In this week’s lesson, we continue our studies on having courage in the face of threats.  We are going to be taking a look at Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet of God in our lesson this week when his great threat was his very own people.  Our lesson this week is being taught from Jeremiah 26:1, 4-15.  (The book skips a couple of verses but I definitely recommend that you do not skip those verses.)

The Prophet Jeremiah

Before we dive into our lesson for this week, I do want to share some insight on Jeremiah.  Jeremiah prophesied in the southern kingdom during the reigns of three kings of Judah – Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah – according to scripture (Jer. 1:1-3).  (There was actually another king that reigned for only three months between Josiah and Johoiakim; he was named Jehoahaz.  His name is not mentioned in the scripture I referenced above because Jeremiah possibly did not prophesy during those three months.)

Under the reign of Josiah, we are told in scripture that he did what was right in the sight of God (2 Kgs. 22:1-2) as he worked to restore Judah back to true worship of the Lord after the evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon prior to him.  In fact, Manasseh’s reign was so wicked and evil that even though Josiah had worked to restore true worship in Jerusalem, God did not turn away from His wrath for Judah (2 Kgs. 23:26-27).

Jehoiakim was made king by Pharaoh Necho – this Pharaoh killed and defeated Josiah and he also took away Jehoahaz to Egypt (2 Kgs. 23:34).  Jehoiakim reigned for 11 years and we are told that unlike his father, Josiah, Jehoiakim did evil in the sight of God (2 Kgs. 23:37).

So, I share all of this info to show you just how turbulent of times that Jeremiah prophesied through.  He has earned the nickname over the years of the “weeping (crying) prophet” because his prophecies to Judah were essentially doom and gloom due to their wickedness.  Here in our lesson today, we are actually going to see just how far in wickedness the southern kingdom had fallen compared to when we last studied about the southern kingdom during the reign of Hezekiah, nearly 80 years prior to Jehoiakim’s reign.

Jeremiah’s Word From God

So, our lesson opens up with word coming from the Lord to Jeremiah at the start of Jehoiakim’s reign (v. 1).  God directs Jeremiah to stand in the courtyard of the Lord’s house, which was the temple, and speak to the people with the hope of persuading the people to turn away from their wickedness (vss. 2-3).  As I had just mentioned a few moments ago, the Lord’s wrath was kindled against Jerusalem because of the people’s wickedness.  God was still clearly desiring for the people to repent and turn to Him and was, yet again, giving them another opportunity.

The next few verses cover the message that God gives to Jeremiah to deliver to the people.  Scripture says, ‘Thus says the Lord: “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to heed the words of My servants the prophets whom I sent to you, both rising up early and sending them (but you have not heeded), then I will make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth (vss. 4-6).” ’ ”

God had been sending prophets to the people diligently in the hopes that they would heed (listen to) the prophets.  The problem was that the people were totally ignoring the prophets that God was sending to them.  So, Jeremiah’s message was more of a warning to them ‒ God is seeking their repentance but He is also warning them what’s to come should they not repent from their ways.

The Lord warns that He would make Jerusalem like Shiloh and a curse to all the nations of the earth.  Shiloh is a reference to the capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel.  By this point in time, Israel, the northern kingdom, had been defeated, conquered, and destroyed by the Assyrians.  So God is warning the southern kingdom that should they not repent, Jerusalem would be destroyed.  Now, of course, we know that Jerusalem indeed was destroyed by the Babylonians which was something that Ezekiel and Jeremiah witnessed.

The people respond

So, how would the people respond to the word of God that was delivered to them by Jeremiah?  Their response, we will see, was a very vicious response and again, I want to let you know that their response tells you so much about the people and how far Judah had fallen into wickedness.

We are told that those who were present in the courtyard of the temple to hear Jeremiah’s message included priests, prophets, and all the people (v. 7).  When we see it say “all the people”, let us understand that this does not mean literally every single person, but most likely it was a fairly large crowd gathered.  

Now, after Jeremiah had finished delivering the message to this group of people, we are told that they all moved and seized Jeremiah and were ready to kill him!  Scripture explicitly states that those that seized Jeremiah, again, included the same priests, prophets, and all the people!  Imagine being this angry at hearing the word of God that you’re moved to the point of killing the messenger!

As genuine believers it would be incredibly hard for us to understand the anger that would drive someone to move with such anger.  Jesus said that the world would hate those of the Lord because they are not of the world (John 15:19).  He also said, “ If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin (John 15:22).”

Though Jeremiah lived well before Christ, the principles that Jesus spoke of were still certainly true in Jeremiah’s day.  The people were angry at Jeremiah because the message he spoke of pointed out their sin and I believe they recognized that they were in the wrong – this is what drove their outrage.  A lot of folks, when their wrong has been pointed out to them, they will deny as hard as they can because it makes them feel better about their wrongdoing.

I want to also point out to you that all the people that moved with this anger towards Jeremiah were also moving with anger against the Lord, whether they realized it or not.  Jesus, again, said, “He who hates Me hates My Father also (John 15:23).”  They were upset with a prophet that the Lord sent and was ready to kill him.  Their hatred towards Jeremiah is a reminder of the same kind of hatred I spoke of in an earlier lesson when we saw Ahab consider Elijah to be his enemy.

Jeremiah’s unrelenting courage

We then see that the princes of Judah had heard what Jeremiah had prophesied and came up from the king’s house (v. 10).  So, Jeremiah was now standing before the princes, priests, prophets, and all the people and this unrelenting crowd seeks Jeremiah’s death before the princes (v. 11).  I can’t imagine the sort of stress that Jeremiah may have been feeling in that moment.  Let us remember that the people who have seized Jeremiah are his very own brethren!  

I don’t believe Jeremiah was of the tribe of Judah but was likely of the tribe of Benjamin who dwelt with the Jews in Judah.  We are told that he was the son of Hilkiah  who lived in the land of Benjamin (Jer. 1:1).  From such a crowd, I believe that most folks would have caved but Jeremiah was a man of faith.  Jeremiah faced this unrelenting crowd with his unrelenting faith, perseverance, and courage.

When they questioned him as to why he prophesied against the temple and the city, Jeremiah boldly responded that God sent him to do so (v. 12).  He stands before the princes, priests, prophets, and all the people and tells them to “amend” their ways, their doings, and be obedient to the voice of God (v. 13).

Just how bold and courageous was Jeremiah?  We may call him the crying prophet but he looks these folks in their eyes and tells them, “As for me, here I am, in your hand; do with me as seems good and proper to you.  But know for certain that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood on yourselves (vss. 14-15).”  Jeremiah was definitely innocent; he was simply doing the work of God.

Now, outside of the scripture for a lesson this week, we are told that the princes tell the priests, prophets, and all the people that they chose not to kill Jeremiah because Jeremiah had spoken in the name of the Lord (Jer. 26:16).  Out of all of this, I just find it fascinating that people who would’ve considered themselves to be priests and prophets made up the crowd that sought to kill Jeremiah.  It reminds me of the religious leaders that Jesus faced in His day.

When we face unrelenting pressure, regardless of who and where it is coming from, we as the children of God should meet such pressure with unrelenting faith and courage.  Our faith in the Lord is able to meet and overcome every obstacle and every challenge that we face.  We have to be very careful because the pressure to make us cave on our faith can come from the stranger that we don’t know, but at the same time, it can come from those who are closest and dearest to us.  Yet, I tell you, regardless of where it comes from, let us take a page out of Jeremiah’s book and be equally, if not more unrelenting in our faith.


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