Focal Passage: Jeremiah 20:7-9
“The servants who faithfully show God to the world are those
who live in deep, disputatious conversation with God” (Walter Brueggemann).
When the Word is liberated (unchained) and its calling is
embraced by those who will responsively listen, stuff happens. Jeremiah was one
who heard and responded. God spoke His word calling Jeremiah to a prophetic ministry
during a crucial period in the life of Judah (Jer. 1:4 ff.) With the calling
came promises of support and protection. In an earlier moment of honest
conversation to God, Jeremiah describes how “your words became to me a joy and
the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). But, this experience turned his world
upside down. Instead of victories and success, he felt abandoned and forsaken.
Jeremiah was deceived and bewildered! Not only were his enemies seeking his
life, but his friends had left him, hoping for his downfall (20:10).
Jeremiah discovered that God’s word is dangerous! That word,
which gives life and breathes into the receptive heart both purpose and
salvation, is dangerous to those who seriously grasp its truth and those who
foolishly ignore its demands. I am reminded of a moment in C.S. Lewis’
Chronicles of Narnia. Upon first hearing about Aslan the children ask if he is
dangerous. Mr. Beaver replies to them: “If there’s anyone who can appear before
Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than me or else just
“Then he isn’t safe?” asked Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver.
“Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said
anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I
How earnestly Jeremiah longed for the safety of God’s
presence. Literally hanging by a thread, he is desperately in need and God is
nowhere to be found.
God’s word had been his word — a word of terror and judgment
for God’s rebellious people. Rather than witnessing the reception of that word
and sorrowful repentance, Jeremiah becomes a mockery and laughingstock — “Mr.
Terror Man” (Frederick C. Holmgren). His message of violence and destruction
has become a bad joke to a deaf people. And now he has had it; he officially turns
in his resignation to God.
Jeremiah decides to no longer play the fool; “I will not
mention him, or speak any more in his name” (20:9). But, he cannot hold it
back. Like a burning fire in his heart he is weakened and weary. He can only
breathlessly reply, “I cannot!” Why? “Because the Lord is with me” (20:11).
God’s word may be dangerous, but it is safe.