Sunday, September 25, 2022

“Insult and Reproach All Day Long” [Matt's Messages]

“Insult and Reproach All Day Long”
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
September 25, 2022 :: Jeremiah 20:1-18 

Rock bottom.

In Jeremiah chapter 20, the Prophet Jeremiah hits what I think was for him “rock bottom.”

For the last several months, we have seen how hard it was for Jeremiah to faithfully live out his calling as a faithful prophet of the LORD.

We have heard his anguish over the trials and sins of his people.

We have heard of conspiracies that had been mounted against him by his neighbors.

We have heard him preach the same hard message over and over again to people who do not want to listen to it.

We have seen him live as the odd the man out, forbidden to go to weddings and funerals or to even have a family himself.

We have seen him have to do weird symbolic actions that only emphasize more his strangeness and the painfulness of his message.

Like last week, when he was sent down to the potter’s house, twice. Once to watch soft pottery be reshaped while there was still time–though Judah was not going to take the warning. 

And a second time to buy a new “buqbuq” (a hardened clay jar) and take it to the dump field of pottery shards and smash it into a thousands pieces to say that the nation of Judah was soon to be smashed in judgment as well. 

And then when he got back from the smashing, he stood in the temple courts and repeated it all again.

And that got him into trouble. That got Jeremiah into hot water with the temple authorities, which we’ll see in just a second.

And after that trouble, Jeremiah prays the last of the deep personal prayers of this book, and it’s the deepest. It’s the saddest. It’s the lowest. 

It’s the rock bottom.

Because Jeremiah is super-depressed at what his life has become. By being faithful to the LORD, Jeremiah’s life has become intensely bitter. It’s painful. It’s depressing. It’s gloomy. It’s agonizing. It’s absolutely no fun.

Jeremiah says in verse 8, “So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long.”

That’s our cheery title for today, “Insult and Reproach All Day Long.” Are you ready for that? Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? Not a pretty picture! But, often, an accurate one. Being faithful to the LORD will often mean pain.

That was true in the 7th century BC, and it is true today in the 21st century AD. Being faithful is often painful. In this age, we while wait for the Kingdom to come, being faithful is often painful. And Jeremiah 20 can help us to prepare for that. And help us to endure that. And help us pray when it’s like that, when we hit rock bottom.

So, first, let’s see what kind of trouble Jeremiah got himself into. Chapter 20, verse 1.

“When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the chief officer in the temple of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the LORD's temple.” 

Do you get the picture?

Jeremiah smashed that jar in chapter 19 and said, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter's jar is smashed and cannot be repaired” (Jer. 19:11 NIVO).

And Pashhur said, “Oh, no you don’t. That’s enough! That’s treason, and that’s speaking out against the Temple of the LORD. That’s blasphemy!” Pashhur was apparently in charge of temple security, and when he heard what Jeremiah said, in the temple courts, he had to take action. So he had Jeremiah beaten and put in the stocks.

We’re not sure what Israelite stocks were like. They might have been like the wooden things where you stick your head and your hands and they throw moldy food at you and shame you. Or it might have been a little prison confinement of some kind. All we know was that his freedom was taken away from him and that he was beaten. Probably 39 lashes.

We don’t know when this was. Probably late in his ministry. Jeremiah had probably been preaching like this for decades now. Maybe three decades. Maybe going on four by this time.

The clay was hardened. And here Jeremiah is enduring a beating and an imprisonment.

This is not just threats or conspiracies. This is actual violence. This is actual persecution. These are real wounds on his back. And the shame they were trying to put on him was enormous.

“Insult and reproach all day long.” All night long! Why? Just because he was being faithful!

Jeremiah was saying things they didn’t want to hear.

Being faithful is often painful.

Do you believe that? Are you ready for that? What do you do when this becomes your life as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ? What do you do when it’s insults and reproach all day long?

I’ve got three points of application of this morning from chapter 20, and here’s the first one:


When it’s insults and reproach all day long because you are preaching the truth of the LORD, keep preaching the truth of the LORD!I don’t know about you, but I would be tempted to shut my mouth the next day if got released from the stocks. But that’s not what Jeremiah did. Verse 3.

“The next day, when Pashhur released him from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, ‘The LORD's name for you is not Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. For this is what the LORD says: 'I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will hand over to their enemies all the wealth of this city–all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.'”

Jeremiah does not trim the truth. He is not intimidated by Pashhur and shut down by his persecution. Instead he preaches the truth. He changes Pashhur’s name to “Magor-Missabib” which means “Terror on Every Side.” And he explains that that’s exactly what Pashhur should expect to happen to him and his friends. Terror on every side.

And for the first time in this book, he names who the terrible invader from the north will be–it will be Babylon. And Pashhur will be exiled to Babylon and die there. Because he has been saying, “Peace, peace,” where there is no peace. “It’ll be fine,” when it will not be fine. “Everything will turn out okay,” when everything was not going to turn out okay. They were going to be uprooted. And that is the truth.

Preach the truth.

I don’t mean that you have to be a preacher. Only some of us are supposed to be preachers. But we all should be truth-tellers, and not back off on telling the truth, just because it hurts when we do. Passhur wanted to shut Jeremiah up, and Jeremiah refused to shut up.

Now, of course, we need to speak the truth in love. That’s a non-negotiable for followers of Jesus, too. Always with love. But also, always with truth.

In what areas of life are you tempted to trim the truth or even to tell a lie just to get the pain to go away?

If I were Jeremiah, I would be so tempted to slink away nursing my wounds or even to change my tune, and say, “Peace peace” where there was no peace. But that would be a lie. It would be unfaithful to the LORD. But it would get them off of our backs. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much any more. Because this being faithful sure is painful!

In verses 7 through 10, we get a picture of just how painful it was for Jeremiah. He felt, in fact, tricked and trapped. Verse 7. Here’s that last and saddest prayer:

“O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long.”

Those are strong words, aren’t they?

I think that Jeremiah is, again, going too far. He’s saying more than he should say. He seems to be accusing God of doing something wrong. That word for “deceived” could be translated “enticed” or “seduced” or “lured.” And that’s over-speaking which can be dangerous.

But the point is that that’s how he feels! He feels pushed into this painful place. Inveigled. He didn’t choose it. He wouldn’t have chosen it if he knew what it would actually feel like a few decades in. He’s not just beaten and imprisoned, he’s mocked and ridiculed. He’s a laughingstock.

Have you ever had anyone laugh at you? Have you ever been the butt of the joke? It’s like that all of the time for Jeremiah. Especially because he has been saying that judgment is coming for decades. Sometimes with props! Like linen belts and broken pottery, and that doesn’t win you any friends, and the judgment hasn’t yet materialized.

So, Jeremiah feels like quitting. But he can’t. Quitting is not an option for this prophet. Verse 9.

“But if I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,’ his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.”

When you look at that picture on the front of the bulletin, it looks like a wonderful thing that “His word is in my heart like a fire.” How nice! But it was actually a terrible feeling! If Jeremiah tried to keep silent, then the fire would just build up inside of him. Scorched on the inside. If he spoke, the fire would come out, and the beatings would begin. They would shoot the messenger!

But if he tried to hold it in, it would burn inside of him. He couldn’t quit. He shouldn’t quit. It was the truth! He should preach the truth. But he couldn’t quit. So he felt tricked and trapped. And persecuted. Look at verse 10.

“I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side! Report him! Let's report him!’ All my friends are waiting for me to slip, saying, ‘Perhaps he will be deceived; then we will prevail over him and take our revenge on him.’”

You see how they threw those words back into his face. “Terror on every side.”

“You keep saying that, Jeremiah, ‘Magor-Missabib.’ Oooh, I’m so scared.” They are laughing at him. They are calling him “Chicken Little.” And they are just looking for him to slip up, and then they can take him down for good.

Do you see how much this hurts? What do you do when it’s insults and reproach all the day?

Well, yes, you keep preaching the truth no matter what. Stay faithful. But, it’s also clear here that you pray your heart out, too. That’s point number two.


Take it to the Lord in prayer. Yes, Jeremiah goes too far, but He goes to the LORD with it. Yes, he’ll need to repent of saying the LORD deceived him, but not of saying that he felt tricked and trapped. The LORD wants to hear that. See, it’s right here in your Bible to show us that we can pray like this and not be turned into toast.

Don’t be afraid to pray your pain. Don’t be afraid to get real and raw in your prayers to the LORD. He can take it. Don’t think that you have get all calm and peaceful before you go and pray. Take your whole hot-messy self into your prayers. Especially when you hurting.

The fact that there are all of these painful psalms of lament in the Bible should give us a clue that God wants us to pray our hearts out, pray out guts out to Him.

When was the last time that you told the Lord how you actually feel? Don’t be afraid to pray your pain. Especially when the world comes after you for being faithful to your Lord.

Today, there are Christians being persecuted for their faith all over the globe, and we need to pray for them. We need to pray that they stay faithful to the gospel message when their government or their neighbors put pressure on them. And we need to pray that they will pray and pour out their hearts to the Lord Who hears every single one.

And pray that they will pray with faith and even joy. That’s what Jeremiah does in verses 11 through 13. These verses come almost as a shock after the last few! Look at verse 11.

“But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.  O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause. Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.”

When it’s insult and reproach all day long, pray your heart out. And not just pray your pain, but pray your praise! I don’t know if Jeremiah actually felt any joy at this point. It sure doesn’t seem like it. We’ll see that especially in verse 14. But Jeremiah did have faith. He knew what was true. Even at rock bottom, he knew that the LORD was present, powerful, and prevailing. Do you see that? Verse 11.

“But the LORD is with me...” Jeremiah knew, even if he couldn’t feel it, that the LORD was present. He had promised that to Jeremiah from the very beginning and even before (1:5-8). 

