Jeremiah 26 - 28 - Outline of Jeremiah (MENU page)
Message in the Temple Court: Conflict with the People (ch. 26)
      In the previous chapters, judgment was pronounced against the kings (ch. 21,22), false prophets and priests (ch. 23), Zedekiah (ch. 24), and the people of Judah and all nations (ch. 25). This dark message was interrupted, very briefly, by a foreview of the future restoration under the Branch of David, the LORD our Righteousness (23:3-8). The certainty of these judgments rests upon Divine authority, since they are decreed by the Lord. (The phrase "Thus saith the LORD" or "saith the LORD" occurs 46 times in those 5 chapters.)
     In chapters 26-29, opposition is raised against Jeremiah and his message of judgment. The certainty of judgment is further indicated by evidence of the prophet's authority.
I. Jeremiah's message- the occasion of the conflict (26:1-6)
II. Jeremiah's Accusation by the Priests, Prophets and People (v.7-9)
III. Jeremiah's Trial before the Princes in the gate (v.10-24)
  1. The Prosecution, by the Priests, Prophets and People (v.11)- "This man is worthy to die."
  2. Jeremiah's defense (v.12-15)
    1. His authority: The LORD sent me. (v.12a)
    2. His message: of warning (v.12b) and invitation (v.13)
      Even under great pressure, Jeremiah did not alter God's Word to suit the hearers. He remained faithful to the One who commissioned him (v.2).
    3. His resolve: Do with me as you will. (v.14)
    4. His appeal and warning against bringing innocent blood upon themselves. (v.15a)
    5. His authority: The LORD sent me. (v.15b)
  3. The verdict by the Princes and all the People (v.16) - "This man is not worthy to die."
    The case was argued on the basis of two precedents...
    1. The precedent in Jeremiah's favor (v.17-19): King Hezekiah did not kill Micah for a similarly traitorous message, about a hundred years earlier. (See Mic 1:1; 3:12). Rather, he and the people turned to the Lord and judgment was averted.
           The people feared that slaying a prophet sent by the Lord would "procure great evil against our souls." Yet, there is no hint that they were ready to heed the Lord's message.
    2. The precedent to Jeremiah's peril (v.20-24): King Jehoiakim had executed Urijah for a similar message, just a few years earlier. [Presumably, the argument was that the nation had suffered no great evil as a consequence. If so, the fact that Jehoiakim and his son, Joiachin, were subsequently taken captive was conveniently overlooked.]
           Ahikam the son of Shaphan argued in behalf of Jeremiah. Ahikam was one of the priests who had been instrumental in the revival under Josiah (2Kin 22:12). Following the captivity of Zedekiah, Ahikam's son, Gedaliah, was appointed as governor by Nebuchadnezzar (Jer 39:14; 40:6,7).
           "Nevertheless..." (ie., inspite of the argument of the second precedent), Ahikam prevailed "...that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death." Note the vacillation of 'the people' between following the religious leaders (v.8) versus the civil leaders (v.16). Their position had changed again in v.24. Popular opinion is fickle and cannot be trusted to determine right from wrong.

The Sign of the Yokes: Conflict with the False Prophets in Jerusalem (ch. 27-28)
The essence of the message of the "Yokes" was apparently given to Jeremiah during the reign of Jehoiakim, but it was not delivered until early in the reign of Zedekiah. Some scholars say that textual evidence suggests that "Jehoiakim" (in 27:1) should read "Zedekiah," in which case the message would have been both received and delivered in the latter king's reign.
     A "yoke" is a beam made to rest upon the shoulders around the neck of an animal or a man, for the purpose of bearing or pulling a heavy load. The load was attached to the yoke by cords ("bonds" or "bands," 27:2). Here, the yokes were a symbol and illustration of the coming servitude to Babylon.
I. A message to the surrounding gentile kings. (27:1-11)
Jeremiah was to make wooden yokes, and send them to the kings via their messengers {ie., representatives} which had come to Zedekiah. Most likely, they had gathered to strategize a defense against Babylon. Each yoke was a visual aid for the Lord's verbal message which accompanied it:
  1. The Lord's sovereignty is shown by creation. (v.5)
  2. The Lord's sovereignty is exercised in regard to nations. Nebuchnezzar and Babylon will be established over all nations, for three generations of kings, then they will be brought down. (v.6,7)
  3. The Lord's sovereign warning: (v.8-11)
    • Serve Babylon and live.
    • God's Word will prevail over the word of the false prophets.
II. A message to Zedekiah, king of Judah (27:12-15)
III. A message to the Priests and all the People of Judah (27:16-22)
IV. Conflict with the False Prophets in Jerusalem (28:1-17)
  1. Hananiah's lying prophecy (28:1-4)- was in direct contradiction to the message of the Yokes. cp. Jer 27:16-22
  2. Jeremiah's response (v.5-9) -
    • Amen... - Hananiah's optimistic message is attractive and desirable. (v.6)
    • Nevertheless... - The prophets, which history has demonstrated to be true prophets, spoke of judgment (v.7-9). Such prophets would include: Isaiah, Amos, Joel, Hosea, etc.
  3. Hananiah demonstrated his authority with an act of fleshly (or demonic) power. (v.10,11)
  4. Jeremiah rested his authority on the Word of the Lord. (v.12-17)
    • The Lord said: The yoke (of servitude to Babylon) was iron (ie., unbreakable). Hananiah's false prophecy would further encourage the nation(s) to ignore God's warning (v.13b).
           "Subjection to the Word of God is a light yoke; insubjection a heavy one." [GWms]
    • The Lord said: The false prophet would die for his lying prophecy, within the year. (v.15-17)
           "Hananiah's hearers were to be cast out of Jerusalem into Babylon, but he himself was to be cast out of the earth into Sheol. He pronounced their deliverance within two years, but was himself struck down by death within two months." [GWms] (cp. v.1 and 17)
           Jeremiah's authority, as a true prophet of God, was vindicated by Hananiah's death. Yet, the people still did not heed his message.

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