Part 7 Jeremiah
This is the seventh in a series that examines references to prisons and prisoners in the Bible. This time we will look at the Prophet Jeremiah and find out how his commitment to preaching the Words of the Lord landed him in prison on more than one occasion.
Jeremiah’s ministry lasted over 40 years, beginning in 626 B.C. during the reign of king Josiah and ending some time after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians in 586 B.C. During much of that time Jeremiah was in captivity because he insisted on preaching the words of God rather than what men wanted him to say.
During the time of Josiah, Jeremiah was a trusted confidant and advisor to the king. That changed dramatically however, after Josiah’s death. During the reigns of the next four kings of Judah (Jehoiahaz,Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah) Jeremiah was either in prison or in danger of being put in prison. That was not the case because Jeremiah was such a wrongdoer but rather because he chose to say those things that needed to be said. He boldly proclaimed, as a prophet of God, that Judah had allowed herself to drift away from the laws of God and that they would be punished through the invasion of the Babylonians and the destruction of Jerusalem.
The leaders of Judah did not want to hear Jeremiah’s message. They wanted to hear that God was going to give them victory and deliverance from their enemies. Rather than heeding the warnings of the prophet they chose to disregard them and persecute the messenger because of the message. Consequently, Jeremiah was either imprisoned or restricted at least eight times during his ministry.
Jeremiah’s plight teaches us that often those that choose to obey God and to say what needs to be said in the face of opposition often suffer as a result. It is in direct contradiction to those that would say that when people put their faith in Christ they should no longer suffer or experience problems. The Apostle Paul reminds us that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12.) God’s message is often in direct contradiction to what the world wants to hear.
Peter, the primary Apostle to the Jewish Christians, explains that being beaten or imprisoned for the sake of Christ is a blessing (1 Peter 3:16-17). Peter’s epistle is primarily directed to believers that will endure the great tribulation on earth that will take place after the rapture of the church, the Body of Christ. It is a time when all those who are willing to identify themselves as Christians and stand up for him in opposition to the authorities of this world will be persecuted in a way never before experienced.
To some extent we can all expect some type of opposition as we stand for the truth of God. Most likely we will not be persecuted to the extent that Jeremiah was or as the tribulation believers will be. We may be mocked and ridiculed, perhaps ostracized and ignored. We must be willing to accept this type of “low level” persecution with the same resolve that Jeremiah had when he stood face to face with those that would do him great harm.
Jeremiah is often called the “weeping prophet” because he had to deliver such a horrible message of destruction and judgment on Judah. However, he was not just a messenger of gloom and doom. Jeremiah was able to look beyond the death and destruction and see the day of hope and restoration for the nation of Israel. Many of Jeremiah’s prophecies picture a glorious restoration of Israel as the Messiah returns to establish his reign of justice and righteousness upon the earth. We, as members of the Body of Christ, also have a “blessed hope” that allows us to see beyond the evil and degradation of the world around us and fix our eyes upon the glories of our savior that will soon appear in the clouds to call us to be with him.