The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
MESSAGE IN THE TEMPLE COURT
- In the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim, Jeremiah had been commanded by the LORD to stand in the temple court and preach.
- Jeremiah was to "speak unto them; diminish not a word" (26:1, 2).
- This verse affirms the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of Scripture. Jeremiah was told to speak “all the words,” not merely the thoughts or ideas that the LORD commanded him -- diminishing nothing.
- This probably took place during one of the yearly feasts, for Jeremiah was told to “speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house.”
- Some people think this message here in chapter 26 is the same as the one recorded in chapters 7-10.
- There are some similarities, though that message is much longer. And in chapter 7 Jeremiah was told to stand at the gate of the temple, not in the court. Furthermore, the reaction to Jeremiah's message is not mentioned at all in Jeremiah 7-10.
- Here in chapter 26 there are many details regarding the reaction of the people and their leaders to Jeremiah's message (cf. 26:8-11).
- Jeremiah preached this message at the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim (26:1). He reminded them that they had heard his message many times and had rejected it.
- Furthermore, other prophets were preaching the same message and they also were ignored (26:1-5, 18, 20).
- Jeremiah's message was not well received because the people were told by the false prophets that God would never let anything happen to the temple or to the city of Jerusalem (26:6).
- The people were outraged that Jeremiah would warn that the temple would be defiled by the heathen Babylonians the same way the ark of the covenant fell into the hands of the Philistines back in I Samuel 4.
- Psalm 78:58-61 says, "For they provoked him to anger with their high places, and moved him to jealousy with their graven images. When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men; And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand."
- This was Jeremiah's message but the people were stiff-necked and refused to listen (26:6; cf. 7:12-14).
JEREMIAH'S ARREST (26:8)
- The people were upset over Jeremiah's preaching and when he was finished they grabbed hold of him and told him he was going to die (26:8, 9).
- The false prophets were popular but Jeremiah was treated like a traitor, deserving of death. The false prophets and the priests were leading the mob (26:11).
- When the princes of Judah heard about the uproar they went over to the temple and sat down in the entrance way to settle the issue (26:10).
- There they were told by the priests and false prophets that Jeremiah should be put to death (26:11). A.C. Gaebelein said, "The priests and the prophets were his accusers before the princes. How often this has been repeated in the history of God's true witnesses! During pagan Rome as well as papal Rome, the false priests and the false prophets hated and despised God's witnesses and persecuted them. It is so in our times" (Annotated Bible).
- After their accusation, Jeremiah was allowed to defend himself, and twice Jeremiah stated that the LORD had sent him to preach to them (26:12, 15).
- Jeremiah reminded them that God's judgment could be averted if they amended their ways and obeyed God (26:13; cf. 7:3-5).
- In verse 14, Jeremiah said to the princes of Judah, "As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you."
- This shows that Jeremiah submitted to governmental authority. Romans 13:1 says, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
- Jeremiah knew by placing himself in their hands, He was placing himself in God's hand because "there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God."
- Nevertheless Jeremiah warned them that if they executed him they would not escape the judgment of God (26:15).
- Our Lord said to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:35 and 36, "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation."
- Numbers 35:33 and 34 says, "So ye shall not pollute the land wherein ye are: for blood it defileth the land: and the land cannot be cleansed of the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it. Defile not therefore the land which ye shall inhabit, wherein I dwell: for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel."
- The USA has been polluted and defiled with the shed blood of innocent babies. 54 million babies have been aborted since abortion was legalized in 1973.
- Proverbs 6:16 and 17 says, "These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood."
- Jeremiah said, "As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you," but he added, "But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city..." (26:14, 15).
JEREMIAH'S ACQUITTAL (26:16-19)
- After hearing Jeremiah defend himself, the princes and the people were convinced that Jeremiah was sent from God and had done nothing wrong (26:16).
- Verse 9 says, "And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD." But verses 11 and 16 indicate it was the priests and the false prophets who were to blame for turning the people against Jeremiah.
- After listening to his defense, the fickle people changed their mind about Jeremiah, realizing that he was preaching what God had told him to preach.
- Unfortunately they refused to turn from their evil ways (26:3). There are many people who respect a preacher like Jeremiah but they still will not get right with God.
- Mark 6:20 says Herod feared John the Baptist, "knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly."
- But Herod eventually had John's head chopped off.
- "Then rose up certain of the elders of the land..." (26:17). These elders arose to Jeremiah's defense and reminded the people of the ministry of Micah the prophet, which was almost a century earlier (26:18, 19).
- Instead of putting Micah to death, good King Hezekiah took Micah's warnings seriously, thereby averting the judgment of God (26:19).
THE ARREST AND EXECUTION OF URIJAH (26:20-24).
- This is the only mention of Urijah the prophet in Scripture. He was from the town of Kirjathjearim, about eight miles west of Jerusalem. Verse 20 tells us his message was the same as Jeremiah's.
- There is no mention of King Jehoiakim's response to Jeremiah's arrest, but verse 21 tells us he was determined to have Urijah put to death.
- Urijah was afraid of the king and so he fled to Egypt (26:21b).
- At that time, King Jehoiakim was allied with Egypt so he was able to send some of his men there to apprehend him and bring him back to Judah (26:22, 23).
- The king slew Urijah with the sword, and then cast his dead body into the graves of the common people (26:23). The way he was killed and buried shows the contempt King Jehoiakim had for God's messenger.
- Verse 24 refers to Ahikam the son of Shaphan, who protected Jeremiah. Ahikam was one of the princes who served under King Josiah. He looked out for Jeremiah and saw to it that he was not killed (26:24).
- After King Zedekiah was deported to Babylon, the king of Babylon made Akikam's son Gedaliah the governor of Judah (40:5).
- Merrill Unger said the reason the account of Urijah's death is inserted here is "to show the grave peril Jeremiah faced and how easily his career could have terminated, except for the LORD'S faithfulness. It also shows the malignant animosity of the king and his ministers to the true prophets of the LORD" (Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament).
Regarding the book of Jeremiah, and applying it to our day, J. Vernon McGee said, "During those last troubled days of the kingdom of Judah, God is saying that the people are wrong, the princes are wrong, the priests are wrong, and the prophets are wrong. Jeremiah isn't even sure of himself; he is only sure that he is giving out the Word of God" (Thru the Bible).