In the very first chapter, the LORD had said to Jeremiah, “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land–against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. (Jer. 1:17-19 NIVO).

All of these decades in, and Jeremiah knows that it’s still true. The LORD is with him. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t hurt. It sure does! But it does mean that all is not lost no matter how it feels.

Do you need to hear that this morning? I’ll bet you do. Say that in your heart right now, “But the LORD is with me.” He is present, and He is powerful. Jeremiah says that He is with him, “like a mighty warrior.” He is so strong. He is almighty.  He has the power to bring about change. Like we saw last week, the LORD is the potter. He is able to bring justice and make things right again in the world. And one day He will. Jeremiah knows it! Look at verse 11 again.

“LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.”

The LORD will most assuredly bring justice. Jeremiah knows that the LORD will prevail. It hasn’t happened yet. Jeremiah still has to ask for it to happen. That’s verse 12.

“O LORD Almighty, you who examine the righteous and probe the heart and mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have committed my cause.” Bring that justice You promised!

Jeremiah knows that it’s coming, but it’s so hard to wait. Do you see how he’s praying his heart out? Snd how he encourages his heart to sing even when he doesn’t feel like it? Sometimes the most important thing to do when you hit rock bottom is to sing up to the skies. Verse 13.

“Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.” Jeremiah knows in his heart that the LORD is present, powerful, and will prevail. 

When Jeremiah hit rock bottom, he found the Rock at the bottom. And he prayed his heart out to Him. This is how you pray when it’s insults and reproach all day long. You pray your pain, and you pray your praise.

And then you pray your pain some more. I wish we could stop at verse 13. I’d love to end on a high note. But that’s not what like is often like, is it? Especially when you’re at rock bottom.

All of verses 11 through 13 is true, but it doesn’t actually change how Jeremiah feels. The pain doesn’t just slip away, so now he lives on a higher plane that the pain can’t touch. That’s not how it works.

Jeremiah is still depressed. His situation has not changed. He still has just endured a beating and a shameful night in the pillory. He is still preaching that judgment is coming, and it still has not come. They are still making fun of him. He is still alone. He is still faithful, and it is still painful. He is still depressed. And so he continues to pray his heart out to the LORD. V.14

“Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed! [I hate my birthday.] Cursed be the man who brought my father the news, who made him very glad, saying, ‘A child is born to you–a son!’ [No cigar for that guy.] May that man be like the towns the LORD overthrew without pity [Sodom and Gommorah]. May he hear wailing in the morning, a battle cry at noon. For he did not kill me in the womb, with my mother as my grave, her womb enlarged forever. Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?”

It still hurts. He’s still at rock bottom. He’s coming close again to going too far. If you cursed your parents or the LORD, that was a capital offense in Israel at this time. So he curses his birthday and the guy who brought the news. 

But he’s really just praying his pain out! He’s really just expressing how bad it feels to be him right now. And the LORD wants us to pray like this when we feel like this. 

There will be times when you feel like this. In fact, if there are no times when you feel like this, then you might be doing it wrong. Often being faithful is painful, so if you are never in pain, are you living in faith?

When I read verse 18, you know who I think of? “Why did I ever come out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow and to end my days in shame?”

Why? This sounds like Job (see chp 3). And it sounds like King David (Ps 22, 31). And it sounds like something that King Jesus said on the Cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46 NIVO)

Jeremiah is not the only man of sorrows in the Bible, is he? Jesus came out of the womb to see trouble and sorrow to the end of his days hanging on a cross bearing our shame. And He knew why. Intellectually, He knew why. But He was feeling the question with all of depth of his human soul. And it meant all of the difference to you and me. His sorrow led to our salvation.

As the prophet Isaiah predicted, Jesus was “...despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:3-6 NIVO). 

His sorrow led to our salvation. For all who put their trust in Him. 

And you know what Jesus did when He felt this way? When he received insult and reproach all the day long? When Jesus hit rock bottom? He kept going. He persevered in faithfulness. That’s our last point.


Here’s what I want to point out about the end of Jeremiah chapter 20. Jeremiah keeps on going. He feels this way, and it’s unresolved. It continues to feel hopeless. He hits rock bottom, but he doesn’t quit. He never quits. 

There’s a Jeremiah 21 and 22 and 23 and 24 and 52! He just keeps on going. He just keeps on preaching the truth even though Judah never repents. He just keeps on praying his heart out to the LORD even though Jerusalem will be smashed and uprooted, and he himself will die in obscurity, probably a refugee in Egypt. 

Jeremiah keeps on persevering in faithfulness for forty years. The word of the LORD keep burning as a fire in his bones, and he keeps letting it out. And he keeps on trusting in what he knows but cannot yet see. The LORD is present, powerful, and will prevail. He is the Rock at rock bottom.

So Jeremiah can still stay faithful. Even though it still stays painful.

And so can you and I. 

Persevere no matter what.


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15