Jeremiah 26:20–24; Matthew 23:29–24:2 (read online ⧉)
The most famous Uriah in the Bible is not the one we read about in Jeremiah. The famous Uriah died because the king slept with his wife. He was…inconvenient for the king.
Perhaps being named Uriah isn’t a blessing?
Uriah, son of Shemaiah from Kiriath-jearim, was also inconvenient. Just as Jeremiah, too, was not popular with what he preached as a warning against and condemnation of Jerusalem (as a symbol of the whole of the Jewish people), Uriah wasn’t popular either.
Jeremiah had court protection and support. He was safe from the king and his underlings. For whatever reason, Ahikam had the influence and power to protect Jeremiah from the people and the King.
Uriah fled to Egypt. It was an odd place for him to flee to, as King Jehoiakim was still a vassal of Egypt. It is possible that Uriah believed that he might receive some protection from Jehoiakim’s overlords, but he was disappointed. He was killed. The Book of Jeremiah strongly implies that it was because of the message from God that he dared to share (which was the same as Jeremiah’s). While we don’t hear about Uriah again, his story is important down the road.
Jesus does not mention Uriah by name nor any of the other prophets (other than Zedekiah) that were killed after bringing God’s word to the people. He called the religious leaders to account for their hypocritical attitude as they “mourned” the prophets that their forefathers killed, and yet were of the same heart as their forefathers when confronted by the Word of God.
Jesus foretold that they would repeat not just the scorn, they would also repeat the murder of the prophets and representatives of God. They would likely also celebrate such deaths for they “preserved” the status quo.
While Jesus puts to their “account” the death of all the righteous, there isn’t an outright zero chance of escaping the judgment. If one looks at this as a prophetic warning (which it was), repentance was the way out. Judgment wasn’t fixed…yet.
In addition, a number of commentators perceive the, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” both as a foretelling of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the return of Jesus as the Judge.
While we are often quick to judge those who lived in Jesus’ day as ignorant or something because they could not recognize Jesus for who he was, how often are we guilty of condemning prophetic messages because they don’t match the culture.
O God, you have made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and sent your blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after you and find you; bring the nations into your fold; pour out your Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [BCP 1979]
※ Questions ※
1) What kinds of cultures do prophets speak against? In a non-religious setting, how would you test a prophet?
2) What do you think is the biggest obstacle for people hearing a prophetic word? Have you been guilty of that yourself when a prophetic word was spoken to you?