7 O Lord, you have deceived me,
and I was deceived;
you are stronger than I,
and you have prevailed.
I have become a laughingstock all the day;
everyone mocks me.
8 For whenever I speak, I cry out,
I shout, “Violence and destruction!”
For the word of the Lord has become for me
a reproach and derision all day long.
9 If I say, “I will not mention him,
or speak any more in his name,”
there is in my heart as it were a burning fire
shut up in my bones,
and I am weary with holding it in,
and I cannot.
10 For I hear many whispering.
Terror is on every side!
“Denounce him! Let us denounce him!”
say all my close friends,
watching for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we can overcome him
and take our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior;
therefore my persecutors will stumble;
they will not overcome me.
They will be greatly shamed,
for they will not succeed.
Their eternal dishonor
will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance upon them,
for to you have I committed my cause.
13 Sing to the Lord;
praise the Lord!
For he has delivered the life of the needy
from the hand of evildoers.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
In case you didn’t notice, Jeremiah isn’t too happy with the God who called him to be a prophet. And he’s plenty honest about it.
Jeremiah feels like Yahweh has deceived and tricked him. Jeremiah seems to be in a submission hold, and God isn’t letting him tap out. He is a laughingstock, and everyone is mocking him. God’s Word has become for him a source of anguish because Jeremiah continually has to preach the Law and announce the judgment and destruction that is coming upon God’s people.
If you want to know what life is like for a preacher, these verses let you inside. Jeremiah is ready to hang it up. He wants to be done preaching God’s Word. But if Jeremiah doesn’t preach, God’s Word becomes a burning fire in his heart and bones. He wants to quit, but he can’t. Here, Jeremiah unloads his frustration and despair.
Why? Why is Jeremiah fed up with being God’s prophet? Well, God called Jeremiah at a time when people were hardened against God’s Word, so God didn’t give Jeremiah a happy sermon to preach. The context of this text gives us a glimpse of this.
Back in Jeremiah 19:14-15, God sent Jeremiah to the courtyard of the Temple to preach, “Thus says Yahweh of hosts, the God of Israel, behold, I am bringing upon this city and upon all the towns all the disaster that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their neck, refusing to hear My words.”
Did the people listen and repent? Nope. They didn’t like the sermon, so they just figured they’d get rid of the preacher. Pashhur, the priest, heard Jeremiah’s sermon and beat him. He put Jeremiah in stocks in the Temple.
The next morning, Pashhur came and let Jeremiah out of the stocks, but Jeremiah didn’t retract his sermon. He doubled-down. He preached right to Pashhur, “God doesn’t call you ‘Pashhur’ (which means ‘freedom’), but ‘Terror on Every Side.’ You will be a terror to yourself and to all your friends. You will watch as they are killed. You will see the city be destroyed and plundered. You and your friends will go captive into Babylon, and there you will die” (Jer. 20:1-6).
Jeremiah started with a bold sermon, and the persecution only made him more sassy – at least in public. But the first four verses of this text show how Jeremiah was on the inside. He wants out of the preaching business.
To my great shame, I must admit that I can sympathize with Jeremiah here as he cries out to God. There are times when, like Jeremiah, I say, “I am not going to mention God or speak in His name anymore,” because I get tired of people not listening. Forgive me.
And even though you (most of you, anyway) aren’t preachers, maybe you can empathize with Jeremiah too.
How often do you get mocked, ridiculed, and become a laughingstock to those around you for standing on the truths of God’s Word? It wears you out. How often are you timid to take a stand against the lies of the devil that have become so prominent in our culture and society? Too often, it is much easier to remain silent than to be called racist, bigoted, old-fashioned, and close-minded.
But, too often, because fear rejection, we end up fearing those who can kill the body more than the God who can destroy both the soul and body in hell (Mt. 10:28).
Repent. All of us need to repent.
In our Gospel lesson (Mt. 10:5a, 24-33), Jesus told us to expect persecution. The world called Jesus Beelezebul, the prince of demons, you can expect the same.
But always remember – in spite of whatever rebukes, chastisements, and rejection you may face – God is with you as a dread warrior. He has delivered your soul from death and your feet from falling.
Jesus, the dread warrior, has already faced your most dreaded foe. On the cross, Jesus went to battle with all the forces of evil. He defeated sin, death, and the devil. On that cross, Jesus was dreadful to look at. He was one from whom men hide their faces (Is. 53:3). Yet, Jesus has carried your griefs and sorrows. Upon Jesus, God laid all your iniquity and sin.
Because of Jesus’ crucifixion, you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God (Ro. 6:22).
Go boldly from here, ready to face whatever the devil and the world may throw at you. You have Jesus, the dread warrior, at your side. In God you trust. What can man do to you? Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.