Jeremiah—what a book. I mean, really, what a story. Like so many of God's prophets, he was thrown into a role he felt ill-equipped for, only withstanding the hostility and depravity of his people by God's supernatural provision. I can't imagine being given a job knowing that 90% of it will feel like a waste of time. To be tasked with proclaiming a message daily that no one (almost literally) will listen to.
Jeremiah was known as the Weeping Prophet. Considering the emotional burden he carried for the sinful people of Judah, I don't blame him at all. But now take all that emotional strain and throw death threats into the mix, and the job becomes more than just disheartening—it becomes dangerous.
In Jeremiah 26, our prophet speaks out in God's name against the people of Judah gathered at the temple. God doesn't mince words, so you can imagine Jeremiah brought some pretty heavy ones to bear against his corrupt and stubborn people, to which they responded, naturally, by threatening to kill him.
Even when some Judaean princes spoke on Jeremiah's behalf, the elders weren't willing to back down so easily. Some stood up and told the gathering assembly a lovely little anecdote—about a prophet who spewed ominous doomsayings against Judah and was ultimately hunted down and slaughtered by the king himself.
Now, believe it or not, I didn't intend this post to be about Jeremiah. What really fascinated me about this chapter the last time I read it was not the Weeping Prophet at all, but a man named Ahikam.
See, the last verse of Jeremiah, after the elders' impassioned speech calling for Jeremiah's death, says this:
"Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death." (Je. 26:24)
That's all we're told about Ahikam, son of Shaphan, but it stood out to me all the same. As far as I know, Ahikam was a royal secretary or official whose son eventually became the governor of post-invasion Judah. He was also a supporter of Jeremiah, clearly, but that's not what makes him stand out. What I love about this verse, about Ahikam and the role he played, was that God positioned him in exactly the right place at exactly the right time, and Ahikam did not waste his opportunity.
Something we often forget is the active hand of God in shaping the circumstances around us. He positions us in contexts for a reason, but He also gives us the choice to act or stay quiet, to seize the opportunities He places in our paths, or slip quietly away instead. Ahikam could have held his tongue, watched his people threaten Jeremiah, or even act on their threats, without interfering: I imagine it would have been more beneficial for his public image, his job security, and probably his safety.
But God had brought Ahikam into that crowd for a reason, and Ahikam chose to act on it. Knowing the risk, knowing the potential pitfalls, but also knowing that God had put him in the right place at the right time with a commission to do the right thing.
Everywhere we are is the right place at the right time. God shapes our circumstances as surely as he did Ahikam's, and just like Ahikam, we have no excuse to avoid the tasks He's calling us to. Wherever you are, God has placed you there for a purpose. Search for it. Hunt for it. And then, act on it. Let's follow Ahikam's lead today.
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