Conclusion: Waves of Opposition

Few on planet earth endure a range of hardships like Jeremiah.

  • Death threats from family and townsfolk.
  • Angry, anonymous mob demanding death by stoning.
  • Public whipping and a night in stocks.
  • Months of work destroyed and need to flee.
  • Strange acted-out dual leading to death.
  • Cast into a stinking muddy pit.
  • Forced to make a repulsive purchase.

One episode remains. Something entirely different. In this one, Jeremiah becomes somewhat a trouble maker.

Jeremiah the Tempter

Jeremiah sought out the leaders of a certain family clan and invited all the men to join him inside the temple. At the appointed time they came. Jeremiah had reserved a room and set it up to host them. He welcomed them in the traditional way with cups and jugs of wine.

All the social norms, all the accepted behavior, etiquette, decency, in that day placed a strong obligation on these guests to receive the drink with gratitude. The host honored them by going personally to invite them. The host prepared everything in advance. They came as guests and were obliged to return honor to their host. Refusing the welcoming drink is a breach of etiquette, an unforgivable offense. But this is what they did. They brought shame on Jeremiah by refusing his welcome. In normal circumstances, Jeremiah would be hotly offended.

The problem? These men, along with their whole clan for generations, were under oath to not drink from the fruit of the vine. They were teetotalers from birth to death. Even God’s spokesperson in a private temple room would not get them to change.

Jeremiah breathed a sigh of relief. The Recabites’ unswerving obedience to their forefathers became powerful ammunition for rebuking the populace and the leaders of Judah.

Come and learn a lesson about how to obey me. The Recabites do not drink wine to this day because their ancestor Jehonadab told them not to. But I have spoken to you again and again, and you refuse to obey me. Time after time I sent you prophets, who told you, “Turn from your wicked ways, and start doing things right. Stop worshiping other gods so that you might live in peace here in the land I have given to you and your ancestors.” But you would not listen to me or obey me. The descendants of Jehonadab son of Recab have obeyed their ancestor completely, but you have refused to listen to me. Jer. 35:13-16.

A Clear Contrast

The contrasts are powerful:

In terms of loyalty, the Almighty, Living, Covenant God of Israel is certainly worthy of greater allegiance than any ancestor.

In terms of self-help, the benefits derived by obeying their Covenant God are exponentially greater than the Recabites were to gain through family loyalty.

But in all the places Jeremiah journeyed, and rebuked, and called for change, the people spat in his face, refusing to listen. The Recabites proved noble, all the others were ignoble.

“My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the LORD. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” Jer. 4:22.

Therefore, their land will become desolate, a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will shake their heads in amazement. Jer. 18:16.

I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. Jer. 19:8.

These are the people Jeremiah spent 40 years trying to educate, awaken, and rescue from the consequences of their folly.

Respect

It is unfortunate that Jeremiah’s most famous title among popular circles is “the weeping prophet.” There is even the term “jeremiad” coined in his “honor.” Yes Jeremiah wept, but not out of self-pity and weakness. His weeping spawned out of concern for his people. He joined the “Weeping God.”

Now, Jeremiah, say this to them: “Night and day my eyes overflow with tears. I cannot stop weeping, for my virgin daughter – my precious people – has been struck down and lies mortally wounded.” Jer. 14:17.

This point is stated well by Paul House, “This emphasis on his weeping may mislead readers regarding his toughness. Jeremiah was a determined, dedicated, long-suffering, and visionary follower of God. His courage and stamina serves as examples to even the most faithful of all God’s embattled servants.”[1]

God’s spokesperson, Jeremiah, deserves a gold medal. As a man, servant of The Most High, citizen of a small, troubled nation, an activist for social concern,[2] and a bastion of hope for the future – very few human beings should stand in honor with him. God gifted us not only with a historical record of Jeremiah, we also have his writing in which he expresses many of his feelings and thoughts in an ongoing communication with his Divine Commander.

This is the focus of the third and largest section of this book, Dialogues with Deity. It is up next.


