Reluctant Landowner

Below is one more expression of Creative Nonfiction. It starts with a newspaper article, leading to three very different “Letters to the Editor.” We then peek into Jeremiah’s personal memoirs of the event. Things conclude with “A word from heaven” of what may have been the Lord’s thoughts on the whole thing. Enjoy!

Jerusalem Post

Freedom for All [well almost all]

After many long months of total lockdown, the city gates were open yesterday to the relief of the entire population of Jerusalem. The rumors of help from Egypt would seem to be confirmed as the only possible reason for Babylon to suddenly drop their month’s-long siege and depart the city. This help from our southern neighbor will come at a cost, but such philosophical thoughts were pushed aside as the population rushed out of the city walls in a desperate search for water and food.

A couple of the city’s residents, unfortunately, where trampled underfoot at the city gates and did not survive to enjoy the long-sought freedom. But apart from this, the citizen’s behaved lawfully as they scavenged through neglected gardens and raided fruit trees for anything nourishing and edible. The gates were closed again at sundown and the residents enjoyed a peaceful night.

In a related incident, one criminal added to his long rap-sheet of arrests and beatings and imprisonments. It seems that the cantankerous, old prophet, Jeremiah, was up to more of his shenanigans. He was apprehended trying to leave the city in hopes of catching up with his friends, the Babylonians. For years now, this renegade priest and prophet has been predicting doom for our beloved city (including the Temple and Palace) at the hands of these enemies, saying all sorts of nasty, unnecessary things and upsetting the populace. But now his prophecies had gone amuck. When he saw the Baboons leaving, it must have been too much for the old man; too hard to watch his prophecies flop. He attempted to run after them, but was grabbed by the alert guardsman named Irijah ben Shelemiah.

The clever old man attempted to argue his way out of the arrest with some ridiculous explanation about just wanting to see land he recently bought. A wire must be loose in his head because no one would believe such an outlandish claim. A prophet of doom buying real estate in a doomed land! What will this eccentric think of next! The argument was solved when Irijah took the perpetrator to the royal officials and they had him whipped and beaten and imprisoned. Such treatment has done little in the past to deter this windbag prophet, but the prison he is in now is the worst of the bunch. He won’t last long, and he won’t be causing any more trouble. [Jer. 37:11-16].

Letters to the Editor (two days later)

Letter #1

Let him rot

Dear editor,

Please let me express my opinion in your newspaper. That traitor in Jonathon’s house (the worst prison in the land) can just rot there forever. Yes, that man speaks only poison and doesn’t deserve to live. As a court recorder I want to take this opportunity to list his crimes. Surely all can agree he deserves to die.

As far back as the reign of King Josiah this man was saying our nation would be completely destroyed. These are his own obscene words: “The enemy will break open the graves of the kings and officials of Judah, and the graves of the priests, prophets, and common people of Jerusalem. They will spread out their bones on the ground before the sun, moon, and stars – the gods my people have loved, served, and worshiped. Their bones will not be gathered up again or buried. But will be scattered on the ground like manure.” [Jer. 8:1-2] Who in his right mind would compare the bones of our nobles to manure?

He compared our beloved nation to his own dirty underwear, and a perfectly good clay pot that he smashed to pieces in the eyes of all [Jer. 13:1-9; 19:10-11].

He has been saying that Babylon will deport all of us out of our land for a period of 70 long years [Jer. 25:11].

He wore a cow’s yoke around his neck for months and spoke to the ambassadors of our allied countries, telling us all to forfeit our sovereignty and bow down to King Nebuchadnezzar [Jer. 27:1-13]. This is outright treason! He then went public with it and was allowed to live and further spread his propaganda.

He has repeatedly expressed his belief that our glorious temple will be demolished and the “City of David” destroyed [Jer. 26:1-9]. Surely we noble citizens should not have to put up with such pessimistic, cynical, contrary preaching. Does he even know what he is saying?

My considered opinion is this, let this troublemaker rot in jail till the day he dies. Then proclaim a national holiday.

Signed,

Unhappy court recorder

Letter #2

Loose wires

I am writing in regard to the news article in your paper where it states that my cousin, Jeremiah ben Hilkiah, has some wires loose in his head for saying he recently bought land and wanted to see it.
I, Hanamel ben Shallum, want to set the record straight and also call on you (the Jerusalem Post) to do a better job of investigative reporting. Get your facts straight! My cousin was indeed speaking the truth. The person he bought land from was me. I approached him at the court of the king’s guard where he was held prisoner and asked if he would buy the land since he has the right of first ownership. I was surprised that he had been expecting me and was prepared to buy it without further explanation. He paid 17 shekels of silver. We signed all the necessary paperwork and the transaction was competed in the eyes of official witnesses [Jer. 27:9 -12]. The land is in Anathoth, only a few kilometers away from Jerusalem. Had you or the royal officials simply investigated his claims the record is there for all to see.

I do, though, want to comment more on my cousin. We as his family are very ashamed of his behavior over these past decades. He is so different from the rest of us. He does many crazy things and doesn’t care what people think. He is guided by one thing and one thing only – the word and instructions of his God. At times our close relatives truly wanted him dead [11:18-21], but their plots failed and we have come to pretty well ignore him. And this headache won’t last much longer. He is old. He never married. Has no children. And even the land he bought will come back to me when he dies.

Thank you,

H.b.S.

Letter #3

Most Loyal Subject

I take exception to your front-page article last Tuesday and its strongly biased description against the greatest of men, Jeremiah, the true prophet of the Living God of Israel. Yes. I may be a foreigner, but I have spent decades studying the unique religion and lifestyle of you Jews, and I must say that you are surely a most privileged people. Your history is full of miracles that no idol could perform, yet the majority population seeks only a life of ease and comfort, while true spirituality is non-existent.

This is what makes Jeremiah so great. He is in daily touch with the Living God and speaks with authority the message that you all hate to hear. There is no one more loyal to Jerusalem than Jeremiah. He is the only one willing to stick his neck out to try and save the city. None of you are willing to heed the call for repentance. This is the only way to save your city and nation. Rather than take note of this truly great man, you have subjected him to ridicule, humiliation, beatings, imprisonments, and yet he continues to speak God’s truth for the good of all you Jews.

