v 2. So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.
This is one of the most heart-rending chapters in the bible! God had called Jeremiah to rebuke the false religiosity of the Jews of the time, and tell them to surrender to the invading force from Babylon. That was not a popular message, nor did it appear to be patriotic – what; SURRENDER? Jeremiah was perceived to be a traitor, and suffered a traitor’s punishment. Poor old Jeremiah felt God had let him down seriously. He goes so far as to accuse God of misleading him, (v 7), allowing him to become a household joke (v 8), and in all the ups and downs of his prayer cursing the very day he was born. This desperation is reflected in v 17, ‘Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave! ‘ He was being hounded for being obedient in speaking out the message God had given him – and the pain of it burned like a fire inside him. (v 9) At one moment he can be praising God, (v 13) and then in the next breath despairing of life – Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame. (v 18)
That is the awful tension of persecution, and Jeremiah’s honest response to it touches us very deeply. It is these pained emotions that we can feel so sharply in Jeremiah’s story. The physical persecution was bad enough, but Jeremiah was forced into deepest despair as he felt God had let him down.