Home > Jeremiah Was a Dragon-Man > Oooh Jeremiah*: A Prayer Answered, A Prophet Vindicated

Oooh Jeremiah*: A Prayer Answered, A Prophet Vindicated

In the last chapter we discussed in Jeremiah, chapter 20, Jeremiah had a rough go of things. He was arrested, beaten, and thrown into stocks for a day by Pashhur the priest, son of Immer. Understandably, being beaten and publically humiliated for preaching the word of YHWH was pretty frustrating for Jeremiah. After being released, he laments over his isolation, embarrassment, having many enemies, and being stuck in his circumstances, all while declaring that God is trustworthy and will prevail. Despite being shunned for his words, Jeremiah was the one right person in the midst of an ignorant nation.

In the beginning of chapter 21, we see, at least in part, an answer to Jeremiah’s prayer.

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, when King Zedekiah sent to him Pashhur the son of Malchiah and Zephaniah the priest, the son of Maaseiah, saying “Inquire of the Lord for us, for Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon is making war against us. Perhaps the Lord will deal with us according to all his wonderful deeds and will make him withdraw from us.”
– Jeremiah 21:1-2

Do you see it? Jeremiah went from being in stocks for his prophecies, to praying, to having a king request Jeremiah’s prophecy. Jeremiah transitioned from laughingstock to the counselor of a king over the course of a chapter. Why are things changing for Jeremiah? Because his prophecies are beginning to be manifested in reality. Jeremiah is vindicated soon after his expression of His frustation before the Lord.

In the text, I believe Pashhur performing the action in chapter 20 and Passhur (different Passhur) performing the action in chapter 21 is important to notice. These individuals represent the completely different ways the leaders of Judah, specifically the religious leaders of Judah, respond to Jeremiah. Passhur once engaged in beating, seizing, and publically humiliating the prophet for his words. Now, because of those same words, Passhur is requesting the help of Jeremiah at the behest of the king! I suspect the placement of two Passhurs in the text so close to each other whose responses so obviously contrast with one another’s is a deliberate literary move highlighing the shift in responses to the prophet (albeit not a permanent shift). Attitudes and actions towards the prophet shift when the prophets words that once seemed insane turn out to be true.

Jeremiah’s plight as a prophet is probably the plight of most prophets. When things are going well and the prophet warns of Babylon’s future destruction of Jerusalem, no one listens to or believes the words of Jeremiah. But when it looks like Babylon is indeed preparing to attack Jerusalem, who can anyone, even the king, turn to for answers but the person who saw this coming all along? Prophets are frustrating fools when they are warning about future results of sin and preaching repentance, but they are sought-out sages when sin bears its fruit and death is at the door.

What do we (I) take from this? Three things. 1. Jeremiah’s prayer of frustration, expressed desire for vindication, and request to see YHWH do what He said he would was answered. He prayed in chapter 20, YHWH vindicated in chapter 21. In the middle of a story about a nation, YHWH is still looking out for the individual. 2. Speaking truth into wickedness can be a real bitch in the short term. But perhaps when words become reality, those who once rejected the truth-teller will come back for wisdom and aid. Keep speaking truth in love. 3. It is possible that Jeremiah’s public humiliation is part of the reason king Zedekiah even knew who Jeremiah was. Maybe being nationally known as a laughingstock and a famous fool was the tool YHWH used to bring Jeremiah’s words before the king. Even beatings and public humiliation can be used for God’s glory and His glorification of us.
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