Chapter twenty-six begins a section where Jeremiah is referred to in the third person, showing that it was probably a compilation Baruch made of Jeremiah’s messages. This chapter took place a few years before the previous chapter, at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign and provides another picture of the real danger Jeremiah faced for preaching God’s message.
Three years before God finally sent Nebuchadnezzar against Judah, God had Jeremiah stand in the Temple courtyard in Jerusalem and warn them of the coming judgment, promising to relent if they would confess their sin and return to him (Jeremiah 26:1-6). If they stayed their course, though, they would become God’s personal example to the nations of his wrath. Jeremiah was careful to relay every word God said. 1
When the religious leaders heard Jeremiah’s message, they vilified him and accused him of misrepresenting God, saying he should be put to death (Jeremiah 26:7-9). In an effort to avert a mob situation, the political leaders set up and held court right there in the Temple (Jeremiah 26:10-11). The religious leaders accused Jeremiah for prophesying against Jerusalem and the Temple. Jeremiah’s defense, though, clarified that, while he did prophesy judgment, he also prophesied no judgment if they would repent (Jeremiah 26:12-15).
In the court’s ruling in his favor, they remembered the prophet Micah who, a hundred years earlier, had promised the same thing to Hezekiah (Jeremiah 26:16-19). Instead of putting him to death, Hezekiah led the people in revival, and they were spared. Jeremiah’s leaders asked why they should not do the same.
Jeremiah 26:20-24 shows that another prophet did not receive the same outcome that Jeremiah did. Uriah, who carried the same message as Jeremiah, tried to live as an expatriate in Egypt to save his life, but he was extradited and put to death by Jehoiakim. It apparently took some influence by a man named Ahikam to keep Jeremiah from meeting the same fate.
- Unlike Jonah who apparently carried a message of only destruction rather than repentance (Jonah 3:4). ↩