As long as King Josiah lived, the prophet Jeremiah had a guardian angel watching over him, but Jeremiah’s protection ended the day Josiah was killed at the Battle of Megiddo in 609. Two of Josiah’s sons followed in quick succession to the throne with the oldest son Jehoiakim (also known as Eliakim) eventually becoming king of Judah.
Jeremiah soon learned the depth of the revival during King Josiah’s reign was shallow, not touching the hearts of the king’s sons or the people of Judah. He was shocked to learn of the plots against his life by his neighbors, family, and even relatives in his hometown of Anathoth.
“Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever…We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the Lord’s name.” (Jeremiah 11:19 NLT)
The Lord promised to punish the people who spoke out against Jeremiah, but Jeremiah couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the anger and hatred aroused against him. He was thirty-eight years old and had spent almost twenty years prophesying in relative peace under King Josiah’s wing. Now, his words provoked almost everyone.
The prophet went so far as to question the Lord’s judicial integrity about allowing wicked people to prosper and be happy. The Lord rebuked the prophet’s doubts by telling him, “If you think it’s tough now, how will you handle the Babylonian warhorses when they attack Jerusalem and all of Judah?”
Jeremiah plugged onward and prophesied the soon coming judgment against Judah over and over again. He prophesied drought. It happened, and the people confessed their sins, but they would not turn away from their wicked ways. Instead, a group of so-called prophets stated that God would send peace to Judah and the nation would not suffer anymore famine and war. Some of these prophets ended up being thorns in Jeremiah’s flesh for years.
All of this stress and pressure caused Jeremiah to cry out to the Lord:
“What sorrow is mine, my mother. Oh, that I had died at birth! I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay— yet they all curse me.” (Jeremiah 15:10 NLT)
The Lord comforted Jeremiah with His promises, but the prophet’s anguish remained:
Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry.” (Jeremiah 15:18)
Jeremiah then learned he had overstepped his boundaries by saying God’s help was uncertain. The Lord answered:
If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you! (Jeremiah 15:19)
Jeremiah’s life is a perfect example of how God trains His prophets. The training is intense and tough. And to be honest, many are called to be a prophet (and apostle), but few make it through the training to walk in their divine callings. This one tough year in the prophet Jeremiah’s life prepared him for the years that followed.
(Continued in Part 12…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)