At the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, the Lord sent the prophet Jeremiah to the court of the temple. The people needed to repent and to turn back to the Lord. If they did not, then God would remove that place of worship and make it an example of His discipline of His own people. He promised to make the city of Jerusalem “a curse” unless they turned from their evil ways.
The priests and the prophets who heard this message were appalled. Their response was simple: “You shall die.” The officials of Judah took their place at the gate. They came from the King’s house and sat in judgment on this matter. Jeremiah repeated his message in their hearing. If they would mend their ways and deeds and obey the word of the Lord, then God would relent.
Jeremiah said all that he was commanded to say. He was not trying to save his own life, but to save their lives. He was willing to die, and even offered himself to them to do what they saw fit with him. Yet he also warned them that if they killed him they would be putting an innocent man to death who was merely speaking the words that God had commanded him to speak.
The officials from the king surprisingly pointed out that Jeremiah had not done anything deserving death. They cited an incident from the days of King Hezekiah to save Jeremiah’s life. In those earlier days the prophet Micah had spoken a similar message of judgment against Jerusalem. Did Hezekiah put Micah to death? No, he humbled himself before God and Jerusalem was saved from destruction.
Nonetheless, in the case of Uriah, another prophet who had given a similar message in the time of Jeremiah, the king had presided over Uriah’s execution. It appeared that this might also be Jeremiah’s fate. Yet God chose to preserve his life at this time, though the people would not repent.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to His people and spoke words of judgment. Surely everyone should have obeyed the Son of God. The leading officials and the priests stood against God’s messenger and plotted His destruction. Yet Jesus willingly went to the cross to perform the work that He came to do. All was accomplished in accord with the will of God for our salvation.
The life and death of Jesus Christ has been a message that has been proclaimed in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. His “good news” to the world is full of grace and truth. Though His story is opposed by many, for those who would receive Him, God has given them the right to be called sons of God. His Word is a trumpet of hope that must be clearly sounded in every age.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father, Your church has been given a most important task. We are to speak forth Your Word. Yet there are many who do not approve of the message that we bring, and we are tempted to turn back from the truth and to either speak the lies that people want to hear or to speak no word at all. Help us Lord, for there is an enemy against us. Disaster seems very near. Protect us from those who do not love You. Give us energy for each day, lest we sleep and do nothing.