It’s not fair

Jeremiah’s job as a prophet to the nation of Judah caused him to be a target of abuse and slander. It says in Jeremiah 20:1-2, “Pashur the son of Immer the priest, who was also chief governor in the house of the LORD, heard that Jeremiah prophesied these things. Then Pashur smote Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in stocks that were in the high gate of Benjamin, which was by the house of the LORD.”

Pashur had heard Jeremiah say that God was going to punish the people of Judah because they would not repent. Pashur’s actions gave the people the impression that Jeremiah was lying and was not a true prophet of God. Jeremiah was severely beaten and placed in a torturous device that would have caused him severe pain and discomfort. Pashur’s intention was to scare Jeremiah into silence. Instead, Jeremiah proclaimed:

And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies.

Jeremiah’s bold proclamation was not given as a result of his own strength, but because he feared God more than he feared Pashur. Jeremiah complained to the LORD about the unfair treatment he received. He said, “I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me” (Jeremiah 20:7). Jeremiah had become a laughing-stock and was mocked for speaking the truth. He was so upset by what was happening, that he wanted to give up his calling (Jeremiah 20:9).

In a moment of complete despair, Jeremiah revealed his feelings of depression and thought of suicide. He openly declared, “Cursed be the day wherein I was born: let not the day wherein my mother bare me be blessed, cursed be the man who brought tidings to my father, saying, a man child is born unto thee; making him very glad…because he slew me not from the womb; or that my mother might have been my grave…wherefore came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?” (Jeremiah 20:14-18).

Jeremiah’s death wish was in part a testimony to the hopelessness of the situation in Judah. Even though Jeremiah would have rather been able to encourage the people of Judah with a message of God’s mercy, he knew their destruction was imminent and all he could do was try to warn them. Showing us that he felt like a man stuck between a rock and a hard place, Jeremiah declared of the LORD, “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forebearing, and I could not stay”

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Suffering

The prophet Micah was an ordinary man, an average citizen of the nation of Judah, that received a message from the LORD about God’s judgment against Samaria and Judah. Regarding the idolatry of Samaria, Micah was told, “And all the graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces and all the hires thereof shall be burnt with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate” (Micah 1:7).

Micah was greatly affected by the message he received because his own home town was going to be overrun by the Syrians as they marched toward Jerusalem (Micah 1:14). What was going to happen to Judah was a reversal of what they had experienced during the reign of king Uzziah. Over the course of fifty plus years, Judah’s borders had been expanded. They had regained territory lost in various wars and were prospering financially.

One of the indictments Micah brought against the rich citizens was their abuse of the poor. Micah declared, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! When morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their own hand” (Micah 2:1). Basically, Micah was saying that people were dreaming up schemes to get rich and were acting without restraint. In particular, people were stealing each other’s land and were disrupting the social order of the nation (Micah 2:2).

When God’s people entered the Promised Land, every family was assigned a portion of land that was to be their inheritance throughout time. Even if a person sold his land, it was to be returned to him or a family member in the year of Jubile, which occurred every 50 years (Leviticus 25:50). The people of Israel and Judah were not following this law and the poor were being left homeless (Micah 2:9).

Like Isaiah and Amos, Micah’s message referred to a remnant that would be regathered to their homeland. An interesting aspect of Micah’s prediction was its depiction of sheep apparently being led to the slaughter. Speaking for the LORD, Micah said, “I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold: they shall make great noise by reason of the multitude of man” (Micah 2:12).

Psalm 44:22 also depicts God’s people as sheep being led to the slaughter. This psalm may have been written during the reign of king Hezekiah, which coincided with Micah’s ministry. Isaiah also used this illustration in his portrayal of the Messiah (Isaiah 53:7). God’s people and their Messiah were most likely depicted sheep being slaughtered because of the brutality they experienced and the innocent who were killed along side the guilty who deserved to be punishment.