For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2003 James Melough

26:1.  “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying,”


26:2.  “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; diminish not a word:”


After the death of the good king Josiah the people had made Jehoahaz his son king, but after a three-month reign he was deposed by Pharaoh-nechoh who imposed a tribute of a hundred talents of silver, and one talent of gold upon the land, and made Eliakim, another son of Josiah, king instead, changing his name to Jehoiakim, the imposition of the new name signifying the authority of Pharaoh, see 2 Ki 23:30-34. 


It seems therefore that God chose the beginning of the reign of a new king of Judah as a propitious time to repeat His warnings to the people, their gathering in the Temple being perhaps in connection with the coronation of the new king, or as suggested by others, the feast of Tabernacles.  What is written here is a virtual summary of the message recorded in chapter 7.  This continued attempt to warn the people doesn’t imply that God was giving them a second chance, for as noted already, their national doom was irrevocable, but rather that He was appealing to individuals to secure the salvation of their souls in view of the impending slaughter at the hand of the Babylonians.


The same conditions prevail today.  Apostate Christendom and a godless world have sealed their doom, but God’s appeal through the Gospel still goes out to the individual here and there who may give heed and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, thus guaranteeing the salvation of his soul, but not necessarily of his life, in these perilous times preceding the fast approaching Tribulation.


The imperative of sounding the warning without diminishing a single word, is as relevant to the preaching of the Gospel today as it was to the warning Jeremiah was to pronounce, but the false teachers with which apostate Christendom swarms, are guilty of that very offence.  They do “diminish” the message, for the “gospel” they preach is fraudulent, having been expunged of warning relative to hell, the imaginary God they present being one who is so loving that he will receive everyone into his heaven!  A terrible awakening awaits them and their deluded followers, for the hell whose existence they deny is the very place to which they are going.


26:3.  “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.”


This has to be understood in the context of the fact that nationally Judah was doomed without any hope of reprieve.  The word is addressed to individuals, not to the nation.  Salvation of the soul, but not necessarily of the body, was available where there was individual repentant faith; and as for God’s repenting, this is an anthropopathism, i.e., the ascription of human passions or feelings to a thing or being not human: in the present instance God.  Repentance implies a previous error of judgment which needs to be corrected, but since God is omniscient He is incapable of error, and therefore beyond the need to repent.


Relative to the evil with which God purposed to punish their evil doings, as already discussed, his being a believer does not necessarily exempt an individual from having to share in the punishment of the nation to which he belongs.  The believing remnant within the apostate mass of the nation was not exempted from being also carried captive into Babylon with their unbelieving fellows.  The great difference, however, is that the believer has the assurance of God’s presence always with him, e.g., Daniel’s three friends in the midst of the furnace; and even where God permits such a man to die, he has the assurance that death simply transports his soul into heaven to be with Christ “which is far better.”


26:4.  “And 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,”


26:5.  “To 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:”


26:6.  “Then will I make this house like Shiloh, and will make this city a curse to all the nations of the earth.”


Verses four and five do not hold out hope, but rather emphasize their wickedness as being the reason for His destroying them.


Verse six discloses the nature of that coming destruction.  As Shiloh had once been home to the Tabernacle which housed the Ark until, because of the wickedness of the people, God had permitted the Philistines to capture the Ark, and Shiloh to be abandoned, so would He also permit the Babylonians to destroy both Temple and city.  As Shiloh and the Ark had become a mere fetish around which revolved an empty ritualistic so-called worship, so had Jerusalem and the Temple also become a fetish involving a similar hypocritical worship; and as the one had been destroyed so would the other be also.


Jerusalem’s being made a curse to all the nations is understood by some to mean that it would be used by them in pronouncing a curse on a person, place or thing; by others, that the nations would curse the city; and by others, that in the eyes of the nations the city would be viewed as a place under the curse of God.  There is probably a measure of truth in all three.


26:7.  “So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord.”


The prophet had faithfully fulfilled his commission: all had heard his warning.  Surely his diligence rebukes our disobedience, for we have been given a similar commission to warn men of impending judgment, yet does not honesty compel us to confess how faithless we have been in fulfilling our commission?


26:8.  “Now 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.”


Nothing arouses the natural man’s hatred more than the proclamation of God’s truth, nor is any such hatred more vicious than that of him who is religious but unconverted, see the account of Stephen’s death in Acts 6.  History bears eloquent testimony to the murderous character of that enmity by religious Rome against true believers during the thousand years of the Dark ages, c. 500-1500 AD; and it is significant that in this verse the priests head the list of those who sought Jeremiah’s life, their abettors the prophets obviously being the false prophets.  Nor should anyone forget that those responsible for the death of the Lord Jesus Christ were the Jewish religious leaders.


26:9.  “Why 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.”


It has never been different: murderous religious zealots, those who are farthest away from God, are the inveterate enemies of Him and His people, and are they who are foremost in promoting mere religion, even though the tenets of their evil doctrine are diametrically opposed to the teaching of God-breathed Scripture.


26:10.  “When 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.”


Their sitting down in the entry of the gate means that they took their places to sit in judgment on the matter which had caused the uproar.  They are generally believed to have been the godly men appointed by the good king Josiah.


26:11.  “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.”


Caring nothing about whether Jeremiah was the Lord’s prophet and  his words therefore true, they would kill him simply because what he had said was the opposite of what they wanted to believe, even though there wasn’t a word of Scripture to support their wrong beliefs.  Nor has anything changed through the centuries.  The false teaching of Rome, for example, which is nothing but the old Babylonian pagan system disguised in Christian dress, is accepted by deluded millions as the very Word of God, even though  virtually everything it teaches is in direct opposition to Scripture.


