Prophecy and Patriotism
Jeremiah 38:4
Therefore the princes said to the king, We beseech you, let this man be put to death…

I. THE ETHICS OF PATRIOTISM. Here are foul men who go to the king with a complaint against Jeremiah; and in doing so they do not take low ground. Indeed, there are many people interested in affairs of state who would say they took very high ground. What sounds more plausible than to say that a whole country should never be more united than when the common enemy attacks it? Should there not at such a time be mutual encouragement, the bold and brave men of a state striving to animate all the citizens with their own ardour and resolution? Thus the whole question is opened up with respect to a man's allegiance to his country. How far does the claim extend of a country upon those who live under its laws, having their person and their property protected by these laws? That national history, great national events, patriotic feelings, have their place in the machinery of government, every Christian would allow; but it may not be so easy to settle exactly what that place is. Everything turns on what should have the first place in a man's affection, duty, and service; and so we have the example of Jeremiah here to guide us. He, a Jewish prophet, teaches us -

II. THE FIRST DUTY OF A CHRISTIAN. From this world's point of view Jeremiah did an eminently unpatriotic thing. Instead of uniting the people into resistance, he, as it were, divided them into two classes. He made it a time for individual and not for common action. But, after all, in every conflict there comes a time for yielding; the attacking party must retire in failure, or the defending party submit in defeat. To Jeremiah it was given to see the certain result. He knew that not the Chaldeans but Jehovah himself had to be reckoned with. The first duty of a prophet was to Jehovah, and so for that matter was the first duty of every Israelite. Thus in the same way, the first duty of a Christian is to Christ. He who serves Christ most completely serves his country best. In such a service the Christian may be misrepresented, miscalled, stamped even as traitor, but that only means that he is called to pass through Jeremiah's experience here. Why, even a man of pagan Rome can teach us in this matter; for Cicero, in the fourth book of his 'De Officiis,' speaking of gradations of duty in the state, says that a citizen's first duty is to the immortal gods, and his second to his country. "Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Therefore the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them: for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt.

WEB: Then the princes said to the king, "Please let this man be put to death; because he weakens the hands of the men of war who remain in this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words to them: for this man doesn't seek the welfare of this people, but the hurt."

Foreshadowings and Analogies of the Cross
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