Payback.


Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the Lord. The next day, when Pashhur released Jeremiah from the stocks, Jeremiah said to him, “The Lord does not call your name Pashhur, but Terror on Every Side. For thus says the Lord: Behold, I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends. They shall fall by the sword of their enemies while you look on. And I will give all Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon. He shall carry them captive to Babylon, and shall strike them down with the sword. Moreover, I will give all the wealth of the city, all its gains, all its prized belongings, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of their enemies, who shall plunder them and seize them and carry them to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who dwell in your house, shall go into captivity. To Babylon you shall go, and there you shall die, and there you shall be buried, you and all your friends, to whom you have prophesied falsely.” Jeremiah 20:1-6 ESV

Pashtur was the priest in charge of the temple of God. And when he heard Jeremiah spouting his dire warnings against the people of Judah, he couldn’t let it go unchallenged. After all, Jeremiah had been warning the priests and civic leaders of Judah that they would be suffering for their role in the moral failure of the people of Judah. So, Pashtur beat Jeremiah and placed him in stocks. Now, whether Pashtur delivered the beating himself or had someone do it for me is not clear. But he was the one behind it. He was punishing Jeremiah and sending a not-so-subtle message to the people that Jeremiah was not in charge. He was subject to the spiritual leadership of Israel, and as chief officer in the house of the Lord, Pashtur saw himself as a keeper of the spiritual status quo in Judah.

After keeping Jeremiah in stocks for a day, Pashtur had him released, probably hoping that Jeremiah had learned his lesson and would refrain from prophesying doom and gloom on Judah any longer. But Pashtur was in for a surprise. Immediately upon his release, Jeremiah let Pashtur have it. First, he gave Pashtur a new name: Magomassabib, which meant “Terror on Every Side.” In a culture where a man’s name was highly significant and held special meaning, this was a particularly offensive statement from Jeremiah. But he wanted Pashtur to know that he would not escape God’s wrath. Just because he was a priest and the chief officer in charge of God’s house, did not mean he was going to have a get-out-of-jail-free card. He stood guilty, just like all the other people. When the Babylonian invasion began, he would find himself surrounded by terror. And he would stand back and watch in horror as the magnificent temple that Solomon had built was demolished and left in rubble. His nation would be devastated. His cushy job as chief officer would be a thing of the past. No more temple. No more sacrifices. No more priests. All Pashtur would be able to do is look on as the devastation took place all around him. He could deny Jeremiah’s words and attempt to shut him up through intimidation, but God’s would ultimately be done. And there was absolutely nothing Pashtur or anyone else could do about it. And the very man Pashtur tried to shut up had a few choice words directly from the Lord – just for him:

“As for you, Pashtur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.” – Jeremiah 20:6 NLT

He had bound Jeremiah in stocks, but God would have Pashtur bound in chains and taken captive to Babylon, where he would end his days. All his attempts to contradict the words of Jeremiah and paint a much more rosy picture for the people of Judah would prove futile and empty. He didn’t speak for God. He hadn’t heard from God. And He would be judged by God, just all the rest of the people.

Just because you carry a title that labels you as a representative of God doesn’t mean you speak for God. A man or woman who claims to speak on behalf of God, but who contradicts His word will be exposed as what they are: A liar and a false prophet. Telling people what they want to hear may make you popular with the people, but it won’t win you favor with God. Pashtur represented the rest of the spiritual leadership of Judah who had snubbed their nose at God and determined to present their on view of things. They sounded good. Their words were encouraging and exactly what everyone wanted to hear. All would be well. God was not going to punish them. But they were wrong. Seriously and sinfully wrong. And they were going to suffer for it. God will not be mocked – by priests, pastors, religious leaders, evangelists or anyone else who claims to be His spokesperson. Jeremiah may have found himself short of friends, hated by everybody in his community, and occasionally locked in stocks, but he knew he was doing what God had called him to do. He was speaking truth – the truth of God. And no other brand of truth was going to cut it. The people needed to repent, not be told they were okay. They needed to be confronted with their sins so they could repent of them. Not be encouraged to believe that they were God’s chosen people and therefore, exempt from His displeasure.

Pashtur may have thought he was in charge, but Jeremiah would have the last laugh. He would be proven true in the long run. Like Elijah and the prophets of Baal, only one would be left standing when all was said and done. False prophets, even those who claim to represent the one true God, will not be tolerated. Their destruction will be sure. It may not happen immediately. They may appear to have the hand of God on them for a time, but eventually their sins will catch up with them.

As believers, we must always stick to the Word of God and not attempt anyone to sell us another version of His Word. We have a responsibility to take what we hear preached or taught concerning the Word of God and compare it directly with the source. Just because someone claims to have a direct line to God doesn’t mean they do. If they are manipulating Scripture in order to force on it their own interpretations or expectations, they are wrong and deadly dangerous. They must be exposed and avoided at all costs. Give it time, and God will deal with them. Don’t dismay. Don’t get discouraged. Payback is coming.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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