Day 115: The Priests, the Prophets, the Princes and the People

Jeremiah 26:10-16

When the princes of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to Yahweh’s house; and they sat in the entry of the new gate of Yahweh’s house. Then the priests and the prophets spoke to the princes and to all the people, saying, “This man is worthy of death; for he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your ears.”

Then Jeremiah spoke to all the princes and to all the people, saying, “Yahweh sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that you have heard. Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey Yahweh your God’s voice; then Yahweh will relent from the evil that he has pronounced against you. But as for me, behold, I am in your hand. Do with me what is good and right in your eyes. Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves, on this city, and on its inhabitants; for in truth Yahweh has sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”

Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets: “This man is not worthy of death; for he has spoken to us in the name of Yahweh our God.”

This was a horrible set of events for an innocent prophet that merely chose to obey God’s command, but it is a facinating study of God’s design of goverernment. The priests and prophets appear to have convinced the people that Jeremiah should be killed and when the princes came to investigate the issue, it appears that the people switched sides and with the princes determined that Jeremiah wasn’t doing anything wrong.

It’s wonderful to see Jeremiah stand strong in the face of opposition. He even said that they should decide for themselves what to do with him, but he made it clear that he was innocent because God had told him to say these words. Notice how his honest speaking to the government officials helped to convince them to do things differently. This appears to be an illustration of a proverb. Let’s look at that:

Proverbs 12:6

The words of the wicked are about lying in wait for blood,
but the speech of the upright rescues them.

Can you imagine what would have happened had the priest, prophet and prince been the same person? It seems quite likely that Jeremiah would have been killed, but because the government was divided into different branches, the princes were able to hear what Jeremiah said and decide for themselves. The people actually changed sides as a result. This idea of going back and reconsidering things is also in proverbs.

Proverbs 18:17

He who pleads his cause first seems right;
until another comes and questions him.

Even as far as Judah had deteriorated as a nation, God still had powerful traditions built in that He could use to protect Jeremiah. It may seem like everything is lost, but only God can see everything. It may very well be that God is preparing to bring salvation anyway. This is also evidence that religion can go very bad and actually be used to kill the innocent. The prophets and the priests were clearly the ones who were wrong here. The wicked princes were still used by God to stop the false prophets and priests from doing harm.

Day 75: The Mercy of a Serious God

Jeremiah 15:15-21

Yahweh, you know.
Remember me, visit me,
and avenge me of my persecutors.
You are patient, so don’t take me away.
Know that for your sake I have suffered reproach.
Your words were found,
and I ate them.
Your words were to me a joy and the rejoicing of my heart,
for I am called by your name, Yahweh, God of Armies.
I didn’t sit in the assembly of those who make merry and rejoice.
I sat alone because of your hand,
for you have filled me with indignation.
Why is my pain perpetual,
and my wound incurable,
which refuses to be healed?
Will you indeed be to me as a deceitful brook,
like waters that fail?

Therefore Yahweh says,
“If you return, then I will bring you again,
that you may stand before me;
and if you take out the precious from the vile,
you will be as my mouth.
They will return to you,
but you will not return to them.
I will make you to this people a fortified bronze wall.
They will fight against you,
but they will not prevail against you;
for I am with you to save you
and to deliver you,” says Yahweh.
“I will deliver you out of the hand of the wicked,
and I will redeem you out of the hand of the terrible.”

It appears to me that God accused Jeremiah of being undependable. He’s definitely the One to know. Even though Jeremiah did speak God’s words and separated himself from the people, he must have been influenced by them. This is exactly why it is so personal to me. I have this very same sin in my life. I do speak the truth, but am often influenced by the thoughts of those to whom I am speaking. This perverts my attitude. What the Bible actually tells me to do is to have a clean separation between the ideas of the world and the ideas of God. I should never be allowing myself to think as they do. Could it be that Jeremiah’s complaint to God exposed the fact that he was beginning to think that he really was worthy of people’s hatred? It appears that, by this, Jeremiah was allowing the thoughts of others to influence his. The truth was that Jeremiah didn’t deserve their hatred and that they were completely wrong and would soon be discovering that fact. What they thought about Jeremiah only made it worse for them and that’s it. Let’s look at what God tells us as Christians now:

James 4:4

You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

God calls friendship with the world “hostility toward God”. We shouldn’t being going along with the world’s ways at all. God made this clear to Jeremiah in His response, but He also made it clear that if Jeremiah was willing to stay on track, God would make him like a wall that no one would be able to penetrate. The Creator of the Universe personally vowed to be Jeremiah’s protector even though Jeremiah had shown himself to be less than worthy. That is mercy. I find that God is more serious about sin than we are, but He uses it to express the depth of His mercy toward those who put their trust in Him.