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God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 26:12-15

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, March 27, 2015

12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people, “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and the things you do, and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring on the disaster he has pronounced against you.

Here is proof that God was bringing the Babylonians down on Judah so that Judah would repent of her sins: If the people of Judah would repent, the disaster would not come. God would use whatever means was necessary to turn the Babylonians away or prevent them from destroying the cities if only the Jews would turn back to him.

The word translated “reform” here is hetib, “make good.” Another way of talking about repentance is to “turn away” (shub) from sin (as in 26:3, “Perhaps they will listen and every one will turn from his evil way”). But here repentance is viewed from God’s perspective, with the people showing their sorrow for their sin by making their lives acceptable and pleasing to God. Repentance begins with grief over sin or terror over sin’s punishment, then the heart is turned back to God by the promise of forgiveness in the gospel. Then, embracing God’s promises and soothed by the forgiveness of sins, the heart compels the body and mind to show this change with one’s life. The fruits of repentance might look very different from one person to the next, but what God wants from us is faith showing itself in love. “This is to my Father’s glory,” Jesus said, “that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8)

14 But as for me, I am in your hands. Do with me what seems best and whatever is right in your judgment. 15 But be certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and those who live here, for truly the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”

Jeremiah trusted God, but he knew that he was powerless before this crowd of angry Jews. They might well kill him. They might stone him, or stab him, or any number of cruel and evil things that the King James Version once translated as the “superfluity of naughtiness” (James 1:21).

This is the fifth and last time Jeremiah mentions innocent blood. In 7:5-6, refraining from shedding innocent blood was held out as a condition of repentance in Judah. In 19:4, the clay jar was broken because, among other things, the Jews had “filled this place with the blood of the innocent.” In 22:3, the Lord once again remembered his call to repentance, saying, “Do not shed innocent blood in this place.” But then in 22:17, the Lord’s judgment was spoken: “But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, for shedding innocent blood, for oppression, and doing violence.” Now these people were ready to shed innocent blood right in the gate of the Lord’s temple itself. The Lord had an enemy army close by to bring down his judgment—just as he did when the Jews shed the blood of Jesus just outside the gate of the city. The Romans did then in Jesus’ day what the Babylonians were about to do in Jeremiah’s. The city would be brought down, reduced to nothing.

Yet Jeremiah wondered, what would happen to him? His life might be about to end. All he could do was be faithful to the Lord, whether this day meant life, or the end of life. Either way, his faith would mean eternal life. And the same is true for us.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.