I want to state it for the record that Jeremiah, God’s Spokesperson, is the most loyal of all the king’s subjects. He rises above everyone else in his efforts to save Jerusalem and Judah. He does this for the good of you all.

Respectfully yours,

E.M. [Jer. 38:7-13]

Jeremiah’s memoirs

Beaten and arrested again

Perhaps I should have known I wouldn’t get very far. I was still angry over this whole “landowner” incident. After all, it was God himself who forbade me to marry and have children – so why should I buy land? It was God who put me on public record time and time again saying Babylon would destroy this place and take everyone captive. Then, by telling me to buy the land, He made me look stupid, irrational, and incompetent in the eyes of all. “There’s that big-mouthed Jeremiah contradicting everything he ever said!”

There wasn’t any need for me to see the land, but the walk through the open spaces to Anathoth sounded like a good change from the cramped-ness and hostility of the city.

Wish I was immune to the pain by now, but this flogging was extra bad. I’d like to complain to my God, but he sure hasn’t been sympathetic in the past [Jer. 12:2, 5-7; 15:15-19]. My wounds must be infected in this damp, infested hole. Fever will set in soon. I won’t last long [Jer. 37:16, 20].

Penning off,

Jeremiah ben Hilkiah

A word from Heaven

I have asked much from my servant, Jeremiah. Desperate times call for desperate measures. He had good reason (humanly speaking) to be upset when I told him to publicly purchase his cousin’s land. He has no use for it: He will be wandering and homeless for the rest of this life. I have forbidden him to marry [Jer. 16:1-4], so he has no heir. To the eyes of all the people, this purchase makes no sense. However, Jeremiah needs to know, all my people need to know, that I AM NOT DONE WITH ISRAEL AND JERUSALEM. The greatness of the past is NOTHING compared to the greatness that is YET TO COME [Jer. 32:36-44; 33:6-9, 14-26]! I know what I am doing!

I left the choice of leaving the city up to him. Could have prevented anyone from recognizing him, but I chose not to interfere. He has been so loyal to me and I wish the suffering could end, but even darker days lay ahead. I am genuinely proud of him. He has learned to look beyond his personal suffering to see the greater suffering that I endure [Jer. 14:17; 8:21-9:2].

Because of his faithfulness, the account of his obedience and the power of his words will last through all of time, and many will line up in heaven to meet him. It is he who announced the purpose and length of my people’s captivity [Jer. 24:4-7; 25:11-12]; it is he who will introduce the New Covenant [Jer. 31:31-34; 32:40-41]; and it is to him that my Son while on earth will frequently be compared [Mat. 16:14].

I have prepared for Jeremiah, my faithful servant, an eternity of reward. He has surely earned the words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” And why not? At the resurrection of the dead I will give this very portion of prime land to my faithful servant to be enjoyed by him – and his large host of spiritual offspring – forever! [Jer. 32:40-41].

Things to Note

1. It is important to know this story because the events here are tied to very important revelation from the LORD. The Lord wasn’t playing games or just “testing” his spokesperson. The land purchase was a very significant prophetic “sign.” This will be dealt with in more detail later.[1]

2. We should not assume that everything Jeremiah did, and all the suffering he underwent, was the perfect will of God. Jeremiah was human. There is nothing in the Biblical text to indicate the Lord wanted him to leave the city and go view his land. Did he pray about it and receive a “yes” answer? We have no way of knowing. There is another incident in Jer. 19:14 – 20:2 that might be a clearer case of him suffering for going beyond what he was told. This was dealt with already and was probably a matter of anger getting him into trouble. Jeremiah’s complaint at that time was answered by God only with silence.[2]


[1] This will be given special attention in the third book in this series, Paradigm-Shifting Communiques from DEITY – via Jeremiah.

[2] And in still another instance, the LORD verbally chastised him, “This is how the LORD responds: ‘If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you!’” Jer. 15:19. But with the complaint about the land purchase the chastisement came as silence, unresponsiveness, as if he is saying, “your words are not even worthy of an answer.”

Stuck in the Mud

Introduction

The following event is another true story. The 100% accurate account can be found at Jeremiah 38:1 – 13. This elaborated account is presented through the eyes of an unnamed “participant”.

Unnamed Palace Servant

I was on my knees busily polishing the marble floor when my top boss came marching past. Worry etched his extra-dark face as he headed off to Benjamin Gate where King Zedekiah sat, enjoying the fresh air.

Has Ebed Melech been summoned by the king? Has this good man offended His Majesty? But this is not proper protocol, what was his hurry? My boss must be panicked about something and seeks help from the king.

Peeking around the corner I could see I was right. Mr. Melech was in animated conversation with King Zedekiah himself. What could be so important?

He bows to the king and turns to come back, so I rush back to work. As he entered the palace he called my name and barked out, “Put that stuff away, we have to rescue the Prophet!”

I was confused but followed his orders. I put the polish and cloths in their proper place while Mr. Melech rounded up two others[1] and grabbed a rope from the storeroom. He threw it to me and without explanation he went downstairs. I am confused. He came back up carrying a bunch of old rags and worn-out clothes and he barked, “Let’s move it!”

Now I am totally confused. Rope, old clothes, big hurry to “save” the prophet. What will Boss Melech come up with next?

We marched to the temple yard with no chance for conversation.

My boss stops and calls down into the dark, damp cistern of the king’s son.[2] “Are you O.K., sir?”

The faint answer returns, “The Lord lives.”

Mr. Melech grabs the rope from me, ties up some of the cloths, and lowers it down the cistern.

“Put these rags and cloths under your arms.” He called down, “When we pull you out, these rags will pad your underarms and the ropes will not hurt you.”[3]

So, we pulled the prophet out. He was covered by smelly mud from waist to feet. How did he manage to breath down there? Who could have done this to such a man of God? Has he been down there all night?

We helped him get washed off and gave him a change of clothes. He gulped down water and tried to swallow some bread, then fell into exhausted sleep almost in our arms.

“What happened, Mr. Melech?” I asked as we cleaned the rope and removed the dirty rags. “Who could do such a terrible thing?”

