I really feel sorry for Jeremiah. Every time he opened his mouth to proclaim what God had told him and was faithful to his calling, he got in more and more trouble with the very people he was called to help. He is beaten and imprisoned repeatedly; and he is fearful of his life more than once (even with having been promised by God that he would be kept safe).
The problem the people had with Jeremiah was one of pride, in wanting to continue doing whatever they wanted without any input by God. It was also a problem of disbelief. Why would God use another nation to do his will in punishing Judah? Was not Judah God’s chosen people? Did not the Temple of the Lord reside in Jerusalem? How could God use Babylon to fulfill his will?
Of course, knowing history and the rest of the biblical story, we know God did exactly that. Babylon, the terror of the world at that time, was used by God to exact punishment on Judah for betraying the Lord, worshiping false gods, and ignoring the kind of life that God had called the people of Israel to live. Yet this instrument for punishment was also a vehicle for blessing. Look at this passage from Jeremiah:
11 Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar gave orders concerning Jeremiah to Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard: 12 “Find Jeremiah and look after him; don’t harm him but do whatever he asks from you.” 13 So Nebuzaradan the captain of the special guard, Nebushazban the chief officer, Nergal-sharezer the field commander, and all the commanders of the king of Babylon 14 sent orders to release Jeremiah from the prison quarters. They entrusted him to Gedaliah, Ahikam’s son and Shaphan’s grandson, so that Jeremiah could move about freely among the people.
Nebuchadnezzar just had Zedekiah’s children killed before his eyes and his eyes gouged out. Jerusalem is in ruins. The people are dead or going into captivity. The king is blind, heir-less, and bound for captivity in chains. All at the hands of the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. This was the judgment Jeremiah prophesied.
But Nebuchadnezzar is also an instrument of blessing for Jeremiah. There were many in the Babylonian ranks that were defectors from Judah, and no doubt they cited Jeremiah’s prophecies as part of the reason they switched sides. Nebuchadnezzar may not have known or accepted the fact that he was only a tool in the hands of the Lord for disciplining Judah, but he knew that it sounded like Jeremiah was on his side.
Because Jeremiah was faithful to what God had called him to do, God used even the means of destruction and judgment (Nebuchadnezzar) to be a means of healing and blessing to Jeremiah. When we are faithful to the Lord blessing can come in the most unexpected ways and from some of the most unexpected sources.
Something to consider.