Jeremiah has been through a lot. He has been obedient to God. He has done everything he was told to do and say. Now, he is paying the price for it. But something happens. Depression grabs hold of Jeremiah and he regrets the day he was even born. If you are in ministry or are a Christian who has ever been depressed, this chapter of Jeremiah will likely speak volumes to you and hopefully bring you great comfort.
In this chapter we meet Pashhur, a priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord (the Temple in Jerusalem). He decided he didn't like all the things Jeremiah was hearing from God, so he struck Jeremiah and placed him in the stocks overnight. This was quite possibly the worst decision Pashhur ever made in his life.
Jeremiah was born a priest, but consecrated by God before his birth to be His prophet (Jeremiah 1:5). He was known as the son of Hilkiah, not only to distinguish him from others of the same name, but to prove that he was of priestly origin. He came from the priestly town of Anathoth, a name meaning, “answered prayers.” So to have Pashhur, the priest who was also chief governor in the house of the Lord, commit such an act against him, was unheard of, because Jeremiah’s heritage itself designated him as one set aside for God. In other words, he had a holy calling. For Pashhur to attack one of God's prophets so publically not only showed his pride in his position, but his total disrespect for God. As far as he was concerned, Jeremiah wasn’t “towing the line” so to speak, and he deserved to be publically humiliated. Instead, Jeremiah while in the stocks, received yet another word from the Lord. This time for Pashhur, "You shall go to Babylon, and there you shall die, and be buried there, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied lies" (Jeremiah 20:6). Jeremiah was called by God to speak for Him and was punished for it by those who “thought” they represented God. Little did they know how far away from God they really were.
God defends Jeremiah for Pashhur’s mistreatment of him. Yet, Jeremiah doesn’t see it that way and falls into a great depression. He accuses God of deceiving him or “persuading” him to pronounce judgments upon Judah which has resulted in him being persecuted. He says in Jeremiah 20:7 that “everyone mocks him.” Like those who suffer from depression, Jeremiah goes from praising God to cursing the day he was born. He has been humiliated by suffering the shame of spending a night in the stocks in a very visible place for all to see (Jeremiah 20:2). He has spent the night mourning his choices in life (something Pashhur was hoping he would do) and yet even though he was persecuted in this way, and even though he thought it would be better if he’d never been born, he still praised God in the midst of it.
This chapter is perfect for pastors, missionaries, or any Christian proclaiming the Word of God today, who are becoming discouraged or facing outright persecution because of it. It shows, very clearly, that the truths Jeremiah had to proclaim were not welcome in a society that believed itself to be in the “right”. In today’s politically correct world we can take courage from this chapter to be faithful to God when He calls us to speak, no matter what the consequences might be.
We live in a volatile society where just stating your opinion (let alone speaking God’s word) can get you in trouble. Christians, for the second year in a row, were the most persecuted faith group on the planet and we know this is going to get worse. Today, spend some time thanking God, as Jeremiah did in the midst of his depression, and take comfort in the fact that God is on your side.
My friend Sally Meadows, a five-time national/international award-nominated Christian singer/songwriter, author, and speaker invited me to participate in 7 days of Great Canadian Giveaways. Featuring over a dozen Christian authors and musicians, we have all put together prize packages for Canadians. Sorry, about that my American friends. But stayed tuned because I might have something special for you as well.
Starting February 6, 2017 at 8:00 am CST and running until February 12, 2017 at 10:00 pm CST, we will be hosting a contest with over $700 worth of prizes up for grabs. Here's what you need to know to get started right away. 1) Visit http://sallymeadows.com/blog any time, or multiple times, during the period of February 6 to 12, 2017, and look for the postings that say "DAY (X): 7 Days of Great Canadian Giveaways." 2) Each day, two prize packages will be offered. If you like the prize packages for that day, all you have to do is comment on the blog posting, click on BOTH links and go to the featured authors' Facebook pages or website, say hello from the 7 Days of Great Canadian Giveaways and you will be entered into BOTH prize packages offered that day. Each prize package is a minimum of $50 retail. NOTE: do not use the same comment every time you post on Facebook – Facebook may think you are spam and may block you. 3) You can enter to win prize packages for any or all of the seven days (from February 6 to 12, 2017). 4) If you miss a day, or find out about the contest after the official start date and before the final day--that is, from February 6 to 12, 2017--you can still go back and enter into the day(s) you missed.
I will be giving away one copy of each of my books you see posted above, on Sunday, February 12. If you enter, let me know either on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LauraDavis/ or here in the comments section.