So he told me the story.

He was in the king’s palace inspecting the rooms when he heard several nobles talking and laughing. He listened in and learned that they had reported Prophet Jeremiah to the king (no doubt speaking lies and false accusations). The king told them they could do whatever they saw fit. So they were laughing at the old prophet floundering in the mud “where all unclean animals (pigs) belong.”

So this explains the worry etched on Mr. Melech’s face as he rushed to see the king. But what made him, a foreigner from Ethiopia, care so much to risk his job, and maybe his life, to save him? So I pondered this old man, Jeremiah.

He is called “The Prophet.” Respected by most people but hated by a few. Unfortunately, these few are the ones in power. Jeremiah has been speaking on God’s behalf for 40 years. He has been beaten, jailed, ridiculed, and now thrown into a muddy cistern for his faithful service to the Living God. I decided then and there that if anyone is looking for a hero, brave and true, this is the man! Praise the Living God!

Things to Note

1. At the beginning of the Biblical account, four palace officials are mentioned by name. They were obsessed with permanently closing God’s spokesperson’s mouth. This is what they said to King Zedekiah, “Sir, this man must die! That kind of talk will undermine the morale of the few fighting men we have left, as well as that of all the people. This man is a traitor!” 38:4.

They admit that they have just “a few fighting men” while thousands of professional, fully armed enemy soldiers surround the city. On what source were they placing their hope for deliverance?

2. This story portrays Zedekiah as the wimpy king he was. He answered the four men’s request with these words: “All right. Do as you like. I can’t stop you.”38:5. But when another man makes a contrary request he does a 1800 turn: “Take thirty of my men with you, and pull Jeremiah out of the cistern before he dies” (38:10).

3. Ebed-Melech was a brilliant thinker. He approached the king as if the king didn’t know what was happening, saying, “these men have done a very evil thing.” Then, he mentions that Jeremiah might starve to death and added the strange words, “For almost all the bread in the city is gone.” There was a reason for this comment. King Zedekiah had recently made a very specific, unconditional promise that was now in danger of being forgotten, because Jeremiah was now “out of sight, out of mind.”

“The king also commanded that Jeremiah be given a loaf of fresh bread every day as long as there was any left in the city.” 37:21. Ebed-Melech indirectly called the king’s attention to this promise while not directly confronting his superior. This spurred the king’s action. Well Done E.M.


[1] Some manuscripts say “3 men”, some say “30 men.” The king was a weak leader. He wanted to assist this upright man to rescue the prophet, but he was not strong enough to confront the men who did the imprisoning. If he authorized “3” men, it means it was for a quick, stealth mission. If he authorized “30” men, it was intended as a show of force in case of confrontation.

[2] The ownership of the cistern is quite a remarkable detail. “It belonged to Malkijah, a member of the royal family.” Jer. 38:6. No one would want a human being (especially one of note) dying in their cistern, even if it was no longer used. This may have been a reason for King Zedekiah’s about-face and call to action. Had the officers intended to insult the king and his family?

[3] Nice little tidbit of information.

Prophets’ Showdown

Babylonian Chronicle – News Release

The people of the small vassal territory of Judah have long earned their reputation as shallow, fickle and even silly. Here is the latest news from our unfortunate correspondent assigned to their capitol city, Jerusalem.[1]

Verbal Duel by Two Prophets

The prediction of a Jewish but pro-Babylon prophet, Jeremiah ben Hilkiah, in Jerusalem, came true recently when another Jewish prophet, Hananiah ben Azzur, also of Jerusalem, suddenly died.[2]

Here are the details as best we can figure them out.

Prophet Hananiah had been boldly (and ludicrously) prophesying that “the yoke” of Almighty Babylon over tiny Judah would end within two short years; all the prisoners would return; and their failed king (of a mere three months), Jehoiachin, would re-establish himself on Judah’s puny throne! To demonstrate his prophecy, he broke a wooden yoke that Prophet Jeremiah had been carrying around for months on his own neck. “What!” (you say)? You may want to read the above paragraphs again before you continue reading. These “prophets,” are revered leaders among the Jewish people and here they are acting like spoiled toddlers!

Prophet Jeremiah (remember, he is the one who survived while the other one is dead) had been making a spectacle of himself by carrying this wooden oxen’s yoke on his shoulders. He did this in loud and public demonstration, urging Judah to surrender and submit to the authority of His Excellency, King Nebuchadnezzar. (We, of course, support his message and commitment, while his methodology leaves much to be desired).

It seems the prophet (with shoulders locked in the yoke) interrupted some high-level strategy meetings of ambassadors from five other nations.[3] Such meetings seem rather suspicious from our standpoint and perhaps should be investigated, but the prophet promised that voluntary submission to us would save the nation of Judah and the other nations as well.

The prophet was announcing repeatedly that their king, Zedekiah ben Josiah, should surrender and submit himself and their tiny nation to the yoke of Babylon. (Don’t resist the inevitable, you fools!).

This continued and escalated to the above-mentioned clash. The two prophets had a huge verbal boxing match in the middle of their temple, both prefacing their contradictory statements with the words: “The Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says:”[4] It appears obvious that these Israelites and their prophets are a greatly confused people.

Wisecracking Jeremiah said, “Amen! May your prophecies come true!” But everyone knows he is publicly guaranteeing the opposite – that we are going to quash the little bug of Judah. But maybe among these people it is ok to say one thing and still agree with the opposite.[5]

After Hananiah broke the wooden yoke off of Jeremiah’s neck, fiery Jeremiah spoke even more boldly. He said to him, “You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. The Lord says, ‘I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control!’” (Three cheers for Jeremiah!!!)

This prophetic showdown reached its climax two months ago, when Jeremiah said, “Listen Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year[6] because you have rebelled against the Lord.’”

And sure enough, the news of Hananiah’s sudden death has caused panic and paralysis among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. It seems that this news has also been relayed to the surrounding countries and they too are trembling.

Further investigation has revealed that prophet Jeremiah has often been accused by his fellow countrymen as a traitor. They accuse him of accepting bribes from Babylon to push a pro-Babylonian policy. However, Jeremiah is a man of great integrity who can neither be bought nor swayed by threat. This is shown by the fact that his preaching has often brought peril to his own life, but he will not compromise.

