Once again, as we have been reading in Jeremiah, I am completely inspired by this prophet. As we’ve gotten to know Jeremiah, we see that from the very beginning God had a special purpose for this man. I do not know about you, but there are times when I place myself as a character in a story. Although I am sure Jeremiah did not have many companions, I would like to think that if I lived in that time I would want to be his friend. Jeremiah was a man of godly character, he carried messages that where not easy to deliver, nonetheless he spoke them even when they were not received well.
In today’s reading we see that Jeremiah was even threatened with death, but not just from the citizens of Israel, but actual priests and other prophets! Can you believe it?! Jeremiah was sincerely speaking what God was speaking to him! He was not just grabbing things out of mid air and declaring it, but Jeremiah was being instructed by the Lord God Almighty!!
The Lord instructs Jeremiah:
Stand in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord, and make an announcement to the people who have come there to worship from all over Judah. Give them my entire message; include every word. Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, the prophets—for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them— then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed Shiloh, the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth.’” [Jeremiah 26:1-6]
Jeremiah was obedient, and after He finished speaking every single thing that God had instructed of him, this is the response he receives:
The priests, the prophets, and all the people listened to Jeremiah as he spoke in front of the Lord’s Temple. But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple. When the officials of Judah heard what was happening, they rushed over from the palace and sat down at the New Gate of the Temple to hold court. The priests and prophets presented their accusations to the officials and the people. “This man should die!” they said. “You have heard with your own ears what a traitor he is, for he has prophesied against this city.” [Jeremiah 26:7-11]
After I finished reading this I could not believe that Jeremiah was facing these accusations! It was clearly God who told Jeremiah and yet even the priests wanted to kill him! This gave me an even deeper admiration for Jeremiah who spoke the truth even in the midst of opposition, from people who one would think should be supportive! That is not easy, I do not believe that anyone likes to be opposed. Yet, Jeremiah was center in this situation and he was not silent!
Then Jeremiah spoke to the officials and the people in his own defense. “The Lord sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The Lord gave me every word that I have spoken. But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the Lord your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. As for me, I am in your hands—do with me as you think best. But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard.” [Jeremiah 26:12-15]
In the end the crowd was reminded by some wise guys, I mean, wise men, (Jeremiah 26:17) about a previous situation where a man also spoke the truth but was put to death. In the end Jeremiah was spared because of a friend, Ahikam son of Shaphan, who stood up for him.
Two things I want to take from this passage: 1. Jeremiah kept speaking the truth of God even when he faced death. It was not easy and Jeremiah was aware of the repercussions he would receive, yet he was not silent but obedient to God! 2. It is important, as the people of God, to stand with those who speak God's truth, not come against them, but be on their team!
Great is the reward for those who are obedient to God even when it is not popular! We can be secure in knowing that God is our defender, He is our advocate, and He will always accompany His directions with the power of the Holy Spirit! Amen!