Now Shephatiah son of Mattan, Gedaliah son of Pashhur, Jehucal son of Shelemiah, and Pashhur son of Malkijah heard what Jeremiah had been telling the people. He had been saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life. They will live!’ The Lord also says: ‘The city of Jerusalem will certainly be handed over to the army of the king of Babylon, who will capture it.’”
So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!”
King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”
So the officials took Jeremiah from his cell and lowered him by ropes into an empty cistern in the prison yard. It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family. There was no water in the cistern, but there was a thick layer of mud at the bottom, and Jeremiah sank down into it. (Jeremiah 38:1-6)
No wonder Judah was in turmoil—the king agreed with everybody. He listened to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 37:21), agreed Jeremiah should be killed (Jeremiah 38:5), and finally rescued Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:10). Jeremiah was not popular; his words undermined the morale of the army and the people. Zedekiah couldn’t decide between public opinion and God’s will.
Judah’s leaders persecuted Jeremiah repeatedly for faithfully proclaiming God’s messages. For forty years of faithful ministry, he received no acclaim, no love, no popular following. He was beaten, jailed, threatened, and even forced to leave his homeland. Only the Babylonians showed him any respect (Jeremiah 39:11-12).
God does not guarantee that his servants will escape persecution, even when they are faithful. In fact, Jesus promised that persecution would come (John 16:33). But God does promise that he will be with them and will give them strength to endure (2 Corinthians 1:3-7). As you minister to others, recognize that your service is for God and not just for human approval. Don’t allow discouragement to sideline you. Seek encouragement from God. He rewards our faithfulness, but not always during our stay on earth.