Prophet Hananiah’s sudden death has proven to the inhabitants of Jerusalem that Jeremiah is a true and genuine prophet of God.

An autopsy was performed on Hananiah but failed to reveal the cause of death. Many religious leaders in Jerusalem believe that his death is attributed to making false prophecies in the name of Israel’s God.

Things to Note

1. Indeed, the cause of death was Divine judgement, a judgement Hananiah should have known was coming, Duet 18:20-21. Both men claimed to be speaking the words of “The Lord of Heaven’s Armies” (Jer. 28:2, 27:19). Only one could be speaking the truth.

2. Hananiah’s death was a God-given prophetic sign that should have stunned Zedekiah and all the people, causing them to submit to the call of surrender and be spared from death and destruction. But this sign, like so many others, was rejected outright.


[1] Obviously, a foreign correspondent is going to have biases and slanted agendas in what they write for their own people.

[2] Details of this spectacular showdown can be found in Jeremiah 27 and 28.

[3] Jer. 27:3-6.

[4] Jeremiah 27:4, Hananiah 28:2, Jeremiah 28:14.

[5] This is correct. Jeremiah was on public record repeatedly announcing the upcoming destruction. However, his heart favored the opposite which is what his nemesis was announcing.

[6] Poor Hananiah won’t live long enough to see his prophecies “fulfilled.”

Broken Pot, Night in the Stocks

Jeremiah’s most barbed and exacting statements are recorded in chapter 19. The episode is not dated, but it could have been soon after Temple Mob incident.[1]

Jeremiah was somehow able to persuade leaders of the people and leaders of the priests to follow him to the loathsome “garbage dump”, the place called Topheth in the valley of Ben-Hinnom.[2] What he said to get them there we do not know.[3] We do know he carried a brand new clay pot[4] and spoke harsh words of condemnation.

Listen to what the prophet said on the LORD’s behalf:

I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring! 19:3.

For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods – idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! 19:4-5.

The time is coming… when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth… but the Valley of Slaughter. 19:6.

I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals. 19:7[5].

I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity.[6] All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. 19:8.

I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair. 19:9.

While the leaders watch, he raised the clay pot and forcefully smashed it to the ground, shattering it to pieces beyond all hope of repair. Then he continued to speak:

Then say to them, “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. 19:11a.

They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them. 19:11b.

This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the LORD. I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth.” 19:12.

And in all of this prophetic message no escape clause is either stated or inferred. After he was done, he left them and returned to Jerusalem.[7]

The prophet was held in high enough regard that he was not lynched on the spot. But he returned to the city and repeated some of the words at the front of the temple for everyone to hear. Was he asking for trouble?[8] This is when a certain priest’s anger boiled over.[9] He lashed out and insulted and physically abused the prophet to the fullest measure allowable in his situation.

An Eyewitness Account[10]

Why did I stay and watch? The scene is now indelibly imprinted in my brain. Every time I close my eyes I see the pain, anguish, blood, and the flies. I hear shrieks of pain, and groans of the prophet and also the insults, jeers, and hatred of priests and temple officials. It was all so horrible.

Stripped of his clothes, his hands were tied tightly to a post. They whipped, and whipped, and whipped him without mercy. After 20 or 25 lashes he was so weakened that his legs could no longer support him; his weight hung by his wrists tied to the post. At some point, I can’t say when, the groans ceased. Later still, I can’t recall when, the involuntary jerks also stopped. Still, the lashes came and came, reaching the maximum allowed of 39.

Certainly other men have been whipped, but never had I seen it done with such vengeance, such malice as this.

His limp body was then dragged a short distance, raised up, and placed in stocks[11].

I feel absolutely awful; dirty, no, filthy on the inside.

How I wish I could have drummed up the courage to go forward and give him a sip of water. I should have given him a little soup for nourishment. I wish I could have been by his side, swatting away the flies, chasing the pesky dogs away through the night; do whatever I could to help him survive. But I, like everyone else, let fear of the priests rule my behavior. It was the Priest in charge of the Temple who charged him and punished him without a trial. And as far as I know, God’s prophet was alone the whole night in those stocks.

Horrible, cruel inhumanity; this great and noble man treated in such a way as to become a household joke.[12]

The stories and laughs continue around nightly fires in all directions.

We all failed this upright spokesman for God.

Who will defend this most noble man?

Things to Note

1. The Lord had his spokesperson round up some dignitaries and take to them to the heart of the worst cesspool of pagan practices. Located outside the wall, just below the holy Temple. He spoke the harshest, most damning words. He made the point by smashing the perfectly good clay pot into pieces (who cares if some pieces shatter into the faces of these dignitaries). There was no harsher confrontation Spokesperson could offer.

2. Demonic[13] idols called for the murder of beautiful innocent children; and the people and priests were answering that call.

3. As offensive as the words about cannibalism of children sounds (19:9), this was nothing new to the priests and leaders. It is the bottom rung on the ladder, the deepest, severest level of punishment prescribed in the Mosaic Covenant (Lev. 27:16, 18, 21, 24, 28-29). It was absolutely, unequivocally avoidable. And the prophet’s words should have shaken them into recognition of their precipitous condition. But their hearts were stone cold.

4. This telling of the events assumes that Jeremiah acted on his own volition and not under God’s command when he repeated the private words (from the valley) to the general public in front of the Temple. Commentators are divided on this.

For example, Michael Brown states, “We can assume that he does this at the Lord’s bidding, since on other occasions the Lord sent him to the temple to deliver messages (see, e.g., 7:1; 26:1 – 2); moreover, it is difficult to imagine that Jeremiah would take it on himself to do this on his own, as he would be asking for the very trouble he so wishes to avoid (see, e.g., 15:10; 20:9).”[14]

People in the Bible were flawed humans just like us, not bigger than life. It is very possible that anger overcame this fiery man, and he maybe went a step further than directed.

Reasons for this opinion are as follows:

A. The Lord gave specific instructions regarding what was to be said and done before a specific group of people. The instructions did not include the temple and the common people.