[1] ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles, Wheaton IL, 2008, p. 1364.

[2] This is covered in Appendix 8, Spokesperson’s Social Concern.

The Champion

Amidst darkness, confusion, and uncertainty, who do you want with you as you enter the new year?  May I offer a suggestion? Let’s go with the CHAMPION!

The newly announced “Beloved Son of God”[1] was handed over to the Diabolical One.[2]

Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days. Luke 4:1-2.

Understand! This adversary is a thoroughly venomous, maniacal, self-consumed “hater of God” (and all that is good). His hatred burned especially toward God’s perfect Son.

There must have been parameters set by God, as we find he did regarding Job (Job 1:8-12; 2:3-6). But Diabolos was given 5 ½ weeks to wear Jesus down, emaciate him, and hit him hard from every angle.

We can read about the final three attacks that took place on the 40th day.

First of all, think for a minute what was required for this 40-day fast to happen.  Jesus had to be super healthy: physically, mentally and spiritually. It is possible for people to fast for 40 days or more, but it is an extremely rare – and very fit person – who can handle it.  Jesus was fit, strong and disciplined.[3] 

Imagine being alone for 40 days.  No conversations.[4] No stories, jokes, news, no media, nothing.  It is a rare person who can handle such isolation, let alone when accompanied by 40 days without food.  Add to this a hostile environment: Rugged, barren, burning during the day, cold during the nights.  Hyena’s howling, scorpions hiding, vipers brooding… Jesus was put through a real test![5]  

The curious, active mind we catch a glimpse of at age 12[6] certainly didn’t shut down during these 40 days of testing.  He had no scrolls to read.  No newspaper deliveries, no sports magazines.  Oh yes, and no social media. But he no doubt had a disciplined regimen of meditation which he followed through that long period of time.  He knew large contents of the Old Testament by rote and could work progressively through chapter and verse as he meditated on such grand things as his identity, his mission, and of course, the character and grace of His Father.

This was an opportune time to think through all these things.

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”

Note: Satan’s challenge (If you are the Son of God) is directly related to perhaps the last words Jesus had heard spoken (from heaven 40 days earlier), “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

There is strong innuendo in the Tempter’s question/statement/challenge: “That Father of yours has forgotten all about you! He doesn’t respect you enough to treat you the way you deserve!  Why should the “Son of God” be left destitute like this?  Do something about it!  Assert yourself!  Here’s some stones, at least make yourself some bread to eat!”

But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 

Jesus directly answered the innuendo. “I’m doing just fine!  My Father is supplying exactly what I need.  I am being fed, morning through night, on the bread of life, my Father’s word.  I am not looking for some silly bread to eat.  When my body absolutely needs it, I can trust my Father to provide in whatever way he chooses.”

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 

We don’t know the mechanics involved, but the sudden relocation from the barren, desolate no-mans-land of Judea to a high point overlooking the big city of Jerusalem had to have been a shock to Jesus’ already depleted system!  Visual stimulation, noise, smells, humans!  Internally, emotionally, Jesus could not have been prepared for this sudden and dramatic change.

and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off”

And did Satan encourage that jumping by standing him right on the edge, with a strong unsteady wind (and even rain?) blowing at his back?  Did he leave him in that dangerous position for a long time?  Did he time it so that crowds of people were down there waiting?  We don’t know. But in his weakened physical and emotional state Jesus must have been dizzy, somewhat confused, and groping for help in knowing what to do.

The Tempter continues, “…For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 

The innuendo is again almost deafening: “So you say the word of God is all that is important to you.  Why don’t you show the whole world how much you trust in that word.  Jump!  God says he will catch you.  Let’s see how much you trust him!”  (Satan is wily).

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 

This answer of Jesus is most clever.  He didn’t just extract a scripture text to answer the situation, he addresses the very heart of Satan’s challenge.  “I don’t need to prove that I trust God’s word.  I trust my Father implicitly – always have and always will.  For me to jump here is totally unnecessary, it would be a lack of faith on my part, it would be a “test” of God. That is unbelief, not faith.” (Consider Gideon in Judges 6:36-40).

