Read: Jeremiah 24-26
We begin today with a parable of the figs: some good and some so bad that there is nothing that can be done about them…not even good enough to turn into Fig Newtons. Jeremiah continues to preach exile and wrath for the nations and is once again threatened, this time with death, until some elders to a chance and spoke up. We have much to learn from this example of obedience and honor. Lord, help us to speak your words of truth and let go of our selfish concerns.
The parable of the figs. God showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs:
One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very bad figs, so bad they could not be eaten. Then the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the bad ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”
The good figs represent those who are good and will be redeemed; the bad, Zedekiah and his followers in this case, will be cast out because they are so bad that there is not even the hint of goodness in them.
Seventy Years of Exile
Jeremiah elaborates on the prophecy of Judah’s exile into Babylon at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. As punishment for years of ignoring the prophets, of worshiping idols and worse, God will use Nebuchadnezzar as his instrument of discipline. For 70 years they will be subject to exile. More than a generation, the once populace Israel will be reduced to a few who remain faithful.
“But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the Lord, “and will make it desolate forever. Jeremiah 25:12
The promise of future years is bittersweet for many.
Cup of Wrath
God is not pleased with Judah and the surrounding countries as well. Here he instructs Jeremiah to extend his prophecy to Egypt, Uz, the kings of the Philistines and many others. They will not escape the cup of wrath for their abhorrent behavior.
This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. When they drink it, they will stagger and go mad because of the sword I will send among them.” Jeremiah 25:15-16
The devastation is graphically documented in the rest of the chapter. Suffice it to say, Jeremiah didn’t pull any punches as he spoke the word of God against these people. Not the message I would want to preach, but Jeremiah is showing us that we need to be faithful to God’s call, whether it pleases us or not, and trust in his provision.
Jeremiah Threatened with Death
Needless to say, Jeremiah’s message was not well received!
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! Jeremiah 26:8
Jeremiah was resolute, “do with me whatever you think is good and right” (Jeremiah 26:14), but the words spoken are words from the Lord. As the officials affirm he must be put to death, some of the elders spoke up to defend Jeremiah. The reminded them of Micah’s words to explain that Jeremiah is not the only prophet to speak such words.
“Did Hezekiah king of Judah or anyone else in Judah put him to death? 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!” Jeremiah 26:19
Wow! Amazing to hear that some of the elders were bold enough to stand in the gap and defend one condemned to death by priests, prophets and officials. Lord, I pray that I would be bold enough to hear your word clearly and know when to speak up and when to be silent.