A. Man has a tendency to be given to complaint
1. Even some of God’s greatest prophets complained at times
2. Complaints, though, usually come as a result of a lack of understanding
B. Jeremiah 20:14-18
C. What could have brought out such a bitter complaint? Why would he complain that God had let him live, what caused him to wish that he had never been born?
1. In order to understand this, and the other complaints of Jeremiah, we must understand something about his life.
a. He was chosen (he did not choose himself) as a youth to be a spokesman for God.
b. He was lifted from a gentle and quiet town and thrust into the midst of a nation in religious and political turmoil
2. God often used events in the lives of the prophets to symbolize what was to happen to people
a. We see this with Hosea and Gomer, and the names of the children of Hosea and Isaiah
b. In the case of Jeremiah God forbid him to marry, to go to funerals, to go to weddings or to feasts (Jer. 16)
c. While this symbolized the dark future for the nation of Israel, it must have had a profound effect of the life of Jeremiah
3. Kyle M. Yates describes the life of Jeremiah in this way: “Misunderstood by his own family, opposed by priest and prophet, shunned by his people, his life was a tragic experience. Even though he complained and questioned God’s treatment of him he continued to urge his fellow citizens to turn to God for cleansing and deliverance.”
a. In the hour of battle for the city of Jerusalem, he opposed resistance and counseled them to surrender to the Babylonians. It was called “treason” and he was soundly hated as one who weakened the morale of the defenders of the city.
b. Again Yates states: “Throughout his life he was continually conscious of the hand of God upon his very person. This divine compulsion doomed him to perpetual loneliness and to an unending opposition. As God’s spokesman he was constantly going counter to every current of his day. Eternity alone will reveal the suffering, the heartaches, the loneliness and the distress of soul that wrung the heart of God’s loyal prophet.”
D. Added to all this are the persecutions of Jeremiah
1. They refused to take seriously and put into action the word of the God which he preached … Jeremiah 6:16-17
2. They ridiculed his message … Jeremiah 20:7
3. They brought accusations against him in order to cast reflection on his good name.
a. He was accused of deserting to the Babylonians (Jer. 37:12-13)
b. In spite of his protest to the contrary, he was cast into prison on the charge of being unpatriotic and a traitor to his country (Jer. 37:14-15)
c. Jeremiah 18:18 tells how the religious leaders of Judah plotted against Jeremiah
4. He was often harmed physically. When Jeremiah announced that Jerusalem and temple was going to be destroyed like a broken potter’s vessel he was beaten … Jeremiah 20:2
5. Jeremiah was often cast into prison (Jer. 36:26; 37:15; 38:28; 39:15)
6. His life was often in jeopardy because he preached God’s word:
a. From those who knew him best (Jer. 11:21) – men of his home town (Jer. 1:1)
b. Even Jeremiah’s own family sought to harm him because of what he preached
1) Jeremiah 26:11
2) Jeremiah 38:1-6
E. Can we understand how Jeremiah, who on occasions prayed for his enemies and those who persecuted him (Jer. 15:11; 18:20), could at times become very angry, and ask God to destroy his enemies who persecuting him (Jer. 11:20; 15:15; 17:18; 18:21-23)?
1. Perhaps Jeremiah’s bitterest prayer is found in Jeremiah 18:23
2. Let us now look at and consider five specific complaints registered by Jeremiah and lessons to be learned
A. I’M LED TO THE SLAUGHTER!
1. Jeremiah 11:18-12:5 (note 11:18; 12:1, 3)
2. Jeremiah’s compliant might be summed up this way: “I preached what you told me to preach and like a lamb I was led to the slaughter. My own family, and the people of my home town seek my life. Let me see your vengeance upon them”
3. God answers Jeremiah
a. Jeremiah 12:5
b. In other words, if you can’t deal with the little ones (the men of Anathoth) how can you deal with the big ones (the leaders in Jerusalem), or if you cannot deal with the little sinners how can you deal with big sinners?
c. God is telling Jeremiah that it is going to get worse before it gets better
4. Jeremiah was complaining to God because of his hard lot.
a. The Almighty strikes him with a terrific blow when He bluntly reminds him of trials, distresses and crises that are yet to come that will make his present irritations seem small.
b. He assures His prophet that He knows and understands and gives credit for all of his past performances. He believes in Jeremiah and assures him that he is being chosen from the elementary training course to be promoted to the more difficult field of battle. Each bit of suffering he has endured has fitted him for new adventures.
5. What about us today?
a. God does not throw us out into the race with horses until we have had training with footmen.
b. Each victory we conquer will prepare us for more difficult challenges ahead.
c. James 1:2-4
d. Perhaps we are being prepared for something worse yet to occur
B. WILL YOU FAIL ME?
1. Jeremiah 15:10-18
2. Here is Jeremiah complaint: “I have done all that you told me to do, and I am suffering for it – where is your help? Will you fail me?”
3. Again, God gives the answer
a. Jeremiah 15:19-21
b. You stay faithful and I will take care of you
4. What about us today?
a. Matthew 6:33
b. Hebrews 13:5
c. God will always be there for us if we will stay faithful to Him
C. WHAT’S THE HOLD UP!?
1. Jeremiah 17:12-18
a. Jeremiah tells God that his enemies rebuke him because the things which God told him to predict had not yet come to pass (v. 15)
b. He reminds God that it was not his idea to preach the message of doom, that he did so only because God told him to do so
c. In short Jeremiah is saying: “I preached you message … now let’s see it happen”
2. Today are you impatient?
a. How often do we want things to happen “yesterday?”
b. Psalm 37:7-9
c. Proverbs 20:22
d. Luke 21:19
D. I DO GOOD AND GET EVIL IN RETURN!
1. Jeremiah 18:19-23
a. Jeremiah reminds God how he had prayed for the good of this people and now they returned only evil. In response to his message they sought his life; “for they have digged a pit for my soul.”
b. So he now asks God to no longer turn away his wrath from them, but to deliver them up.
2. Do we ever feel this way?
a. Do we ever feel as though the good that we do is naught?
b. No we ever find ourselves holding ill will toward others?
c. Romans 8:28, 31-32
E. I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS BUT YOU ARE MAKING ME!
1. Jeremiah 20:7-18
a. Jeremiah then makes his last and most bitter complaint. He accuses God of persuading him to proclaim His words even though he did not really enjoy this
b. I’m doing this only because I think I have to
2. Friends loving and obeying God because we think we have to is not acceptable to God.
a. Psalm 61:1-4
b. Romans 6:17
c. “Do the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6)
A. A more crushing burden was never laid upon mortal man.
B. In the whole history of the Jewish race there has been no such example of intense sincerity, unrelieved suffering, fearless proclamation of God’s message, and unwearying intercession of a prophet for his people as is found in the life of Jeremiah.
C. But the tragedy of his life is this, that he preached to deaf ears and reaped only hate in return for his love to his fellow-countrymen.
D. He was lightly esteemed in life, and he sank into the grave a broken hearted man.
E. From being of no account as a prophet he came to regarded as the greatest of them all
(Gleaned from material by Frank Briscoe)
Park Heights church of Christ
P. O. Box 107
1300 East Boynton Street
Hamilton, Texas 76531
“A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and sings it back to you when you have forgotten how it goes.”