When the army of the Chaldeans had withdrawn from Jerusalem for fear of Pharaoh’s army, then Jeremiah went out of Jerusalem to go into the land of Benjamin, to receive his portion there, in the middle of the people. When he was in Benjamin’s gate, a captain of the guard was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he seized Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “You are defecting to the Chaldeans!”
Then Jeremiah said, “That is false! I am not defecting to the Chaldeans.”
But he didn’t listen to him; so Irijah seized Jeremiah, and brought him to the princes. The princes were angry with Jeremiah, and struck him, and put him in prison in the house of Jonathan the scribe; for they had made that the prison.
It’s pretty obvious that this passage is relevant today. They had mobs back in Jeremiah’s day but they were nothing like the ones we have today. With the presence of world-wide social media, an accusation can turn into condemnation in a matter of seconds. I happen to live in an area in the United States in which this has happened multiple times in the last 20 years. In Jeremiah’s case, he was merely leaving town at a time when he could do business outside of the city. This appears to have been the business of acquiring the land that God told him to purchase. While he was doing that, he was falsely accused of attempting to defect to Babylon. Instead of being given a proper trial, they simply kidnapped him, beat him and locked him in jail.
There’s a lot of things for us to learn from these events. First of all, doing God’s will doesn’t always mean that you won’t be opposed or stay out of trouble. In this case, Jeremiah was completely obedient to God, yet he ended up being accused, beat and thrown in jail! Was this a sign that he was outside of God’s will? Absolutely not, but isn’t that what we think sometimes? We need to remember events like these when we go through trouble. We especially need to remember them when we are tempted to accuse other Christians of sin when things don’t go well for them. The Bible clearly illustrates the fact that good people often suffer persecution and it should be very obvious that this continues in our cultures today. Let’s remember what Jesus told us:
Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude and mock you, and throw out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.
Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven, for their fathers did the same thing to the prophets.
Another important thing to pay attention to is that government officials and police have a very serious responsibility to follow the law and to not jump to conclusions based on appearances. Israeli law clearly stated that no one was to be accused without a proper trial, yet that’s exactly what happened to Jeremiah here. Ancient Israeli law actually forms the bases for our laws for trials today. Israel had these very laws already but they abandoned them in their own fear and passion. Any of us in positions of authority have the ability to do this whether we are managers, parents or older siblings. Let’s learn from this and stand up for justice. Let’s allow God to show us the facts before we jump to conclusions. Let’s also remember that social media is often used to slander people. This is a sin that actually keeps people from heaven. As I have mentioned before it’s right up there with all the other big ones like murder and sexual sins. Christians should have nothing to do with social media slander but should be a force of righteousness that moves people toward the proper methods of justice.