To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
July/August 2014 Issue – ‘Poet of Hope’
Today’s text for reading and meditation:
Jeremiah 20:1-13 (NIV-UK): ‘When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple. The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord’s name for you is not Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side.
For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will give all Judah into the hands of the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will deliver all the wealth of this city into the hands of their enemies—all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.’”
You deceived me, Lord, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.
Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the Lord has brought me insult and reproach all day long. But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side! Denounce him! Let’s denounce him!” All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.”
But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonour will never be forgotten.
Lord Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance on them, for to you I have committed my cause.
Sing to the Lord! Give praise to the Lord! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.’
I think today’s study proves the benefit of studying and employing God’s Word in our lives. It enables us to bring Jesus’ words of encouragement into our hearts during those times of hardship and trials. It’s natural in this fallen world to experience despair when things go wrong – it’s how we react to these feelings, which is important.
It’s amazing to me, just how often relevant verses of Scripture come alive in me to raise me up when I feel down. I believe that at these times, God’s Spirit brings into our consciousness, specific verses of spiritual truth to counteract any negativity. Jesus does this because He intensely loves us.
In this study, Selwyn writes: “As a result of the beating and the humiliation Jeremiah plunges into the depths of despair. He accuses God of deceiving him, of failing him and of bullying him. The prophet has been discouraged before but he has never quite spoken like this. His words sound like high treason. Will God let him get away with it?
God does not respond. As Jeremiah reflects on the clear call that came to him in his youth and the Word that God gave him to speak, something begins to burn within him. He had allowed God’s Word to penetrate his being to such an extent that in the moment of overwhelming test it was the divine Word that prevailed.”
I liked Selwyn’s conclusion, where he takes the experience Jeremiah had and applies it to our own lives: “If we allow God’s Word to so live and take root within us, when our hurts and frustrations scream within, God’s Word will burn in us with His warming love, and we will hear His reassuring message, above the fury of the storm.”
Perhaps, it’s worthwhile to reflect on the position that Jeremiah found himself in – one of total loneliness, regarding human companionship: he could not marry and have children; he could not attend public functions; his friends had deserted him; his neighbours in his home village would have nothing to do with him; and then he was beaten and placed in stocks, to be publically humiliated.
Yet, even after all this – he is able to be comforted by God’s Word. He is God’s friend and servant, and that is all, that counts! Can you say the same?