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain

Another sock to the system.  Another sudden change of environment, climate, stimulation.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Evil One took his time here (as well as on the temple).  Why should he hurry?   This was his chance to get the upper hand.  Let Jesus feel the cold.  His emaciated body with no resistance; shivering, shaking, looking for warmth and protection. 

and showed him the kingdoms of the world and all their glory.  

I would think Satan started this diabolical video presentation with scenes of warmth, comfort, hot freshly-cooked food, (even if the video didn’t come complete with smells – and I wouldn’t put it past him to provide such a thing – Jesus’ human system would add the smells, the sounds, and create the cravings that Satan aimed for).  Satan is cruel, vicious, vindictive.  He was raving mad at being defeated twice already.  There is nothing good about him.  He had no mercy on our Lord.  After racking Jesus’ system with such sights and sounds and smells as would make any of us go mad in that situation, he must have continued to show wealth, comfort, opulence, and companionship, with the message being “join me and you will never suffer again!”

“I will give it all to you,” he said,

Innuendo: “Unlike your neglectful father, who raised your hopes at Jordan only to abandon you, I, yes I, will give you all of this.  You will never be short of food, clothes, and companionship ever again. No more suffering for you! The whole world is mine and I give it all to you for one small price.”

“…if you will kneel down and worship me.” 

The Tempter has given his best shot.  He weakened Jesus as much as he possibly could.  He offered him all that he could deliver, and packaged it in the best way.  The future of the universe now laid in the hands of the second Adam.  The first Adam was the one who handed control of the world over to Satan in the first place (1 John 5:19), Jesus is being asked to accept that ownership as legitimate.  Something that even in his tortured, weakened, very vulnerable state Jesus was not willing to do.

“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”  Then the devil went away,

Do we appreciate what a great victory this was?  God allowed these 40 days for Satan to test Jesus.  Satan used all that was in his power to break him down, weaken him, and set him up for the fall.  Satan had witnessed starving Esau give up his birthright for a bowl of soup (Gen 25:29-34).  He arranged for Jesus to get more physically and emotionally desperate than Esau ever was, then he pumped him with visual stimuli to whip up all sorts of cravings, and then he offered Him far, far more than soup.  Satan tried his very best to bribe Him, to crack Him, but he failed totally, and had to leave in shame and rage.

and angels came and took care of Jesus.

Why the angels?  This shows how weakened and needy Jesus had become.  His very life was on the line.  He was in desperate need of help, of warmth, nourishment, and rest (Psa. 91:9-16).  Satan left him up there on the mountain.  Why should he have done otherwise?  But as soon as Jesus completed the test, God sent Him the help He needed (as he did with Elijah in 1 Kings 19:5-8, and countless other heroes through the ages and around the world).  This victory was no small accomplishment on Jesus’ part.  It exhausted Him, brought him near death.  But Jesus conquered! What a man Jesus is!  If you don’t have the utmost respect for Jesus then you don’t yet really know Him.

We are about to enter a new year. Amidst darkness, confusion, uncertainty,  who do you want to enter the new year with?  I choose Jesus, the champion over all that is contrary to God.

N.B. Lest you get a wrong idea from this story, Jesus was not a loner, he was the ultimate people-person. He will not attach himself to just you. He will give you his full attention, yes. But he will also give his full attention to your family members, your neighbors, the homeless, the widow, the orphan, your rivals or “enemies.” No one can walk with Jesus and not be challenged into massive transformation. The most annoying and obnoxious person in your life is loved by Jesus just as much as you are. You need to love that person too.


[1] Mat. 3:16-17, Luk. 3:21-22.

[2] Briefly described below.

[3] It is very unlikely this was the first time he fasted. Fasting is something that is learned through repeated practice, and Jesus was ready when this very long fast came up.

[4] And Jesus was no introvert. He was a people person in a society of people persons.

[5] If you don’t have the highest respect for Jesus then you really don’t know him. 

[6] Luke 2:46,47.