How can I reverse my mother's curse

The strange curse of the prophet Jeremiah

or

A prophet's burnout

By Daniel Muhl

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A dark and incomprehensible place

When we think of the nature of our God and remember that He is love in person, from where grace and mercy also originate, then we rejoice in this wonderful fact! At the same time, we mix this wonderful fact with our ideas of love and mercy. These ideas do not necessarily correspond to divine reality. It is undisputed that God's love wants to and will achieve the absolute best goal (from God's point of view) for us humans! But we often don't know what is best for us. The love of God is not a “cozy kitsch love” that always gives us what we want, but also a passionate fire, and at the same time love is as strong as death (St. 8: 6b). I am convinced that this fire of love will burn everything that is not love so that in the end God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28) and in all then only faithfulness, expectation and love will exist ( 1 Cor 13:13).
This passionate fire of love educates us humans and God begins with it first with His elect. That is why Peter also writes:

  • 1Petr 4:17 - For the time [has come] that judgment should begin from the house of God; but if first with us, what [will] the end of those who disobey the gospel of God?

This passage also makes it clear that the judgment on the disobedient will be significantly more difficult than the judgment on the house of God!
If one reads Jer 20 with the knowledge of God's love, one is at first a little confused and perhaps thinks: “What is this text about?” Somehow this chapter does not fit into our theology! If we love and take the statements of this chapter seriously and do not suppress them, then this chapter will shake us. But let's read it first and let this text work on our mind and soul.

Bible text

The history

In order to properly understand a statement or a passage of text, it is just as important to pay attention to the context. From this you can see in which situation a statement was made. Let us first read from Jer 19:14:

  • Jer 19: 14–15 - And Jeremiah came from Tofet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy, and went into the court of the house of the LORD, and said to all the people: 15 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring upon this city, and upon all its cities, all the evil that I have spoken against them. Because they hardened their necks so as not to hear my words.
  • Jer 20: 1–6 - And when the priest Pashhur the son of Immer - he was the supervisor in the house of the LORD - Jeremiah heard these words prophesying, 2 So Pashhur smote the prophet Jeremiah and put him in the block in the upper gate of Benjamin, which is by the house of the LORD. 3 And it happened the next day, when Pashhur had Jeremiah taken out of the block, Jeremiah said to him, The LORD does not call your name Pashhur, but Magor-Missabib. 4 For thus says the LORD: Behold, I will make you a horror to yourself and to all your friends. Let them fall by the sword of their enemies, and your eyes will see. And I will give all of Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, that he should take her captive to Babylon and kill her with the sword. 5 And I will give away all the wealth of this city and all its acquisitions and all its treasures. And all the treasures of the kings of Judah I will give into the hands of their enemies. And they will plunder them and take them away and bring them to Babylon. 6 And you, Pashhur, and everyone in your house, you will go into captivity. And you will come to Babylon and die there and be buried there, you and all your friends whom you have prophesied wrongly.

As a young man, Jeremiah was placed in the service of God. He was called by Yahweh to be a prophet:

  • Jer 1: 4–9 - And the word of the Lord came to me as follows: 5 Before I formed you in the womb, I recognized you, and before you emerged from the womb I sanctified you; I have made you a prophet to the nations. 6 Then I said: Oh, Lord, Lord! See, I don't know how to speak because I'm too young. 7 But the Lord said to me, Do not say, I am too young. For you should go to everyone to whom I send you, and you should speak everything I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them! For I am with you to save you, says the Lord. 9 And the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, Behold, I put my words into your mouth.

Jeremiah felt too young, too inexperienced as a result of his self-assessment, and he also knew he was a bad speaker. He was aware that there are others who can speak much more polished, much more quick-witted and rhetorically better than him! But God mostly chooses those who feel too weak and incompetent! This is always a good basis for trusting not in yourself but in the Almighty!
I am convinced that Jeremiah loved his people and that he wanted nothing more than that his people would repent so that God would not have to carry out the announced judgments. Jeremiah wanted real repentance. But she didn't come! At the same time, his service as a prophet brought him a great deal of inconvenience. He was beaten and put in the block. Jeremiah's life was marked by hostility, abuse, imprisonment, and other hardships. He had about the opposite of what we think of as a “dream job”! Obviously, our God can afford to give his servants "jobs" that are anything but desirable. It is with this in mind that we may now read the following verses.

