In the last couple of weeks, I have been sharing some sobering thoughts from the book of Jeremiah that has such amazing applications for us. The prophet Jeremiah had a momentous task before him and as known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah, even in the midst of such difficult circumstances, he continued to do the work God had given him to do. The Lord through Jeremiah would attempt to get the people to understand their dire need to change and the warning of them being rejected. In chapter 18 there’s a wonderful illustration God gave Jeremiah at the potter’s house, with the lesson of God being the potter and the people of Judah being the clay and how the Lord was patient to take them and make and mold them, reshape them even into what He desired for them to be if they would permit the Lord to do so. Sadly, however, Jeremiah would go on to illustrate this before the people as he would go and buy a potter’s earthenware flask and he would take it before some of the elders of the people and some of the elders of the priests and Jeremiah would break the flask (19:10) in front of them and deliver a crushing prophecy that the people of Judah and the city would be broken as the flask. Destruction was coming for them due to the people’s unwillingness to humble themselves before the Lord and allow the Lord to mold them, as the Lord through Jeremiah said in 19:15, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might not hear My words.”
As we have been considering a few chapters of the book of Jeremiah and looking at what Jeremiah has been faced with, I wondered where is the “BREAKING POINT?” We all have one of those don’t we?! We deal with something over and over and over again and until finally we reach what has commonly been called “THE BREAKING POINT”! In human psychology, the breaking point is a moment of stress in which a person breaks down or a situation becomes critical. There’s no doubt from what we have seen in the prior chapters that Jeremiah has certainly met resistance, A LOT OF STRESSFUL INSTANCES in Jeremiah’s day to day life. The people did NOT care for the “THUS SAITH THE LORD” that he was delivering to them. In chapter 20, we find a priest, also chief governor, by the name of Pashhur who heard the prophesying of Jeremiah and as noted in verse 2, went and STRUCK Jeremiah and placed him in the stocks. It is at this point that things start getting PHYSICAL with Jeremiah. Here Jeremiah is beaten and then confined. What do you think? Is this the BREAKING POINT?! The final straw?! It appears the people and specifically Passhur has reached his breaking point with Jeremiah and the words of the Lord as indicated by his actions.
How sad that the one who we may think could have actually been in a position to assist Jeremiah in getting the people back to the Lord, who had oversight of the temple, but Pashhur was serving without good motives. Passhur would dismiss the message of the Lord brought by the prophet Jeremiah rather quickly due to Passhur’s corruptness. One of the valuable lessons we see from this text is that although Jeremiah was doing what the Lord commanded, OPPOSITION IS TO BE EXPECTED! Even from those who claim to be of God. Here was Pashhur who prophesied falsely and was in direct opposition to the word of the Lord and the Lord’s messenger Jeremiah. Pashhur went further than just speaking against Jeremiah and dismissing his words, Pashhur went on to lay hands on Jeremiah. I believe it is apparent that Pashhur desired to bring shame and humiliation on Jeremiah and in turn discredit him as a messenger of the Lord before the people.
Breaking POINT?! What does Jeremiah do? After being released from the stocks by Passhur, Jeremiah told Passhur that the Lord had a different name for him than the one he was commonly called… the name the Lord gave him was “Magor-Missabib”, meaning “terror on every side.” Jeremiah tells Passhur that his terror will be a terror that encompasses him, to his family, friends, associates. Jeremiah spoke of the sad demise that such would face, falling by the sword, buried in a far-off land. That far off land is identified for the first time in the book of Jeremiah as “BABYLON” (20:4). So, Jeremiah doesn’t just walk away from Passhur, he delivers the word of the Lord to him. The prophecies that Jeremiah was giving was definitely NOT pleasing to the people, but Jeremiah wasn’t there to tickle their ears and for such, opposition was most certainly to be expected (cf. 2 Timothy 3:10-15).
It reminded me of what Paul told Timothy, exhorting him to keep on keeping on (cf. 2 Timothy 3:10-15; 4:2-5). Jesus told His own disciples that OPPOSITION IS TO BE EXPECTED (cf. Matthew 10:22).
