Genesis 44 A Time Of Testing When Judah Steps Up.

Genesis 44 A Time Of Testing When Judah Steps Up.

Joseph, by blessing his brothers with bounty, and without cost, seemed to be saying by his actions what he truly believed theologically. As he will finally reveal later, it was God in his providence that sent him to Egypt in order to save lives, and not them exercising their vengeance (45:5-8). God often puts his people through long and trying situations to fulfill something in us to be sure, but also for a larger purpose. This also coloured why he behaved with secrecy in the early stages of their encounter. He put his brothers to the test for a number of reasons. Firstly, he wanted to know how they thought about what they did to him, and with this, if they were being honest. The insistence of seeing Benjamin, would also test them to see if they would treat Ben as they had treated him. In this context he also wanted to see who if any of them would man up and not only admit to the past, but be willing to lay down their own life for others. In short, he wanted to know if the fruit of a living faith was present, or were they just nominal believers.

They surely must have wondered how he could know the order in which they were born, which no doubt contributed in their thinking that God had indeed found them out, which of course he did, through his providence and the place of Joseph in that providence. Joseph says to them that he practiced divination, not because he actually did, clearly he didn’t need to. It was a ruse he created from what he already knew. However, his brothers surely must have thought that God was using a pagan official to expose their guilt (vv. 1-5). His steward played along with his master, although we aren’t told if he even understood what was going on. Thinking that they would be completely innocent of the charge of stealing the sacred cup, they make a rash oath that if it be found with anyone of them, that that man would die, and the rest would be his master’s slaves (vv. 6-9). The steward’s response to this oath seems to suggest that he did know what was going on, for he lessons the punishment to what is more just.

Nobody was going to die, only the man with whom the cup was found would become the master’s slave, and that man was Benjamin. The steward again knew the order of seniority. However, something amazing happens. The same men who almost killed the former youngest in Joseph, only being prevented by Reuben, now travelled back with the new youngest – Benjamin (vv. 10-13). This act in itself sent a clear message to Joseph that his brothers were on the road to repentance and faith. Then Judah steps up again, and he vows that they will all become the man’s slaves (v. 15), but Joseph insists on only Ben, that the rest were to go free (v. 16). In stepping forward, Judah spoke the truth about what had been discussed with their father, that Jacob considered Rachel uniquely his wife, and so Ben and Joe were his favourites, so much so that Judah said that if Ben did not return that their father would die, so bound up was his life in him (vv. 17-31). Then he says to the master that he, Judah, vowed to be his brothers surety (vv. 32-34).

Genesis 43 Repentance, Faith, And The Breaking Of Bread.

Genesis 43 Repentance, Faith, And The Breaking Of Bread.

There is something about having no food that causes people to change their minds. Jacob, now referred to as Israel, grills his sons for not lying to Joseph about Benjamin (vv. 1-7). Then Judah finally also mans up and offers himself as surety, willing to be blamed forever if he fails in his mission (vv. 8-10). First Reuben, and now Judah finally break the comfort of the sinful solidarity of the eleven. There is a lesson for all here – all men will one day stand before the judge of all the earth alone, with or without the only advocate to plead our case. A second point is this, sins are legion that have been committed by peer pressure and the excuse that one was just following the crowd or orders. Jacob, who God renamed Israel because he wrestled with him in his younger days and prevailed, finally returns to the only faith that counts – the one of total abandonment to the only sovereign over all the earth (vv. 11-14).

Faith means nothing if it is not of a sort that a man is not only willing to be bereaved, but to go to his death if necessary. This is the faith that changed the world. May God be pleased to use my death to bring him glory, for everything in this life is all smoke and mirrors to what really matters in life. When the brothers return to Joseph with Benjamin he finally had proof that their faith was more than mere inheritance from a father who also wavered, it was a faith to match his own, which was purified in the furnace of suffering, false accusation, the stealing of his good name, and excommunication from an apostate church and family (vv. 15-17). The brothers stepped forward in fear, knowing that they indeed deserved to die (vv. 18-22). Men with clear consciences don’t step out in fear, but are willing to bear true witness come what may. It was a word of mercy which came from the steward, with Simeon (v. 23).

The steward of Joseph’s house was ‘the man’, speaking words of peace and backing them up with other acts of mercy, no doubt by Joseph’s command, because that is what good stewards do, obey their masters (vv. 24-25). When the brothers bowed before him, and he queried them (vv. 26-28), verse 29a then says that Joseph lifted his eyes. Could it be that the boy who boasted that they and their father would one day bow before him, chose not to see them bow? In any case, Joseph spoke grace to Benjamin, and he yearned for him with the love of one who knew him as the one who took his place in the bosom of their father (vv. 29b-30). Joseph had a time to weep and now was a time for restraint (v. 31). Is there not a lesson to weep before breaking bread with those who have transgressed, but have come to repentance? Joseph who once ate alone, now feasted with his brethren and they with him (vv. 32-34).