B. The speech at the Temple did not honor the Lord, it only berated the leaders.

C. The speech at the Temple did not serve a purpose. Rather, it prompted an “I feel sorry for myself” lament that any man or woman can easily succumb to.

D. Jeremiah went too far in his personal, self-centered lament. These words are not God-honoring:

O LORD, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me. When I speak, the words burst out. “Violence and destruction!” I shout. So these messages from the LORD have made me a household joke. Jer. 20:7-8.

Yet I curse the day I was born! May no one celebrate the day of my birth. I curse the messenger who told my father, “Good news – you have a son!” Let him be destroyed like the cities of old that the LORD overthrew without mercy. Terrify him all day long with battle shouts, because he did not kill me at birth. Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb, that her body had been my grave! Why was I ever born? My entire life has been filled with trouble, sorrow, and shame. Jer. 20:14-18.

These words are a true and Biblical (therefore Divinely Inspired) record of what Jeremiah felt and prayed, but Spokesperson was caught up in himself and felt he was under a landslide, even though in the middle of these two quotes above he expressed the highest of praise (verses 11-13). He was complaining about problems he had brought upon himself and was blaming his Commander for it.

5. Commander saw it fitting to answer his spokesperson with complete silence.


[1] It was during Jehoiakim’s reign that the authorities most clearly opposed the purposes of God and would have elicited such strong rebuke (however, there may be other reasons to place this closer to the final destruction). Much of the first audience of the book would have recognized the time clue given in 20:1, but we don’t have the data to interpret it.

[2] People groups throughout history in all parts of the world value and protect their children. Children hold the future. The practice of child sacrifice was demonic insanity. That the Lord’s people did this, and did it just outside the temple walls, shows how hard those demons were working. King Manasseh took the lead in this, murdering even his own sons, the princes of the land, and only a son of his old age survived to succeed him (2 Chr. 33:5-6). Manasseh would have had many more sons before his 45th birthday, he was 45 when his successor, Amon, was born.

[3] The text leaves this question unanswered, “Why would these VIPs follow him to a despicable place like that?” Perhaps two things are involved: First, he was doing something unusual by carrying this brand-new clay pot and he must have expressed urgency. Secondly, they perhaps figured he was going there to denounce the foreign, idolatrous priests. Something they could support. They could let him be the spokesman (and suffer any reprisals) while they looked on from a distance. Fretheim believes they hoped to entrap the prophet, “No question is raised whether these leaders will accompany him; unbeknownst to them, they will function as witnesses, though they may think they can entrap him.” Fretheim, P. 282. But things went otherwise.

[4] It is curious to note that during the span of his ministry the Lord told Jeremiah to buy three things. A linen ephod (13:1), this clay pot (19:1), and a piece of land (32:8-12). The Lord instructed Jeremiah to abandon the ephod and it was completely ruined (13:3-7), to smash the pot (19:10), and even the land was seen by the prophet as a public insult (32:25).

[5] The leaders would not have felt comfortable from the start, but they could still have been trying to attribute the evil to others (i.e. foreign priests). However, by verses 6 and 7 there is no denying that all the harsh words are pointed against them and they are being blamed for the horrible plague of war that is soon coming.

[6] This is a superb translation of the Hebrew phrase.

[7] Another question is, “why were there no physical reprisals for such offensive statements against the leaders and the priests?” They must have been livid at his words, but Jeremiah actually trapped them in their own pride and heaped shame on them. They went to this horrible place feeling offended by the idolatry (including child sacrifice) and feeling prideful condemnation against the idolaters. Jeremiah, however, shifted the blame for the evil upon “the leaders of the people and the leaders of the priests” for allowing these horrific practices to continue right outside the holy city. They were truly guilty and had no way to deny it.

[8] Jeremiah was human, very much a man. Going to that horrible place, speaking such sharp words and smashing the pot as a visible demonstration of wrath, only elicited a “ho-hum” response. He was angry! Is it surprising if he failed to ask his God for permission, and he went on to give his scathing message for the general population to hear? This is the kind of response the human beings have to such frustrating situations.

[9] It was bad enough that Jeremiah criticized the group there in the ugly valley, but it was a greater offence (in the eyes of the priests) to publicly shame the priests in front of the “much inferior” common people. Pashhur was not carrying out a personal vendetta so much as acting on behalf of the whole class of priests.

[10] This again is creative nonfiction in action.

[11] Stocks are very intentionally a public punishment. “Individuals are to be placed in the stocks (a wooden framework with holes for head and hands), which would expose him to public ridicule and contempt.” Fretheim p. 408.

[12] Jer. 20:8. This was indeed the intent of the public shaming.

[13] Biblical writers unequivocally accept the existence and extensive activity of demons on earth, Due. 2:17, Psa. 106:37, 1 Tim. 4:1, Jam. 3:5.

[14] Brown, Kindle Location 9491.

God’s Social Concern

The Bible, as a book, has always been millenniums ahead of its time. An example is the area of social concern. Incredible.

Throughout history it has been the oppressed and disadvantaged that have championed social activism, social concern, social justice. But what we find in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Jeremiah is very different. The Greatest, most abundant Being in the universe pushes for, and even requires social concern, including meeting the physical needs of foreigners and locals alike.

Terms of the Covenant

The Bible tells us that God founded a nation and he set it up with laws for its operation. Built into the law-code are instructions for all Israelis to provide for all the disadvantaged.

“You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. Remember, you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. You must not exploit a widow or an orphan. If you exploit them in any way and they cry out to me, then I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will blaze against you.” Exo. 22:21-24.

This advanced code of social justice is not based on a sociological view of fairness or equality. It is based on a highly superior basis – the very nature of the Creator Himself.

“For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. So you, too, must show love to foreigners.” Deut. 10:17-19.

Obedience to the Lord’s law involved active, intentional helping of all needy people.

“But if there are any poor Israelites in your towns when you arrive in the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight fisted toward them … Give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, for the LORD your God will bless you in everything you do. There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor and with other Israelites in need”. Due. 15:7, 10-11.