Without waiting to see whether Jeremiah’s words might indeed be true, they would kill him, as a later generation of that same people killed the Lord Himself, and significantly, on a trumped up charge of lies also concerning the Temple, for as Jeremiah foretold its destruction so did the Lord also foretell the destruction of the Temple which existed in His day, Mt 24:1-2.  See also Mt 26:61; 27:40.


The words of both were fulfilled, as will be also every word of Scripture, everything in the world today pointing to the imminence of the foretold Tribulation, and reminding us of what Peter has written concerning prophecy, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place ....” 2 Pe 1:19.


26:12.  “Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes and to all the people, saying, The Lord sent me to prophesy against (concerning) this house and against (concerning) this city all the words that ye have heard.”


Knowing the futility of attempting to change closed minds, God’s servant offered no other defense than to reiterate that what he had said had been given him by God, being content to let the fulfillment of the prophecy be his vindication.  All who seek to serve the Lord would do well to follow his example.


26:13.  “Therefore 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.”


As noted above, the doom of the nation was irrevocable, for God foreknew that the bulk of the people would refuse to repent.  These words were addressed to the rare individuals who would repent and thereby save their souls, though not necessarily their lives.  There would be no change of mind on God’s part relative to the destruction of the Temple and city, and the Babylonian captivity of those who would survive the slaughter.


The impending doom of today’s equally evil world is also irrevocable, there being available - but only to repentant believers - the salvation of their souls, but not necessarily preservation from death, for as God foreknew that there would be no repentance on the part of the bulk of the people of Judah, so does He also know that there will be none on the part of the vast majority of those upon the earth today.


26:14.  “As for me, behold, I am in your hand: do with me as seemeth good and meet unto you.”


Jeremiah was satisfied to leave himself in God’s hands, knowing that nothing men might do to him would be apart from Divine direction or permission.  Since that same principle governs the lives of all men, it behooves us to obey Him, so that we might be able to rest in the peaceful enjoyment of His promise, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love (obey) God,” Ro 8:28.  Relative to the connection between love and obedience, see Jn 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” and verse 21, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me....”


26:15.  “But 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.”


He would not, however, leave them without warning as to the consequences that would follow his murder: their shedding his innocent blood would bring the vengeance of God upon them.


Surely this scene recalls what transpired in connection with the mock trial and murder of the Lord Jesus Christ, when Pilate, seeking to absolve himself of guilt, “... washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.  Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children,” Mt 27:24-25.  That foolish and fatal invocation of the people has had a terrible fulfillment in the twenty centuries that have elapsed since then, for beginning with the destruction of the city by the Romans in AD 70, the slaughter of the people, and the scattering of the survivors amongst the nations, the sword has followed them where ever they have fled, spilling their blood like water, their slaughter yet to reach its zenith in the fast approaching Great Tribulation.


26:16.  “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 Lord our God.”


The fickle people had first been influenced by the priests and false prophets to declare Jeremiah worthy of death; but now, influenced by the godly princes, they changed their minds and believed that his words had indeed been given him by God, and accordingly declared that there was no reason to kill him.


As is pointed out in the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary, the fickle multitude, which just three days earlier had hailed the Lord Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah, clamored for His death, see Mt 21:9; 27:20-25.


26:17.  “Then rose up certain of the elders of the land, and spake to all the assembly of the people, saying,”


26:18.  “Micah 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.”


Micah, about seventy years earlier, had prophesied both to Israel, the ten northern tribes, and to Judah of coming judgment; and these elders obviously took Micah’s warning as validation of Jeremiah’s words.  The verse quoted by the elders is from Micah 3:12.  (A verse-by-verse study of the book of Micah by the author of this present study, is also available on this web site).


26:19.  “Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Jerusalem 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.”


The account of the life of the good king Hezekiah is preserved in 2 Chr 29-32.  Relative to its being said here that “the Lord repented,” see comments on verse 3 of this present chapter.  In the days of Hezekiah the repentance was national, with the result that the Lord postponed the threatened judgment.  In the days of Jeremiah, however, only a few individuals turned to the Lord, but there was no national repentance, with the result that there was no further postponement: the judgment fell when Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC finally destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of the people, and carried the remainder captive to Babylon.


“Thus might we procure great evil against our souls” expresses the fear that their killing of Jeremiah would be very likely to bring the speedy judgment of God upon their guilty heads.


26:20.  “And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjath-jearim, who prophesied against this city and against the land according to all the words of Jeremiah.”


This Urijah (Uriah) was also a prophet and contemporary of Jeremiah, their warnings of impending judgment being virtually the same.


26:21.  “And 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;”


26:22.  “And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt.”


26:23.  “And 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.”


The murderous antipathy of Jehoiakim to the word of God and to those who proclaimed it, is typical of the natural man, because that word exposes his sin and condemns him.


Why Jeremiah wasn’t also executed isn’t explained, so it may be presumed that God in His sovereignty and wisdom, and for His Own unrevealed purposes, preserved Jeremiah’s life, while permitting His other servant to die.  Urijah’s death, however, may not be taken to mean that God loved him less than He did Jeremiah.


26:24.  “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.”


All that is known of Ahikam is that he was one of those whom Josiah sent to inquire of Huldah the prophetess, 2 Ki 22:12-14; 2 Chr 34:20; and that he was the father of Gedaliah whom Nebuchadnezzar appointed ruler over the remnant left in Israel following the deportation of the people in 586 BC.  He appears to have been a godly man, and possessed of considerable power since he was able to save Jeremiah out of the hand of Jehoiakim.

[Jeremiah 27]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough