Jeremiah 26 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
Tensions are rising. We have seen in earlier chapters the priests are not happy with Jeremiah. It may be because the priests were profiting from the idolatry of the people. But the anger from the priests toward Jeremiah started as early as Jeremiah one. Read the following verses the show the mounting anger of the priests against Jeremiah the truth teller from God. Jer. 1:16; 2:8, 26; 4:8-9; 5:31;6:13–14;7:22-24; 8:1-2, 10-11; 11:21-23!; 13:13-14; 19:1-15;20:3ff; 23:1-12, 33-40.
Not only these specific verses call out the priests but Jeremiah is preaching against idolatry, empty worship, terrible leadership, and horrible ungodly living which are subtle (and not to subtle) attacks on the priests. God, through Jeremiah, is going straight to the problem, mincing no words. So, by implication, these priests are hearing that God is not happy with them and threatening judgment upon them.
Here in chapter 26, we read that God gave Jeremiah these words so when he begins speaking he says, “Thus says the Lord . . .” You might imagine that God’s people would stop and listen when they hear “Thus says the Lord”. But no. Jeremiah is speaking these words in the house of the Lord. You might think no one would want to boldly sin in God’s house. But no again.
So, as you read verses 8ff, you should be utterly dismayed. “8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die! 9 Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?”
These priests had enough of God’s word. These priests fulfilled the words earlier in chapter 610 “To whom shall I speak and give warning that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.”
So Jeremiah appears before the officials for speaking God’s word “against this city”. Jeremiah does not back down. Read vs. 12-15. Jeremiah tells them to repent and obey God’s voice which is exactly what he has been saying for 23 years. He ends by saying do with me what you want. But if you kill me you are adding to your judgment. The term “innocent blood” meant something to these people. They knew God would avenge innocent blood.
So this time Jeremiah is rescued, but Jeremiah can read the handwriting on the wall (to borrow a phrase from Daniel). He is saved this time but Jeremiah’s time will come when he will be punished.
This is a brazen attack against Jeremiah. But it is actually a frontal attack against God and His authority rather than Jeremiah. Sin is always primarily against God. Sin takes aim against God. First and foremost, sin is treason against our Creator.
Very few of us like opposition. Most of us like to feel loved, respected, and valued. Jeremiah did not get such positive vibes from his community. There is nothing wrong with wanting acceptance, approval, and love. The question is, what are you willing to do to get approval?
You can learn to manipulate others. You can learn to flatter. You can watch how others gain approval and work the same magic. Or you can stand with the truth, with justice, and with righteousness and be kind, caring, and loving. You may find that you receive push back. No one can tell you when or where to speak up. But at times, we must.
Now look at those who would not listen. The words repeated over and over again in the book of Jeremiah are listen and obey. In verse 3 we see the reason God is so patient, “3 It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.” After decades of watching people reject His word, God is still offering hope. He is still willing to extend grace. God’s love and mercy is beyond our understanding.
When I think of this I realize how little I know of God’s patience and love. I know so little of how deeply He loves and how endless is His grace. Why would God still offer hope when He knows people will reject His words with such vigor and obstinacy? And why does He offer patience to me? I think of all the people, teachers, professors, pastors, leaders who have helped me, encouraged me, rebuked me, loved me, listened to me, gave me money, welcomed me into their homes, let me preach to them, and I could go on and on. And I can’t be patient with others, or listen to them, our love them? What does God think about me when I do that?
I need to soften my heart and listen to God. I need to listen to when I hear the Bible read, preached, and taught. I may judge those who rejected Jeremiah. I need to first look at my own heart and all the ways I don’t listen to God. While those priests and officials were clearly wrong, the only one that I can change now is me. When we finish this chapter and feel the disgust rising within, let’s turn that disgust toward ourselves, repent, and turn to our Lord in faith.