Genesis 42:25-38 Jacob In Selfish Bitterness Seeks To Break Faith.

Genesis 42:25-38 Jacob In Selfish Bitterness Seeks To Break Faith.

Joseph commanded that the sacks of his brothers be filled with grain, and they also saw their money returned (vv. 25-28a). Their consciences spoke to them of their past misdeeds with regard to Joseph (v. 28b). They nevertheless continued on their journey to their father Jacob, recounting the events of the previous verses, including the demand that they return with Benjamin, and up to finding the money (vv. 29-35). All Jacob can think of is the prospect of losing three sons, including his favourite Benjamin (v. 36). Once again Reuben steps up, mans up, and even allows his father to exact his vengeance on his own sons if he did not return with Simeon. However, his obsession with Benjamin hardens his heart to doing as was requested, causing them to break their commitment once again to Joseph (vv. 37-38).

Genesis 42:1-24 “If you are honest men.”

Genesis 42:1-24 “If you are honest men.”

Joseph’s brothers had sold him into servitude, eventually to the arch nemesis Egypt, and deceived their father into believing he had been mauled by a wild beast, and now ten of his eleven brothers were sent by their father to Egypt to beg for food. Benjamin, the youngest, was left behind. Since the brothers were not Egyptians they would have to pay for the food, so they also took items to barter. Little did they know that the governor was Joseph, and they would need to bow before him in order to buy their food (vv. 1-6). Joseph recognized them of course, but he made like he was a stranger, and a harsh overlord. Then recalling his dreams, where the LORD had revealed that one day they would bow before him, he started to accuse them of being spies, coming to find any weaknesses if Egypt’s defences, but they denied it (vv. 7-12).

In explaining who they were they referred to Joseph as the one brother they had who was “no more” (v. 13). To test them he told them that to prove their testimony one of them must go back and get the youngest brother, Benjamin, then put them in prison for three days to think things over (vv. 14-17). Joseph used to be the youngest, so now he would see how they really felt about him, and how they would treat the new youngest. Their father scolded them, telling them to stop looking at each other and man up and go get some food (v. 1). Now they would be confronted with looking at each other again, ultimately to see who would man up now. Evidently not one of them could rise to the occasion, even though it was a matter of life and death.

The brothers were cowards in life, none of them able to stand on his own two feet and do what was right, just as they behaved when they sold Joseph. So Joseph gave them a plan B. He would let all of them go back but one. He still was looking for one of them to man up (vv. 18-20a)! There was an ultimate question which they had to answer with deeds and not just words, and that was contained in Joseph’s preamble when he said, “If you are honest men” (v. 19). We then finally get to some truth, truth which his brothers had buried deep within their consciences. Ultimately God had orchestrated this situation so that they would have to answer for their crime for selling their brother into servitude and deceiving their father (v. 21). Finally Rueben said that he told them so, that way back then he said that they should not sin as they did (v. 22).

Rueben had kept them from actually killing Joseph, instead throwing him into a pit with the intent of picking him up later and giving him back to their father (Gen. 37:21-22). Ultimately Rueben knew he had failed, in his own responsibility to protect Joseph (37:29-30), as Jacob’s eldest (29:32). Joseph was privy to this entire discussion, and after he turned away and wept, he placed Simeon back in prison. Leah, who was unloved by Jacob, gave birth to Rueben then Simeon. She gave Rueben his name because the LORD had “looked on her affliction,” and her hope was expressed in ‘See, a son!’ (29:32 Cf. NGSB. 58). Then when her second was born she named him Simeon because the LORD had ‘heard’ that she was unloved (v. 33). She then bore Levi and Judah, arguably the two pillars of the nation (vv. 34-35).

Genesis 41:37-57 Joseph’s Rise To Power.

Genesis 41:37-57 Joseph’s Rise To Power.

In Potiphar’s immediate response one should not assume that he was a believer when he refers to the Spirit of God, but that he acknowledged that Joseph’s interpretation and counsel which were wise, were given according to Joseph by the Spirit of God (vv. 37-38). To this end the Pharaoh could see no better man for the job than Joseph (v. 39). So the Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the nation, save the throne itself (vv. 40-41). Joseph was clothed with the symbols of power, including the Pharaoh’s signet ring, meaning his decisions were the equivalent of the Pharaoh’s (v. 42). He would ride in the Pharaoh’s second chariot, and the people would bow down to him as though he were the Pharaoh himself (v. 43), and obey his commands (v. 44). Furthermore, and perhaps to take away any sting of being ruled by a foreigner, Joseph was given an Egyptian name and bride (v. 45). The name ‘Zaphnaph-Paaneah’, means “God speaks and He lives”  (NGSB. 76).

