The priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. And 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! Why have you prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate, without inhabitant’?” And all the people gathered around Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.
When the officials of Judah heard these things, they came up from the king’s house to the house of the Lord and took their seat in the entry of the New Gate of the house of the Lord. Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and to all the people, “This man deserves the sentence of death, because he has prophesied against this city, as you have heard with your own ears.” Jeremiah 26:7-11 ESV
O God, be not far from me;
O my God, make haste to help me!
May my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
with scorn and disgrace may they be covered
who seek my hurt.
But I will hope continually
and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all the day,
for their number is past my knowledge.
With the mighty deeds of the Lord God I will come;
I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone. Psalm 71:12-16 ESV
An American young woman named Mildred Gillars went to live in Germany in the 1930s, and after awhile she got a job with Radio Berlin as an actress and an announcer. She broadcast in English throughout World War II, and many American soldiers as well as people in the United States listened to her broadcasts. Because she worked for the axis powers, American soldiers gave her the nickname, “Axis Sally.” She would find out the names and hometowns of American men who had been wounded in the war and talk about them as if there were little hope they would recover. Before the American troops invaded Normandy, she broadcast a play about a mother dreaming that her son was dying on a burning ship as it sailed toward the invasion. She used terribly realistic groans and cries of dying soldiers on the ship in her play. Axis Sally did these things to discourage the American war effort and to make people feel as if things were hopeless for the American side and their allies. After the war was over, Axis Sally was convicted of treason by the United States, and she spent 12 years in prison.
When Jeremiah prophesied that Jerusalem would fall and the temple would be devastated, the people were furious. They thought he was trying to discourage his people and help their enemies. They were sure he was guilty of treason for speaking against his nation and the temple, and that he deserved death. The officials came together to the gate of the temple to hear the case, and everyone laid out their accusations against Jeremiah. They said that he deserved to die for the things he had said. They wouldn’t hear Jeremiah’s words as words of judgment and warning from God, but instead they saw the Lord’s prophet as a threat and a troublemaker.
Many years later God sent his own Son, Jesus, to speak his words to the people. Jesus spoke words of both judgment and love, but the religious leaders of his day were not pleased with his teachings. The religious leaders said that Jesus deserved to die, and they sent him to his death on the cross. But it was at the cross that God’s judgment for sin met God’s love for all people, and it is through Jesus’ death that we have forgiveness with God and life forever. God’s words of judgment always send us back to Jesus, where we can know of the wonderful love and forgiveness he won for us.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working through Jesus’ death to bring us forgiveness and life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.