7 The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord. 8 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! 9 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.
10 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. 11 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!”
12 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. 13 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. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 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.”
16 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.”
(Jeremiah 26:7-16 NIV)
From yesterday’s passage, we saw the Lord instruct Jeremiah to go to the Temple and prophesy the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem. The Lord was clear – the only way to avert this disaster was for the people to turn (repent) from their evil ways.
So Jeremiah obeyed the Lord, and did just as God had commanded, not leaving out a single word. Today’s text depicts the religious officials’ reaction to the Lord’s message, the trial, Jeremiah’s defense, and the verdict.
In verses 8 – 9, the prophets and priests at the Temple immediately reacted to Jeremiah’s message from the Lord. The group formed a lynch mob and surrounded Jeremiah, demanding that he must die for the message he just preached. The prophets and priests believed Jeremiah committed both blasphemy and treason by saying that the Temple would be destroyed, and Jerusalem would fall.
In verse 10, the government officials get involved and set up a trial to hear the matter. As was the custom in Jeremiah’s day, the trial was held in a public place, often near one of the city gates. In verse 11, the prophets and priests bring their charges against Jeremiah and ask for a sentence of capital punishment.
In verses 12 – 13, Jeremiah states his defense, then immediately repeats the words from the Lord for the officials and the people to repent so as to avoid the Lord’s judgment.
Notice Jeremiah’s confidence in God’s promise to protect and preserve his life (from Chapter 1). In verses 14 – 15, Jeremiah put himself at the court’s discretion. He does not beg, grovel, or plead; he only replies, “do with me whatever you think is good and right.” Jeremiah does warn them that the words he spoke were from the Lord. Consequently, the people and the city would have an innocent man’s blood on them if they kill Jeremiah.
In verse 16, the people and the city officials all come to the same conclusion: Jeremiah has spoken God’s words to them. He must not be put to death.
While it’s good to see God’s hand of providence working to protect Jeremiah, it’s heartbreaking to see that no one hears and obeys God’s message through Jeremiah. No one repents or turns toward the Lord.
As we look at today’s text, we see the Lord calling for change among His people and the consequences of not heeding His call.
As we look around us and study God’s Word, what changes is God calling for in our lands and our day, in our cultures and our time, in our churches and communities?
As we pray and seek God’s guidance and direction for our nations, communities, and churches, may we also ask the Lord to examine our hearts, and ask Him to begin the revival and reform in and through us.