Sunday, November 20, 2022

"This Man Should Be Sentenced To Death" [Matt's Messages]

"This Man Should Be Sentenced To Death"
Uprooted - The Words of Jeremiah
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
November 20, 2022 :: Jeremiah 26:1-24 

Because Caleb Lucien from Vision of Hope in Haiti was here last Sunday, we skipped another week in our study of Jeremiah, but don’t worry, he will repeat himself again! Jeremiah was a broken record about a broken covenant. And chapter 26 is no different in its essential message from what he has said before.

However we will notice something different as we begin to make our way through this second half of the book of Jeremiah. There are going to be more stories. There will still be many prophecies written out in poetic form, the words of Jeremiah. But there are going to be increasingly stories about what Jeremiah did and what happened to him. We’re going to see that this morning as we get into Jeremiah chapter 26.

In this chapter, Jeremiah almost dies.

It’s a close call. It’s touch or go. Jeremiah gets into such a mess of trouble that he is in grave danger of being executed.

Several times in the last few months we have wondered aloud what it must have been like to be a faithful prophet of the LORD in these days. We’ve said that it must have been miserable. There was a lot of weeping. There was a lot of loneliness. There was a lot of being called to be weird, strange, and different.

And it was also, apparently, very risky. We’ve seen that already back in chapter 11 when there was a conspiracy against Jeremiah. The people of Judah did not like what they heard Jeremiah constantly saying, and at times it put him in grave danger. And this is one of those times.

Do you remember the sermon I preached back in June with the longest title I’ve ever slapped onto a message, “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!”?

Well, I said back then that eventually we’d get to chapter 26 which is probably the story of the time that Jeremiah preached that particular message himself. (Or at least another one a lot like it.)

The focus of chapter 26 is less about what he said as much as it is more about what happened because he said it. Let me show you what I mean. Look with me at verse 1.

“Early in the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came from the LORD: ‘This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD's house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word” (vv.1-2).

From the dating of the king, this is probably the year 609 BC. It’s actually from before the events of both of the last two chapters that we looked at last time. In 609 BC, the LORD sends Jeremiah to stand at the doorway to the temple and preach at the people coming into the temple for worship. They are on the way “into church,” so to speak, and Jeremiah is at the door, and he’s calling them to repent.

I have four points of application for us to consider this morning from this chapter. And they focus on our being like Jeremiah. Not being like rebellious Judah, but being like faithful Jeremiah. We are not prophets, but we can learn from their examples. Here’s point number one:


The LORD gives Jeremiah a message, and he’s supposed to deliver all of it. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth according to God. You see that in verse 2? “Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word.” The word for “omit” there could be translated “cut.” It was sometimes used for a haircut. Do not trim the truth.

The Lord has put a message in our mouths, hasn’t He? He has given us the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ. And He wants us to share it with our friends, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, and even strangers and enemies. But we are not authorized to cut out the parts of the story we don’t like that.

For example, the part about us being sinners. Or the part about the punishment for sin. Or the part about how there is no other way to be saved than Jesus.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of preaching the gospel here at the memorial service for Jeff Hummel. A delightful guy who used to work for CTMA here in our area. He was known as “Needle.” And I got to preach from John 14:6 where Jesus says that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” And that’s such good news, isn’t it? And it would be tempting to just say that, but not finish the sentence. But Jesus went on to say, “No one comes to the Father except through” Him. And that’s pretty exclusive. That’s not as popular a thing to say. It’s inclusive in that anyone who comes through Jesus will get to the Father. Not just certain kinds of people—the rich or the religious or a certain ethnic group or race. Anyone who comes to Jesus will get to the Father, but only those who come through Jesus. “No one comes to the Father except through Him.” That’s the unedited, uncut truth.

And we are to be prophetic in our day, we must not cut out the difficult bits or we are not being faithful. I’m not saying that we need to rub the hard parts in people’s faces. We must speak the truth in love. But we must speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the uncut truth. 

That’s what Jeremiah was called to do in the hopes that Judah might listen and repent. Look at verse 3. 

“Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done. [This is when they had not yet calcified into the brittle pottery that must be smashed. Jeremiah is sent with a warning which is also an invitation. Verse 4.] Say to them, 'This is what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.'’” (vv.4-6).

Do you hear the warning? If you do not listen, then the temple will become like Shiloh. What does that mean? What was Shiloh all about? Do you remember chapter 7 when we got the fuller transcript of this message? 

Shiloh was the first location for the tabernacle. It was actually in the North. But now Shiloh had become a ghost-town. There was no tabernacle there. There was nothing there. It was like Peale. Over by Grassflat? There’s no town there anymore. And Jeremiah is saying that the should not trust in the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of LORD. Like it was some kind of a magic shield that protected them from any disaster, like a cosmic get-out-of-jail card. The LORD had wiped out the house of the LORD before. And He was prepared to do it again if they did not listen.

And they did not listen.

Here’s point number two. Directed more at us as recipients of the uncut truth than speakers of it.


Last time, we called it, “Tune it in instead of tuning it out.

