(Today's post by James Rooks)
There is quite an interesting cast of characters involved in Jeremiah 26. You've got the priests, prophets, the 'people', elders, and officials. Jeremiah is sent in with a word of warning … call it a harsh warning, for everyone. God had hand-picked the time, the place, and the exact words for Jeremiah to deliver. Jeremiah went forward boldly and obediently. While the news that Jeremiah delivered would be considered bad news, it was a message from God wrapped in the hope that the people would turn away from their wicked ways and return to Him. It seems obvious that God wasn't just waiting on these poor souls to step out of line so that He could smite them. He was displaying great patience in sending a messenger to them. The mercy in God's character is revealed beautifully here.
Upon delivering the message from the Lord, the priests, prophets and people grab Jeremiah and say “You must die!” A movie quote comes to mind “Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean, it got out of hand really fast.” So yes, things seem to escalate really quickly and not in Jeremiah's favor. However, once the officials arrive, things calm down just a little. The priests plead their case for a death sentence on Jeremiah, but Jeremiah is unmoved. He restates the message that God gave him to deliver and finishes with what we see in verse 14 and 15:
“But as for me, behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, and on this city and on its inhabitants; for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
Two things are clear to me in this exchange.
- Jeremiah feared God more than man.
- Jeremiah had a pretty firm grasp on the fact that God is a God of justice.
Jeremiah didn't respond in anger. He didn't go in packing heat just in case things “escalated quickly.” He went in and did exactly as God had instructed and as a result, he could have both supreme confidence (in God) and compassion for the people who God led him to. I was relieved and thankful to see that the 'message' got through, at least to some, and Jeremiah lived to prophesy another day.
So many good elements in today's text. God's character, mercy, and justice. Jeremiah being bold, obedient, and compassionate. The nature of public opinion and how quickly it can sway for and then against God's messengers. Can any of this be applied today? Yes. Is God's character changing? No. Are we, as Christ's ambassadors, called to be bold, obedient, and compassionate? Yes. Is our culture fickle and quick to turn? Yep.
We live in a time where it would be easy to take on a “bunker” mentality and let the outside world destroy itself. For others, it is easy to make sure we have plan b with us at all times; you know, just in case things escalate. Today's passage is a refreshing reminder that God has called us to go. We can look at Jeremiah's example and know that even if we are punished for our faith, God is just. It is not ours to avenge, but the Lord's.
So will you go?