"God's ambassadors must keep closely to their instructions, and not in the least vary from them, either to please men or to save themselves from harm." - Matthew Henry
"In full, without softening the threat by the omission of anything the Lord commanded him(Jeremiah) i.e. he is to proclaim the word of the Lord in its full unconditional severity, to move the people, if possible, to repentance." - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary On The Old Testament
"Men are not to mingle revealed truth with their own imagination and traditions." - Barnes' Notes
In this day and age, some want to continuously stress the unconditional security of the believer. But how about the Word being preached in an unconditional severity? Who wants to preach, teach, or write messages about that?
Our text for today is found in Jeremiah 26:2 which says - "Thus saith the LORD; Stand in the court of the Lord's house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD's house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word."
This text outlines a certain command or instruction that the Lord God gave to His servant Jeremiah.
First of all, He told the Prophet what to do and where to do it. He didn't just simply instruct him to speak - He specified what the message was...where it was to be delivered...and to whom it was to be prophesied.
He told Jeremiah to - "Stand in the court of the LORD's house..." He wasn't supposed to hide in a corner somewhere... gather a few folk together...and then share what the Lord God put on his heart. This was no weak-kneed, spagetti-spined type of delivery required here.
No, he was instructed to - "Stand in the court of the LORD's house..." This happened to be the largest or greatest court of Israel - the place where the people assembled for worship and the place where he could be heard by all. It was also the municipality of the priests - his sworn enemies.
To whom was he to deliver this message?
"...unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the LORD's house..."
In other words, he was to prophesy to all of the inhabitants of the cities of Judah. What he had to say concerned them all - for they had all sinned and were in need of repentance.
There were three times in the year when they gathered together "to worship" - at the Feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. However, it was at the Feast Of Tabernacles when this particular word was to be delivered.
What was the message that God had for the "cities of Judah"?
"...speak...all the words that I command thee to speak unto them..." Nothing - absolutely nothing - was to be kept back. The whole counsel of God was to be declared.
In no way was Jeremiah to suppress the message through affection or fear of the people. Even though he may be tempted to make the message less offensive than God gave it to him - he must not disobey the Lord.
Then the Lord God finished the divine mandate with these words - "...diminish not a word." In other words, he was not to suppress the message in any way for fear of giving offense. He was not to prophesy indirectly rather than forcibly...soften any expression... change or alter any word...nor abate its vehemency - all in the name of seeking to please men.
The message was to be kept as it was given - with nothing added nor taken away. Not one comment was to be given that would weaken or destroy its impact on the hearers.
He was not to add any inventions of his own so as to make it more significant or magnificent. Nor was he to neglect anything commanded so as to make it easier or smoother.
He was not to set up any dreams, visions, revelations, or prophesies on the same level as the Word of the Lord. Nor was he to exalt tradition - making it equal with the Word.
Throughout the Scriptures, we find verses forbidding any tampering with God's Word. They are as follows -
"Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2)
"What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." (Deuteronomy 12:32)
"Add thou not unto His words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." (Proverbs 30:6)
Sad to say - in our day and age, we find many who are guilty of "diminishing" the Word. They "corrupt the word of God" (2 Corinthians 2:17) or "handle it deceitfully" (2 Corinthians 4:2). They are like the retailers of wine who were notorious for diluting the wine with water or compounding wines using other substances than the juice of the grape. They water down a strong word of repentance from the Lord, or they explain away or falsely interpret offensive points by using human philosophy. As Tyndale described it - they "chop" and "change" the Word.
Their main objective is to accommodate the Scriptures to the taste of their hearers. Hence, they disguise its true meaning - especially those parts which would tend to make them unpopular - the parts that go against the evil inclinations of the people. They explain away its force so as to excuse sin. They turn with the tide and shift with the winds of popular opinion and prejudice.
If the Lord God would call on the Preachers of today to -"Stand...and speak...all the words that I command thee to to speak...diminish not a word" - just how many would obey that call?
How many are doing so at this present time?
Are you one of them?