4 March 2016

Jeremiah 26:12-16, 24

“…he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.” (v. 16)

Psalm: Psalm 49


When the officials came to the temple gate to pass judgement it may have been tempting to Jeremiah to tone down his message, leaving out the parts about the destruction of the city and the temple. Maybe he remembered God's instruction not to "hold back a word" (Jeremiah 26:2) because he gave them the full message: judgement and the possibility of deliverance.

Jeremiah recognised the risk he was taking when he acknowledged that he may be put to death (verses 14-15). Despite this, he did not resort to clever arguments or oratorical skill. He simply reminded them that the guilt would be upon them - as his authority came from God.

Now we finally hear the officials who have come to judge between Jeremiah and the priests and prophets. The verdict that Jeremiah should be spared death is not down to his convincing case, we don't even know whether they agreed with his pronouncement. However, they recognised that he truly spoke in the name of God.

It is interesting to note the role of the crowd in this scene. When Jeremiah had finished preaching they were with the priests and the prophets laying hold of Jeremiah and calling for his death (Jeremiah 26:8). Now, they are siding with the officials saying that he should be spared. We cannot know whether these were the same people or not; but it is reminiscent of Christ's trial which we shall shortly remember, with the crying of "Crucify him!" by the crowd (Luke 23:18-25). The difference is that on Good Friday the crowds remained united with the religious leaders of the day.

Jeremiah's final rescuing is at the hand of Ahikam, son of Shaphan. Shaphan was an important figure in the royal court of King Josiah (2 Kings 22) and so no doubt knew Jeremiah. Other members of Shaphan's family appear throughout the story of Jeremiah (for example Jeremiah 36:10; 40:5-16) always providing support to the prophet.

Lest we think Jeremiah's life wasn't in such danger, Jeremiah 26:20-23 provides the account of another prophet, similar to Jeremiah, who did not benefit from a similar deliverance.

To Ponder

  • We often hear politicians and religious leaders speaking publicly about current affairs. How can/do you judge whether or not to accept their view?
  • In what ways can you help and support those who are very publicly serving God?

Bible notes author

The Revd Will Fletcher

Will is a presbyter stationed in the Sheffield Circuit. He has oversight of one multisite church (The Beacon Methodist Church) which is spread over three locations in western Sheffield.