The strange prayer

Jeremiah's subsequent prayer raises a number of questions. Jeremiah prays as follows:

  • Jer 20: 7–18 - Lord, you have deceived me, and I have been deceived. You have seized and overwhelmed me. I've been laughing all day, everyone is mocking me. 8 Yes, whenever I speak, I have to scream, shout “act of violence” and “destruction”; yea, the word of the Lord has become a mockery and a mockery to me all day long. 9 But as often as I say to myself: I don't want to think about him any more and no longer speak in his name, it becomes like a burning fire in my heart, locked in my bones. And I have tried in vain to endure it, I can no longer! 10 Yes, I have heard the talk of many: horror all around! Report him! We want to report him! All my friends are lurking for my case: maybe he will let himself be tricked into so that we can overwhelm him and take our revenge on him. 11 But the Lord is with me like a mighty hero, so my persecutors will fall down and not overpower me. They will be utterly ashamed for not acting wisely; an eternal shame that will not be forgotten. 12 And you, Lord of hosts, who try the righteous, see the heart and the heart, let me see your vengeance on them. For I have entrusted my case to you. 13 Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For he has saved the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers. 14 Cursed be the day I was born; do not bless the day my mother gave birth to me! 15 Cursed be the man who brought the good news to my father and said: "A son has been born to you", and who made him very happy! 16 Let this man become like the cities that the Lord has turned without repenting! And he hear cries in the morning and war cries at lunchtime, 17 because he did not kill me in the womb so that my mother would have become my grave and her body would have remained pregnant forever! 18 Why did I come out of the womb? To see hardship and sorrow? And that my days will pass in shame?

This second part of the twentieth chapter can be divided into three sections:

  1. Complaining about God's prophetic mission
  2. The assurance that the Lord will not leave persecutors unpunished
  3. The curse and the question of the meaning of his birth

We notice that this chapter contains a lot of explosive material and that it is difficult to fit into our theology for the time being. Especially where a man was cursed for not having an abortion or for killing the newborn on the spot. --Jer 20: 16-17.

Complaining about God's prophetic mission

Based on the previous history, we can have a certain understanding of the lamentation prayer of Jeremiah. Several things burdened the Prophet at the same time:

  1. A service that he had to carry out on behalf of God and which up to that time had resulted in little or no change. Idolatry, lawlessness and the wickedness of the people increased steadily!
  2. The announced courts had not or only partially arrived by this time. This also means that the longer the people, the more they did not take the words of the Prophet seriously. This of course led to a mockery and mockery and everyone laughed at Jeremiah! Perhaps there were remarks such as, “And that is what a prophet of Yahweh wants to be?” Or “You have proven yourself to be a false prophet who keeps crying out like a madman, 'violence and destruction', and yet it has never happened ! "
  3. As the Prophet's speeches caused more and more anger, those in power pondered how to silence the Prophet. They wanted to overwhelm him and take revenge on him. In Jer 26:11 they wanted to pronounce the death sentence on Jeremiah. So this prophet lived in constant danger of death.

What kind of "job" was that? Who would volunteer here? I could well imagine that Jeremiah felt like the last "idiot" every now and then. So it is not surprising when Jeremiah said:

  • Jer 20: 7a - Lord, you have deceived me, and I have been deceived. You have seized and overwhelmed me.

Reading this statement almost gives the impression that Jeremiah felt abused by God. In other words, “Lord, you gave me a job and it doesn't do anything! I don't see any success at all! On the contrary; it just keeps getting worse! You let me announce judgment and nobody takes me seriously. Can you tell me what is the point of my assignment? This assignment that you gave me is simply an imposition! My God, you overwhelmed me and I couldn't defend myself! You just had me! "
So there was a prophet who had to hold a mirror in front of the people of God and who warned several times that their behavior would have devastating consequences. But the consequences were probably a long time coming! The reason for this could be seen in God's long-suffering and the fact that God is slow to anger.
Be that as it may, the fact is that Jeremiah's job was so stressful that he wanted to "quit" his job and quit God, if I may express that in today's language! Jeremiah could not stand it anymore and wanted to "get out".
In this situation, God built up a counter pressure in Jeremiah so that he could not get out. From the outside came threats, ridicule, persecution and temptation to do something completely pointless, and from within a fire burned in his heart! This hopeless situation was a terrible suffering for the Prophet. Who is still surprised when he screams in his desperation:

  • Jer 20: 9b-10 - And I have tried in vain to endure it, I can no longer! 10 Yes, I have heard the talk of many: horror all around! Report him! We want to report him! All my "friends" are lurking for my case: Maybe he will let himself be misled so that we can overwhelm him and take our revenge on him.

What was that cry of desperation? Even his friends were waiting for him and many were looking for revenge! The prophet was completely finished! But when we humans are finished, then God gives us a spark of light and a certainty that we do not completely sink into. So here too!