“When you are harvesting your crops and forget to bring in a bundle of grain from your field, don’t go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all you do. When you beat the olives from your olive trees, don’t go over the boughs twice. Leave the remaining olives for the foreigners, orphans, and widows. When you gather the grapes in your vineyard, don’t glean the vines after they are picked. Leave the remaining grapes for the foreigners, orphans, and widows.” Due. 24:19-21.

“Every third year you must offer a special tithe of your crops. In this year of the special tithe you must give your tithes to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, so that they will have enough to eat in your towns. Then you must declare in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘I have taken the sacred gift from my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows, just as you commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten any of your commands.” Due. 26:12-13.

The Enforcer

Jeremiah, like all the legitimate prophets before and after, was an enforcer of this Covenant. The Covenant between the Lord and his people. And he was most certainly a defender of the disadvantaged: The widows and orphans and foreigners and poor.

Here is what he told all the people:

“But I will be merciful only if you stop your evil thoughts and deeds and start treating each other with justice; only if you stop exploiting foreigners, orphans, and widows; only if you stop your murdering; and only if you stop harming yourselves by worshiping idols. Then I will let you stay in this land that I gave to your ancestors to keep forever.” Jer. 7:5-7.

This is what he told kings:

“This is what the LORD says: Be fair-minded and just. Do what is right! Help those who have been robbed; rescue them from their oppressors. Quit your evil deeds! Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent! If you obey me, there will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem.” Jer. 22:3-4.

And in his message to the kings he linked social activism for the disadvantaged to something very great indeed:

“But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me? says the LORD.” Jer. 22:15-16.

Spokesperson’s Platform

God’s spokesperson definitely used his platform to promote social change: to help the poor, orphans, widows, slaves and foreigners:

“Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. But those who wish to boast should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD who demonstrates unfailing love and who brings justice and righteousness to the earth, and that I delight in these things. I, the LORD, have spoken!” 9:23-24.

The way things are stated here, we could almost say that justice is God’s “middle name.”

Jeremiah’s Early Naivety

Everyone grows up in social, moral and religious environments. It’s natural to accept one’s surroundings as the norm.[1] Same for young Jeremiah. A godly king was ruling on the throne. King Josiah removed the idols, purified the temple and reestablished God’s law as the focus of civil and religious life. From outward appearances the nation was in good spiritual shape; far better than before. And young Jeremiah was oblivious to what lurked under the surface until forced by his Commander to face the facts.

The Challenge

Early on, God gave a challenge to his rookie prophet with a hefty reward if successful. Perhaps he could set aside his mantle and retire before he hardly even started!

“Run up and down every street in Jerusalem,” says the LORD. “Look high and low; search throughout the city! If you can find even one just and honest person, I will not destroy the city.” 5:1.

Wow. No destruction. Life as we know it goes on. “The pot boiling in the North” can be dismissed, if only Jeremiah can find one person of integrity.

But no. Not even one just person. So, empty-handed and out of breath he kind of blames God[2] and says:

“LORD, you are searching for honesty. You struck your people, but they paid no attention. You crushed them, but they refused to be corrected. They are determined, with faces set like stone; they have refused to repent.” 5:3

Rationalization

Jeremiah thinks harder and has a brilliant thought: The common people simply don’t know better, they are ignorant, can’t expect too much from them. But the leaders know God’s ways; surely some must qualify as “honest”.

Then I said, “But what can we expect from the poor? They are ignorant. They don’t know the ways of the LORD. They don’t understand God’s laws. So I will go and speak to their leaders. Surely they know the ways of the LORD and understand God’s laws.” 5:4-5.

The Discovery

However, his naivety quickly becomes obvious. The leaders are detaining the people in ignorance and disobedience.

“But the leaders, too, as one man, had thrown off God’s yoke and broken his chains.” 5:5.

The young man is hit with a jarring truth. These fellow priests and prophets are acting all righteous and godly, but “Their rebellion is great.” 5:6.

To understand the book of Jeremiah, we must meet a truly evil people.

Jerusalem “is wicked through and through. She spouts evil like a fountain.” Jer. 6:6-7.

To understand the book of Jeremiah, we must meet a ferocious God.[3]

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “I will pour out my terrible fury on this place. Its people, animals, trees, and crops will be consumed by the unquenchable fire of my anger.” Jer. 7:20.

Family

The result of standing on the side of truth and righteousness, and speaking the forceful words of God, was that Jeremiah made many enemies. He spoke publicly. He spoke privately. He confronted sins that were hidden and sins that were public.

His family turned against him and literally wanted him gone:

The men of Anathoth… wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the LORD’s name.” 11:21.

Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not trust them. Jer. 12:6.[4]

Co-workers

The prophets and priests, who should have been his allies, also worked to get rid of him:

The priests and prophets presented their accusations to the officials and the people. “This man should die!” they said. 26:11.

Kings and Palace Officials

Even kings saw him as a pesky nuisance and wanted him gone:

So these officials went to the king and said, “Sir, this man must die! … This man is a traitor!” King Zedekiah agreed. “All right,” he said. “Do as you like.” 38:4-5.

Summary

This is the environment, the severity of conflict that Jeremiah endured. It stretched his coping powers to the limit. He suffered battle scars. He ended up saying,

“I am hated everywhere I go. I am neither a lender who threatens to foreclose nor a borrower who refuses to pay – yet they all curse me.” Jer. 15:10.

The rest of this section focusses on these battles or escapades and their resultant scars. Jeremiah recorded these episodes not to gain notoriety or sympathy for himself, but for the truths they reveal about the wickedness of the people and leaders, and the incredible longsuffering of his God.


[1] The old “Frog in a pot” syndrome.

[2] “You struck your people… You crushed them…” i.e. Your strategy only made things worse!

[3] But Divine anger is a vastly different breed from human anger, so different that it deserves an entirely different term.

[4] For a Jew in Jeremiah’s day, rejection by your family had to be the severest of hardships. Everyone grew up among a very large extended family which provided a sense of stability, longevity, and belonging; a safety net no one wanted to be without.

Philip Yancey

I met this man some years ago in Atlanta. Fumbling for something to say, I mentioned the interest of his books across the world in Papua New Guinea. He looked me in the eyes and talked with me like I was a normal human being. A memorable moment for sure.

