Devotional Commentary on Jeremiah 26


We now come to a chapter which we wish Augustine and John Calvin had read more carefully not to be hooked on a few verses of the Bible giving the impression that total depravity and sinful nature or Original Sin or peccatum originale is biblical. Augustine came to the conclusion, and Calvin mentioned this in his Institutes Book 2 chapter 7 paragraph 5 about Augustine that “Augustine argues in the most convincing manner, that while in the flesh, we never can give God the love which we owe him.” Also in the same Calvin said “But I say further, that no saint ever will attain to perfection, so long as he is in the body.” Then some sophistry is mentioned by Calvin, namely a dispute between Augustine and Pelagius: Augustine said one can never be perfect but Pelagius argued “that it was insulting to God to hold, that He orders more than believers are able, by His grace, to perform.” Augustine answered as follows: God can perfect a saint, if He so pleases, but He never did as Scripture indicated (Augustine, lib. de Nat. et Grat). Jeremiah 26:2-4 should have been carefully considered by these men. We all are required to read the Bible in its simple literal meaning and not to dodge issues.


Jeremiah received a Word from the Lord in 609 BCE since 605 BCE was the 4th year of Jehoiakim when Neb the great King of Babylon came in his own first year. Jeremiah is precise in his chronology. During Josiah’s reign the righteous flourished but when his son Jehoiakim arose a new paradigm shift came. His regime represented a “new world” said the Daath Soferim, a Jewish commentary. It will become clear why this king was very evil contrary to his father.


In this chapter, Jeremiah’s life suddenly was in danger. He always had the boldness and freedom of speaking but leadership changed and what was orange is now brown, green is now blue, red is now pink, triangle is now square.


Jeremiah was to stand in the court of the House of the Lord and speak to all the cities of Judah to come and prostrate themselves before the Lord after he would speak to them the Word that the Lord gave him (verse 2). “Do not omit a word”. The Word of the Lord is not just like in Encounter Theology of Emil Brunner a case where the person of the prophet is inspired but God leaves it up to the prophet to select his own words that is basically just a human construct or reflection with gaps and errors and flaws and misunderstandings of the Divine event. “Do not omit a word” says the Lord. Brunner did not read Jeremiah 26:2 either. The Holy Spirit who is inspiring the prophets is the Editor of their words although it is their words. Ellen White stated that God does not push the pen. My own experience is that there are not fatal errors or contradictions or polarized ideas but there are slips of the hand, slips of the tongue, slips of the ear, slips of the eyes and slips of the memory. Because there are doublets and proofreaders these slips are picked-up almost 99% but in doublets one can see these slips like in Isaiah and Kings or Samuel and Psalms. One copy was made in the original early times and one was made in the difficult exile period when proper scholarship of editing and proofreading suffered also a punishment when there is an exile. Sin affects religion also.

The theologian that taught Hans LaRondelle in Adventist circles, did not believe in an inerrant text of Scripture, for G. C. Berkouwer said Scripture is infallible but not inerrant. Berkhouwer liked the Catholic rebel Hans Kung who talked about papal statements that are full of truth and errors mixed with the idea that We should rather think in terms of being guided and sustained by the Spirit as he leads us through the valleys of possible error....” Adventists are inerrantists. A slip of the hand is not an error like Berkhouwer and Kung is opting for. Spell error is not contradictory statements by prophets among themselves. The last is what Higher Criticism wants to do and so Berkhouwer concluded: Students of Scripture began to wonder...whether Holy Scripture as Gods Word was truly beyond all criticism.(see C. W. Bogue, the student of Berkhouwer, differing with his teacher on this matter online and more in line with Adventists). La Rondelle, the Adventist professor, was influenced by Berkhouwer when he said: “God kan reguit slat met een kromme stock” = “God can hit straight with a bended stick” talking about perfection though not the inspiration of the Word of God whether mechanical or organic. Satan wants to create doubt in the Word of God. The overall idea is divine but the words are human and full of errors, he insisted. “Do not omit a word”. The end of the issue.


God’s grace is hoping for repentance: “Perhaps they will heed and repent” (verse 3). Now verses like this did change the teacher of LaRondelle, G. C. Berkhouwer, from TULIP to no-TULIP view. Before 1955 Berkhouwer and Herman Ridderbos rejected the Synod of Dordt and Calvinistic scholasticism of predestination saying that “The ‘hard sayings’ of Dordt as deduced from Scripture as consequence, culminating in the phrase ‘predestined to sin,’ is an area that disturbs Berkouwer.” (so Bogue his student). Says Bogue, “Berkouwer cites an experience of his first congregation of the man who argued, ‘nothing could help him if he were not elect and his own break from the church could not hurt him if he were elect.’” Basically, on this issue Berkhouwer was closer to Arminius like Adventism rather than Calvinistic. For the studies of LaRondelle this aspect was maybe “breath of fresh air”. 42 doctorates were completed under Berkhouwer with this “Arminian inroads in Calvinism” plus a liberal view of Scripture of course and that is a problem.