It has been a while since I've been able to get back to my study of Jeremiah, but how appropriate that I begin the New Year with a post about a nation that has gone too far. During Jeremiah's time his people pushed God and pushed Him until He finally said, "That's it! I'm done with you! Get ready to see what life is like without me."
Of course, I'm paraphrasing here, but that is exactly what happened to Jeremiah's people. In this chapter the Lord continues on with using the potter and pottery as symbols for Him and His people. As Jeremiah is told once more to go and prophesy, we begin to realize how the Lord has taken His hands off the people, by letting them go their own way.
When a nation rejects God and His authority and supremacy over them, they soon begin to indulge in all manner of sins and they start accepting these sins as normal practices and beliefs. Unfortunately, they do not honour God. In Jeremiah’s day, this meant Israel indulged in and adapted the practices of idol worship from other nations. In particular, they began worshipping the demon god Baal and committed the ultimate blasphemy by sacrificing their children on altars of fire. Today, we draw back in horror at such a thought. Yet the practice of abortion is no different. Babies are sacrificed everyday in the name of a "woman's choice". At six-weeks old a baby's heartbeat can be detected. I know this for a fact as I heard my daughter's heart beat at six weeks old. At twelve weeks they have already developed fingers and toes and yet abortionists will claim to the moon and back they are nothing but a pile of goo. This lie has become so ingrained in society that to utter the truth is akin to blasphemy in secular society. Even when the truth comes out, people refuse to hear it.
So what happens when a nation rejects God and adapts pagan beliefs and practices? God gives them over to their depravity and in His anger makes it even worse. This particular chapter of Jeremiah is hard to read because God allows several things to happen that result in parents eating their own children due to starvation.
Jeremiah 19:9 says, "I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and everyone shall eat the flesh of his friend in the siege and in the desperation with which their enemies and those who seek their lives shall drive them to despair.”
This is hard to fathom. God caused this? Why? We are told in Jeremiah 19:4-6:
“Because they have forsaken Me and made this an alien place, because they have burned incense in it to other gods whom neither they, their fathers, nor the kings of Judah have known, and have filled this place with the blood of the innocents (they have also built the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire for burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or speak, nor did it come into My mind), therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that this place shall no more be called Tophet or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.
The Valley of the Son of Hinnom was also known to the people as Tophet, which means “place of fire” it was known as the place where people sacrificed their children by fire to Molek (Molech) who was associated with Baal worship. In later years, the valley became the city’s garbage dump where the corpses of criminals were thrown and trash was burned. Fires burned there continually and so it soon became a symbol of future judgment. The word “hell” is derived from the Greek Gehenna, which comes from the Hebrew ge’hinnom, which is in reference to the Valley of Hinnom.
God took His hands off the nation of Israel and they would go into captivity in Babylon and would stay in captivity for seventy years. This blatant disregard for God and His ways resulted in horrors that the people brought on themselves. God just allowed their depravity to increase. He took His hands off them and let them go their own way.
What can we learn from this? Quite a bit actually! But the main question we need to ask ourselves is this - has the world reached this point yet? I live in Canada, but I'm thinking of America too while I write this. While both nations are bad and governments the world over are overflowing with corruption, I ask myself - have we reached the point of no return? Has God taken His hands off us to let us go further into depravity and seal our own fate?
For the last little while I have been studying the book of Jeremiah and sharing my insights here. Jeremiah was a prophet who lived during Daniel's time and he was charged by God to warn the people of their impending destruction if they didn't repent and turn back to God. They refused to heed Jeremiah's warnings from God and their eventual destruction came at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar, a man who did not acknowledge God at all, yet God used him for His own purposes. God sent Jeremiah to warn the people of what was going to happen to them if they didn't repent and turn from their sins, but they did not listen. We have not had a Jeremiah sounding an alarm of God's impending judgment, but we have been hearing the cry of Jesus' return and God's ultimate judgment for years. The warnings have always been there.
Which brings me to Donald Trump and his unexpected win as the next President. Christians are saying God put Him in power. Which is true. There is no government anywhere that God has not placed in power (Daniel 4:17; Daniel 2:21; Romans 13:1). He put Obama in power and unfortunately, He has also put Donald Trump in power.
During the last election, when Obama won Christians on the right wondered aloud why God didn't answer their prayers, while those on the left were thrilled that their prayers had been answered. This time however, the situation is reversed. The Democrats did not get their candidate elected and they are not accepting defeat gracefully, nor are they acknowledging the electoral process. Instead, they are behaving like children who, because they didn't get what they wanted, are throwing the biggest temper tantrum the world has ever seen before. How could God let someone like Donald Trump become President? Did God not hear the prayers of the Democrats or does He perhaps have something else in mind?