NOW HE IS READING MY BOOK

Did he really say that he is learning “a lot” from it?

.

That ugly sounding “thud” followed by the squealing siren?

My fainting head hitting the floor followed by an ambulance rescue.

Typing from the E.R. right now…

Wave after Wave of Opposition

Last section, Stumbling onto the National Stage, emphasized a major tragedy. The death of King Josiah brought stark repercussions to the nation and God’s Spokesperson. The “glory” days of Josiah were swallowed up by the “gory” days of his four offspring. A mere twenty-two years of compromise caused total failure of the state, and deportation of its citizens.

After Josiah’s funeral, opposition comes to Jeremiah in waves.

“Conflict” in the book of Jeremiah is not just a series of random events. It is an environment within which the prophet lives and breathes daily. Always swimming upstream. Continually walking a steep incline. It took extra-human effort to trudge on.

This level of conflict was disclosed when God first enlisted Spokesperson:

You will stand against the whole land – the kings, officials, priests, and people of Judah. They will fight you… 1:18-19.

Former prophets faced similar opposition,[1] but Jeremiah experienced an acute dosage to the point of inhumane abuse.[2] This was due to the obstinate rebellion of God’s people, and unrelenting efforts by God and his Spokesperson to win them back.

This section presents several major events in Jeremiah’s life. Let it serve as a window to understanding the oppressive environment in which he lived, served, and wrote. The man’s strength of purpose and character shine bright amidst the darkness surrounding him. He withstood each opposition and fulfilled his duties as the true spokesperson for God.

This section includes seven parts:

  1. His Early Naivety
  2. Temple Mob Pacified[3]
  3. Broken Pot, Night in Stocks
  4. Prophet on the Run – Burnt Scroll
  5. Showdown of Two Prophets
  6. Stuck in the Mud
  7. Reluctant Landowner

“Conflict” is an amazing and enlightening storyline woven throughout the book of Jeremiah. The man is caught in the crossfire between truly obstinate people and their ferocious, unyielding God. Jeremiah is attacked by family, common people, fellow priests, fellow prophets, and by the kings and their officials. He is threatened, mocked, whipped, put in stocks, beaten, thrown in jail, had his hard work destroyed, and was even thrown into a muddy pit to die.

The Book of Jeremiah gives us a portal or window not only into the events of the day, but also deep into the heart and thoughts of God’s abused Spokesperson.

“Among the most moving – and startling – passages in Scripture are Jeremiah’s forthright complaints to God, his tender confessions and prayers, mingled with expostulation and challenge, protesting God’s having snared him into a prophet’s responsibilities, tensions, and anguish.

Yet for over forty years Jeremiah maintained his obedience, reiterated his message, and fulfilled his mission.”[4]


[1] See Exo. 5:20-21; 6:9; 14:11-12; 16:2-3; Num. 14:1-4; 1 Kin. 18:4a; 19:2; 2 Kin. 17:13-14; Mat. 23:20, 37; Luk. 11:50; Act 7:52.

[2] Perhaps the worst two physical abuses inflicted on Spokesperson were the night in the stocks and imprisonment in a muddy cistern. Both occasions are covered later in this section.

[3] This story, along with the next five in this section, is told using the genre of Creative Nonfiction. If you are new to this genre, please see Appendix 1. What is Creative Nonfiction? The Bibliography includes resources that explain, regulate and teach these techniques. But the Biblical record is what really counts and should always be both the first and last words studied.

[4] White, p. 11.

Mobbed was Jeremiah, After Co-worker Murdered

Temple Mob Pacified

This story took place a couple years after king Josiah died. Judah was subservient to a foreign power[1], paying heavy taxes to insure their “independence.” The 100% true and accurate account of this incident is found in Jeremiah 26. An elaborated version is offered below in the form of an ancient newspaper article. It had to be, of course, an underground newspaper because of the volatile monarch on the throne.

Underground Newspaper: Clandestine Communiqués, Jerusalem[2]

Article Title: Turmoil outside the Temple

King Jehoiakim is quickly establishing himself as an enemy of Israel’s God![3] Details have come to light which solve the mystery of that dead body reported recently; the one that was dragged out of the palace, taken out of the city, and buried in the middle of nowhere. Our king is guilty of murder! And not just murder of anyone, murder of an anointed prophet of God! Here are the details.

Prophet Uriah,[4] son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim, was performing his duties as a prophet of the LORD. He denounced the wickedness of the people and announced that God planned to punish the whole nation of Judah, and even destroy the Hoy City. When the king learned of this “slander” and “treason” he sent some unnamed thug to kill him. Uriah was forewarned and escaped to Egypt. This upset the king even more, so he sent the trusted son of Acbor, Elnathan by name, with a posse that hunted him down. They tied him up and dragged the poor man before the king. Without further ado our king took a sword and shot it through (literally) the “rebellious” prophet.

Horrible as this was, it spurred a different, most remarkable event that took place yesterday. Here are the details.

Prophet Jeremiah, bold and unflinching, went to the temple steps yesterday and drew a large crowd. Hundreds of people listened to him as he bravely spoke these words:

This is what the LORD says: If you will not listen to me and obey my word I have given you, and if you will not listen to my servants, 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 Shiloh,[5] the place where the Tabernacle was located. And I will make Jerusalem an object of cursing in every nation on earth. 26:4-6.

These accusations and threats were even more barbed and inflammatory than what spurred Uriah’s murder. He was stating that “Jerusalem will be so badly decimated it will become a swear word for all other nations!”

There were rabble-rousers in the crowed, emboldened by the king’s obvious stance against such public pronouncements, and they worked at stirring up the crowd. They started shouting “traitor”, “infidel”, and “blasphemer.” And the whole crowd joined the hostility.

The priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. 26:8.

This ruckus was loud enough to reach ears in the palace. Officials rushed over before things escalated beyond repair. They quickly set up a formal court hearing right there at New Gate, hoping to keep control.

The priests and prophets looked confident and excited as they presented their accusations against the solitary prophet. They were seeking nothing less than a death sentence.

“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.” 26:11.

The crowds gave their boisterous support.

