The job of the prophets has always been to convey God’s message, not to count how many people accept or reject it. Generally, the number of those who accept what the prophets preach at the time they are preaching it is low. For example, though we don’t know how many were alive at the time of Noah, we can reasonably assume that the majority was not very receptive, given the small number that got into the ark. All through sacred history, this seems to be the pattern.
Read Jeremiah 20:1–6. What kind of reception did his message get?
To gain a better understanding of what was going on here, it’s best to read just what the words were that Jeremiah had prophesied, the words that got him in trouble with such a high official. In Jeremiah 19, we have some of that prophecy: God will bring “evil upon this place” (Jer. 19:3), He will cause the people to fall by the sword and their bodies to be eaten by birds and animals (Jer. 19:7), and He will cause the Judeans to cannibalize each other (Jer. 19:9).
Though no one would have been too happy to be the focus of such a prophecy, as a leader, Pashur was especially offended. As with most people, his initial reaction was to reject the message; after all, who would want to believe something that horrible? More than that, using his position, Pashur made the mistake of punishing the messenger. He had Jeremiah beaten according to the law (Deut. 25:1–3) and locked him up in stocks. Though Pashur released him the next day, this painful and humiliating experience didn’t stop Jeremiah from continuing to give his prophecy, this time not just against Judea but specifically against Pashur and his own family. Before long, the fate of Pashur and his family would be a horrifying example to all who would see them in the chains of captivity. This is also the first place in the book of Jeremiah in which Babylon is mentioned as the place of exile. (The chapters, and even sections of the chapters, are not in chronological order.)
Imagine hearing something like that prophesied against you. What do you think your initial reaction would be, as opposed to what it should be? (What should it be, anyway?) (See Acts 2:37.)
Adventist Sabbath School Lesson for Adults Q4 2015 «Jeremiah» Lesson 5 – More Woes for the Prophet