Q&A: Did God Deceive Jeremiah?

Did God Deceive Jeremiah?

Question

God cannot lie (Heb. 6:18). Moreover, God does not tempt people (Jam. 1:13). So, how God deceived Jeremiah? (7:20).

Answer

Jeremiah 20:7 You deceived me, LORD, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me.

Hebrews 6:18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.

James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.

The Hebrew word (patah) can have the connotations of "seduce," "entice," or "persuade" (See BDB; HAL; CHALOT; DBL Hebrew). God persuaded Jeremiah to enter the ministry. However, Jeremiah was not fully aware of all the consequences of this decision (compare Jer. 1:7-8 with Jer. 4:10). The Word Biblical Commentary is helpful here saying:

Jeremiah's complaint here is directed against Yahweh. Yahweh is the one who has called him to be a prophet, who formed him from the womb for this task (1:5). Perhaps the persuasion he speaks of here relates to that call. When Jeremiah demurred (1:6), Yahweh persuaded, overpowered, and overcame him. The result is that Jeremiah has become an object of derision and mocking.

We see something similar in the New Testament. God warned that Paul would suffer many things as well (Acts 9:15-19), but I doubt Paul expected the magnitude of what was to come (2 Cor. 11:16-33).

Living in the family of God can bring many unexpected complexities into our lives, but God uses them for his good pleasure (Eph. 1:5, 11;2 Thess. 1:11) and our good (Rom. 8:28). We are to remain faithful as Jeremiah, Paul and several others did (1 Cor. 10:13).

Reference

Craigie, Peter C., Kelley, Page H., Drinkard, Jr., Joel K. Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 26: Jeremiah 1-25. (p. 273). Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).