Chapter 7 recounts Jeremiah’s famous Temple Sermon. After the death of reformer King Josiah, his successors reintroduced idolatry and a Temple cult. They believed they were protected from God’s judgment simply because of the presence of the Temple in Jerusalem, but Jeremiah accused them of crimes against the covenant. Matthew, Mark, and Luke echo this passage when they report Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem.
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: ‘Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place. Put not your trust in the deceitful words: This is the temple of the Lord … Are you to steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal, go after strange gods that you know not, and yet come to stand before me in this house which bears my name, and say: ‘We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again’? Has this house which bears my name become in your eyes a den of thieves?”
Jeremiah reminded Judah that the Shiloh temple was destroyed in the time of Samuel and warns that the same fate could await the Temple in Jerusalem. This occurred early in the reign of King Jehoiakim (609-598 BC). Jeremiah was considered a traitor for such a warning, but spoke out of love for Judah and God’s people.
In Chapter 26, we learn Jeremiah was then arrested and tried for blasphemy. He was acquitted only when the judges were reminded that the prophet Micah had made a similar threat against the Temple and was not condemned.
Chapter 39 recounts the devastating siege of Jerusalem that began in 588 BC and ended with the destruction of the Temple and the city and the death or deportation of the wealthy and powerful, including religious and civil leaders. The prophet’s life was spared.