Scripture: Jeremiah 26:1-16
Key verses: (3-8; 12-16) 3It may be that they will listen, all of them, and will turn from their evil way, that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings. 4You shall say to them: Thus says the LORD: If you will not listen to me, to walk in my law that I have set before you, 5and to heed the words of my servants the prophets whom I send to you urgently — though you have not heeded — 6then I will make this house like Shiloh, and I will make this city a curse for all the nations of the earth.
7The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the LORD. 8And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die!
12Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “It is the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will change his mind about the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14But as for me, here I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”
16Then the officials and all the people said to the priests and the prophets, “This man does not deserve the sentence of death, for he has spoken to us in the name of the LORD our God.”
Reflection: In a recent Friends in Faith class, the women studied Ecclesiastes, and hevel, the Hebrew word translated as breath — it occurs over 30 times in the book. We discussed how breath is necessary, particularly as life is constantly changing and slipping through our fingers. Breath is part of our human existence; it can also be a pause, or a break in our day-to-day hectic world.
This Scripture reminds us there are times to take that breath. In Jeremiah’s prophecy, he states in verse 3, “It may be that they will listen … that I may change my mind about the disaster that I intend to bring on them because of their evil doings.” It’s a simple if/then statement, if the people listen, then God may not bring a disaster in the future.
The priests and officials quickly reacted by declaring a death sentence for Jeremiah. The prophet had another chance to speak and reiterate the message. The community paused, listened again, and changed their mind. Jeremiah’s life was spared.
There are times in the minutes, and hours, in each day, to take a breath. There are times to ask someone to repeat a message, and listen a second, or maybe even a third time. This is what the priests and officials did in Jeremiah, and a life was saved. What a wonderful model for us all.
Prayer: Dear God, we are thankful for your prophet, Jeremiah. We are grateful for moments in our lives to take a breath. Help us to recognize these opportunities to pause, and listen again, as we seek to live out your Word. In the name of the creator, sustainer, and redeemer we pray. Amen.
Author: Amy Speas
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].