Do you see Jeremiah is emphasizing the idea of listening, once again? Look at verse 4 and 5.

“If you do not listen to me and follow my law, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened), then I will make this house like Shiloh…”


Don’t put on your headphones. 
Don’t tune me out.
Don’t change the channel.

The Lord wants us to listen to Him even if (especially if) what He says is not popular.

Remember there were other prophets at this time who prophesied what everybody wanted to hear. They were the prophets of “peace.” “Peace, peace.” “It’s all good.” “Live how you want.” “You do you.” “You only live once.” “It’ll be okay.” “You don’t have to repent. You don’t have to turn. You don’t have to change.”

That’s popular. But it’s not the truth. The truth is that the LORD desires our repentance. He wants us to change. He wants us to live life HIS way which is the best way. But it’s not the most popular way.


What’s He been saying to you?

How do you think the people coming into the temple that day felt about Jeremiah’s message? They hated it. 1 star reviews. No star reviews. Frowny faces. And cancel culture came to get Jeremiah, to the point where the crowd demanded his death. V.7

“The priests, the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speak these words in the house of the LORD. But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, ‘You must die! Why do you prophesy in the LORD's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?’ And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD” (vv.7-9).

Do you see it in your mind’s eye? The mob crowding around him? Demanding his death, “You must die!” Why are they like that? Because they feel threatened. Because he’s saying something they don’t want to hear. And because it sounded kind of treasonous. He’s speaking against their national symbol, and you know how patriotic people get about their national symbols.

“Why do you prophesy in the LORD’s name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted? How dare you?!”

So, right then and there, they set up a court house in the temple courts. And Jeremiah goes on trial for his life. Look at verse 10.

“When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD's house. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, ‘This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!’” (vv.10-11).

Here's where it gets dicey for Jeremiah. He is one step away from either mob violence or judicial execution for blasphemy and false prophecy. It’s ironic, isn’t it? Jeremiah is not a false prophet, but he’s on trial for being one! And he might die as one.

Here’s the title of this sermon in verse 11, “This Man Should Be Sentenced To Death.”

“…because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!”

The Lord warned Jeremiah that there would be days like this.

If you remember chapter 1, the LORD told Jeremiah when he was just a young buck that he would face opposition from just about everyone. 

He said, “Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land--against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land” (Jer. 1:17-18 NIVO).

There are going to be days like this. When nobody wants to hear the truth. And Jeremiah was called to be stand with the truth no matter what.


Be a fortified city.
Be an iron pillar.
Be a bronze wall.

Even if you have stand against the whole wide world.

In the third century, many in the church had lost their way and fallen into heresy. A heresy we call the Arian heresy because the false teacher Arius. He taught that Jesus, the Son of God, was an exalted being, the greatest being ever created.

What’s wrong with that? The Son of God was not created. God the Son was not created. He was and is and is to come. He is eternally begotten of the Father. There was never a time when the Son was not.

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning….And the Word became flesh.”

He was not created. 

But so many had come to believe that. Most of the churches were full of pastors who taught that. But there were a handful who did not, including a church leader named Athanasius.  And Athanasius stood his ground. He said that even if every single person in the whole wide world believed heresy, he would still preach the truth. He called it, in Latin, “Athanasius Contra Mundum.” Athanasius Against the World.

And the LORD is calling you and me to stand with the truth of the gospel Contra Mundum. Even if the whole world thinks we’re crazy for believing in Jesus, we need to keep on believing in Jesus. 

Where are you tempted to just give in to what the world thinks and says? I’m not asking where other people are tempted to do that. That’s easier to see. We can all point fingers at other people’s compromises. Where are ours? Where are you tempted to just give in to what the world thinks and says? Do not change your message under pressure!

Jeremiah did not. He was a fortified city, an iron pillar, a bronze wall. Look at verse 12.

The prosecution has made their case. Now Jeremiah acts as his own defense attorney and makes his. V.12 

“Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: ‘The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. [Why did I prophesy that this house will be like Shiloh? Because the Yahweh sent me to say that to you! Because that’s the terms of the covenant! Because that’s the uncut unchanging truth. And you have to deal with that. V.13.] Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing’” (vv.12-16).

That little speech could very well be the last thing that Jeremiah ever said. That little speech could literally cost Jeremiah his life. And it wouldn’t have to. All he would have had to do is say, “I’m sorry. I got it wrong. Let me rephrase that. Let me hedge that a little bit. Let me spin it a different way. Let me change my tune.” And they probably would have let him live.

But Jeremiah stood for the unchanging truth. V. 16, “For IN TRUTH the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.” Even if it means death.

Are you ready to risk death for speaking the truth of the gospel?


Jeremiah says, “Do your worst if you have to. I am in your hands. But! Know that if you put me to death, you will be signing your death warrant, too. Because I’ve been telling you the truth all along.”

And that brought them all up short.

Look at how they back-pedal and change their tune in verse 16!

“Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, ‘This man should not be sentenced to death! He has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.’ [That was fast! Exact opposite of what they said in verse 11. They’ve changed their minds all of a sudden. Now they need a justification for it. Look at verse 17.] Some of the elders of the land stepped forward and said to the entire assembly of people, ‘Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah [a hundred years ago or so]. He told all the people of Judah, 'This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘ 'Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.'

