Jeremiah 29:1-9

29 This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. (This was after King Jehoiachin and the queen mother, the court officials and the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the skilled workers and the artisans had gone into exile from Jerusalem.) He entrusted the letter to Elasah son of Shaphan and to Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom Zedekiah king of Judah sent to King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon. It said:

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the Lord.
(Jeremiah 29:1-9 NIV)

As we move from Chapter 28 to Chapter 29, the theme of lying prophets continues.  In Chapter 28, Jeremiah had a face-to-face confrontation in Jerusalem with Hananiah.  Hananiah claimed to have a word from the Lord, and told everyone that Judah would experience freedom from their Babylonian rulers, and the captives would return, along with all the Temple articles.  Instead, Hananiah died in two months.

In Chapter 29, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah regarding the captives in Babylon.  Jeremiah wrote them a letter and sent it with two of the trusted men who were on their way to Babylon.  Apparently, there were regular groups of envoys (ambassadors?) back and forth between Jerusalem and Babylon.  We see several pertinent sections of letters exchanged between Jerusalem and Babylon in Chapter 29.

The period is during King Zedekiah’s reign after King Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon.  The events of this passage would have been sometime between 597 BC (when the first major waves of exiles were taken to Babylon) and 586 BC (when Jerusalem fell and was abandoned).

The Lord gives very specific instructions to the people living in exile.  Notice in verse 4, the Lord speaks in the first person:  “… to all those I carried into exile…”.  Those in Babylon were not victims of Nebuchadnezzar’s plot of world domination; they were in God’s hands.

As we look at the entire context of verses 4 – 9, it seems that the lies of the prophets had permeated the minds of the exiles as well as those in Jerusalem.  The people believed they would soon be leaving Babylon, and so they lived with only one goal – going back to Jerusalem.

The Lord tells the exiles that it’s going to be a long time until He restores them to Jerusalem – seventy years, as we know from previous passages.  So what does the Lord say?  Settle down and start living, and get out of survival mode.  Build houses, plant gardens, let your kids get married and have children of their own – all part of thriving and not surviving (vv. 5-6).  This command was not “common sense” – this was the Lord calling His people to step out in faith and trust Him.

Verse 7 had to be a huge shock to the exiles.  The Lord told them to pray for the peace and prosperity of Babylon and its inhabitants.  The Lord makes a direct correlation between the welfare of Babylon and their well-being.  Up till this point, their sole purpose was to throw off the chains of Babylonian bondage.  The Lord’s call to pray for their captors was their ultimate step of faith and trust in Him.

Last but not least, the Lord warns the people not to believe the false prophets.

There are many lessons learned from today’s passage.

First, a reminder of God’s sovereignty over everything.  Yes, the Lord had put His people in exile, and promised to restore them.  Nebuchadnezzar was the Lord’s servant, even if he did not recognize the Lord or His rule.

Second, the Lord calls us to bloom where we’re planted.  We should not put our lives on hold because of our circumstances.  Granted, there will be times when we are in transition and cannot put down “roots”, but we can still obey the Lord and move forward in our walk with Him.  The exiles from Judah living in Babylon probably longed to worship the Lord in His Temple in Jerusalem.   However, the Lord did not make the exiles’ worship and walk with Him contingent on their being in the Temple.

Third, and maybe the hardest lesson of all is to pray for our enemies.  The Lord told the exiles to seek peace with their captors and to pray for their peace and prosperity.  The people were taught from an early age to pray for the shalom, the peace and well-being of Jerusalem.  Now the Lord was telling them to do the same for their captors.  Jesus said basically the same thing in Matthew 5:44-48.  The Apostle Paul said something very similar in Romans 12:14-21.  This step of faith certainly puts a new light on “loving your neighbor as yourself”, doesn’t it?

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 28:12-17

12 After the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 13 “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but in its place you will get a yoke of iron. 14 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: I will put an iron yoke on the necks of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I will even give him control over the wild animals.’”

15 Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. 16 Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.’”

17 In the seventh month of that same year, Hananiah the prophet died.
(Jeremiah 28:12-17 NIV)

In Chapter 27, Jeremiah had put on an oxen’s yoke as a symbol of servitude to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah also spoke what the Lord said about ignoring false prophets who proclaimed peace, restoration, and freedom.

In Chapter 28, we see a confrontation between Jeremiah and one of the false prophets named Hananiah. Jeremiah is continuing to prophesy God’s word of captivity and servitude to Babylon and still has the oxen’s yoke around his neck.  Hananiah predicts that Judah and the surrounding nations will be free from their Babylonian rulers, and all the Temple articles restored within two years.

