. Before we condemn him for his anger, let us stop and consider the attitude that we would have under the same circumstances.
Instead of bringing swift destruction upon the people, God instructed Jeremiah to present a visual aid to some of the elders. He was to take a potter’s earthen flask to represent Jerusalem. Upon the completion of another series of warnings and declarations, the prophet was to break the flask and conclude God’s message, “Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a potter’s vessel…”
After hearing of the words spoken by Jeremiah, Pashhur, the chief governor (probably police chief) in the house of the Lord struck him and placed him into the stocks overnight. The next day Jeremiah spelled out the doom that would befall Pashhur—that he would die and be buried in Babylon.
His despondency continued. He blamed God for his derision and misery, even considering refusing to continue to prophesy. A true child of God when confronted with doubts and uncertainties cannot quit. “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…” Still, he had swings of emotion from singing praises to the Lord to cursing the day that he was born and wishing that he had died in his mother’s womb. Godly people sometimes have ungodly thoughts and emotions. We can take comfort when we feel those pains that great Bible characters before us have survived the same issues.