No one, including me, likes to be told they are not thinking correctly and what they are doing is completely wrong. Our first thought is rebellion. “You don’t tell me what I don’t know.” To make radical, life or death changes requires submission to an unchanging God of love who wants His best for our lives. Why do we fight against His best? Why do we rebel against the One who loves us most?
This chapter should be studied in connection with chapter 7, because they both deal with Jeremiah’s courageous sermon given in the temple. The sermon is summarized in 7:3–7, and note the emphasis on hearing the Word of God (see 25:3–7). Jeremiah preached exactly what God commanded him to preach and didn’t alter the message in order to please the people. The false prophets preached what the people wanted to hear, but Jeremiah preached what the people needed to hear.
All of God’s prophets had one thing in common: they spoke only what God said. Truth was told at all costs. God’s prophets’ lives were threatened with death with every word spoken. Why? Truth hurts until truth heals.
Jeremiah 26, The Message
Change the Way You’re Living
At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this Message came from God to Jeremiah:
2-3 “God’s Message: Stand in the court of God’s Temple and preach to the people who come from all over Judah to worship in God’s Temple. Say everything I tell you to say to them. Don’t hold anything back. Just maybe they’ll listen and turn back from their bad lives. Then I’ll reconsider the disaster that I’m planning to bring on them because of their evil behavior.
4-6 “Say to them, ‘This is God’s Message: If you refuse to listen to me and live by my teaching that I’ve revealed so plainly to you, and if you continue to refuse to listen to my servants the prophets that I tirelessly keep on sending to you—but you’ve never listened! Why would you start now?—then I’ll make this Temple a pile of ruins like Shiloh, and I’ll make this city nothing but a bad joke worldwide.’”
7-9 Everybody there—priests, prophets, and people—heard Jeremiah preaching this Message in the Temple of God. When Jeremiah had finished his sermon, saying everything God had commanded him to say, the priests and prophets and people all grabbed him, yelling, “Death! You’re going to die for this! How dare you preach—and using God’s name!—saying that this Temple will become a heap of rubble like Shiloh and this city be wiped out without a soul left in it!”
All the people mobbed Jeremiah right in the Temple itself.
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10 Officials from the royal court of Judah were told of this. They left the palace immediately and came to God’s Temple to investigate. They held court on the spot, at the New Gate entrance to God’s Temple.
11 The prophets and priests spoke first, addressing the officials, but also the people: “Death to this man! He deserves nothing less than death! He has preached against this city—you’ve heard the evidence with your own ears.”
12-13 Jeremiah spoke next, publicly addressing the officials before the crowd: “God sent me to preach against both this Temple and city everything that’s been reported to you. So do something about it! Change the way you’re living, change your behavior. Listen obediently to the Message of your God. Maybe God will reconsider the disaster he has threatened.
14-15 “As for me, I’m at your mercy—do whatever you think is best. But take warning: If you kill me, you’re killing an innocent man, and you and the city and the people in it will be liable. I didn’t say any of this on my own. God sent me and told me what to say. You’ve been listening to God speak, not Jeremiah.”
16 The court officials, backed by the people, then handed down their ruling to the priests and prophets: “Acquittal. No death sentence for this man. He has spoken to us with the authority of our God.”
17-18 Then some of the respected leaders stood up and addressed the crowd: “In the reign of Hezekiah king of Judah, Micah of Moresheth preached to the people of Judah this sermon: This is God-of-the-Angel-Armies’ Message for you:
“‘Because of people like you,
Zion will be turned back into farmland,
Jerusalem end up as a pile of rubble,
and instead of the Temple on the mountain,
a few scraggly scrub pines.’
19 “Did King Hezekiah or anyone else in Judah kill Micah of Moresheth because of that sermon? Didn’t Hezekiah honor him and pray for mercy from God? And then didn’t God call off the disaster he had threatened?
“Friends, we’re at the brink of bringing a terrible calamity upon ourselves.”
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20-23 (At another time there had been a man, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who had preached similarly in the name of God. He preached against this same city and country just as Jeremiah did. When King Jehoiakim and his royal court heard his sermon, they determined to kill him. Uriah, afraid for his life, went into hiding in Egypt. King Jehoiakim sent Elnathan son of Achbor with a posse of men after him. They brought him back from Egypt and presented him to the king. And the king had him killed. They dumped his body unceremoniously outside the city.
24 But in Jeremiah’s case, Ahikam son of Shaphan stepped forward and took his side, preventing the mob from lynching him.)
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
Stand for Truth. Even when life gets dicey and hard, keep standing for Truth. King Jehoiakim had executed Uriah the prophet after he told God’s Truth and then fled to Egypt. In contrast, Jeremiah had stayed in the land of Judah and even had ministered in the most prominent places of the temple!
Speak the Truth prompted by God and His God’s love within us. “…speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
Stand in the Gap. God sent people of influence to stand in the gap for Jeremiah. God does that until His truth is told, considered, and understood with hearts ready to obey. Look for those who believe to stand in the gap for you. Stand in the gap with those who speak Truth.
Need help to stand? Here are some of my favorite “stand firm” scriptures…
“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
1 Peter 5:9
“But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”
1 Corinthians 15:58
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”
“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
1 Corinthians 16:13
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.”
“Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.”
I know that you are greater still than our real enemy, the prince of darkness, that you threw out of heaven. As you commanded us to “go and teach;” help us to be bold as Peter, brave like Jeremiah, full of wisdom like Paul as we stand for Truth, while living your Truth for the world to see. Help us to stand with others telling your Truth. Show the world that you live in us, though not perfect, we are perfectly forgiven and free to love like you. Yes, may you be seen in me, dear Jesus. May your glory be seen in me.
In Jesus Name, Amen