Jeremiah responded that it would be wonderful if Hananiah’s prediction were to come true, but the Lord had been saying the opposite.  Hananiah then took the oxen’s yoke from Jeremiah’s neck, broke it, and declared it an object lesson as to what the Lord would do within two years.  Not having a word from the Lord, Jeremiah did not argue with or try to refute Hananiah.  He quietly walked away, not in fear or embarrassment, but with integrity.  Jeremiah took the high road.

As we begin today’s text, we see the word of the Lord come to Jeremiah.  We don’t know the time between Jeremiah walking away and the Lord speaking to him.  Our only clue is verse 13, where the Lord tells Jeremiah to “Go and tell Hananiah”, thus indicating a physical separation between the two men.

What was the message from the Lord?  That Nebuchadnezzar’s control over these nations will not be breakable.  Nebuchadnezzar will have absolute authority over everyone, as indicated by the yoke of iron the Lord promised.  The Lord even promised that Nebuchadnezzar would have control over the wild animals.  Nebuchadnezzar’s authority would be second only to God Himself.

After the Lord cleared up the matter of the false predictions, the Lord then dealt with Hananiah.  In verses 15 – 16, the Lord accused Hananiah of two additional sins besides the false prophecies:  Leading the people to trust in lies (v. 15) and for preaching rebellion against the Lord (v. 16).  And what was Hananiah’s fate?  Death.

The Lord had clearly stated that false predictions were dealt with severely:

But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.
(Deuteronomy 18:20 NIV, God speaking)

Chapter 28 concludes the matter:  Hananiah had predicted that within two years, all would be well.  The Lord had the final say:  within two months, Hananiah died.  The Lord had clearly shown the true prophet (Jeremiah) and the false prophet (Hananiah), yet the people were unfazed.  While we would hope for a revival, it seemed to be another day, with no lessons learned or turning to the Lord.

So what are the lessons learned from today’s text?  One would certainly be that our resistance to the Lord’s discipline only adds to our chastening, as shown by the Lord exchanging an iron yoke for the wooden one (v. 13).

Also, the Lord deals severely with those who speak words on His behalf that He has not commanded or given.  While most people today would not call themselves “prophets”, some go around saying “God says…” or “the Bible says…”, when, in fact, there is no evidence that either is true.  May we carefully consider our words and do our homework before claiming that the Lord or the Bible have said something.

May we not, in our frustration with the local church or the church at large, declare either judgment (like Jeremiah’s symbol of bondage) or victory (like Hananiah’s symbol of freedom).  Walking with the Lord in New Testament times like the days of the early church and like our days today is messy and often painful and frustrating.  May we give grace to ourselves and others as we journey together with the Lord and with each other.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 28:1-11

28 In the fifth month of that same year, the fourth year, early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, who was from Gibeon, said to me in the house of the Lord in the presence of the priests and all the people: “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the Lord’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here and took to Babylon. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the other exiles from Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares the Lord, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’”

Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord.He said, “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms.But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”

10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah and broke it, 11 and he said before all the people, “This is what the Lord says: ‘In the same way I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon off the neck of all the nations within two years.’” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went on his way.
(Jeremiah 28:1-11 NIV)

In Chapter 27, Jeremiah had put on an oxen’s yoke as a symbol of servitude to Babylon and King Nebuchadnezzar.  Jeremiah also spoke what the Lord said about ignoring false prophets who proclaimed peace and restoration and freedom.

In Chapter 28, we see a confrontation between Jeremiah and one of the false prophets named Hananiah.  Jeremiah is continuing to prophesy God’s word of captivity and servitude to Babylon and still has the oxen’s yoke around his neck.

In the same year that Jeremiah began to preach God’s word with the oxen’s yoke around his neck, Hananiah confronts Jeremiah in the Temple, in front of the priests and the people. Hananiah proclaims that Judah will be free from their Babylonian rulers, that King Jehoiachin and all the exiles and all the temple articles will return home.  And all of this will happen within the next two years.

In verses 5 – 9, Jeremiah responds.  At first, Jeremiah’s response seems like he might have sold out or be intimidated by Hananiah because he agrees with Hananiah.  But Jeremiah’s agreement is not selling out, but more like “Yes, Hananiah, wouldn’t it be wonderful if the Lord intervened and brought back the people and the temple articles from exile?”

In verses 7 – 8, Jeremiah reminds Hananiah, not with a word from the Lord, but from his experience and knowing what he knows about what God has been telling him.  Jeremiah states that the Lord has been saying war, disaster, and plagues, precisely the opposite of what Hananiah had just proclaimed.

In verse 9, Jeremiah reminds Hananiah of the real test of a prophet:  The prophet is deemed genuine and from the Lord only if their predictions become true.

After Jeremiah had finished his rebuttal, Hananiah removed the oxen’s yoke from Jeremiah’s neck, broke it, then repeated his prediction that the Babylonian rule would end in two years.  Hananiah predicted that this would be true not only for Judah but all the nations held by the Babylonians.

Notice Jeremiah’s response at this point.  Jeremiah does not confront Hananiah on his power or argue with him.  Jeremiah simply walks away.  Jeremiah does not have a fresh word from the Lord about this situation, so he leaves.  Jeremiah walks in integrity with the Lord and knows that the Lord will determine the outcome.  If Hananiah is correct, it’s all the best for Judah.  If Jeremiah is right, Hananiah will suffer the consequences of his false prophecy.

May we remember that God’s desire is to restore and redeem all people to Himself.  May we also remember that God’s timing is not our timing, His purposes are not our purposes; His ways are not our ways.

May we remember that God loves us, and even when bad things happen, God in His Providence can and will use them to bring glory to Himself.  Not all bad things that happen to us are discipline (remember Job), but God redeems all things for His glory and our good.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 27:12-22

12 I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah. I said, “Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live. 13 Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which the Lord has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon? 14 Do not listen to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they are prophesying lies to you. 15 ‘I have not sent them,’ declares the Lord. ‘They are prophesying lies in my name. Therefore, I will banish you and you will perish, both you and the prophets who prophesy to you.’”

16 Then I said to the priests and all these people, “This is what the Lord says: Do not listen to the prophets who say, ‘Very soon now the articles from the Lord’s house will be brought back from Babylon.’ They are prophesying lies to you. 17 Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon, and you will live. Why should this city become a ruin? 18 If they are prophets and have the word of the Lord, let them plead with the Lord Almighty that the articles remaining in the house of the Lord and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem not be taken to Babylon. 19 For this is what the Lord Almighty says about the pillars, the bronze Sea, the movable stands and the other articles that are left in this city, 20 which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon did not take away when he carried Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, along with all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem— 21 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says about the things that are left in the house of the Lord and in the palace of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem: 22 ‘They will be taken to Babylon and there they will remain until the day I come for them,’ declares the Lord. ‘Then I will bring them back and restore them to this place.’”
(Jeremiah 27:12-22 NIV)

Chapter 27 contains three warnings:  first to the nations around Judah (vv. 1 – 11), then to Zedekiah, king of Judah (vv. 12 – 15), and finally, to the priests and the people of Judah (vv. 16 – 22).  In the previous devotional, we looked at the historical setting as well as the first warning.  In today’s text, we will look at the second and third warnings.

The Lord gave Jeremiah a message and an accompanying object lesson to deliver to each of his audiences.  The object lesson was an oxen’s yoke which Jeremiah wore around his neck while giving God’s message to each recipient.  The yoke represented servitude, not freedom.  Freedom would eventually come, but for now, all three groups were told to serve Babylon.

The message to the five ambassadors to take back to their kings and King Zedekiah was the same:  Serve Babylon, and don’t believe the lie of the prophets who tell you not to serve Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.  If you do disobey God’s Word, you will pay with your life and the lives of your people.

The message to the priests and the people of Judah (vv. 16 – 22) was similar:  Don’t listen to the lies of the prophets who tell you that the objects from the temple will be returned soon.  In fact, the message from the Lord was the opposite:  the holy objects already in Babylon would stay in Babylon, and the remaining objects in Jerusalem would be taken to Babylon until the Lord would return all of the objects.

The objects of worship served as another parallel to Judah’s current situation and what was to come.  Part of the Lord’s prophecies that Jeremiah had preached had come true, but not all of them (there was more to come).  Nebuchadnezzar had conquered Judah and the surrounding nations but left Jerusalem standing.  Part of the Temple treasures had been carried off to Babylon, but not all of them.  Thus, the false prophets still could perpetuate the lies that all was going to be well, that things would turn around soon, and the nations would soon enjoy their freedom and autonomy.

Notice that the people seemed to be more concerned with the objects used during worship than their relationship with the God whom they were to be worshipping.  God wanted His people restored in right relationship with Him.   The people wanted their Temple objects back.  The nation of Judah had not learned their lesson yet.

May we remember our calling in Christ (1 Peter 2:9) to be like Him in all our ways.

And when we see others still in the “messy” part of life, still learning how to walk with the Lord, may we come alongside them and walk with them, gently encouraging and offering grace to them as Christ gives grace to us.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 27:1-11

27 Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: This is what the Lord said to me: “Make a yoke out of straps and crossbars and put it on your neck. Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah.Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.

“‘“If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the Lord, until I destroy it by his hand. So do not listen to your prophets, your diviners, your interpreters of dreams, your mediums or your sorcerers who tell you, ‘You will not serve the king of Babylon.’ 10 They prophesy lies to you that will only serve to remove you far from your lands; I will banish you and you will perish. 11 But if any nation will bow its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon and serve him, I will let that nation remain in its own land to till it and to live there, declares the Lord.”’”
(Jeremiah 27:1-11 NIV)

Chapter 26 recalled Jeremiah’s ministry during the reign of King Jehoiakim; Chapter 27 fast-forwards to Jeremiah’s ministry during the reign of King Zedekiah.

Chapter 27 contains three warnings:  to the nations around Judah (vv. 1 – 11), to Zedekiah, king of Judah (vv. 12 – 15), and to the priests and the people of Judah (vv. 16 – 22).  In today’s devotional, we will look at the historical setting as well as the first warning.

Verse 1 identifies the timeframe as “early in the reign” of Zedekiah, which, according to historians, would date this chapter around 594 BC.  Babylon’s kingdom was massive, and Nebuchadnezzar was clearly in charge.  Verse 1 also clearly says that Jeremiah received a word from the Lord.  Hold on to that thought for a few days, as we will reference it again when we get to Chapter 28.

In verse 2, the Lord tells Jeremiah to deliver a message using an object lesson again.  This time, the object of the object lesson is an oxen’s yoke, the wooden contraption that goes around the neck of an ox so the ox can pull a load.  Leather straps hold the yoke in place, and allow the yoke to be easily fastened and unfastened from the oxen’s neck.  The Lord tells Jeremiah to put this yoke on his neck as he delivers God’s message to the hearers.

In verse 3, the Lord identifies Jeremiah’s first audience:  the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon.  These were five of Judah’s neighboring vassal nation-states that were also under the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.  These five nation-states each sent an envoy (an official government representative from one country sent to talk to the government of another country) to Jerusalem to meet with Zedekiah.

And what was the intent of this gathering?  The surface topic might be any number of non-threatening subjects (trade or economic agreements, agreements on international law and extradition of criminals, etc.).  In reality, there was only one reason these meetings were taking place:  how these nation-states could work together to regain their freedom from Babylon.

Jeremiah’s message from the Lord is straightforward and clear:  be subject to Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon.  Imagine being the envoy from one of these countries, in Jerusalem under questionable pretenses, and being confronted by a rogue Hebrew religious prophet that knows the real reason you are there, blows your cover and intent, and speaks directly against what you have been sent to accomplish.

At best, Jeremiah would be seen as a lunatic, to be ignored. More likely, Jeremiah would be considered a traitor to Judah and a sympathizer with Babylon, with no heart for freedom.

Notice that the Lord identifies Himself as “the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel” (v. 4).  In verse 5, God declares His sovereignty over everyone and everything, from creation to that very point in time.  Everything on the earth was at His command.

In verse 6, the Lord identifies Nebuchadnezzar as “my servant”, showing His control of even the king who would rule over the nations.  In verse 7, the Lord identifies that there will also be an end to Nebuchadnezzar’s seeming dynasty.  Again, the Lord controls the start, duration, and end of kings as well.

In verse 8, the Lord spells out what will happen to the nations that do not subjugate themselves to Nebuchadnezzar.  They will perish by way of the sword, famine, and plague, and ultimately be exiled and destroyed.

Verses 9 – 10 are a stern warning for the kings of these countries not to listen to their “spirit guides” who will tell them not to put themselves under Babylon’s rule.  Again, the result will be banishment from their land and ultimately death.  Verse 10 reiterates God’s direction for them – serve Babylon and stay in your country, or fight and die in exile.

While today’s passage was written to an audience long ago, there are still many faith lessons we can apply to our day and times.

May we remember that God was Creator of all and is still ruler over all the earth, regardless of what political leader or system is ruling the country in which we live.

May we remember that we can trust the Lord with our lives. Our greatest test of faith and our highest calling is to follow the Lord unconditionally, keeping our eyes on Him and not trying to manipulate our circumstances.

May we step boldly into our calling, even if it involves doing very strange things just as Jeremiah did when he obeyed the Lord, put on the yoke and preached to the foreign ambassadors.

Who knows what the outcome will be?  History has no record of these nations staging a rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon at this point (there would be other attempts year later).  In a way, we could call today’s passage “The rebellion that never was.”  Was this decision of the six-nation summit because of Jeremiah’s willingness to deliver God’s message?  Only the Lord knows.  Jeremiah was not held accountable for the outcome of their decisions – only his faithfulness to deliver the message from the Lord.

We may not be called to preach to ambassadors and high-ranking government officials, but our obedience to God’s Word and calling may save the life of a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker.

May we walk in such faith and obedience to His calling.  Only the Lord knows what the outcome will be.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 26:17-24

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.

Blessings,
~kevin

Jeremiah 26:7-16

The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the Lord. 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! 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.

Blessings,
~kevin