If these people of Jeremiah’s day were elected for doom they cannot repent! Berkhouwer asked at one place, what is the value of preaching the universal gospel to save everyone if only a few are elected and predestined or programmed to the saved? A very legitimate question. Does God know whether they will change? He probably does but the whole universe does not. So God says “Perhaps” they will repent. God cannot tell them what His foreknowledge saw regarding their decision. He nevertheless is willing to adjust His foreknowledge? “I will repent of the evil that I think to do to them because of the evil of their deeds” (verse 3).


Conditional with punishment: “if they do not heed to walk in My law that I have placed before you to heed to My servants, the prophets ….and did not heed, I will make this house …into a curse to all the nations of the earth” (verses 4-6). This is what Pelagius said to Augustine above: Pelagius argued “that it was insulting to God to hold, that He orders more than believers are able, by His grace, to perform.” Sensible point as long as it is not natural man in general but Spirit accompanied man. Augustine and Calvin said that even if it is spiritual, he never can keep the law. Adventists part ways on this point. Surely. That is one of the purposes why Christ came. It was the essence of the Great Controversy and Rebellion in Heaven. Ellen White, the pioneers, the Sabbath School Quarterlies speaks with one voice on this issue ever since 1844 undeterred.


Get on with Jeremiah and stop talking about other denominations and their theology. Sure. They also wrote commentaries on the very words that I am writing here. Ridderbos, the Dutch Calvinist got “converted” and on the proper track about salvation. Others apparently not. So the priests, prophets and people heard Jeremiah speaking (verse 7) but they grabbed him saying: “You shall surely die” (verse 8).


Their point is: how dare Jeremiah prophesy that the temple and the city will go under with no inhabitant around? Unthinkable and unthinkable is for them impossible. So much for the power of human reason. I cannot see a miracle therefore a miracle is impossible. Randall Younker said very well at Andrews: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. We still have the same groups in modern archaeology of Israel today in our times.


While these three groups grabbed Jeremiah, the officials in the temple, the people stood closer (verse 9). There is a law of the officials among themselves but there is also such a thing as populism of the people in the grassroots. They have sensibility and gut feelings to rely on and common sense and the willingness to satisfy their curiosity. They are like the jury principle.


When you have religious leaders prosecuting and a jury of people flocking in curiosity, the “government” has to step in and set up a court in the gate so from the king’s house some princes ran there and took their seats (verse 10).


The accusers were the priests and prophets and the jury were the people and the “judges” the princes. The accusers said to the princes and the jury, that Jeremiah should die (verse 11).


Jeremiah now do not look at the accusers, he turned to the jury of people, the people from the soil, the populist opinion makers, and the princes or secular branch who came to solve the problem that the Lord sent him to prophesy and he did (verse 12). “I was just carrying out my job.”

The bottom line: repent from your ways and listen to the Lord (verse 13).


He gave himself willingly in the hands of the jury and the judges “do what you think is good to me” (verse 14). If they kill him, they kill an innocent man and his blood shall be upon them (verse 15). “for in faith God sent me concerning you, to speak into your ears all these words” (verse 15).


The judges (princes) and the jury (people) said to the officials who were the accusers: “This man is not liable to the death sentence” (verse 16). The reason is that he spoke in the name of the Lord our God. The decision was locked in two groups (two for the officials, priests and prophets and two for the jury and judges). 2 versus 2. One more voice is needed. So elders came from the land to settle the issue (verse 17).


They said that Micah was prophesying in the days of Hezekiah that Zion will be ploughed and Jerusalem will become heaps (verse 18). Did Hezekiah kill him? The answer is negative (verse 19).

Hezekiah repented and the Lord held back what He wanted to do otherwise the exile and destruction would have been already in 701 or 689 BCE. Another century of grace was supplied by God. Ever wondered why God did not come in Mrs. White days? Delayed Grace is the answer. We also have a share otherwise we would not have had. Reason for exuberant thanks to the Lord.

In contrast what are we doing? they asked.


The elders then explained about another similar case in history of Uriah the son of Shemaiah of Kiriath-jearim who prophesied the same as Jeremiah a few months ago. And what happened? King Jehoiakim [remember that it is the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim] and his warriors, princes heard the words of the king and sought to put him to death and so he fled to Egypt (verse 21).


Jehoiakim sent to Egypt Elnattan son of Achbor (verse 22) and brought Uriah back to Jehoiakim and he killed him with the sword (verse 23).


