How dare you!
“How dare you!” When I think about it, it seems like I don’t hear this phrase much anymore except in movies, and when I do hear it, it’s usually coming out of the mouth of a guilty person. It’s often used as an ad hominem argument of sorts. The priests, the prophets, and the people who heard Jeremiah prophesy against the city of Jerusalem and the temple dismissed what he had to say by dismissing him.
Self-righteousness finds strength in numbers, not that it needs the help. I do just fine justifying my sin on my own. But when I find others who agree with me, and “righteous” people to boot, it makes it all that much easier to turn a deaf ear to the law that kills and ignore God’s call to repentance. This “mob mentality” is the sinful nature’s friend and Satan’s ally. You would think that if we could isolate individuals from the mob, some of them anyway, they would lose some of their resistance to the truth that should be so obvious to them.
Our God finds a way. We love to hear about his individual attention to us in terms of his love. And it is true: God loves me individually, one-on-one, not just as a part of a mass of humanity. I’m reminded that I also need his “tough” love personally. I need to hear God address me individually, as one solely responsible for my thoughts, words and actions. And he does this, even when I am in a group. “Now we know that whatever the law says speaks to those who are subject to the law, so that every mouth may be shut and the whole world may become subject to God’s judgment” (Romans 3:19). The Holy Spirit finds a way to my heart, even amid so many other sinful hearts.
But as soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, "You must die! 9 Why do you prophesy in the LORD's name that this house will be like Shiloh and this city will be desolate and deserted?" And all the people crowded around Jeremiah in the house of the LORD. 10 When the officials of Judah heard about these things, they went up from the royal palace to the house of the LORD and took their places at the entrance of the New Gate of the LORD's house. 11 Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, "This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!" 12 Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: "The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. 13 Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. 14 As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. 15 Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing." (Jeremiah 26:8-15)