The people have finally had enough. Tired of hearing Jeremiah preach doom and gloom, a great crowd mobs him and hauls him to the temple gate (chapter 26). It is a chilling moment–the first word out of their mouths is “Death!” Certain that the court officials will agree, the people begin arguing their case before them–“You don’t really want this man talking like this about our city, do you?”
When it is Jeremiah’s turn to speak, we hear the kind of bold honesty that we’ve come to expect from him by now. He may not like his assignment, but he will not waver from it. He once again preaches repentance and radical change as the only way the people of Judah will be spared.
The crowd is in a frenzy, certain that Jeremiah has just sealed his own fate with his audacious talk before the authorities. The people lick their chops as they anticipate the pronouncement of a death sentence. . .but it doesn’t come.
Amazingly, the officials’ verdict is “Acquittal.” After preaching to a brick wall for more than twenty years, there is a glimmer of hope that Jeremiah’s message will get through. The officials recognize the voice of God in his speech, comparing him to Micah, an earlier prophet who boldly spoke out in an effort to spare Israel destruction (we’ll be reading his book in a couple of weeks).
This scene today gives us an opportunity to celebrate persistence in one’s calling–the kind of dogged endurance that will not be deterred by seemingly hopeless situations. This attitude is shaped by a deep trust in God. When we remain faithful, God is at work through our actions even when we cannot detect it.