John T. Willis

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jeremiah's First Two Complaints--Jeremiah 11:18-12:6

Like everyone else, Jeremiah was a human being. Like all of us, often he complained. Six times through the book of Jeremiah, Jeremiah complains about things and people that happened in his life. All of Jeremiah's complains appear in Jeremiah 11-20. The first two are in Jeremiah 11:18-12:6. Yahweh responds to Jeremiah's first two complaints. We can learn much from Jeremiah and from Yahweh about this.

I. Jeremiah's First Complaint and Yahweh's Response--Jeremiah 11:18-23.
a. Jeremiah's First Complaint. 11:18-20.
1. Jeremiah had close friends in his town of Anathoth a few miles north of Jerusalem, where Jeremiah was born and raised in the priestly family, and was trained to be a priest. His friends told Jeremiah a story about a tree and declared: "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit." Jeremiah chimed in and said with fervor: "Let us destroy the tree with its fruit." ONLY TO LEARN that his friends were talking about JEREMIAH--HE was that TREE. They said: "Let us cut him off from the land of the living." Jeremiah's friends were planning to kill Jeremiah. 11:18-19
2. Thus, Jeremiah turns to Yahweh is prayer, begging Yahweh to bring "retribution" on Jeremiah's enemies. 11:20.
b. Yahweh responds:
1.Yahweh knows well that Jeremiah's enemies commanded Jeremiah not to prophesy in the name of Yahweh or he will die by their hand. 11:21.
2.Yahweh declares that he will indeed bring "retribution" on Jeremiah's petition. Yahweh will bring "evil"=disaster on the people of Anathoth who opposed and threatened Jeremiah. Their young men shall die by the sword, and their sons and daughters will die by famine. 11:22-23.

II. Jeremiah's Second Complaint and Yahweh's Response--Jeremiah 12:1-6.
a. Jeremiah Second Complaint--Jeremiah 12:1-4.
1. Jeremiah complains because life is "unfair" or "unjust." The wicked prosper and the righteous suffer. This is not fair. The people of God are "near to Yahweh in their mouths, but far from their hearts." They are hypocrites, counterfeits. But Jeremiah declares that his heart is sincere before Yahweh.
2. Hence, Jeremiah beseeches Yahweh to "pull these wicked, hypocritical people out like sheep for the slaughter." The wicked affect the grass, animals, and birds detrimentally. 12:3c-4.
b. Yahweh's Response--Jeremiah 12:5-6.
1. Yahweh encourages Jeremiah by telling him to be courageous. If Jeremiah thinks his opponents in the little town of Anathoth, his opponents will be much more powerful and dangerous in Jerusalem and elsewhere. So, be courageous. Here Yahweh uses two illustrations:
"If you have raced with foot runners and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
"If in a safe land you fall down,
how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan?"
We need God's encouragement like this when opponents threaten us.
2. Yahweh openly instructs Jeremiah's friends NOT to trust them. Jeremiah's kinsfolk and his own family have dealt treacherously with Jeremiah. So, Jeremiah must not believe them, even when they speak friendly words to Jeremiah. 12:6.

Yahweh responds favorably to both of Jeremiah's first complaints. Not all complaining is evil or contrary to God or God's will. This all depends on the situation, the attitude, and the surrounding circumstances.

Share YOUR insights and ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis