Jeremiah 26



Jeremiah Threatened With Death (26:1–24)

1–6 The events recorded in this chapter took place “early” in Jehoiakim’s reign—probably in the first year. Therefore the irrevocable judgment of the previous chapter had not yet been pronounced; there was still time for the people to repent.

Verses 2–6 are a summary of the temple speech recorded in Jeremiah 7:1–20. The point of this present chapter is to recount what had happened after Jeremiah delivered that message: he was threatened with death. Jeremiah had said that if the people did not repent, the Lord would make the temple like Shiloh (verse 6); that is, He would destroy the temple just as Shiloh had been destroyed (see Jeremiah 7:12–15 and comment).

7–11 When Jeremiah finished that message, the priests, the (false) prophets and all the people seized him and said that he must die (verse 8). They charged Jeremiah with false prophecy, which was punishable by death (Deuteronomy 18:20). The only way a prophet could defend himself against such a charge was by having his prophecy come true (Deuteronomy 18:21–22)—and Jeremiah’s prophecy wouldn’t come true for another twenty years!

This charge against Jeremiah then came to the attention of the officials of Judah (verse 10); they were the ones responsible for administering justice. The priests and false prophets who brought the charge had their own reasons for wanting to get rid of Jeremiah: he had been attacking them; he was interfering with their livelihood. The “officials,” on the other hand, would judge more fairly.

12–15 Jeremiah defended himself before the officials. He said he had indeed been sent by God (verse 12), in contrast to the false prophets whom God did not send (see Jeremiah 23:21). If he was put to death, the people of Judah would be guilty of shedding innocent blood (verse 15) and would thereby bring even greater judgment upon themselves.

16–19 The officials and all the people then decided Jeremiah should not be put to death (verse 16). The people were fickle: first they had opposed Jeremiah (verse 8); now they were supporting him.

Some elders, men respected for their age and wisdom, quoted from the prophet Micah, who had prophesied a century earlier during the reign of Hezekiah (verses 17–18). He too (together with Isaiah) had prophesied that Jerusalem would be destroyed if the people did not repent of their sins (Micah 3:8–12); as a result, Hezekiah repented and Jerusalem was saved (2 Kings 19:32–36). If Micah had been heeded, should not Jeremiah be heeded? If Micah had been proved correct, might not Jeremiah be proved correct also?86

20–23 The point of these verses is to show how an ungodly king (Jehoiakim) treated the Lord’s prophets, in contrast to the way a godly king (Hezekiah) treated them.

24 Ahikam was a respected leader who supported Jeremiah. With the wiser and older citizens taking Jeremiah’s side, his enemies could not prevail and Jeremiah was set free.

Let us, too, avoid being swayed back and forth like the common people in Jeremiah’s day (Ephesians 4:14); rather, let us search diligently for the truth and ask God for the wisdom to act on it rightly (James 1:5–8).