American Christians really don’t know what “intense” Christian persecution is. We have it so easy! Sure, there are some government officials who try to shut churches down. Additionally, there are powerful entities who would love to shut us up. Nevertheless, we keep on keeping on with the missions God placed upon us.
Visit Persecution.com (Voice of the Martyrs – VOM) or Persecution.org (International Christian Concern – ICC) and you’ll be educated on what Christian persecution is like around the world. Watch the video from ICC at the bottom highlighting the top persecutors in the world. You’ll be surprised!
In today’s chapters, Jeremiah is facing opposition from officials in Jerusalem. Though it was God’s inevitable judgment that was coming, Jeremiah, as the messenger, was attacked. Yet, he stands firm with God. As Christians, no matter where we live, we, at some point or another, will be called to stand firm on our faith. Can you do it? Let’s dig in…
Jeremiah 20 – Jeremiah and Pashhur
Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. 2 So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.
3 The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ 4 For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. 5 And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. 6 As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”
7 O Lord, you misled me,
and I allowed myself to be misled.
You are stronger than I am,
and you overpowered me.
Now I am mocked every day;
everyone laughs at me.
8 When I speak, the words burst out.
“Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
have made me a household joke.
9 But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
I can’t do it!
10 I have heard the many rumors about me.
They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”
They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”
Even my old friends are watching me,
waiting for a fatal slip.
“He will trap himself,” they say,
“and then we will get our revenge on him.”
11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior.
Before him my persecutors will stumble.
They cannot defeat me.
They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated.
Their dishonor will never be forgotten.
12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
you test those who are righteous,
and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
for I have committed my cause to you.
13 Sing to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
For though I was poor and needy,
he rescued me from my oppressors.
14 Yet I curse the day I was born!Jeremiah 20 NLT
May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15 I curse the messenger who told my father,
“Good news—you have a son!”
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old
that the Lord overthrew without mercy.
Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17 because he did not kill me at birth.
Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb,
that her body had been my grave!
18 Why was I ever born?
My entire life has been filled
with trouble, sorrow, and shame.
- Pashhur is a title and we’re going to run into that name again, but with different fathers. He was an officer of the temple guard. The temple guards were the guys who arrested Jesus on behalf of the temple priests (not the Romans as commonly thought).
- Jeremiah was tortured, but this emboldened him. As I read or hear of stories of persecuted Christian around the world from VOM or ICC, I am amazed at the boldness of these Christian brothers and sisters to keep preaching the Good News of Jesus’ salvation no matter what. Right after the Americans abandoned Afghanistan, I listened to an interview with an Afghani church leader. The Taliban were actively seeking out Christian church leaders and killing them. Most of them fled to the hill country. Surprisingly, their children stayed. The Taliban don’t know who they are. This next generation of bold Christians are staying behind to keep evangelizing and to be strong for the Christians who were left behind. That is strength that only the Holy Spirit can bestow on true believers.
- St. Augustine once said, “The martyrs were bound, imprisoned, scourged, racked, burnt, torn, butchered – and they multiplied.”
- The persecution of the 1st century Christians birthed the saying, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
- Publicly, Jeremiah stood firm on his mission. He could not cave in to the torture.
- Yet in prayer, privately, he was honest in his conversations with God.
- It was an emotional roller coaster. Never trust your emotions. Faith should be based on truth.
- Don’t bottle up your feelings in front of God. He’s there to listen your heart.
- Christians who know their true calling must keep their eyes on Jesus and not waver with whatever the world throws at them — temptation or persecution.
- D.L. Moody once said, “I know the Bible is inspired because it inspires me.”
- Studying the Bible puts a fire in your heart.
- The Good News of salvation, begins with bad news — everyone’s a sinner and everyone will be judged. Period.
- The listener has the choice to accept or reject the news. Those who reject it, persecute. Which is why Jesus encouraged His believers…
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.Matthew 5:10-12 NLt
Here we see exactly what Jesus was talking about.
Jeremiah 21 – No Deliverance from Babylon
The Lord spoke through Jeremiah when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur son of Malkijah and Zephaniah son of Maaseiah, the priest, to speak with him. They begged Jeremiah, 2 “Please speak to the Lord for us and ask him to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is attacking Judah. Perhaps the Lord will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies.”
3 Jeremiah replied, “Go back to King Zedekiah and tell him, 4 ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are outside your walls attacking you. In fact, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city. 5 I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and a powerful arm, for I am very angry. You have made me furious! 6 I will send a terrible plague upon this city, and both people and animals will die. 7 And after all that, says the Lord, I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and to their other enemies. He will slaughter them and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.’
8 “Tell all the people, ‘This is what the Lord says: Take your choice of life or death! 9 Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! 10 For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the Lord. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’
Judgment on Judah’s Kings
11 “Say to the royal family of Judah, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord! 12 This is what the Lord says to the dynasty of David:
“‘Give justice each morning to the people you judge!Jeremiah 21 NLT
Help those who have been robbed;
rescue them from their oppressors.
Otherwise, my anger will burn like an unquenchable fire
because of all your sins.
13 I will personally fight against the people in Jerusalem,
that mighty fortress—
the people who boast, “No one can touch us here.
No one can break in here.”
14 And I myself will punish you for your sinfulness,
says the Lord.
I will light a fire in your forests
that will burn up everything around you.’”
First, it’s important to note that Jeremiah’s book is not in strict chronological order. I embedded a chart at the bottom so you can see the order of the reigns of Judah’s kings. Zedekiah was the last king. The end of Judah and Jerusalem was very near. Zedekiah was trying one last ditch effort. Too little, too late. He asked if God was on their side. Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. Was Zedekiah on God’s side?
The message here was that it was better for them to surrender and go with the Babylonians than to stay and fight. They were to defect with the enemy. Obedience to God was to commit national treason.
Which brings on the question…
Are YOU on God’s side?
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, which can happen at any moment, this is what you have to do…