A Conflict not to be Avoided
Jeremiah 20:7-9
O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am in derision daily…

The heart of the prophet is here revealed to us as the scene of a bitter conflict between two sets of motives; one set originating with the vehement will of God, the other in the utterly unsympathizing dispositions of men. The prophet makes us feel that it is utterly insufficient to describe his work simply as difficult. It is done amid a continuity of reproaches, some of which a less sensitive man might not have felt, but which were peculiarly irritating to a man of Jeremiah's sensibilities. Generally it may be observed that God did not send thick-skinned men to be his prophets.

I. THE DIVINELY PRODUCED CONVICTION UNDER THE FORCE OF WHICH HE BEGAN THIS WORK. The people might say, "You speak irritating words to us, and you must not complain if we speak irritating words to you. Those who live in glass houses must not throw stones." Thus it is well for the prophet to assert most emphatically, as he does in ver. 7, that he spoke from a divinely produced conviction of duty. God impressed - as God alone can impress-certain irresistible considerations on his mind. Not only was he persuaded, but it was God who had persuaded him. The reasons for his prophetic action were not such as he had sought out and discovered for himself. God put them before him in their proper aspect, order, and totality,

II. THE FIRST PAINFUL RESULT OF FIDELITY TO GOD. Perhaps in the youthful confidence with which he began his prophecies he would anticipate that since God had so clearly sent him, the people would as trustfully and obediently receive him. But not all the genuineness of a Divine message can commend it any more to the selfish man who naturally hates to be disturbed and threatened. The prophet intimates that the reception he met with was daily, universal, invariable. He seemed to be ordained to stir up the nests and dens and hiding-places of every noxious being amongst men. He who goes among hornets and scorpions must not complain if he has to suffer great agonies from their venomous sting. We are sure, indeed, that the prophet must have had some sympathizers, but the treatment which caused him such agony would also have the effect of making friends keep silent, lest they might be the next to suffer. It is no strange thing that men should become resentful and savage under the home-thrusts of spiritual truth. Men who love evil resent even the gentlest approaches of God in trying to take that evil away.

III. THE EARLIER RESULT PRODUCED BY THIS INTOLERABLE TREATMENT IN JEREMIAH'S OWN MIND. It is easy to criticize the prophet, and say that he should not have been so much affected by all these hard words. But it was just the multitude of them that made them intolerable. A man would be cowardly to complain of being stung now and then; but if he is to be exposed to stinging insects every hour of the day, that is an altogether different matter. God made one of the terrible plagues of Egypt out of multitudes of tiny creatures, such as, individually, counted for almost nothing. Let us not, then, talk condemningly of this proposed repression of the prophetic message. He had reached a crisis in which, we may well believe, Jehovah, who sent him, was peculiarly near to him. May we not reverently say that even as Jesus reached the inexpressible culmination of his mental agony in Gethsemane, so the prophets, in their lesser measure, may have had crises, not unlike that of Gethsemane, when the forces arrayed against them seemed more than they could possibly resist? Profound should our feeling be that it may become a very hard thing to bear faithful testimony for God in an ungodly world.

IV. THE FINAL RESULT. The risk of unfaithfulness is put beyond Jeremiah's control. He is put between two great "cannots." He cannot bear the reproaches of the people. That on the one hand. But, on the other hand, he finds that he cannot keep unexpressed the message of Jehovah. God takes his Word into his own keeping. The pain of prophesying, great as it was, was less than the pain of withholding the prophecy. It is not fill we come to deal with God that we learn the real meaning of the word" intolerable." It is ever a mark of God's true servants, that in times when there is great need of testimony they cannot keep silent. Better to burn at the stake than to have one's true, inner life burnt up in resisting God. Paul is a grand example of a man who was forced to speak by the fire within. He could not be silent; he could not temporize, compromise, or postpone. Luther is another instance. Those destitute of the fire in their hearts cannot understand those who have it; and therefore it is the very height of ignorant audacity to censure it. Nothing is more to be desired, whatever pain it may bring with it, than that we should have God's truth as a living and growing fire in our hearts; and in order to do this, we must be careful not to quench it in the beginnings of its risings within us. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: O LORD, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived: thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me.

WEB: Yahweh, you have persuaded me, and I was persuaded; you are stronger than I, and have prevailed: I am become a laughing-stock all the day, every one mocks me.

Magor-Missabib; Or, the Fate of a False Prophet
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