The assurance that the Lord will not leave persecutors unpunished

This text shows us how a man of God dumps all his "frustration" with the Lord and still holds on to it in faith that God will do it right. If psychiatrists were to analyze the apparently contradicting statements in Jer 20, they would probably come to the conclusion: "Jeremiah suffered from schizophrenia!" Here it becomes clear that Jeremiah does not suppress his feelings and thoughts before God. He tells him everything that moves him. But he does it in faith and in the knowledge that God will still achieve his goals. In all his sadness, Jeremiah incorporates sentences of faith. The Lord promised Jeremiah at the beginning of his calling that He would save him. Perhaps in this situation Jeremiah remembered these words so that he could say:

  • Jer 20: 11–13 - But the LORD is with me as a mighty hero, therefore my persecutors will fall down and not overpower me. They will be utterly ashamed because they have not acted wisely; an eternal shame that will not be forgotten. 12 And you, Lord of hosts, who try the righteous, see the heart and the heart, let me see your vengeance on them. For I have entrusted my case to you. 13 Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For he has saved the soul of the poor from the hand of evildoers.

There has now been an interjection. In all his desperation, what God has put into him breaks through, namely the promises of God, which are more reliable than anything that is before his eyes. This adherence to God's promises, which represent great hope, is part of talking to God. Whoever reveals all his feelings and thoughts to God and does this in faith, does not ignore God's promises either. The transition from total frustration to praise is very remarkable at this point. Jeremiah was so depressed about his own condition and of course the condition of God's people that he doubted the meaning of his existence. Perhaps, like Asaf (Ps 73), he wondered if there is any benefit in being godly, since the wicked lead happy lives in abundance and do not carry around as much sorrow and misery as the godly. But the entrance into the sanctuary and thus into the holy presence of God made Asaf calm again. I think Jeremiah was also able to console himself with a look at his God. At the same time, knowing the end of wickedness saves us from envying the wicked. By remembering God's promise, Jeremiah was able to hold on to faith that the Lord would ultimately save the soul of the poor from the hand of the wrongdoer. This certainty led Jeremiah to praise God.
Several of Jeremiah's court announcements had probably not yet arrived, and this caused increasing ridicule on the part of his oppressors. Perhaps this situation occasionally caused doubts in Jeremiah, and it might well be that he sometimes wondered when the Lord was going to do what he was constantly threatening to do?
The cry for help "I can no longer!" Shows us the immense need of the prophet. He was emotionally exhausted. Despite this desperate situation, he holds fast to his god and is convinced that his persecutors will not overwhelm him. Here a very deep faith and an impressive trust become visible. This situation can be compared with the one from 2Cor 1, where Paul writes:

  • 2Cor 1: 8–9 - For we do not want to leave you in the ignorance, brothers, of our distress, which we experienced in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, of wealth, so that we even despaired of life. 9 But we ourselves had already received the judgment of death in ourselves so that we did not trust in ourselves, but in God, who raised the dead.

In situations like this, believers are at the very end of their ability and the only thing left is trust in a God who will raise the dead. At this point all your own options are reduced to "zero". If only faith remains, then the gold (a picture of faith) is freed from any dross and thus from all its own work.
Verses 11-12 give us the impression that Jeremiah longs for vengeance. There are a number of so-called “vengeance psalms” or texts in the Bible in which the authors wish for their enemies to be destroyed. Such texts seem to contradict the divine invitation “Love your enemies!” (Mt 5:44). But as already mentioned at the beginning, love is at the same time a passionate fire that ultimately burns everything that is not love.If the goodness and mercy of God cannot move a creature to repent, then there is only judgment left, in which the creature experiences a break and can thereby also recognize the consequences of its ungodly path. Revenge texts in the Bible ultimately contain the longing for a restoration of justice and the need to hand the wicked over to the judgment of God so that they can be led into a path of breakage, which is the basic prerequisite for a final healing process, as we, for example, in Ps 107 : 10–16 or in Zeph 3: 8–9.

The curse and the question of the meaning of his birth

After this impressive statement of faith, Jeremiah is likely to be overwhelmed by his desperation again, so that he writes words that go beyond our theological framework and that we would hardly have allowed in the Bible. If the theologians had had to censor the Bible, the following section would definitely have been deleted.

  • Jer 20: 14–18 - Cursed be the day I was born; do not bless the day my mother gave birth to me! 15 Cursed be the man who brought the good news to my father and said: "A son has been born to you", and who made him very happy! 16 Let this man become like the cities that the Lord has turned without repenting! And he hear cries in the morning and war cries at lunchtime, 17 because he did not kill me in the womb so that my mother would have become my grave and her body would have remained pregnant forever! 18 Why did I come out of the womb? To see hardship and sorrow? And that my days will pass in shame?

