Then certain of the elders of the land rose up, and spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying, “Micah the Morashtite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah; and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, ‘Yahweh of Armies says:
“ ‘Zion will be plowed as a field,
and Jerusalem will become heaps,
and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest.’
Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Didn’t he fear Yahweh, and entreat the favor of Yahweh, and Yahweh relented of the disaster which he had pronounced against them? We would commit great evil against our own souls that way!”
There was also a man who prophesied in Yahweh’s name, Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath Jearim; and he prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. When Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men and all the princes heard his words, the king sought to put him to death; but when Uriah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt. Then Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him, into Egypt; and they fetched Uriah out of Egypt, and brought him to Jehoiakim the king, who killed him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people.
But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, so that they didn’t give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.
It’s interesting that the Bible doesn’t say that the majority of the leaders got together and took a vote as to whether or not to kill Jeremiah. All it says is that “certain of the elders of the land rose up, and spoke.” In fact, God also tells us here that if it wasn’t for “the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan,” Jeremiah would have been given “into the hand of the people to put him to death.”
This demonstrates the power of a few wise leaders. Even if the majority is wrong, a single wise leader can change the course of history. God didn’t use a vote to change the direction of the people. He used the wise words of what appears to be a small minority. This demonstrates that righteousness doesn’t come from voting, but from those who understand the truth of the situation.
In this case, the wise leaders reminded the people of their own history. It would be wrong to kill someone for prophesying against Jerusalem and Israel because good prophets had said things like this before. Hezekiah was one of the greatest kings in Judah and he didn’t kill the prophet Micah when he warned them about the same thing. Instead, the king humbled himself and prayed that God would change His mind. It appears that the second argument was that another prophet had already prophesied the very same thing. His name was Uriah and he had already been killed by the king. Jews know that the word of two witnesses establishes a fact and Jeremiah was the second witness. This was a very serious warning and it appears to have affected the people enough to stop their plans to kill Jeremiah.
These events remind us of some encouraging things. You don’t have to be in the majority to be right and to change public opinion. It also shows us that God is capable of saving us from something horrible even when it doesn’t look possible.