About Us Services MinistriesSermon Message Bible StudyChurch Calendar Contact Us


Statement of Faith

The Four Most Important Things We Could Ever Tell You

Listen to this week's message!

Map to the Church

Prayer Requests

Enhance your daily reading of God's word. Click here for free, printable Bible Reading and Prayer Journal sheets!

Wednesday AM Bible Study Archives


"The Crushing of a Prophet"
Jeremiah 20

Wednesday AM Bible Study
January 4, 2005

Jeremiah, in a previous time of frustration and confusion, cried out to God about the prosperity of the wicked (12:1-4). It was a dark time for the prophet. But God asked him, "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses? And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?" (12:5). It was a foreboding question! In other words, God responds to Jeremiah's question by asking how, if he struggled at such times, would he be able to bear-up when things got worse? Surely, as we come to chapter 20, we find that such a time had come!

This is, without a doubt, one of the darkest personal times in Jeremiah's ministry. And chapter 20 reveals the deep torment that he was under: (1) being beaten by one of God's enemies for having spoken God's word to them, and yet then being called upon to stand up and speak again (vv. 1-6); (2) deciding to refrain from speaking God's word, and yet finding that burned within him to the point that he could no longer hold it in (vv. 7-12); and (3) singing praise to the Lord for His faithfulness; and yet wishing that he himself had never been born (vv. 13-18).

And yet, in spite of it how overwhelmed beyond description Jeremiah was, God still used him and proved His own faithfulness through him. There's a great lesson for us in this. How could he run with the horses? How could he stand strong in the floodplain? The answer, of course was that he could only stand by God's power. And as this passage shows us, His servants own times of "crushing" in the Lord's service are the Lord's times of displaying His power through them.


A. Jeremiah had just spoken through the sign of the potter's house (chpt. 18) and the sign of the broken flask (chpt. 19). Pashhur, a priest who was also chief governor - an overseer - in the temple heard "these things", attacked Jeremiah for them physically (vv. 1-2).

B. After detaining Jeremiah in public humiliation near the very temple from which he had prophesied (19:14-15), Pashhur released him. It was then that Jeremiah turned to the man who - in wicked bravado - persecuted him for prophesying, and spoke a message from the Lord (v. 3):

1. God had a new name for Pashhur. The precise meaning of his old name isn't clear. But his new name would be "Magor-Missabib" - "Fear on every side!" (v. 4. See also verse 10).

2. It was a name intended to indicate his destiny; because Jeremiah told him that God would make him a terror both to himself, and to all his friends. This would be because:

a. They would all fall by the sword of the Babylonians, and he would see it (v. 4).

b. They would be carried away by the king of Babylon, where they would be slain (v. 4).

c. All the prosperity of Jerusalem would be delivered over as plunder to the Babylonians (v. 5).

d. Pashhur, his whole household, and all the friends to whom he prophesied lies, would die in captivity in Babylon.

C. God displayed the greatness of His power in Jeremiah by the fact that he arose after his persecution to continue to speak God's word to his persecutor. Only God could enable a man to do this! (See Paul in Acts 14:19-20).


A. Jeremiah complains before God in a very bold way. He has complained in a similar way to God in 15:15-18; but not with the agony with which he complains here! (vv. 7-10).

1. He acknowledges that God called him - inducing him, as it were, and prevailing over him to become a prophet. But it has resulted in his becoming a laughing-stock to all around him. He spoke a serious message of God's impending judgment; but the "word of the LORD" was made his daily reproach and derision (vv. 7-8).

2. Since it became a cause of his being mocked and ridiculed, he even determined that he would be silent. But God's word that had been placed in him could not be contained. It boiled up inside him until he could hold it in no longer (vv. 9-10). Nevertheless, he spoke only to be ridiculed:

a. They made fun of his message of "Magor-Missabib" - fear on every side.

b. They mocked by suggesting, "Tell us a message from God, and we'll pass it on!"

c. His acquaintances - "The men of my peace" - watched for him to stumble and tried to induce him so they could prevail against him.

B. But when Jeremiah complained before, God promised to display the greatness of His power in him (15:19-21). And here, he affirms that promise in his present distress (vv. 11-12).

1. He affirms that the Lord is with him as "a mighty awesome One".

2. That because the Lord was with him, those who were seeking to make him stumble would themselves stumble.

a. They would be greatly ashamed and will not prosper.

b. Their confusion would be everlasting and never forgotten.

3. But the Lord - here called "the LORD of hosts", - would

a. Show Himself to be the one who tests the righteous and sees the mind and heart.

b. Allow the prophet to see God's vengeance on his persecutors, because he cried out to Him.

C. God displayed the greatness of His power in Jeremiah through the times when He cried out to God under the greatness of his burden (2 Cor. 1:8-10).


A. Jeremiah bursts forth with a word of praise to God; affirming His deliverance (v. 13).

B. And yet, even in his praise for this future deliverance, Jeremiah suffers under the weight of it all. He speaks of his despair with frankness that makes us uncomfortable!

1. Cursing the day of his birth (v. 14).

2. Cursing the man who announced his birth (v. 15-16).

3. Asking why the one who announced his birth didn't kill him before he was able to come out of the womb, and into all his sorrow and shame (v. 17-18).

C. Again, though, we see that God was glorified in His crushed prophet whom He called even in his youth. He lived on and continued to speak; and his words have been preserved for us even today.

* * * * * * * * * *

And so, this dark chapter illustrates a bright principle for us. It's one that the apostle Paul wrote of: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed - always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh" (2 Cor. 4:7-11).

When God calls us to do something for Him, He often calls us to do something far beyond our ability to do. He may even choose - as He did with Jeremiah - to place upon us a burden so terribly great and so dreadfully crushing, that we despair even to the point of death. And then, when it's over, God's sustaining power proves to be the only explanation for our having stood at all; "that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us."

Printable Version

Bethany Bible Church, 18245 NW Germantown Road, Portland, OR 97231 / 503.645.1436

Site Map | Privacy Policy | Copyright Information