JEREMIAH CHAPTER 26.
Jeremiah's Conflict with the False Prophets.
THE FIRST PROPHECY AND ITS EFFECT. — V. 1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, king of Judah, about 609 B. C., came this word from the Lord, saying, v. 2. Thus saith the Lord, Stand in the court of the Lord's house, the large outer court, where the people assembled for worship, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, the believers who still were found in the nation and those who made a pretense at serving the Lord, which come to worship in the Lord's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word, the threatening prophecy being proclaimed in all its ruthless severity, v. 3. if so be they will hearken, His own goodness making another effort in their behalf and leaving them without excuse in the event of their refusing to listen, and turn every man from his evil way, for repentance on the part of the people was still the Lord's object, that I may repent Me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings. V. 4. And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord, If ye will not hearken to Me to walk in My Law, in complete agreement with its precepts, which I have set before you, v. 5. to hearken to the words of My servants, the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early and sending them, thus showing the earnestness of His interest in them and their welfare, - but ye have not hearkened, this having been their regular attitude throughout the centuries, - v. 6. then will I make this house, the Temple of Solomon, like Shiloh, from which the Tabernacle had been removed and the city itself reduced to ruins, cp. chap. 7, 12. 14, and will make this city, the rich and proud capital of Judah, a curse to all the nations of the earth, an object of execration. V. 7. So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord, for he brought his message to their attention in accordance with the command of the Lord. V. 8. Now, it came to pass when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests, those whose division was on duty at that time, and the prophets, the men who assumed the dignity of this office without really being sent by the Lord or commissioned to act as His servants, and all the people, the assembly which was gathered in the Temple upon that occasion, took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die. V. 9. Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? They not only regarded his message as an insult to their capital and country, but they charged him with uttering falsehoods in the name of Jehovah, which was an act punishable by death, Deut. 18, 20. And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord, an angry mob, carried away by its passions, ready to carry out the death sentence at once. V. 10. When the princes of Judah, the rulers, the members of the Great Council, in whose hands alone was the authority to carry out sentences of death, heard these things, then they came up from the king's house, the royal palace being situated at a lower level than the Temple court, unto the house of the Lord and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord's house, at the entrance to the inner court, 2 Kings 15, 35. Since they were members of the highest judicial tribunal in the nation, they proceeded to investigate the matter which was causing all the disturbance, to try the case. V. 11. Then spake the priests and the prophets, whose, pride was injured by the message of Jeremiah, who were personally enraged against him, unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die, literally, "A sentence of death upon this man"; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. This expediency, that of appealing to a false patriotism, is resorted to by demagogs even in our day, when in reality they are merely trying to give vent to their own personal spite and grudge against the faithful citizens of a country.
JEREMIAH’S DEFENSE AND DELIVERANCE. — V. 12. Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city, rather, "to" or "concerning this house and this city"; for Jeremiah purposely avoided any expression which might cause irritation, all the words that ye have heard. He was not giving his own personal opinion or voicing any spite which he might have felt, but he had only done his duty. V. 13. Therefore, now amend your ways and your doings, this appeal showing his disinterested motives, his desire to help his people in this emergency, and obey the voice of the Lord, your God; and the Lord will repent Him of the evil that He has pronounced against you. It was the one condition under which he could promise salvation. V. 14. As for me, behold, I am in your hand, he was resigned to his fate at their hands; do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you; he bowed in humility and submission to the constituted authority. V. 16. But know ye for certain that, if ye put me to death, in the hope of thereby getting rid of an unpleasant exhorter and escaping his warnings, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and upon the inhabitants thereof, thereby increasing their guilt and incurring heavier penalties; for of a truth the Lord hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears, Jeremiah feeling it necessary to affirm this truth a second time in order to give emphasis to his warning. V. 16. Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets, in giving their verdict in this important matter, convinced of the truth of Jeremiah's statements, This man is not worthy to die, he has not deserved to be executed as a blasphemer, for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord, our God. Although they had, in the beginning, clamored for his death, they had quickly been influenced in the opposite direction, after the manner of fickle mobs the world over. V. 17. Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, either the most venerable and experienced of the princes or aged representatives of the people, who were highly respected for their wisdom, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, v. 18. Micah, the Morasthite, called so after a village in the tribe of Judah, prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Zion shall be plowed like a field, after being utterly destroyed, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, a pile of ruins, and the mountain of the house, the hill Moriah, on which the Temple stood, as the high places of a forest, so that the trees of the forest would freely get a foothold there. Cp. Micah 3, 12. It was thus a historical fact that Jeremiah was not the first prophet or the only one who had prophesied against Jerusalem and the Temple. V. 19. Did Hezekiah, king of Judah, and all Judah put him at all to death? Did they attempt to escape his unpleasant message by putting him to death? Did he not, instead of venting a possible personal spite in such a manner, fear the Lord and besought the Lord, begging Him to show mercy upon His people, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had pronounced against them? Thus, namely by killing Jeremiah as had been suggested, might we procure great evil against our souls, they might bring upon themselves the swift judgment of God. Moreover, the elders have still another historical example to urge in this case. V. 20. And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah, the son of Shemaiah, of Kirjath-jearim, a prophet otherwise unknown, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah, that is, in the same manner, his message having the same content, v. 21. and when Jehoiakim, the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes, the most powerful men of the nation, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Urijah heard it, being informed of the king's intention, he was afraid and fled and went into Egypt, where he hoped to find security; v. 22. and Jehoiakim, the king, who had been placed on the throne by Pharaoh of Egypt, 2 Kings 23, 34, sent men into Egypt, namely, Einathan, the son of Ach-bor, and certain men with him into Egypt. V. 23. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, whose people readily delivered him to their allies, and brought him unto Jehoiakim, the king, who slew him with the sword and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people, in the Valley of the Kidron, instead of giving it the honorable burial of a prophet of the Lord. V. 24. Nevertheless, the hand of Ahikam, the son of Shaphan, the worthy son of a noble father, 2 Kings 22,12.14, and the father of Gedaliah, who followed in his steps, 2 Kings 25, 22, was with Jeremiah, he brought all his influence to bear in his favor, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death, for this course was sometimes followed by rulers in order to remove the stigma of a judicial murder from themselves. Note: Urijah was faithful in delivering his message, but erred in this, that he forsook his post when danger threatened; so God permitted him to lose his life, while that of Jeremiah was spared. God’s ministers must firmly believe that He can and will protect them in every emergency, according to His will.