March 09, 2020 – Monday
Jeremiah 18:18 NKJV
18 Then they said, “Come and let us devise plans against Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come and let us attack him with the tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words.”
You may notice the word persecution does not appear in the verse above. However if you look online at Biblegateway.com you will find it has a header or title for this section of Jeremiah 18 as Jeremiah Persecuted. I found only two versions with this title, the NKJV above and the MEV which is almost identical. Others gave it the title The Plot Against Jeremiah or because of what follows this verse the title of Jeremiah’s Prayer. While such titles are not scriptural, they are often times informative as they are here.
Still the first question I had was how did Jeremiah know what his enemies were thinking and planning against him? No answer is to be found in the verses prior or those that follow. Thus I came to believe he discovered his enemies because of their arrogance and because of their arrogance they let their plans be known. So someone likely then shared their plans with Jeremiah.
That is why verse eighteen above is the setting for his prayer for the next five verses where Jeremiah in the first two appeals for God to stand by him by listening to those who oppose him and remember he had actually prayed for these same people. The same people wanted the rulers to reject God’s prophet and accept what we would today call ‘feel good’ prophets who tell people what they want to hear instead of God’s word.
19 Give heed to me, O Lord, And listen to the voice of those who contend with me!
20 Shall evil be repaid for good? For they have dug a pit for my life.
Remember that I stood before You To speak good for them, To turn away Your wrath from them.
Then in his prayer, Jeremiah’s anger boils over as he seeks God’s anger and punishment for those who devise plans against him.
21 Therefore deliver up their children to the famine,
And pour out their blood By the force of the sword;
Let their wives become widows And bereaved of their children.
Let their men be put to death, Their young men be slain By the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses, When You bring a troop suddenly upon them;
For they have dug a pit to take me, And hidden snares for my feet.
23 Yet, Lord, You know all their counsel Which is against me, to slay me.
Provide no atonement for their iniquity, Nor blot out their sin from Your sight;
But let them be overthrown before You.
Deal thus with them In the time of Your anger.
It is important to note here, as angry as Jeremiah was, he wanted God to deal with his enemies – who were also God’s enemies as they opposed God’s prophet – and it was to be God who would deal with them in His anger, not Jeremiah’s. There are a number of Psalms that call for vengeance, but as here they surrender the actual vengeance to God. Thus there is an important lesson there for us, when we are deeply wronged, much as we might wish retribution upon the offender, we can leave the retribution up to God.
To be clear, if a crime has been committed under the law, there is no foul in seeking to see justice done in criminal or civil courts, but vengeance does indeed belong to God.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton