The Prophet’s Reprieve

September 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Some Bible commentators believe that Jeremiah 26 contains a second “temple sermon,” the first one being found in Jeremiah Chapter 7, but others believe that Chapter 26 references the same sermon, with an added emphasis on what happened after the sermon. Much of the Book of Jeremiah is non-chronological, so it is tough know for sure.

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

Jeremiah 26:1-3

These verses, and on down through Verse 6, sound like a summary of the temple sermon from Chapter 7, but the intervening chapters have given us more details and the backstory on the operations of Jeremiah’s enemies, and the conflict that existed between him (as a true prophet) and the false prophets. The false prophets did not always shout Jeremiah down. At times they listened to what he said with ears of unbelief, hoping to trap him or twist his words to use against him. They also, at times, mocked him for what he said. The Pharisees behaved similarly with Jesus, trying to trap Him and deliberately taking His Words out of context, especially after they perceived that He had generated enough support among the common people to make it difficult for them to simply put Him to death with impunity.

So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.

Jeremiah 26:7-8

This almost makes it sound like an angry mob scene, and I’m sure there was plenty of hostility, but it was really the commencement of a legal proceeding – what we would call a trial – against Jeremiah. There were four groups of people here: priests (the Temple leaders); (false) prophets; and “all” the people (the crowd). Conspicuously absent from the list are the “princes” – the civil leaders or government office holders or advisers to the king.

Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

Jeremiah 26:9

These are the formal charges, which amounted to a charge of blasphemy based on the fact that Jeremiah pointed out the destruction of Shiloh despite the presence of the Tabernacle there, and said that the same fate would befall Jerusalem despite the presence of the current Temple, where he had just preached and was now being tried.

At this point the princes make their appearance.

When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’s house. Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

Jeremiah 26:10-11

Jeremiah didn’t really “defend himself” with any sort of legal maneuvering or sophisticated argumentation. He knew that whatever he had said when he was prophesying/preaching was just a recitation of what God Himself had told him. He told his accusers to repent or perish. The Babylonian invaders had already invaded the city and deported a vast number of Judeans.

Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.

Jeremiah 26:16

The princes sided with Jeremiah, validating his prophetic credentials, and even the crowd apparently was swayed by his integrity. Of course, nobody really repented, but at least God made it so that public opinion was momentarily opposed to executing His servant.

Another of the Lord’s prophets, Uriah, did not receive the same result.

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

Jeremiah 26:20-24

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  1. […] “Very naughty figs” is a funny expression to us, but to the people who heard Jeremiah say it, it would have sounded like a repetition-for-emphasis of the unfitness of these figs, probably mirroring the unfitness of the people and the leaders who went to – and ministered at – the Temple. […]

  2. […] twisted his words in similar ways to what the Pharisees would try to do to Jesus centuries […]

  3. […] know from what is recorded later on in Jeremiah Chapter 26 that Jeremiah was arrested after the sermon or series of sermons that concludes in Chapter 10. In […]


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