The is first recorded instance of Jeremiah preaching in the Temple Courts and this marks the beginning of his prophesying to the backslidden Kingdom of Judah. The entire sermon Jeremiah preached is recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-10:25, and is here contextualized in the historical situation surrounded this message: Jeremiah delivered this sermon “in the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah King of Judah”, for, straightway the Lord commanded him: “Stand in the Court of the LORD’s House, and speak…” (Jer. 26:1-2). With only 3 months into the idolatry of the people, Jeremiah came! After 13 years of incessant Revival under Josiah, these men were made to look upon the Spirit-filled face of Josiah’s companion, Jeremiah, who was like an uncle to the King and Princes, and he was a near kinsman to the Priesthood (being a Priest himself).
Being so early in the reign of Jehoiakim and before the persistent impenitence that transpired, the LORD was very outstretched in the cause of mercy and repentance (Jer. 26:3); but as we have already seen in the full sermon delivered, this mercy would be rejected. How do we know that Jeremiah 26:2-8 main point summary of the greater message recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-10:25? Well, my reader, the most notable message delivered in the Temple Courts, recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-10:25, is here spoken of in summary at the very same location. The main points of the sermon are manifest: Firstly, an appeal for mercy and hope upon repentance (Jer. 26:2-3). Secondarily, the longsuffering of God in persisting to send Prophets had expired (Jer. 26:5, Jer. 7:13, 25-27). Thirdly, and because of the former two points, God was going to strip the Temple of its Glory like He did at Shiloh generations ago (Jer. 26:6, Jer. 7:12-15). Notably, there is no other prophecy of Jeremiah which presents the threefold argument in like manner, except Jeremiah 7:1-10:25. In fact, the threat of reducing the Temple to the status of Shiloh was verbalized nowhere else in all of Jeremiah, except for Jeremiah 7:1-10:15). Furthermore, we can see that Jeremiah 26:2-6 is not the full message which God commanded Jeremiah to speak. The message was only summarized in these three points. Notice the words, “Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the Priests and the Prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die” (Jer. 26:8). In other words, there were many more words spoken than what was recorded in Jeremiah 26:2-6, and they are recorded in Jeremiah 7:1-10:25.
As a result of the whole message preached, Jeremiah was trouble. It was written, “the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die” (Jer. 26:8). What was making them so angry? Exclusive to the message delivered in Jeremiah 7:1-10:25, they said: “Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the LORD, saying, This House shall be like Shiloh, and this City shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the House of the LORD” (Jer. 26:9). When the Princes heard what was transpiring they came on to the scene (Jer. 26:11). The Priests and Prophets then appealed to the Princes concerning the judgment of Jeremiah, saying, “This man is worthy to die…” (Jer. 26:11).
Jeremiah answered by rehearsing the message preached, but he was speaking to “the Princes” and “to all the people” because there wasn’t any reasonable hope that the Priests and the Prophets would listen to him (Jer. 26:12-15). Then “the Princes” and “all the people” disagreed with “the Priests” and “the Prophets”, saying, “This man is not worthy to die…” (Jer. 26:16). Then, in agreement with the Princes and the people, certain “Elders of the Land” spoke and reminded the people how the Prophet Micah prophesied to King Hezekiah the same message that Jeremiah did, and Micah was not put to death (Jer. 26:17-19, Micah 3:12). They reminded the people of the Prophet Urijah also, who had the same message as Jeremiah, and he died at the hand of Jehoiakim (Jer. 26:20-23). Clearly, Jehoiakim was not like Hezekiah. Wickedly, the precedence was set that would lead to Jeremiah’s death! But one of the Elders of the Land, named Ahikam the son of Shaphan, stood with Jeremiah. It was written, “Nevertheless, the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death” (Jer. 26:24). Ahikam was a very old man, and elder indeed, for he was alive and in authority decades ago during Jeremiah’s early ministry as a Prophet, a time when he was accepted and esteemed, the time of Josiah’s reign when they restored the Temple and found the Law (2 Chron. 34:20, 2 Kings 22:12-14, Jer. 39:14, 40:5-7, 2 Kings 25:22), thus it is to be expected that Jeremiah was held in high regard in Ahikam’s eyes. Think of it, this was Shaphan’s son, the Scribe who read the Law to Josiah, a good friend of Hilkiah the High Priest who found the Law (who was likely Jeremiah’s father)! All the other Elders of the Land would bow down to the blood-thirsty will of the people, but this man wouldn’t! For good cause.
The message preached sounded the alarm of coming desolation (Jer. 26:9, 7:33-34, 9:12, 10:22) insomuch that even the scattered peoples would find no peace in foreign Lands because the LORD would send a sword after them until they were consumed (Jer. 8:3, 9:16)! Pathetic appeals of mercy, forgiveness, and hope were indeed given (Jer. 26:2-3), but as the LORD God of Israel was standing, looking, and listening if anyone would repent, none did (Jer. 8:5-6 – the people; Jer. 8:10-12 – the prophet and priest; Jer. 8:7-9 – those foremost to blame; Jer. 9:12 – none understood and none were wise)! It was a bleak situation because of the progress of depravity from generation to generation (Jer. 7:25-27).