There is a great deal of theology in Joseph’s new name, given by a man who simply gave the name based on what he had witnessed. Unlike the Egyptian idols, Joseph’s God spoke to him, and this was also proof that also unlike the dumb idols of Egypt, this God lives. As Francis Schaeffer titled one of his books – ‘He Is There And He Is Not Silent’. Notes of idolatry surrounded Joseph, chief among them being the name of his wife ‘Asenath’, which means “belongs to the goddess Neit,” being as she was, “the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On.” “Called Heliopolis in Greek, this city was a center for the worship of the sun god Ra (Jer. 43:13); its high priest was one of the most prominent in Egypt” (NGSB. 76). Joseph being 30 at this time, makes it all the more remarkable his earlier years of service to Potiphar and in prison, both of which the LORD used to prepare him for the role he would now fill (v. 46). Immediately he began to put into place the advice he had given the Pharaoh.

He had the people save up in the first seven years of plenty, enough to cover the following seven years of famine (vv. 47-49). Also during the years of plenty Joseph was blessed with two sons by Asenath –  Manasseh and Ephraim. In this way the LORD also made him fruitful (vv. 50-52). Joseph was fulfilling the creation/cultural mandate, first commanded in Genesis 1:26-28, doing so in what was otherwise a foreign land. At the end of the seven years of plenty, Joseph’s words continued to be fulfilled as he had said, with the beginning of the years of famine (vv. 53-54a). “The famine was in all lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread” (v. 54b). Joseph, who at one point was sold as a slave and forgotten, was now the one man that all people had to go to in order to live (v. 55). There was enough that not only did all the Egyptians have food, but Joseph also sold some to foreigners in need (vv. 56-57). Such was the fruit of his commitment to the mandate given.

Genesis 41:1-36 Joseph Interprets The Pharaoh’s Dreams.

It is interesting that in the events previous with the butler and baker, and now with Pharaoh himself, Joseph is not the dreamer, but rather, he is the interpreter. In the biblical corpus concerning revelations, dreams do not rank as highly as those who can interpret them, unless the “dream,” if one may call it such, is to be found in the council presence of the LORD God, the prerequisite for a true prophet. This is not unlike the gift of tongues, which ranks below that of the prophet, for tongues must also be interpreted for anyone to understand. As Joseph said in the previous context – “Do not interpretations belong to God?” (40:8b) The “two full years” of verse 1, is likely two full years after the restoration of the chief butler – the immediately preceding verse. This was how long the butler forgot him, probably because he didn’t want Pharaoh to know that he got his dream interpretation from a man thrown in prison accused of trying to rape the wife of his servant Potiphar.

In Pharaoh’s dream (vv. 2-4), seven fat cows symbolize seven years of plenty, and the seven gaunt cows that followed were seven lean years which would eat up everything gained in the first seven. So Joseph’s advice was to store enough in the first seven years to keep everyone alive in the seven lean years. From this dream we see that Joseph was not only gifted in interpreting dreams, but also in offering sage advice based on his interpretations. The fact that the Pharaoh had a second dream about heads of grain (vv. 5-7), was as Joseph said, “because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass” (v. 32). Again we see the principle of two or three witnesses with regards to the word of the LORD, which always concerns matters of life and death. The Magicians and so-called wise men could not interpret his dreams (v. 8 Cf. vv. 17-24). Finally the butler acknowledges his fault in not speaking of Joseph sooner (v. 9).

The butler told the Pharaoh about a Hebrew man named Joseph who had interpreted his dream two years ago, the interpretations which came true (vv. 10-13). So the Pharaoh sent for Joseph (v. 14a), but after living in a dungeon, Joseph had to shave and change his clothes, so he could answer the call from God to the Pharaoh (vv. 14-15). In his previous state the Pharaoh may not have recognized him as the man put in prison accused of raping his servant Potiphar’s wife. The Pharaoh simply wanted him for his perceived dream interpreting ability, but as Joseph said to him, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (v. 16 Cf. II Cor. 3:4-5). Why would Joseph say “peace” before he heard the dream? Perhaps it was the peace of hearing the truth. Then, without any apparent hesitation, after the Pharaoh relayed the dream, Joseph said, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do” (v. 25).

