Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations, by Witness Lee

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A. Jeremiah’s Repeated Prophecy
concerning Israel

In 19:14 and 15 we have Jeremiah’s repeated prophecy concerning Israel. This prophecy declares that the God of Israel is bringing evil upon Jerusalem and all its cities because they have stiffened their neck so as not to hear His words.

B. Israel’s Persecution of Jeremiah

In 20:1-2, 7-10 we have a record of Israel’s persecution of Jeremiah. They struck him, put him in the stocks, mocked him, reproached him, derided him, defamed him, and terrified him by denouncing and entrapping him. Israel surely did many evil things to the prophet Jeremiah.

C. Jehovah’s Dealing with Israel

Jeremiah 20:3-6 speaks concerning Jehovah’s dealing with Israel. Jehovah will give all Judah and all its wealth, all its precious things, and all the treasures of the kings of Judah into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he will exile them to Babylon and strike them with the sword.

D. Jeremiah’s Accusation against Israel
and His Cursing of His Birthday

In 20:11-18 we have Jeremiah’s accusation against Israel and his cursing of his birthday.

1. His Accusation against Israel

In his accusation against Israel, Jeremiah asked Jehovah to let him see His vengeance on Israel. Jeremiah was assured that Jehovah was with him like a mighty one who terrifies and that his persecutors would stumble and not prevail. They would be greatly ashamed, having an eternal humiliation that would not be forgotten (v. 11). Then he went on to say, "Jehovah of hosts, who tries the righteous, / Who sees the inward parts and the heart, / Let me see Your vengeance on them, / For I have revealed my cause to You. / Sing to Jehovah; / Praise Jehovah; / For He has delivered the soul of the poor / From the hand of the evildoers" (vv. 12-13).

2. His Cursing of His Birthday

Immediately after accusing Israel Jeremiah cursed his birthday (vv. 14-18). Verses 14 and 15 say, "Cursed be the day / On which I was born; / Let not the day be blessed / On which my mother bore me. / Cursed be the man who brought good news / To my father, saying, / A male child has been born to you, / Causing him much joy." Jeremiah concluded his cursing of his birthday by saying, "Why is this? Did I come out from the womb / To see trouble and sorrow, / That my days may be spent in shame?" (v. 18). As a man of God, Jeremiah would never curse God; neither would he curse God’s people. But he exercised the right to curse himself.

Why did Jeremiah curse his birthday? The answer is that he was in a dilemma and that this dilemma forced him to curse his birthday. Jeremiah’s dilemma was of three factors. The first factor was God’s determination to punish Israel severely. The second factor was Israel’s evil condition, which was deserving of God’s punishment. The third factor was Israel’s rejection of Jeremiah’s word and their persecution of him. Because of these three factors Jeremiah had no way to go on and therefore cursed his birthday.

As we consider Jeremiah’s situation, we realize that to speak for God is not an easy thing. God always determines what we must speak. If we go along with Him, we will offend people. Eventually, some will defame us, speak lies about us, and even set traps to ensnare us. A faithful servant who speaks for God will always be in such a dilemma.

(Life-Study of Jeremiah and Lamentations, Chapter 18, by Witness Lee)