Day 21 Jeremiah 38 ... Prophetâs Perils

An ironic Jewish curse goes like this: "May you live in interesting times." It seems that the more "interesting" the times, the more the Jews suffered. And, as this chapter indicates, Jeremiah assuredly lived in interesting times. Jeremiah had very good reason for being a weeping, balky prophet. "I get no respect!" he could rightfully claim.

Four kings succeeded Josiah, but each of them served as puppet for a larger empire, and each of them gave the prophet Jeremiah a hard time. One king scheduled a private reading of Jeremiahâs prophecies in his winter apartment. As each scroll was read, the king casually hacked it to pieces with a knife and tossed it into the fireplace (36:23). On other occasions the prophet himself was beaten and put in stocks, or locked in a dungeon, or, as this chapter relates, thrown in a well. The best state Jeremiah could hope for was house arrest or confinement in the kingâs courtyard.

The mistreatment only served to harden Jeremiahâs resolve. He would curse his tormentors even as they released him from the stocks. Evidently, he reserved his fears and doubts for Godâs ears alone.

The events in this chapter took place in Jerusalem, in the midst of a terrible two-year siege by the Babylonians. The cityâs starving residents, barely clinging to survival, had resorted to cannibalism. City officials were frantically trying to improve morale and whip up courage. Little wonder they objected to Jeremiahâs dour advice: "Weâre going to lose anyway - might as well defect over the walls, or open the gates and let the Babylonians in."

The following chapter (39) tells of Jeremiahâs prophecies coming true. Babylonâs army did breach the walls, and then captured and tortured the weak King Zedekiah. The conquerors treated Jeremiah with respect, however, having heard of his counsel to surrender.

But Jeremiahâs trials did not end with the fall of Jerusalem. Not long afterward, a gang of Israelites rebelled against their captors and ran to Egypt, with the angry prophet in tow. They thought they had reached safety. But in his last recorded words, Jeremiah, a browbeaten seventy-year-old, announced that those refugees would meet a tragic end. They ignored him - just like everyone else in Jeremiahâs hapless career.

Point to Ponder: What do you think Jeremiah would have said about the "prosperity theology" some Christians preach today?