Hopefully we don’t find ourselves like Passhur, who although held a “priestly position,” he spoke falsehood, and desired to SUPPRESS THE TRUTH. Are we like Jeremiah? That no matter what, truth will be spoken and will not compromise no matter the opposition. Now, I think we learn something from Jeremiah in dealing with his frustration as a result of the opposition that he was facing. This is where I thought about Jeremiah and a breaking point, that moment of stress in which a person breaks down so FRUSTRATED; But such is a DECISIVE MOMENT, a moment to give up, give in and give out OR a moment to GET UP AND GET GOING! What does Jeremiah do?! In verse 7, it is apparent that Jeremiah goes to the Lord with his situation. Jeremiah openly says to the Lord that he is following what the Lord wants him to do, saying what the Lord wants him to say, and what does he get in return? He says that he has become a laughingstock DAILY, the people MOCK HIM! He goes on in verse 8 saying because the word of the Lord has made me a REPROACH AND DERISION DAILY! With all this frustration, the stressors of his daily life of being a laughingstock, being mocked, a reproach daily, he had reached his breaking point it seems. Jeremiah is certainly overwhelmed! He’s been proclaiming doom and gloom, violence and plunder and such has not occurred as of yet, which of course makes him a laughingstock and is mocked before the people. He’s going to God with something God already knows, but Jeremiah doesn’t turn away from God, he goes to the Lord with his anxieties.
What do we do with our stressors, our frustrations, when we reach our “breaking point?” Do we do as Peter even says in 1 Peter 5:7? Do we do as Paul said to the Philippians in Philippians 4:6,7? As you can see in the text, Jeremiah talks it through with the Lord. Jeremiah voices his frustrations to the Lord and if you noticed at his breaking point, he doesn’t just stop and walk away, rather Jeremiah looks to the Lord for consolation, and not only to pray, but also to give praise. We sing songs that speak of us going to the Lord, such as: “I must tell Jesus, all of my trials, I cannot bear these burdens alone, I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;” Also the words that say, “tis the blessed hour of prayer “what a balm for the weary! O how sweet to be there!” We need to do just that!
Yes, Jeremiah was most certainly frustrated and going through VERY difficult times, and although he admitted his thought to the Lord of just keeping quiet, that at his breaking point, he was going to NOT MAKE MENTION OF HIS NAME, NOR SPEAK ANYMORE IN HIS NAME (9a).What else did he say though? In the latter part of verse 9, Jeremiah says that the word of the Lord was like a BURNING FIRE, in Jeremiah’s heart and bones. He had to SPEAK UP, HE HAD TO PROCLAIM THE WORD OF THE LORD or else he would perish!
The contrast is evident in that Jeremiah was consumed with the word of the Lord, but the people of Judah were not. How many of us feel COMPELLED to speak the name of the Lord, to tell of His love, His holy and divine will, His jealousy, His judgment? Is it in our hearts like a burning fire? Paul understood very well what it was like to be attacked… for Paul was unpopular as well during his time teaching and preaching the gospel. But he didn’t stop (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:16).
I hope that we are encouraged that even when we become frustrated, those who oppose us who are really opposing the Lord and His truth, even when we may reach our breaking point, we will go to the Lord, we will seek Him, His will, and keep on keeping on living the life that God has called us to. We must realize that we have a MAJOR responsibility to live out truth, to teach the truth (John 3:16-21). Jeremiah understood that the people of Judah loved darkness rather than light. These people were going to pay the consequences of their sinfulness. Although a hard truth to swallow, Jeremiah would continue to tell them that truth, teaching, warning.
Let me ask you this evening, have you reached your “breaking point?” This is a DECISIVE MOMENT; a moment to give up, give in and give out, to maybe act out towards others as Pashhur did to Jeremiah or a moment like Jeremiah to take it to the Lord, express your anxieties and needs, only to GET UP AND GET GOING, to keep on keeping on!
If you are in the slimy pit, the mud and mire, the Lord is ready, if you are willing for Him to set your feet on that ROCK that is CHRIST for a firm place to stand with a new song in your mouth (cf. Psalm 40:1-3).
Something to think about. Have a great week! – DJ 🙂