Thursday, February 18, 2016
“Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt” (Jeremiah 38:4 KJV).
Who is “this man?” And, what words is he speaking to make him worthy of being “put to death?”
From verse 1, we learn that it was Jeremiah the Prophet speaking “offensive” words. The wicked leaders of Judah (southern Israel) had grown tired of the 40 years of Jeremiah’s preaching ministry. Now, they wanted him dead, so they went to King Zedekiah in today’s Scripture to “make the arrangements!” (We will comment on this later.)
The Jews had overlooked a simple fact. While they were blaming Jeremiah, he had not originated the prophecies of judgment that were coming up on idolatrous Jerusalem. In fact, nearly 1000 years earlier, Moses had given Israel express instructions concerning God’s Law Covenant with them. Disobedience to God’s commandments would result in five courses (phases, rounds) of judgment/chastisement. Whenever Israel would persist in false religion, idol worship, increasing divine judgment would come upon them. Once Israel refused to repent of her wickedness after four rounds of judgment, the fifth phase of chastisement would be Gentile captivity. Israel would be removed from her Promised Land. (We will comment on this later also.)
For now, just notice that it was so strange then that Judah’s king and the other Jews in the area had grown upset with Jeremiah. He was doing nothing more than quoting what Moses had written to them centuries earlier! Yet, Moses did not originate those judgments either. It was God’s Word through Moses. The same God who had spoken through Moses was now speaking through Jeremiah. Furthermore, by the Jews refusing to hear Jeremiah, they proved they really did not believe Moses, either. If Jeremiah were guilty of “hate speech,” then so was Moses, and so was the JEHOVAH God they had claimed to “love and worship!”