Is there a Christian or a Jew who has no problem reading this statement for the first time? Anyone who has no problem here the first time has to be described as callous!
You could make it a little easier by saying, “Jeremiah lost his nerve here and said things that God disapproves of, but which He still left in His Word to show that you have all of his feelings It is absolutely correct that we are allowed to tell God all of our feelings (He sees them anyway), but I don't think that is the only reason this passage has found its way into the Word of God. With this text God wants to tell us more than just what has just been mentioned.
I am convinced that there is a secret hidden in this passage that cannot be found on the surface. Perhaps we know the statement from Proverbs, where it says:

  • Proverbs 25: 2 - It is the honor of God to hide a thing, but the honor of kings is to investigate a thing.

The deeper secret is hidden beneath the surface in this section of text. As “King's Children” or “Members of King Jesus” we have the honor of exploring this very hidden matter.
Jeremiah curses the day he was born. Why? That day was the beginning of all his misery and sorrow. He cursed and condemned this beginning with all his soul. It may remind us of the testimony of Solomon who said:

  • Ecclesiastical 7: 8 - Better the end of a thing than its beginning, better patient than haughty.

or

  • Ecclesiastes 7: 1 - Better a good name than good anointing oil and the day of death than the day one is born.

The birth of Jeremiah was the starting signal for a life full of misery and horror. He couldn't help but curse this day. Job's sayings in Hi 3 were very similar. At the time of birth, the whole hardship was still ahead, which is why one can understand very well that one can see this day as darkness (Job 3: 4). Who doesn't understand when one longs to die? especially in this case, where life was almost nothing but hardship and grief? This can be particularly understood in situations like those in which Jeremiah and Job found themselves.
The day of death is far better than the day of birth as it represents the end of sorrow. If a man has a good name at the time of his death - when he is miserable and unsightly - that is worth far more than being a beautiful king's son who rubs himself with the best anointing oil every day.

Despite our understanding of Jeremiah's difficult situation, at least one statement is troubling us. At the birth of Jeremiah there is a man who would have had the opportunity to kill him in the womb and who brought the "good news" to the father that a son had been born to him. These two facts suggest that this was the obstetrician and doctor.
What did this doctor do? He has done his duty 100 percent. He did not act ungodly in killing the unborn, but he helped make a birth go well. He brought the good news to the father that a son had been born to him. He acted absolutely correctly. Why does the Prophet curse this “innocent man”? What can the doctor do for Jeremiah's doing so badly now?
Here we have come to a passage that most readers will find troublesome. A place where we can hardly understand our word of God and where we ask ourselves: “What does God want to tell us with this statement?” In the Word of God, a curse is pronounced at this point on a man who even disagrees with the birth of Jeremiah not guilty. But this of all things seems to be the cause of the curse. As everywhere in the dark places in our Word of God, the essential is also hidden here. The deep secret lies beneath the surface in this text.
Biblical passages of text in which a statement gives us difficulties, we should move before God in prayer by asking Him the appropriate questions and openly expressing our discomfort to Him. It is in such events that we can seek our God so that the basis for a wonderful revelation can be created. However, God often does not answer our questions immediately. Sometimes we don't discover the answer until years later.
Let’s try to finish thinking here. Desperate Jeremiah goes back to the beginning of his life and thinks that is where all the evil began. "If only the doctor had put an end to my life before I was born, then I would not have had to experience all the misery." On the surface, Jeremiah sees the obstetrician as the person who did not prevent his difficult fate. It gives the impression that he is taking all his frustration out on this man. Jeremiah here casts a terrible curse on this person.
Of course, for our comfort, one could speculate that this man was a great sinner and that is why he was cursed. But this argument does not stand out because the reason for the curse was the incomplete abortion. One could also translate: “he who did not kill me from the womb”. Regardless of whether it is an abortion or a postpartum killing, both are enormously great sin! How can the Bible curse a man who did right and did not sin as an obstetrician? That's the all-important question here!
Is this man really the culprit? It is precisely here that we need to think further. Actually, only the beginning of a train of thought is carried out here. The ultimate conclusion of the thought is omitted and remains hidden for the time being.
What is actually happening here? An innocent person is made guilty. A man is cursed for his correct act. Can we guess what secret is hidden here?
If Jeremiah goes back to the beginning of his life in order to look for the origin of his misery there, and at the same time to curse him who did not interrupt his becoming, then we too can go back a little further. Who is actually responsible for the formation of Jeremiah in the womb? No less a person than the Creator himself. We read two very interesting passages about this:

  • Ps 22:10 - Yes, it is you who pulled me out of the womb, who instilled confidence in my mother's breasts.
  • Ps 139: 13 - For you formed my kidneys. You weave me in my mother's womb.