There is no question that Donald Trump is an arrogant man. In fact, many compare his attitude to that of King Nebuchadnezzar who bragged about how great he was (Daniel 4:28-30). Trump's rhetoric and election tactics are eerily similar to those of Hitler and there is a legitimate fear among Americans that Trump will run his government in much the same way that Hitler did. This is frightening to imagine, but I think we are forgetting something very important - as hard as it is to accept, even evil governments are put there by God (Romans 13:1). It may not be apparent why God appoints them, but appoint them He does. One hundred and fifty years before the birth of Cyrus the Great, God was already calling him by name and promising to set him on the throne of Persia (Isaiah 45:13). Cyrus was a pagan king who did not acknowledge God at all. Yet God’s sovereign plan included pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus. One king would destroy the Jews' homeland and temple, and take them captive for seventy years. And the other would restore the Jews to their homeland and temple. Each had a purpose that God used them for to carry out His plans, despite whether they believed in God or not. And yes, God's plan even included evil kings like Herod the Great and Nero. In Romans 13:1 Paul said, "There is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God." This is an incredible statement when you realize that at the time Romans was written, Nero was rounding up Christians and lighting them up as torches for his garden. Yet Paul insisted God put Nero on his throne. This is a hard thought to digest. What good would God possibly have in giving such an evil man that kind of authority?
Well, for starters, Nero's persecution of Christians resulted in Christians being scattered and the gospel being spread. If there had been no persecution of Christians whatsoever, we would never have known about Jesus because the impact of any message about Him would have been lost. What about people like Hitler? How could someone who killed millions of people be part of God's plan? I think the better question to ask is, how can God turn evil that He knew was going to happen, into good? Why didn't he stop Hitler BEFORE he killed six million Jews? I don't know the answer to that, I only see the end result. Hitler's persecution of Jews ultimately resulted in them returning to their homeland and Israel becoming a nation again after more than 2000 years. Yes, these men were evil and at the time of their reign no one could fathom why or how God could place them in power. Nevertheless, God used their wickedness for His purposes.
In my book Unlocking the Truth of DanielI take you throughout history to see how God's plan unfolded for the Jewish people. Prophecies made were fulfilled and yes, evil people brought destruction in their wake, but ultimately it would result in the birth of Jesus and redemption for mankind.
Which brings me back again to Donald Trump. There is one constant in the universe that we can cling to during these tumultuous times. God has a plan. He is still in control and Jesus is coming back. So how should Christians behave during these uncertain times? We must trust in God and accept the fact that He has placed Trump in power (for now) and God will use him for His purposes. Only time will tell what that will mean for the world.
One of the neatest traditions about Christmas is Samaritan's Purse Operation Christmas Child. Our church supports this program every year and I know many parents use it as a learning experience for their children. When my kids were little, each child was able to pick a box and send it to a child who was their age. We went out shopping and they each chose the gifts to put in the box and would send letters or drawings they made. When the day came to collect the boxes at church, each child was excited to take their box up to the front of the church and leave it in the collection. It was something to see all those boxes at the front of the church and to know that they were going to a needy child.
But have you heard about Packing Parties? This is something you can do with your neighbours or friends that could become the start of a new tradition for you. Here's how it works:
Determine a location, date, the number of guests to invite, and a shoebox collection goal.
Ask guests to bring appropriate items to fill shoebox gifts as well as the $7 donation for each box.
Ask guests to bring photos of themselves, or plan to take personal photos at the party. Include them, along with a personal note, in each of the gift-filled shoeboxes.
Gather snacks and get creative! Try international foods from countries where shoeboxes are delivered. Show the “How to Pack a Shoebox - The New Kid” video from the DVD, or an impact story (see video below)
Set up party stations for wrapping boxes (wrap the lids separately), filling boxes with gift items, and writing letters. Pack each box with at least one special toy such as a doll or car, as well as a variety of school supplies and hygiene items. Boxes should be at least two-thirds full.
Remind all attendees to bring a $7 donation for each shoebox packed to help cover all related project costs. Donations can be made online or by cheque payable to Samaritan’s Purse.
Can't Get to a Party? Build a Box Online!
I just did this and it was super easy and fun to do! All you need is a credit card. You have two options, Let Samaritan's Purse fill a box for you OR you can build the box with items you would like to add. Select as many boxes as you like! Press the button below to get started!
National Collection Week is November 14-20, 2016 so get your boxes and your party started!