Jeremiah 26:20-21 MSG (At another time there had been a man, Uriah son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, who had preached similarly in the name of GOD. He preached against this same city and country just as Jeremiah did. (21) When King Jehoiakim and his royal court heard his sermon, they determined to kill him. Uriah, afraid for his life, went into hiding in Egypt.
Pastors and preachers everywhere have most likely had an attack of this kind of fear, though few to this extent, after delivering a message that their congregations did not want to hear. This verse records an instance where a man named Uriah, a prophet of Kirjath-jearim (a city belonging to the tribe of Benjamin), had spoken a Word from the Lord that was apparently of correction and not warmly received by neither the King of Judah nor the people. They were determined to kill him and ultimately did, but not until after he was captured and brought back after fleeing for his life to Egypt. However this section of Scripture isn’t about him, it’s about Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 26:8 MSG When Jeremiah had finished his sermon, saying everything God had commanded him to say, the priests and prophets and people all grabbed him, yelling, “Death! You’re going to die for this!
Jeremiah 26:14-16 MSG “As for me, I’m at your mercy–do whatever you think is best. (15) But take warning: If you kill me, you’re killing an innocent man, and you and the city and the people in it will be liable. I didn’t say any of this on my own. GOD sent me and told me what to say. You’ve been listening to GOD speak, not Jeremiah.” (16) The court officials, backed by the people, then handed down their ruling to the priests and prophets: “Acquittal. No death sentence for this man. He has spoken to us with the authority of our GOD.”
Jeremiah was having a bad day. In obedience to the Lord, he had spoken a difficult and corrective word from the Lord to people of Judah. He was calling God’s people to turn from their evil ways and follow the Lord. And just like they had previously done with Uriah, they were prepared to kill him. However the outcome was different. Instead of being overcome by fear and fleeing for his life, Jeremiah stood his ground confident he had fully followed God’s will and spoken His Word for the people. He boldly spoke the Word of God despite knowing the history this people had with correction. I believe it was his determination to stand firm, confident in the Lord, and not flee that made all the difference. Jeremiah probably remembered when the Lord spoke to Him saying, “Don’t be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.” GOD’s Decree. (9) GOD reached out, touched my mouth, and said, “Look! I’ve just put my words in your mouth–hand-delivered! (Jer 1:8-9)” He knew God was with him and he was walking in obedience to God’s Word. This confidence empowered him to fearlessly stand and not flee.
When the court officials saw and heard Jeremiah’s confidence in God’s Word and his submission to the consequences that might occur because of his obedience to the Lord, they determined that he had indeed spoken to them the Word of God and relented from killing him. Still there is another fearless hero in this story, which we will look at next week. For this week remember God is with you and He has given you a mission and a Word for a lost generation. Jeremiah didn’t have the Spirit of God as you and I do. We can stand more fearless than Jeremiah.