This could easily have been the end of the prophet. Certainly the king won’t interfere with a second kill. Might as well exterminate all the troublemakers.

One thing saved Jeremiah; the Hebrew law that guarantees the accused an opportunity to defend himself. [6]

Jeremiah didn’t back down one inch. No placating, no apologies, and no humming and hawing. He made direct eye contact with each accuser and everyone in the crowd. This is what he said:

“The LORD sent me to prophesy against this Temple and this city,” he said. “The LORD gave me every word that I have spoken. But if you stop your sinning and begin to obey the LORD your God, he will change his mind about this disaster that he has announced against you. As for me, I am in your hands – do with me as you think best. But if you kill me, rest assured that you will be killing an innocent man! The responsibility for such a deed will lie on you, on this city, and on every person living in it. For it is absolutely true that the LORD sent me to speak every word you have heard.” 26:12-15.

Transformation in the crowd was remarkable. One eye witness expressed it well:

Was it his stance? His willingness to look everyone in the eye, unashamed and unafraid? Was it the fearless authority and surety of his voice? Or was it the words themselves, that he was indeed ready to die but the guilt of innocent blood would remain on all of us?

I cannot figure it out. I cannot forget the scene.

His last sentence was, “For it is absolutely true the LORD sent me to speak every word you have heard.” Never in my life have I seen such magnetism, maybe even hypnotism. The crowds and officials were mesmerized. The animosity they started with went full-swing to support and loyalty. The royal court seemed bewitched into forgetting even to consider the wishes of our king!

The officials gave their verdict by saying to the priests and prophets for everyone to hear:

This man does not deserve the death sentence, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God. 26:16.[7]

Some elders stepped up to support the judges and related an incident of 100 years ago. Prophet Micah spoke much the same words as Jeremiah. The elders gave this advice:

But did King Hezekiah and the people kill him for saying this? No, they turned from their sins and worshiped the LORD. They begged him for mercy. Then the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had pronounced against them. So we are about to do ourselves great harm. 26:19.

If any doubt remained, it was silenced when the most honorable Ahikam, son of the late King Josiah’s close friend, Shaphan,[8] took matters into his own hands. He personally guaranteed refuge for the battered prophet of the LORD.

The mob was pacified. The prophet escaped certain death. The priests were stung by this public defeat; a lost opportunity to eliminate their arch enemy. Inflamed. Not willing to forget the defamatory words uttered against them.

 One priest we interviewed had this to say:

Horrible! How long will this disbarred priest, this insufferable windbag, be allowed to rant and rave and, above all things, abuse us priests of the Most High God? He accuses us of greed,[9] pretense,[10] superficiality,[11] bullying the people,[12] and even used the word “wicked” of us, and accuses us of committing “despicable acts right in the temple.”[13] Our only road to sanity is to find another way to snuff him.

So, what a remarkable day in the heart of the city: A near death experience. Narrow escape by a speech of conviction. Fickle mob doing a 180-degree turnaround. Government officials contradicting a murderous precedent set by the king. And the priests and prophets having a proverbial “pie” thrown in their face.

Things to Note:

1. The prologue[14] in this story is very significant. The time is mentioned, “early in the reign of Jehoiakim.”[15] The Lord tells Jeremiah exactly where to stand, “in the courtyard in front of the Temple of the Lord.” And pedantically tells him exactly what to say, “Give them my entire message; include every word.”

2. The Lord tells Jeremiah His precise motive in giving this assignment: “Perhaps they will listen and turn from their evil ways. Then I will change my mind about the disaster I am ready to pour out on them because of their sins.”[16]

3. These detailed instructions, along with God’s stated motive, must have boosted the prophet’s confidence as he addressed the nobles in the outdoor courtroom by the gate of the Temple. Note his final line, “It is absolutely true that the Lord sent me to speak every word you have heard.”

4. Jeremiah’s rebuttal was so powerful that it persuaded the nobles and the crowd.

5. The whole story is superbly written and stands as a unified whole.

Prologue 1-3

Content of the message, 4-6

Riotous response to the message, 7-9

Court in session, accusations, 10-11

The accused rebuts, 12-15

Pinnacle verse, 16

A case study presented, 17-19

Relevant back-story provided, 20-23

Final resolution, 24.

Jeremiah may not have experienced physical harm, but the acute intensity of the incident had to leave emotional scars. The mob wanted him dead! (Much like a later mob wanted an even greater prophet crucified). It may have been soon after this “angry mob” event when Jeremiah did suffer severe physical harm and public humiliation. See the next incident.


[1] The incident is dated as taking place “early in the reign of Jehoiakim” and either Egypt or Babylon held domination over them.

[2] We are extremely fortunate to have obtained a copy of this article since only 3 copies were ever made (they had to be copied by hand and were dangerous if ever discovered by the authorities).

[3] These events took place “early” in his reign, Jer. 26:1.

[4] There is nothing fictitious about this character, mentioned only one place in scripture, Jer. 26:20-23.

[5] Shiloh was only 20 miles north of Jerusalem. From the time of Joshua to the time a Solomon, Shiloh was the religious center of the nation, and the people gathered there three times a year for the major feasts. But now it was obviously in a state of ruins.

[6] Hebrew law led the way in judicial fairness around the globe, Due. 19:16-19.

[7] Truly amazing.

[8] 2 Chr. 34:8, 16-18; Jer. 26:24.

[9] Jer. 6:13; 8:10.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Jer. 6:14; 8:11.

[12] Jer. 5:31.

[13] Jer. 23:11.

[14] Jer. 26:1-3.

[15] The severity of response against Jeremiah in this incident shows how quickly the spiritual condition of the nation changed after the passing of Josiah. This was probably within the four years of the good king’s death.

[16] Sounds like the outcome is unknown, and the Lord Himself will react to the people’s choices.

A Well Read Book

So encouraged this past weekend to hear from several people who have been touched by my book.

I asked one of them how many times he fell asleep reading it, he said, “Not at all!” and commented on things that have greatly challenged his thinking.

Another said he always skips introductions, “But man, this introduction is incredible.”

Someone else told me the book opened up discussions with his brother about some of the deepest spiritual things.

These happenings are the greatest reward for an author.