But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord ’s name that this Temple will be destroyed like Shiloh? What do you mean, saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed and left with no inhabitants?” And all the people threatened him as he stood in front of the Temple. - Jeremiah 26:8-9
Reading through Jeremiah, it can be difficult to get into the headspace of God's people at that time as they were being attacked and taken. It is easy to discount their continued disobedience and rejection of Jeremiah's ministry as simply rebellion. But they were real people going through life much the same as we are with a constant choice between obeying the Lord and doing what is culturally acceptable.
Jeremiah was prophesying of the Babylonian captivity and it was indeed happening, but the false prophets were declaring it would all be over in two years. Through Jeremiah, God said multiple times that He did not send them, so where did these leaders get this? Perhaps it was all premeditated and schemed, but more likely they believed it. They had worshipped idols for so long that they didn't know the truth anymore. Their hearts were hard, but they were continuing with life and spirituality the way they had defined it.
The declaration of Jerusalem’s destruction pierced their soul because Jerusalem was where the very presence of God resided, in the temple in the Holy of holies. The idea that God would destroy this city was something their ears couldn’t reconcile because they were caught in a system of false worship and religion. Like a nationalistic response of patriotism, “This is God’s country. We are His anointed, this can’t happen!” But God did send the Babylonian army and he declared those that were taken into captivity would be preserved.
There is a lot we can learn from this passage about the surprising ways and methods of our Heavenly Father to accomplish His purpose. However, when we look at God’s people in the days of Jeremiah, we see hey had redefined worship, spirituality, and obedience into something perverted and humanistic. The messages he was sharing were difficult to hear and reconcile with how they thought God was going to deliver them. But the truth is the truth and it has been declared throughout the Bible. Yet when we begin to value anything above the Truth-Giver, we begin to redefine things in an incorrect and unholy way.
When King Saul was confronted by Samuel about not completely destroying the Ameliktes, he responded, “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. "I carried out the mission he gave me." (1 Samuel 15:20) Saul had redefined obedience for himself because of his pride that was manifested through fear of the people.
In what ways have we customized the truth of the Bible to fit our lives, beliefs, or philosophies? Jeremiah’s message was not popular or easy, but it was from God. Those that went into captivity would be protected and thrive for 70 years until He would bring them back to the land, whereas those that sought to stay and overthrow the King of Babylon would be destroyed. The encouragement from Jeremiah is to choose to believe and obey God rather than the religious elite, a movement, or the culture.