Seven years of plenty, would have enough surplus for the seven lean years, but only if the Pharaoh followed Joseph’s advice (vv. 26-31). Joseph was not the kind of man to put himself forward, but he did advise the Pharaoh to “select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt” (v.33). Here we see another example of Joseph going beyond simply interpreting the Pharaoh’s dream, to giving wise counsel on what to do given what would take place. Like any good leader, Joseph proposes that this man appoint officers over the land, under the authority of the Pharaoh, to assist in the administration of the nation’s affairs, in particular to start preparing in the years of plenty to have enough for the nation to survive when the years of famine came (vv. 34-36 Cf. 47:13ff.). “Neither Pharaoh nor his officials were in control; God and his servant were in charge, as they would be centuries later in the time of Moses (Ex. 7:1-5).” (NGSB. 75) It is ironic that Egypt should be saved by the God of a Hebrew.

Genesis 39:22-40:23 Joseph Continues To Serve, But Is Forgotten.

Genesis 39:22-40:23 Joseph Continues To Serve, But Is Forgotten.

We find history repeating here, as Joseph is once again placed in a position of authority because of the LORD’s mercy, creating in him a servant’s heart (v. 22). “Because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper” (v. 23). Then as the story progresses, Joseph again served his fellow prisoners, and one of the services he rendered was to speak to them the word of God that was given to him, in regard to their respective dreams (40:1-8). The butler received a welcome interpretation that he would be restored to serve once again, fittingly with the symbol of a vine, since the bringing of a cup of wine was his duty (vv. 9-13). All that Joseph asked was that he might remember him, and put in a good word to the Pharaoh (vv. 14-15). The baker did not fair so well, as he would be executed and the birds would feed on his decapitated skull, again the days fittingly symbolized by three loaves of bread (vv. 16-19). As predicted, on the third day, the butler was restored, and the baker was executed, perhaps being decapitated with his hanging. “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” (v. 23). Joseph, like some of us, was wrongly accused and forgotten, but the LORD was, and is, with us so that we can continue to serve.

Genesis 39:1-21 Joseph, Potiphar, And Potiphar’s Wife.

Genesis 39:1-21 Joseph, Potiphar, And Potiphar’s Wife.

Joseph was taken to Egypt, the consummate symbol of bondage and slavery, taken there by a faithless brother tribe and sold to the arch enemy (v. 1), and yet, or perhaps because of this, we read that “the LORD was with Joseph,” and for this reason “he was a successful man” (v. 2a). His earthly master saw this (v. 3). “So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him.” (v. 4) What? Should we not have read that Joseph found favor so he didn’t have to serve. Such is the biblical ethic in cultural antithesis to the world. The saints find favor, and serve. As it turns out, it is those who find favor and serve, who ultimately become overseers trusted with authority. Such servants bring the LORD’s blessing upon those whom they serve (v. 5). Such servants are trusted implicitly (v. 6a). Then things take a turn, for in addition to having a servant’s heart, “Joseph was handsome in form and appearance” (v. 6b). This was all the pretext his master’s wife needed to lust after him (v. 7).

How ironic that Joseph should be the one to preach to this whore that loyalty to the man he served and whom she was married to, meant something (v. 8). His master kept only one thing from Joseph, to which Joseph concurred, and that was the man’s wife (v. 9a). “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (v. 9b) This was ultimately what was at stake. But the woman seized the opportunity of them being alone to seek to take him by force. She took his garment as he fled, and this ultimate sign of his innocence she used against him. One sin always begets others, from lust to bearing false witness, to seeking the destruction of one whose innocence only made her sin look all the more sinful. She played on the animosity that was no doubt present among the men, that a foreigner should be their master. There wasn’t even a show trial, the word of his wife was enough for Potiphar, who through Joseph in prison (vv. 10-20). “But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper in the prison.” (v. 21) Yet another turn.

Jeremiah 27 The Bonds And Yokes Of Exile.

Jeremiah 27 The Bonds And Yokes Of Exile.

These events occurred in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign (v. 1a 593 B.C. Cf. vv. 3, 12). The majority of the texts are consistent with the reference to Jehoiakim here being a copyist’s error in the MT (Masoretic text). It would appear that the copyist was influenced by 26:1, when the real comparison is with 28:1, which is what places it in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign. He was another son of Josiah (1 Chr. 3:15). Again, this is a word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, telling him and others, to make for themselves “bonds and yokes” to put them on Jeremiah’s neck, and send them to the kings of Edom, Moab, Tyre, and Sidon by the hand of the messengers who came to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah (vv. 1b-4 Cf. 25:21-22). These messengers probably “had come to discuss rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, in league with Egypt.” (NGSB. 1196)

Accompanying the bonds and yokes was the message for their masters that they were to take from the LORD through Jeremiah – a command actually, the LORD of hosts saying, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are on the ground, by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and have given it to whom it seemed proper to Me” (v. 5). For the LORD at this time, it seemed proper to him to give it all to Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, his “servant; and the beasts of the field I have also given to serve him. So all the nations shall serve him and his son’s son, until the time of his land comes; and then many nations and great kings shall make him serve them.” (vv. 6-7). The LORD God controls history, and everything he has made in the whole of heaven and earth. Whether national leaders choose to recognize it or not, they all exist to serve him.

