“It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds” (Jeremiah 26:3).
Chapter 25 of Jeremiah is situated in the fourth year of Jehoiakim; chapter 26 at the beginning of his reign. As reading the Old Testament in light of the New proves clarifying, so here, the future illuminates the past. Chapter 25, in illuminating chapter 26, darkens it. We read it knowing the hope held out in the third verse is not to be realized. Though Jeremiah lives, his voice is dead.
In chapter 25 Jeremiah recalls his ministering to Judah for twenty-three years. Twenty-three years in which he received and spoke the word. Twenty-three years for which they did not listen. How do we get to the hardened state spoken of in chapter 25? The answer of chapter 26 is alarming.
Though there are many who wouldn’t mind rubbing Jeremiah out, the masses are fickle. They hear. They may even hear with conviction. They hear with affirmation, acknowledging Jeremiah to be speaking the word of Yahweh. But this is as far as they go and it is not far enough. Jeremiah is tolerated. He is ignored. They’re typical conservatives. “Maintain the status quo!” They think they can play it safe and play with sin. They’ll hear Jeremiah and listen to the false prophets. If they execute Jeremiah, destruction is certain. But if they simply ignore him, maybe God will return the favor and ignore them.
The way God’s truth is dismissed by the masses isn’t predominantly with overt enmity but with apathy. Man’s hatred of God displays itself frequently in disinterest, indifference, passivity, lethargy, and unresponsiveness. God’s word comes to man with its total demands. Man responds with “Meh?” To dismiss God calmly instead of violently doesn’t avert disaster. Indifference is just as much an expression of hatred for God as is rage. Partial credit isn’t given for not persecuting the prophet. Just because you don’t kill the prophet doesn’t ensure God won’t kill you—eternally.
So how does one get from here to there? The most common highway taken to hell is the one where the Word is allowed to play on the radio while your mind drifts elsewhere. The word is heard but the people don’t listen. They can hum the tune, but they don’t know the words.
Meridian Church · Jeremiah 26:1–24 || Who Is On Trial? || Josh King