In the earliest chapters of Jeremiah, the Lord had warned his servant that his work as a prophet was not going to be easy. At the time of his calling, Jeremiah was told that Judah’s princes, kings, priests, and people would “fight against [him]” (Jer. 1:19). Although he was told that the Lord would sustain him and that his opponents would not “prevail against [him]” (Jer. 1:19), no doubt the warning that most of his own people were going to fight him wasn’t welcome news. Jeremiah, though, didn’t yet know the half of it, and when trials came, he was understandably angry and hurt. What universal issue is the prophet struggling with in Jeremiah 12:1–4?
What is the prophet’s attitude toward those who have hurt him? What does this tell us about the humanity of even God’s most faithful servants?
Jeremiah 12:1 is filled with Old Testament legal language: the Hebrew words for “righteous,” “bring a case,” and “justice” (NIV) all appear in legal settings. The prophet, so upset over what he has been facing, is bringing a “lawsuit” (see Deut. 25:1) against the Lord. His complaint, of course, is a common one: why do evil people always seem to prosper?
We can see, too, Jeremiah’s humanity exhibited. He wants those who have done evil to him to be punished. He’s not speaking here as a theologian; he’s speaking as a fallen human being in need of grace who, like Job and like many of God’s faithful people, doesn’t understand why these things are happening to him. Why should Jeremiah, God’s servant, called to declare God’s truth to a rebellious people, be subjected to the treacherous plots of his own village? Jeremiah trusted in the Lord, but he surely didn’t understand why things were happening as they were.
How can we learn to trust in the Lord despite all the things that happen that just don’t seem to make sense to us?
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 4 – Rebuke and Retribution