Last week my parents drove down from Michigan with their Jayco RV travel trailer to visit us for the week. Due to the length of the trip and the pulling of the RV, they got in quite late. Also, the tremendous amount of rain dumped on East Tennessee that day did not help matters. As a result of these variables, setup was a little strenuous. Strenuous and muddy!
While my dad’s shoes got a little muddy (see photo above), this was nothing compared to what the “Weeping Prophet” had to endure with his experience in the mud. Jeremiah was no stranger to persecution. He was tasked by God to preach repentance to His people (Jeremiah 7:2ff). Because they continuously rejected his message, Jeremiah was to inform Israel of their impending destruction at the hands of Babylon (Jeremiah 21:1-10). By the time we reach Jeremiah 38 in our studies, Zedekiah is “reigning” as king of Judah. He is not much of a king, but more of a puppet for Babylon’s Nebuchadnezzar and will be the last of the kings of Israel. Scripture informs us he was easily swayed and wavered back and forth on many of his decisions. On this occasion, four different officials who were hostile to Jeremiah convinced Zedekiah that the prophet’s God-given revelation was “discouraging the men of war” and that he should be put to death (Jeremiah 38:1-4). Zedekiah granted them permission and so Jeremiah was cast into a cistern filled only with mud in which he sank into (38:5-6). Josephus, the ancient historian wrote that they “let him down with a cord into a pit full of mire, that he might be suffocated, and die of himself. So he stood up to the neck in the mire, which was all about him” (Antiquities of the Jews 10.7.5). It appears the scheming officials attempted to silence the truth by punishing the messenger and burying their problem. Whether Josephus’ uninspired account is accurate or not, Jeremiah was literally up to his neck in mud.
No doubt, the words Jeremiah had to deliver to his own nation about their impending doom must have been heavy. To magnify the pressure, he was accused of “not seeking the well-being of this people but rather their harm” (Jeremiah 38:4). Christians face the same pressure today in this day of religious division. Similar to God’s nature, we want “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). We might feel influenced “up to our necks” to compromise the truth by those who profess Christianity but do not abide in His teaching (2 John 9) on issues such as these:
- Did Christ build one church? Yes (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 4:4).
- Is Christ the head of the one church? Yes (Colossians 1:18).
- Is man-made division (denominations) sinful? Yes (1 Corinthians 1:10).
- Is the Bible our sole authority in spiritual matters? Yes (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- Is baptism essential for salvation? Yes (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21).
There is no compromise on these issues and there is no reason to be ashamed of the gospel truth (Romans 1:16). There will always be those who want to silence the truth to protect their traditions, livelihoods, or personal preferences. They might even “throw you in a cistern full of mud” as Jeremiah faced. But when you think about it, what’s a little mud on the shoes when we are seeking a “thus says the Lord” (Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11)?