17 Some of the elders of the land stepped forward and said to the entire assembly of people, 18 “Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah. He told all the people of Judah, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“‘Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.’
19 “Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death? Did not Hezekiah fear the Lord and seek his favor? And did not the Lord relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!”
20 (Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the Lord; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. 21 When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king was determined to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. 22 King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Akbor to Egypt, along with some other men. 23 They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.)
24 Furthermore, Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.
(Jeremiah 26:17-24 NIV)
Looking back two days ago in Chapter 26, we saw Jeremiah obey the Lord, preach in the Temple just as God had commanded, not leaving out a single word. Yesterday’s text depicted the religious officials’ mob reaction to the Lord’s message, the trial, Jeremiah’s defense, and the verdict.
In today’s passage, we see three vignettes of prophets and their outcomes: Micah, Uriah, and Jeremiah.
In verses 17 – 19, the elders recall the similar message and preaching of the prophet Micah a hundred-plus years before in the days of King Hezekiah. The elders quoted Micah 3:12 as their text, and King Hezekiah’s response. Micah had prophesied against Judah, Jerusalem, and the Temple, just as Jeremiah had done. The elders noted that King Hezekiah repented, the Lord relented, and all ended well.
While the elders did not repent, they did, in a purely narcissistic act of self-preservation, recognize that giving Jeremiah over to the mob for execution would be disastrous to all.
It’s important to note that the text makes a particular point of the elders intervening with God’s Word, not the religious officials (the priests and the prophets, Jeremiah’s peers). The religious “professionals” (the priests and the prophets) were the ones inciting the mob violence, not the people seeking God’s face about Jeremiah’s message and what to do.
It’s also important to note that Chapter 26 is Jeremiah’s first mention we have about anyone listening to or consulting with God’s Word on a matter. We have seen the religious community (Jeremiah’s peers) twist God’s Word to suit their needs and desires. We have also seen others clearly hear God’s Word and blatantly disregard it. Once again, God’s Providential hand was at work, protecting Jeremiah as He had promised. And God used His Word as the guidance and direction the elders cited to fulfill His will.
In verses 20 – 23, we meet the second prophet in this series of vignettes: Uriah. Uriah was a peer of Jeremiah’s. Verse 20 says that Uriah preached a similar message against Judah, Jerusalem, and the Temple. Uriah paid the ultimate price for his faithfulness to speaking God’s Word, as King Jehoiakim chased Uriah all the way to Egypt, brought him back to Jerusalem, and killed him. Since Pharoah Necho of Egypt placed Jehoiakim in office, the two countries likely had an extradition treaty as part of their international law between Egypt and Judah.
In verse 24, the spotlight turns from Uriah to Jeremiah. The text points out that one man in particular (Ahikam son of Shaphan), likely an elder, stood with Jeremiah and protected him from the lynch mod and the religious officials calling for Jeremiah’s execution.
It’s also important to note that King Jehoiakim was not part of Jeremiah’s proceedings and outcome. He may not have been notified, or may have been out of town or chosen not to engage in the process.
Jeremiah was not blessed to see the King and the nation turn back to the Lord as Micah did with King Hezekiah. Jeremiah was also not to meet his Creator and wear the crown of martyrdom for his stand for the Lord. Instead, the Lord spared Jeremiah’s life to endure more hardship and preach God’s Word another day.
May we, like the elders of the land, be immersed and saturated in God’s Word to the point that the Lord can bring Scriptures to mind when wisdom, a clear head, and a steady hand are needed in chaotic circumstances when the world around us seems out of control.
May we, like Micah, Uriah, and Jeremiah, obey the Lord even when our lives are on the line. May we be obedient to the Lord’s calling and direction, leaving the outcome in His hands, even when called, like Jeremiah, to endure more hardship and faithfully obey the Lord another day.
Most of all, may we, like King Hezekiah, be humble and open to the Lord, repenting when the Lord points out sin in our lives, and seeking to honor and praise Him with our whole being – our heart’s intent, our thoughts, our words, and our actions.