Nebuchadnezzar was chosen to carry forward the cultural creation mandate first given to Adam, with the added consequence of the fall (Gen. 1:26; 2:8; 3). As he served the LORD, the animals and other nations would serve him. Sin is what brings the bonds and yokes of foreign rule. All who rejected or rebelled against the LORD’s servant, he would punish “with the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, until I have consumed them by his hand” (v. 8). There were but two options, serve the one raised up by the LORD, or be destroyed. We then come to the crux of the matter, when we meet the ‘therefore’ of verse nine, and ask ourselves what is the ‘therefore’ there for? Therefore, since the LORD is sovereign over all, it is futile for a person or a people to revert to their pagan sources of revelation to divine the present and the future. Present actions are the prologue of the future.

Their rebellion is what determined their future. This is not a mystery. But they did not like the message they heard through Jeremiah, so they turned to their false prophets, who are grouped together with the pagan diviners, dreamers, soothsayers, and sorcerers who, to keep their own employment, delivered a message of peace, when there would be no peace. In collectively saying that the nation would not serve the king of Babylon, they were preaching a lie. In fact, these persons were working for their adversary, for they prophesied this lie to remove them from the land, all according to the sovereign activity of the LORD of hosts (vv. 9-10). Those speaking the lie to them would, by the sovereign will and purpose of the LORD, “remain in their own land, and they shall till it and dwell in it” (v. 11). In other words, these nations would fulfill the cultural mandate, however imperfectly.

Zedekiah was commanded to lead the nation by submitting to “the yoke of the king of Babylon and his people if they wanted to live (v. 12). As already noted, any who rebelled would die “by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence” (v. 13 Cf. v. 8). Jeremiah then returns to focus on that one biblical office which did speak, at times, concerning the future, namely the prophets, in this case the false prophets (v. 14a Cf. 23:9ff.; 26). Not only were they preaching a lie (v. 14b), but they had not been sent from the LORD’s council presence (v. 15 Cf. 23:21-22). Nevertheless, it was that very preaching of the lie from these false prophets that the LORD of hosts used to help drive the people out of the land, and to their own shared destruction (v. 15). The prophets were to be the vehicle for the giving of the word of the LORD. The false prophets claimed this but instead preached a lie.

The priests, on the other hand, refers to those who were the minsters of word and sacrament, called to teach and expound the word that was given. To them, and the people, the LORD, through the true prophet Jeremiah, were commanded to not listen to the false prophets. They are not the LORD’s prophets, but are referred to as “your prophets,” those they had accepted without divine approbation (v. 16a). The vessels leaving the temple were symbolic of the departure of the LORD from them, along with their own exile. The false prophets preached that these vessels would return from Babylon, when in fact it is they who would follow the vessels (v. 16b). They were commanded not to listen to the false prophets, but instead to serve the king of Babylon, if they wanted to live (v. 17). Sometimes the church is called to live as a remnant under a yoke.

The exile happened in stages, so it would appear that the false prophets were given the opportunity to predict that the vessels that remained would not be taken, as a test as to whether they were true prophets (v. 18). This test goes back to the law, and was also a prerequisite for inclusion in the canon of scripture. “And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ – when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” (Dt. 18:21-22). Of course, if a sign or wonder did come to pass, but they were being led into idolatry, then that would also prove a prophet’s falsehood, and a barring of entry into the canon (Dt. 13:2).

In the next chapter we come to a case in point, in the dispute between Jeremiah and Hananiah (v. 9). However, the remaining vessels being referred to here, would either not be taken and those already taken returned, or else the reality of both would prove to be a double witness against the prophets that they were false. It may be the case that the LORD only needs to speak or act 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 (v. 19 Cf. Dt. 17:6; 19:15). The vessels and the people  would remain in exile until the LORD would later “visit” them. Then he would “bring them up and restore them to this place” (vv. 20-22). In other words, they were given a test in their immediate present, that would be indicative of their future.

Jeremiah 26 A Case Against Jeremiah For The Word Delivered.

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)