Now it happened, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people seized him, saying, “You will surely die! (Jeremiah 26:8)
Several years ago, I helped my father remove some old brush piles. When I jabbed one of the mounds of limbs with a pitchfork I felt something sting—suddenly, I was being attacked by a swarm of angry hornets I had disturbed! Their assault was relentless and painful. The black devils chased me all the way to the house, as I slapped them off me. Similarly, when the man of God speaks the truth of God, he inevitably will gouge some who will react with anger. There are those who hate the truth and all associated with it. Jeremiah experienced this repeatedly in his ministry and we see an example of it in the twenty sixth chapter of his prophecy.
The passage opens with the Word of God coming down as a burden laid on the shoulders of the prophet that he is charged to unload on the wicked nation (v.1). He is not to soften the blow by even a word (v.2), but be faithful to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, by the help of God. The message will be a pitchfork jabbed into a hornets’ nest. The intent, however, is not to do harm, but to hopefully lead the people to repentance (v.3), by clearing the brush pile of sin from the land. Should they fail to heed the warning, calamity would befall them (v.4-6). Jeremiah knew that their track record for repentance had not been a good one (v.5b). Their response, however, was not his business. What he must do is deliver the mail, whether they liked the contents or not. This he did (v.7).
Their reaction was predictable. It is why God warned his preacher to be faithful to speak every word. The temptation when facing an audience who hates the truth is to hedge the truth. Indeed the enemies of the Word of God come swarming out of their nest and engulf the messenger (v.8-11). They hate the truth so much that they want to silence the preacher permanently by killing him! Satan is both a hater of the truth and murderer of the innocent, therefore, we should not be startled that his spawn follow the same pattern. We must be courageous to stand up and speak up in a world that seethes with rage against God.
Jeremiah does not back down in the face of the threat (v.12-15). He knows God had sent him to proclaim the truth and so he does. The civil authorities reject the demand for the death penalty that comes from the religious leaders (v.16). Some of the older and wiser men remind the mob of the warnings of the prophet Micah in days gone by (v.17-19). King Hezekiah and the people of that generation did not rage against God’s spokesman, but repented of their sin. The current ruler, Jehoiakim, would do the opposite, hunting down another prophet named Urijah and killing him (v.20-23). Jeremiah, however, was spared for the time being (v.24). We are immortal until our work on earth is done.
There was a time when America responded to truth as Israel did to Micah—repenting of their sin and turning to God. We are now in the days of Jeremiah when taking a stand is increasingly dangerous. Let us speak truth anyway.