‘Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death? [No!] Did not Hezekiah fear the LORD and seek his favor? And did not the LORD relent, so that he did not bring the disaster he pronounced against them? We are about to bring a terrible disaster on ourselves!’” (vv.16-20).

Do you see what they’re saying?

They are bringing up the Prophet Micah. And they are actually quoting Micah 3:12 there in verse 18. I learned this week that this is the only place in the Old Testament where one prophetic book quotes another prophetic book and names the source of the quote. That’s pretty cool. The entire Bible is hypertexted together. Their point is that a hundred years ago the prophet Micah said something very similar to the prophet Jeremiah (now that we think about it), and King Hezekiah didn’t put Micah to death. 

So maybe we shouldn’t put Jeremiah to death? Ya think?

Jeremiah walks away from this one.

Sadly, the people didn’t repent like they did in days of Micah and Hezekiah. Or the LORD would have relented and brought blessing! But at least they didn’t kill Jeremiah this time. They pulled up short of that. Jeremiah walked home that day from the temple courts, alive to preach the dangerous truth again the next day.

And you might be tempted to think that it was never a close call. They weren’t really going to do that. They weren’t really going to kill the prophet, right? But Jeremiah includes verses 20 through 24 to show us that it very well could have gone down a different way.

It did for the prophet Uriah.

Do you know this story? Do you know this guy? The Prophet Uriah? This is the only place where he shows up in the whole Bible. Look at verse 20.

“(Now Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath Jearim was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD; he prophesied the same things against this city and this land as Jeremiah did. [Jeremiah was not alone! He wasn’t the only one who was an broken record about the broken covenant and the judgement to come. There was at least one other, the prophet Uriah. V.21] When King Jehoiakim and all his officers and officials heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But Uriah heard of it and fled in fear to Egypt. [Probably a tactical mistake. Operating out of fear. He ran instead of standing like Jeremiah did. But he didn’t change his message! V.22] King Jehoiakim, however, sent Elnathan son of Acbor to Egypt, along with some other men. [There was an extradition treaty in place between the two nations at the time.] They brought Uriah out of Egypt and took him to King Jehoiakim, who had him struck down with a sword and his body thrown into the burial place of the common people.) Furthermore, Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death” (vv.20-24).

Jeremiah almost died.

Uriah did.

And you and I need to be ready to be like either one of them.

Be ready to risk your life for the undying truth of the gospel.

I don’t want to die as a martyr for the gospel. But even more I don’t want to live as a traitor to the gospel. 

It would be a great honor to be a Uriah. Barely known but faithful unto death. Our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:10-12 NIVO).

The letter to the Hebrews talks about prophets like Uriah when it says in chapter 11

They “were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--the world was not worthy of them” (Heb. 11:35-38 NIVO).

I don’t want to die as a martyr for the gospel. But even more I don’t want to live as a traitor to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Because He died for me.

I can’t read about this trial of Jeremiah without thinking about the trial of Jesus.

How about you? Did your mind go there as we read through chapter 26? When the crowd cried, “This man should be sentenced to death!” I heard, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Jesus spoke the uncut truth, and they didn’t want to listen to Him either.

Jesus stood for the unchanging truth even though it was unpopular. Jesus Contra Mundum!

And Jesus not only risked but gave His life for the undying truth of Who He was and to pay for our sins.

And as we go into this holiday week, there is nothing greater for us for which to give thanks.

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow—
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!”

(“Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Thomas O. Chisholm)


Previous Messages in This Series:

01. "The Word of the LORD Came to Me" - Jeremiah 1:1-19
02. "I Bring Charges Against You" - Jeremiah 2:1-3:5
03. "Return to Me" - Jeremiah 3:6-4:4
04. “Oh My Anguish, My Anguish!” - Jeremiah 4:6-5:31
05. "Ask for the Ancient Paths" - Jeremiah 6:1-30
06. “This Is the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD, the Temple of the LORD!” - Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
07. "Is There No Balm in Gilead?" - Jeremiah 8:4-9:22
08. "Boast About This" - Jeremiah 9:23-24
09. "Like a Scarecrow in a Melon Patch" - Jeremiah 9:25-10:25
10. "Conspiracy" - Jeremiah 11:1-12:17
11. “My People For My Renown” - Jeremiah 13:1-27
12. "I Can No Longer Show Compassion" - Jeremiah 14:1-15:21
13. "I Have Withdrawn My Blessing, My Love and My Pity" - Jeremiah 16:1-21
14. "I the LORD Search the Heart" - Jeremiah 17:1-27
15. "Go Down to the Potter's House" - Jeremiah 18:1-19:15
16. “Insult and Reproach All Day Long” - Jeremiah 20:1-18
17. "Woe to the Shepherds" - Jeremiah 21:1-23:8
18. "I Did Not Send These Prophets" - Jeremiah 23:9-40
19. "“My Eyes Will Watch Over Them For Their Good” - Jeremiah 24:1-25:38