Ahikam the son of Shaphan stood closer to Jeremiah and took him away from the killers (verse 24).

The Adventist British scholar and Archaeologist W. L. Emmerson described the Lachish letter III which was my examination question in my university days and it is relevant to this chapter.

Lachish Letter III which is the one cited by Emmerson (1935) “Letters Conclusively Dated Letter Three” for the reference to the prophet mentioned in Letter III Reverse lines 19-21 (last two words on right of line 20 and the first two words of line 21 to the right). “through the prophet saying beware”. These are profound words establishing the veracity of Jeremiah’s account as pointed out by Emmerson (Jeremiah 38:4 and Jeremiah 26:20). Two prophets who prophesied against the king was Jeremiah and the other one was Urijah, the son of Shemiah. Emmerson referred to the name El-Natan that one can see in Letter III Obverse line 15 in the middle. It is the name God attached to a verb but not that of a Phoenician deity as we find at the Samaria Ostraca. Emmerson’s point is well taken comparing the bad influence of the earlier times of Samaria with that of the post-Reformation times of Josiah at Lachish. Nedebiah the son of Jehoiakim (Chronicles 3:18) is mentioned in the time of 609 BCE as on the throne and in Lachish Letter III Reverse line 19 his name is mentioned. The name Nadabyahu is written differently by some scholars. Some ignore the contested letter /n/ and just read Adabiyahu. Others see it as Thobiayahu. or a /th/. This line of reasoning is not very convincing. The older view originally seeing it as an /n/ or the way reported by Emmerson seems to be the correct one since the /n/ compares to other examples on the same ostracon. Thus, read Nadabyahu. The context for this letter is Jeremiah 26:20-24.

This Lachish Letter III is indeed the most profound letter connecting directly and correctly with the context and background of events in both Jeremiah 26:20-24 and Lachish III. Seemingly the date was 609 BCE.



  Lachish Letter III from the days of Jehoiakim in 609 BCE original.jpg

Transcription of Original (my class notes)

  Lachish Letter III.jpg

Letter Translation

0. Your servant Hoshiyahu sends to

1. 그대의 종 호시야후가 보내어

2. inform my lord Jaosh. “May He let hear

3. 나의 주 야오스에게 알리기를 원합니다.

4. Yahweh my lord tidings of peace!“ 여호와께서 나의 주인에게 좋은 소식을 들려주시기 빕니다.

5. And now, your servant sent a letter to your servant and therein indicate 이제 그대의 종이 그대의 다른 종에게 서신을 보내어

6. what my lord sent yesterday to me. 어제 나의 주인이 나에게 보낸 바를 나타었습니다.

7. Your servant is troubled and correctly you sent to your servant

8. 그대의 종이 어려움 가운데 있으며 그대가 그대의 종에게 보낸 것은 옳은 일이었습니다.

9. and said: “My lord does not understand

10. to read a letter.“ The Lord [is witness] if tried

11. a man to read to me a letter to ________ and also

12. every letter that came unto me, if

13. I read it, and saw it

14. unto [them] it was told and unto your servant

15. to say: “The prince [Nedabyahu] went down with the host

16. Yikbaryahu, the son of Elnatan. [They] came down to go to

17. 엘나단의 아들 익발야후가 애굽으로 가려고 내려와서

18. Egypt and

19. Hodawyah the son of Abiyahu and

20. his men he sent to bring from here.“ ______________

21. 아비야후의 아들 호다야와 그의 종들을 보내 여기로부터 ___을 데려오도록 했습니다.

22. And concerning the letter [another letter], that [concerning] Nedabyahu the servant of the king, [that letter] came 그리고 왕의 종 네답야후

23. to Sallum the son of Yaddua, from the prophet: [reading]

24. “Beware!“ Your servant sent it [letter from the prophet to Sallum] to my lord [Jaosh].

[Translation in Korean by my wife Sookyoung Kim]

Lachish Map

Lachish on the map.jpg

Lachish Drawing by BW2013 online

  Lachish an online drawng by BW2013.jpg

Lachish Tel

Lachish the tel.jpg

Lachish Finding Spot of Letters

  Lachish the spot where the letters were found.jpg

Please read Emmerson’s article at the following link:

W. L. Emmerson, “The Lachish Letters” Signs of the Times Vol. 50 no. 40 (October 7, 1935), 1-3. Retrieved online at the digital site of the James White Library at the Center for Adventist Studies. The following link is available:


Dear God

We have no excuse to think that the Word of God is not true or proved to be false by archaeology. Save us in Your kingdom and save us from ourselves, our prejudices and unbelief. In Jesus Name, Amen.