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26. Jeremiah Threatened With Death

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, 2Thus 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; diminish not a word: 3If 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. 4And thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord; If ye will not hearken to me, to walk in my law, which I have set before you, 5To hearken to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I sent unto you, both rising up early, and sending them, but ye have not hearkened; 6Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth. 7So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord.

8Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of 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. 9Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

10When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’S house. 11Then 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.

12Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. 13Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; and the Lord will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against you. 14As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you. 15But know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall 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.

16Then 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 Lord our God. 17Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying, 18Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spake 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. 19Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all 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. 20And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah: 21And when Jehoiakim the king, with all 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 fled, and went into Egypt; 22And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. 23And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. 24Nevertheless 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.

Here the Prophet recites what happened to him, after he had declared God’s message, and faithfully warned the people by adding threatenings, as God had commanded him. He says first that he was heard; which is not to be deemed as commendatory, as though the priests and prophets patiently heard what he taught; for there was no teachable spirit in them, nor did they come prepared to learn, but they had long indulged themselves in perverseness, so that Jeremiah was become to them an avowed enemy; and they also audaciously opposed all his threatenings. But though they were not ashamed to reject what the Prophet said, they yet observed a certain form, as it is usual with hypocrites, for they are more exact than necessary, as they say, in what is formal, but what is really important they neglect. We may hence observe, that the priests and prophets deserved no praise, because they restrained themselves, as though they deferred their judgment until the cause was known, but as the whole people were present, they for a time shewed themselves moderate; it was yet a reigned moderation, for their hearts were full of impiety and contempt of God, as it became really manifest.

But it must be observed that he says that the priests and prophets hearkened As to the priests, it is no wonder that he calls them so, though they were in every way wicked, for it was an hereditary honor. But it is strange that he mentions the prophets. At the same time we must know, that Jeremiah thus calls those who boasted that they were sent from above. In the twenty-third chapter he at large reproves them; and in many other places he condemns their impudence in falsely assuming the authority of God. He then allowed them an honorable title, but esteemed it as nothing; as we may do at this day, who without harm may call by way of ridicule those prelates, bishops, or pastors, who under the Papacy seek to be deemed so, provided we at the same time strip them of their masks. But these lay hold on the title, and thus seek to suppress the truth of God, as though to be called a bishop were of more weight than if an angel was to come down from heaven. And yet were an angel to descend from heaven, he ought to be counted by us as a devil, if he brought forward such filthy and execrable blasphemies, as we see the world is at this day polluted with by these unprincipled men. This passage then, and the like, ought to be borne in mind, for they shew that titles are not sufficient, except those who bear them really shew that they are such as their calling imports. Thus, then, Jeremiah was called a Prophet, and also those impostors were called prophets whose only religion it was to corrupt and pervert the doctrine of the Law, but they were so called with regard to the people. It is in the meantime necessary, wisely to distinguish between prophets or teachers, as also the Apostle reminds us, we ought to inquire whether their spirit is from God or not. (1 John 4:1.)


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