Scriptures

Jeremiah 26

Introduction

Here Jeremiah deals with events that occur at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign. Jeremiah 25, that we have just looked at, dealt with the fourth year of his reign. This is now

‘early in the reign of Jehoiakim’.

Most scholars date this chapter at around 607/608 B.C.

A suggested division of this chapter

1. God tells Jeremiah to announce the doom to befall Jerusalem. Jeremiah 26:1-6.

2. He is accused of blasphemy by the false prophets, who declare him worthy of death. Jeremiah 26:7-11.

3. Jeremiah says that he is innocent. Jeremiah 26:12-15.

4. The officials and ‘all the people’, seem to be on Jeremiah’s side. Jeremiah 26:16-19.

5. The execution of Uriah. Jeremiah 26:20-23.

6. Ahikam recues and protects Jeremiah. Jeremiah 26:24.

The law itself is outlined here. People are told to hear it and turn back. We have already seen earlier that the law stated blessings and curses, the plans and promises of God. He promised punishment for neglect. Shiloh is again used as an example of future complete destruction. The people gather around Jeremiah and put him on trial.

It’s like a court case. This is being done in the Lord’s house, verse 9. The people are gathered around him, in the Lord’s house. They have come to the Lord’s house to judge a prophet for the Law that they have no respect for anymore. It was these unworthy shepherds who were the ones to press the charges against him. They say, Jeremiah is worthy of death, as far as the Law is concerned. The covenant breakers condemn the covenant keeper.

‘Stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s house’

This was a good location because it enabled Jeremiah to reach a greater audience, people from all the towns round about would be in the courtyard.

‘Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: ‘This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen, and each will turn from their evil ways. Then I will relent and not inflict on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city a curse among all the nations of the earth.’ The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD.’ Jeremiah 26:1-7

This section points out the importance of obeying God’s law, the terrible punishment that would await them if they didn’t, and Shiloh was again given as an example of the destruction that would come to Jerusalem and the temple.

Scholars see a link between what is being said here and to the sermon in Jeremiah 7, that is known as ‘Jeremiah’s temple sermon’. There Jeremiah was exposed to danger, here he is exposed to death.

‘But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die! Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?’ And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD.’ Jeremiah 26:8-9

This was a truly evil scene. The false priests and false prophets were at it again. It says here that ‘all the people’, wanted to seize him, and they said,

‘You must die.’

It was mob rule again, and reminds us of the trial of Jesus in Jerusalem when the mob cried,

‘Crucify him!’

‘This house will be like Shiloh.’

As we said when we looked at Jeremiah 7, the significance of Shiloh was the fact that it had been the first place that the ark came to rest after Israel entered the Promise Land. The Bible itself doesn’t make any reference to its destruction, but a Danish expedition unearthed some pottery, and other evidence, that is said to support the fact that Shiloh was destroyed by the Philistines in about 1050 B.C.

‘All the people’

had come together for the express purpose of setting up a court to try Jeremiah.

‘When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD’s house. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, ‘This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!’ Jeremiah 26:10-11

They would have heard the commotion that was raised in the temple, and went to investigate. The irony of this is that all the true prophets of God had been saying the same thing throughout the latter end of the northern kingdom, and now the end of Judah.

Jeremiah’s message, therefore, was a contradiction to what the false prophets were saying,

‘Peace, Peace.’

It was also an attack against the professionalism of the priests and false prophets. His message of doom manifested their failure to keep the people close to the word of God.

‘Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: ‘The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.’ Jeremiah 26:12-15

In defending himself, Jeremiah is defending the law. He says, my appointment is from God, so mend your ways. Notice how fully committed he is now to God, and sure of God’s promises. He says,

‘I am in your hands, do with me whatever you think is good and right.’

He knew that they had the power to kill him. But, he says,

‘if you do so, you do so in cold-blooded murder. I am doing what God has told me to do’.

‘Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, ‘This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.’ Some of the elders of the land stepped forward and said to the entire assembly of people, ‘Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah, ‘This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Zion will be ploughed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.’ ‘Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death? Did not Hezekiah fear the LORD and seek his favour? And did not the LORD relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!’ Jeremiah 26:16-19

Because of this the leaders change their minds. And what they said must have sounded good to Jeremiah.

‘This man is not worthy of death.’

In verse 17 we see that some of the elders have spoken up for Jeremiah and at verse 18, they proved his message by one of the other prophets. Micah is the one that they refer to, this verse is a quotation from Micah 3:12.

It is not an admission of guilt on their part, but they knew that evil done to Jeremiah would bring evil upon themselves. We see from the argument that continues that they are as favourable for his death as for his life. The difference here is, the providence of God.

Notice that ‘all the people’ have switched sides. They stand wilt the officials and say to the false priests and the false prophets,

‘This man should not be sentenced to death’.

How quickly a mob of people can change. They realised their guilt should they put Jeremiah to death. So, Jeremiah won the day.

‘(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king was determined to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Akbor to Egypt, along with some other men. They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.) Furthermore, Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.’ Jeremiah 26:20-24

The mention of Urijah indicates that there were many other prophets of God working in Israel who are not mentioned in the Bible. They ministered the word of God to Israel as Jeremiah, but they did not have their messages recorded by the inspiration of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired selected prophets to write in order that we might have their writings as resources from which to learn. Romans 15:4 / 1 Corinthians 10:11.

In the case of the murder of Urijah, we are given this historical information in order to be reminded that the prophets of God risked their lives to preach the message of God. Some were killed, and thus their deaths give evidence to the fact that they believed the word of God that they spoke. Hebrews 11:32-40.

Ahikam rescues and protects Jeremiah.

Go To Jeremiah 27

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

Matthew 28:19

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