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Bible Commentaries
Jeremiah 26

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-24

Jeremiah 26:1-24 through 30.

In the twenty-second chapter of Jeremiah the Lord had ordered Jeremiah to go to the king's house, Zedekiah, and prophesy unto him. So these prophecies were those that Jeremiah gave to Zedekiah who was the last of the kings of Israel prior to the Babylonian captivity. And as he is speaking there in Zedekiah's court, he is bringing up prophecies that the Lord had given him in previous years to other of the kings. And so as we get into chapter 26, as he is giving this message in the court of king Zedekiah, he tells him that,

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah that the word of the LORD came to him, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the LORD'S house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD'S house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; and diminish not a word ( Jeremiah 26:1-2 ):

Many times I think that we have a tendency to diminish from the Word of God. There are a lot of people today who have taken issue with some of the subjects in the scriptures. And because they have taken issue with them and the subjects have become rather controversial, there is a tendency on many parts to seek to diminish from what God has said. But I think that it is a dangerous thing to diminish or seek to diminish the message of God because we oftentimes then give people a sense of false security.

Now, nobody really dislikes the subject of eternal punishment more than I. And yet, it would be absolutely derelict of me to diminish from what the Lord has said in the Word concerning the fate of the sinners. To give them a false hope, a false comfort.

And so God is saying to Jeremiah, "Now look, you say everything that I tell you to say and don't soft-pedal it, Jeremiah. Don't diminish from the Word." Now there are two things we are really told not to do. We're not to add to it, nor are we to take away from it. When God gave His law to Moses, He gave the warning, "Now be careful that you don't add to it or that you don't take away from the words of this book." And, of course, when the final book of Revelation was written and God was sealing up His revelation, He said, "Any man who adds to the words of this book, to him shall be added the curses that are in the book. And if any man shall take away from the words of this book, his name shall be taken out of the book of life" ( Revelation 22:18-19 ). So that is how firm God is in His desire that we speak His Word plainly as He has declared it. Not seeking to add to it. Not seeking to take away or to diminish from it. And so the Lord is warning Jeremiah, "Now look, don't diminish a word."

If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings ( Jeremiah 26:3 ).

Now God is saying, "Lay it on them. Don't diminish it. It may be that they will hearken unto what I have said." And always the purpose of God giving His message is that people might have the opportunity to respond. You say, "Well, doesn't God know if they're going to respond or not?" Yes, God does know if they're going to respond or not. "Well, if God knows they're not going to respond, then why does God speak to them?" Because God wants to be righteous when He judges. And no one will be able to stand before God and say, "Well, I didn't know or I never heard or I didn't have a chance." So God says, "Don't diminish a word in order that they might hearken." If they will hearken, if at this point they would turn they would be saved. In order that, God said, "I might repent Me of the evil which I purpose to do."

Now, we have to use human words to describe the actions of God. And so when we speak of God repenting, that's because we have just the limitation of the choice of human language in order to describe divine actions. But even in this word itself in the original, the root of it is to sigh. And it is sort of a sigh of relief. If the people will turn to Me, then God can sigh in relief for not having to bring the judgment upon them. How many times I've sighed when I've seen the change in the attitude of my children. "Oh, dad, I'm sorry." All right. You know you feel good. Now that they come with that attitude you can deal with them. You don't have to spank them or you don't have to punish them. They come with a repentant attitude asking forgiveness and it causes you to say, "Ahhh," you love it. You're thankful that you're not going to have to bring punishment upon them. And so God is saying, "Don't diminish your words. Speak the word that I tell you. Don't diminish it in order that they might turn and repent in order that I can sigh for relief of not having to bring this punishment upon them."

God said to the prophet Ezekiel, "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die. For behold, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, saith the Lord" ( Ezekiel 33:11 ). How it grieves the heart of God to see the wicked die. Gives them every opportunity to turn and to know Him and to love Him. Turn, turn, for why will you die? God is not willing that any should perish. God has extended His patience, His long-suffering, His grace to man. And so God sends the prophet, even after it's really too late. "But still go and speak. If so be they will hearken and turn every man from his evil way that I may sigh for the evil which I've purposed to do unto them because of their evil doings."

