These are the “matter-of-fact” words of the Lord to Jeremiah concerning a sermon He wanted him to preach in the temple court of Jerusalem (Jer. 26:2). God shows optimism that the people might repent, but they would have to “listen to” Him through Jeremiah’s message (Jer. 26:3-4). If they would not “heed” the words of His servants the prophets, they would suffer severely for it (Jer. 26:5).
The priests and the prophets heard what Jeremiah spoke (Jer. 26:7-8), but it made them so mad they grabbed him and threatened to kill him (Jer. 26:8ff). If not for the princes and the people (Jer. 26:16), they might have done to him what Jehoiakim once did to the prophet Urijah (Jer. 26:23). But, despite the threats he received, Jeremiah obeyed the Lord’s command and did not change his message to soothe his angry hearers. Instead, he told them, “Amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the Lord your God; then the Lord will relent concerning the doom that He has prophesied against you” (Jer. 26:13).
Today, we are not yet at the point of facing physical persecution and death for preaching exactly what God’s Word says, but it is still not always easy. Offending the guilty, “stepping on toes,” and “goin’ to meddlin'” can exact a price from the proclaimer. The pressure and temptation exists to adapt the message to the audience’s lifestyle. Paul warned of this possibility, telling Timothy, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4). That describes the environment in many places, including some places among God’s people. We must predetermine that, whether the winds blow for good or ill, we will not diminish a word of what God commands (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Not warning people does not change the danger. It just makes us subject to it, too! As Micaiah famously said, “As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that will I speak” (1 Kings 22:14).