In the end, he is the one who is responsible for the fact that Jeremiah came into being at all and who has to watch the whole misery. He's actually the "guilty one". Is that really him?
No! But he was blamed. He is still blamed today for not preventing all the suffering in this world, even though the sufferings ultimately caused others than the Creator.
And what does our God do with it? Has He passed on the blame that has been placed on Him? No! He was the only God to bear the whole guilt of the whole cosmos. That is why we read in the Gospel of John:

  • Joh 1: 29b - Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jeremiah curses an innocent man. Do we know an innocent man whom the whole curse hit? One who let the curse of the world work its way? Perhaps we are reminded of Galatians, where Paul wrote:

  • Gal 3:13 - Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us - for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who hangs on the wood!"

Without a doubt, Jesus Christ - although innocent - has hit a terrible curse! What curse did Jeremiah pronounce on the obstetrician?

  • Jer 20:16 - Let this man become like the cities that the Lord has turned without repenting! And he heard cries in the morning and war cries at lunchtime.

It is to become just like the cities that the Lord has turned or turned around without regretting it (without being changed). Sodom and Gomorrah were turned around by God without changing his mind. It is like plowing a beautiful meadow. Everything beautiful and wonderful in this meadow is turned around so that the beautiful flowers disappear under the surface of the earth. The field is then bare and fallow. At Sodom and Gomorrah the area became a salt desert and before that it was like the garden of the Lord.
But what does this have to do with the Lord of glory? Has our Lord forsaken all His glory that He had with the Father and, at the end of His life, was He bare and naked on the curse wood? It actually became like a city that has lost its glory and has become a wasteland.
The second part of the curse hit both the father and the son:

  • Jer 20: 16b - And he hear cries (o. Woe) in the morning and war cries (o. {Call together}) at noon.

Who hears more shouting and wailing than father and son? “No sparrow falls on earth without the heavenly Father (Mt 10:29)!” That also means that He sees every misery, and I am convinced that he also suffers in every misery - in a way that is unimaginable for us. He is the one who suffers the most. Therefore, He too is crowned with the greatest glory. Nobody hears as much wail as our God does. In the end, didn’t God hit that curse in full? Absolutely! Because no being has heard more cries of woe than the Almighty!
But the end of the curse could also contain a great blessing: The “war cry at noon” could also be translated as follows: “Call (together) at noon”. So at lunchtime this accursed one hears a gathering. But what is the meaning of noon? In the Proverbs we read an interesting statement about this:

  • Proverbs 4:18 - But the path of the righteous is like the brilliant morning light; it shines brighter and brighter up to the height of day.

The midday or the height of the day forms, so to speak, the end of the path of the righteous and can thus be seen as a picture of the completion. At the time of the perfection of the righteous, all will be called together so that God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). The hearing of the "call together at noon" can therefore be seen as a blessing and would then be a kind of reimbursement for the curse of "hearing the shouting".

At this point I would like to make a small aside to the statement: "... so that my mother would have become my grave and her body would have remained pregnant forever!" Literally one could translate here as follows: "... so that my mother my grave and her womb would have become an aeon with me. ”- Jer 20:17. For me this statement is an indication that God will complete every work that He has started and that people have interrupted. Every human being was formed by God in the womb of his mother (Ps 139: 13). When having an abortion, people interrupt God's creation process! But the “work that has been started” will be completed by God when this womb is “a pregnant woman of the aeon”. Is this a future pregnancy in a future eon (e.g. the millennium)? Quite conceivable! Man can interrupt the work of God (if He allows it), but he can never stop it! Our God will complete everything He started in His time!

Final remark

If we are confronted with statements in the Bible that we absolutely cannot understand and that do not fit into our theological concept, then we should not question the Word of God, but rather ask the Lord to explain this passage to us. As mentioned earlier, it sometimes takes patience before we get a satisfactory answer, but whoever believes will find it sooner or later!
People who have the love of God in their hearts strive to get to know the Father in their hearts. They are moved by such a curse and may have pain and questions in their hearts until the Lord gives them the answer that makes them happy and calm.
“It is the Scriptures that testify of me,” says Jesus (John 5:39). Word lovers ask themselves again and again: "Where can I find the Christ in the dark and incomprehensible passages of the Bible?" Such people search for Him until they have found Him, and with every discovery they make, they become happier and more and more realize how God really is. Blessed are all whose lives belong to the blessed “curse bearer” Jesus Christ! Amen!