A tale of two prophets
Posted by Clyde Herrin
Jeremiah 26 describes the fates of two prophets. One of them was Jeremiah. God told him to go to the temple and warn the people that Jerusalem would be destroyed if they did not repent. Here is the response to his message:
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. (Jeremiah 26:7-9)
The priests and the prophets were the ones to whom God had given the responsibility of teaching the people his laws. They should have been the first to receive God’s message. Instead they were the first to want to kill the messenger.
They brought Jeremiah before the officials of the nation. The officials didn’t agree that Jeremiah should die.
Then 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.” (Jeremiah 26:16)
God provided a protector for Jeremiah to keep him from being killded.
But the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah so that he was not given over to the people to be put to death. (Jeremiah 26:24)
There was another prophet who preached the same message Jeremiah did.
There was another man who prophesied in the name of the LORD, Uriah the son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim. He prophesied against this city and against this land in words like those of Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 26:20)
The response to his message was different.
And when King Jehoiakim, with all his warriors and all the officials, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death. But when Uriah heard of it, he was afraid and fled and escaped to Egypt. Then King Jehoiakim sent to Egypt certain men, Elnathan the son of Achbor and others with him,and they took Uriah from Egypt and brought him to King Jehoiakim, who struck him down with the sword and dumped his dead body into the burial place of the common people. (Jeremiah 26:21-23)
Two prophets preached the same message of judgment. God allowed one to be killed but protected the other. Why?
I read a commentary that said Uriah died because he fled rather than standing his ground as Jeremiah did. This might be the explanation but there are some things that make me doubt it.
Jesus told his disciples what to do when they were persecuted.
When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next. (Matthew 10:23)
We must be willing to die for Christ’s sake, but if he provides a way for us to save our lives we should take it. Uriah was just doing what Jesus would late tell his disciples to do. Also, Jeremiah was in the custody of his enemies and couldn’t have fled even if he had wanted to.
Uriah wasn’t the only prophet to flee when his life was threatened. After Elijah won his contest with the prophets of Baal he was met with this threat.
Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”
Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. (1 Kings 19:1-3)
Rather than killing him, God protected him, restored him to fellowship, and gave him more work to do.
And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria.And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. (1 Kings 19:15,16)
God hasn’t told us why he allows one of his servants to be killed and protects the life of another, and we don’t need to know why. We belong to him and he can do to us whatever he wants. Our responsibility is to simply obey him and leave the results or lack of results in his hands. Whatever the outcome we can know that it is his will and he will work everything out for good.