Now that evil that God has purposed, of course, is allowing the king of Babylon to come and to destroy them. It isn't evil in the sense that God is doing an evil thing. Nor is it repentance and God's pardon that God is repenting or that He has done something. For the Bible tells us that "God is not a man that He should repent nor the son of man that He should change. Hath he not spoken and shall He not do it?" ( 1 Samuel 15:29 ) God said through the prophet, "Behold, I am the Lord God, I change not" ( Malachi 3:6 ). The immutability of God.

Yet the grace and the mercy of God. God said through Isaiah, "Did not I create evil?" And that is the evil judgments that come to pass against the people, but not evil in the sense that God is in any way in league or in harmony with evil.

And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the LORD; If you will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but you have not hearkened; Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the eaRuth ( Jeremiah 26:4-6 ).

Now, Shiloh was the place where the tabernacle was first placed when they came into the land, but Shiloh now has become a desolate ruin. And Jeremiah the prophet is saying, "If you don't hearken to God, He's going to make this place, the temple here, just a desolate ruin like Shiloh is." Well, the priests got very upset with Jeremiah at this point because he is talking now about their temple and he's saying that the curse of God is going to be upon it. It's going to be made a desolate area.

So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of his speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die ( Jeremiah 26:7-8 ).

So the people following now the inspiration and the leading of the priests and the prophets grabbed Jeremiah and were determined to put him to death because he dared to speak against the house of God, declaring that the temple was going to be destroyed. And they said,

Why have you prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? ( Jeremiah 26:9 )

So he's accused of speaking against the temple and against the city as he pronounces the judgments that God is going to bring upon them.

And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. Now when the princes of Judah ( Jeremiah 26:9-10 )

Now you've got a third group. You see, you have the prophet and the priests and they've grabbed him and said, "We're going to kill you." And the people joining with the prophet and the priests, "Yes, let's kill him. He has spoken against the temple and he has spoken against the city."

So the princes of Judah,

heard these things, then they came up from the king's house ( Jeremiah 26:10 )

They heard that there's a tumult going on down there in the temple. They've grabbed Jeremiah. Come. And these princes come rushing from the king's palace.

unto the house of the LORD, and they sat down in the entry of the new gate of the LORD'S house. Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears. Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying ( Jeremiah 26:9-12 ),

And he's ignoring now the prophet and priests, but he turns to the princes and the people. He said,

The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that you have heard. Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him [or sigh] of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. As for me, behold, I am in your hands: do with me what seems right to do ( Jeremiah 26:12-14 ).

God sent me to say these things. Now turn from your ways, your wickedness, in order that God might not have to bring this judgment on you. But I'm here as a messenger of God. God has sent me with this message. Now I'm in your hands, do what you want. You want to kill me, go ahead. Your business.

But know this for certain, that if you put me to death, you will surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves, and upon this city, and upon the inhabitants thereof: for of a truth the LORD hath sent me unto you to speak all these words in your ears. Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Jehovah our God ( Jeremiah 26:15-16 ).

Now notice how fickle the people are. They're ready to put him to death with the prophets and the priests because he has spoken against this house and against this city. There is that Latin phrase, "vocus populus est vocus Dios"-the voice of the people is the voice of God. That's not true. The crowd many times makes terrible mistakes. And here the people are siding with the prophets and priests. "Let's put him to death." The princes come down, the people say with the princes, "Hey, no, he shouldn't be put to death. He has spoken in the name of God."

Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and they spoke to all the assembly of the people, saying, Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and he spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. Now did Hezekiah king of Judah and all of Judah put him to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls ( Jeremiah 26:17-19 ).

So they're saying, "Look, this has happened before in the time of Hezekiah. This guy Micah, remember, he came along and he spoke that God's going to bring desolation on this city. And rather than killing Micah, they hearkened and they repented." And then they said,

And there was also that man, Urijah from Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah ( Jeremiah 26:20 ):

You remember Urijah did the same thing.

And when Jehoiakim the king, with all of his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and he fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent unto Egypt, some men, Elnathan, and certain men that were with him and they got him out of Egypt. And brought him to Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless, the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death ( Jeremiah 26:21-24 ).

So some of the older men said, "Hey, this has happened before and Hezekiah didn't put him to death." They said, "Yeah, but it happened before and Jehoiakim did put him to death." So there was this division. But the prince Ahikam sort of prevailed and Jeremiah was spared death from the hands of the false prophets, the priests and the people.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Jeremiah 26". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/jeremiah-26.html. 2014.
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