Jeremiah 26 A Case Against Jeremiah For The Word Delivered.
“‘In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah’” possibly his first year (609-608 B.C.).” (NGSB. 1195) Again, Jeremiah didn’t conjure something up in a dream of his own imagination rather, “this word came from the LORD” (v. 1). Jeremiah was called to preach this word standing “in the court of the LORD’s house” (v. 2a). This was a message directed to the covenanted community which “came to worship in the LORD’s house” (v. 2b). It is an echo of chapter seven, where the LORD’s house would become their house, because of their sinful rebellion. In this preamble we also learn something about the word which Jeremiah was called to both preach and put into writing. He had the solemn duty to preach all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to them, to not diminish a single word. Therefore we see here that the biblical understanding of the inspiration of the inerrant, infallible word of the LORD God includes every word, and that the message of truth cannot be separated from the words that were given (v. 2c). Paul echoed this truth in his exhortation to the Ephesians saying that he had “not shunned to declare” to them “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
Jeremiah was presented with a hope that the people might in fact repent of their evil doings, so that the LORD would relent in his judgment upon them (v. 3). One of the things that showed Jeremiah to be a true prophet was that he called the people to follow the words of the law and the prophets already given (v. 4). Like Jeremiah, Moses and the prophets were the servants of the LORD who were sent out of his heavenly council chamber to preach the word, “rising up early and sending them,” that is, before their day began, and the events that would transpire that day, but they had not heeded this word (v. 5). Because of this rebellion on their part we see the transition of ownership of the house, the LORD’s house now becoming “this house” becoming like Shiloh, and “this city a curse.” This is a covenantal curse upon his covenanted nation, and because they were cursed, they would be “a curse to all the nations” (v. 6). The leadership and the people heard these words, and instead of repenting, they seize Jeremiah with the intent of putting him to death because of the word preached (vv. 7-9). The princes came from their house to the LORD’s house, and sat down at “the New Gate of the LORD’s house” (v. 10 Cf. Ru. 4:1; Pr. 31:23).
In sitting down at the gate, these politicians signaled that a court session was called, because the religious leadership of the apostate priests and false prophets, had determined that Jeremiah should be executed (vv. 10-11). Jeremiah, in his own defense, reiterates that he was only being faithful to the LORD in preaching the message which the LORD sent him to preach (v. 12). Furthermore, being less concerned about his own possible end, he continued to preach a message of repentance, that if they were to amend their ways, doings, “and obey the voice of the LORD” their God, then the LORD would “relent concerning the doom that He” had pronounced against them (vv. 13-14). Finally, Jeremiah tells them if they do decide to kill him, they would also be guilty of shedding innocent blood (v. 15). Then we come upon the startling words to conclude this case, namely that the politicians, with the people, declared to the apostate religious leadership that Jeremiah did not deserve to die, stating that he had every right to speak, as Jeremiah claimed, as one who spoke to them in the name of the LORD God (v. 16).
How astonishing that the politicians, along with the people, were actually reprimanding the religious leadership for bringing forth these unwarranted charges! Then, at this critical juncture in the case, certain immediate representatives of the people, that is some elders, “rose up and spoke to all the people,” raising the example of one Micah of Moresheth, who also had a message of doom and repentance, and that he was not put to death for it (vv. 17-19a Cf. Mic. 1:1; 3:12).* Furthermore, the people listened to Micah ‘and the LORD relented concerning the doom which he had pronounced,’” also echoing words from Jeremiah previously, and the law and history that preceded him (v. 19b Cf. 18:18; Ex. 32:14; II Sam. 24:16). Not only this, but in rejecting Jeremiah’s message, they were told that they were only bringing great evil upon themselves (v. 19c). These are essentially witnesses who were brought forth to support Jeremiah’s innocence. A second example is also given of another man named Urijah who also “prophesied in the name of the LORD,” a message of judgment and repentance against the city and the land.
We are told that this Urijah prophesied “according to all the words of Jeremiah” (v. 20). It may be the case that the LORD only needs to speak once, but the biblical pattern is that, since his word ultimately concerns matters of life and death, that he chose to follow the pattern he himself established, of two or three witnesses (Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15). In Urijah’s case, Jehoiakim had him captured and killed, and buried him in a common grave (vv. 21-23). However, in the case of Jeremiah, the LORD, by his sovereign providential hand, raised one Ahikam to be “with Jeremiah, so that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death” (v. 24). Later on, Ahikam’s son Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon had made governor over the cities of Judah, would also be used for the same purpose (39:14; 40:5-7 Cf. II Ki. 22:12-14). “The story of Urijah shows that Jeremiah was not alone in his preaching; it also stresses that Jeremiah’s escape is not the most important point of this chapter, but rather the opposition in Judah to the word of God. Urijah died; Jeremiah lived, to complete his God ordained ministry. Compare the various fates of the heroes of faith in Heb. 11:32-38.” (NGSB. 1195)
*“His precedent is cited in support of the judgment just given, because as a result of his prophecy that Jerusalem would fall (Micah 3:12), the people repented of their sin. King Hezekiah prayed for Jerusalem and avoided defeat by the Assyrians in 701 B.C. (cf. Is. 37:14-38).” (NGSB. 1195)