At the end of the sixth century b.c.e., Jerusalem, the capital of Judah, the southern kingdom of the Hebrew nation, was in deep, deep trouble. The religious community, the governmental leaders, the princes of commerce and most of the people had joined forces against Yahweh. Repeatedly, as a unit these rebels had stopped listening to God and had refused to obey His teachings. The Prophet Jeremiah proves to be one of the key voices lifted against the power structure. The 26th chapter of the book named for this true prophet from Anathoth records what happens when TRUTH speaks to POWER. The first eleven verses quoted below are lifted from The Living Bible.

Jeremiah 26:1-11
This message came to Jeremiah from the Lord during the first year of the reign of Jehoiakim (son of Josiah), king of Judah: Stand out in front of the Temple of the Lord and make an announcement to all the people who have come there to worship from many parts of Judah. Give them the entire message; don’t leave out one word of all I have for them to hear. For perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways, and then I will withhold all the punishment I am ready to pour out upon them because of their evil deeds. Tell them the Lord says: If you will not listen to me and obey the laws that I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servans, the prophets – – for I sent them again and again to warn you, but you would not listen to them – – then I will destroy this Temple as I destroyed the Tabernacle at Shiloh, and I will make Jerusalem a curse word in every nation of the earth.

When Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to, the priests and false prophets and all the people in the Temple mobbed him, shouting, “Kill him! Kill him! What right do you have to say the Lord will destroy this Temple like the one at Shiloh?” they yelled. “What do you mean – – Jerusalem destroyed and not one survivor?”

When the high officials of Judah heard what was going on, they rushed over from the palace and sat down at the door of the Temple to hold court. Then the priests and the false prophets presented their accusations to the officials and the people. “This man should die!” they said. “You have heard with your own ears what a traitor he is, for he has prophesied against this city.”

Note: The politics of the palace (government) and the theology of the Temple (religious community) with the princes (commerce) and the people have all crawled in bed together. The voice against their evil deeds, Jeremiah, must be silenced. Whenever a group of prophets gathered in Israel, not unlike today, the false ones ALWAYS outnumber the true ones. When the “high officials of Judah” heard what was going on they came “up” from the king’s house (RSV) to the Temple. The king’s house literally and spiritually is always below the Lord’s house, but when the Lord’s house becomes corrupt, it gets destroyed. Princes and priests and false prophets and palace politics and people blindly following make a perfect storm. This crowd was carried off into Babylon as prisoners in 586 b.c.e..

James Wilson Beaty
Jeremiah 22:16
July 8, 2011