Today: [Jeremiah 28] When the Prophets Contradict Each Other. In this chapter, we meet a fellow prophet of Jeremiah by the name of Hananiah. Hananiah is a well-liked prophetic voice, endorsed by the king and popular among the people. Jeremiah on the other hand is in stocks, being led about with a wooden yoke on his neck as public punishment for given such negative words over the city of Jerusalem. In this midst of his humiliation, Hananiah takes the stage and gives a prophetic word completely contrary to what Jeremiah has been saying. What happens next is a lesson for all those who deign to hear God’s voice.
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[Jer 28:1-17 KJV] 1 And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, [and] in the fifth month, [that] Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which [was] of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, 2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD’S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon: 4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. 5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD, 6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD’S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place. 7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people; 8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. 9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, [then] shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him. 10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it. 11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
This chapter records a very difficult time in the city of Jerusalem and in the personal life of Jeremiah. He is found once again to be placed in public stocks, beaten, humiliated and suffering. The king of the people who presides over this spectacle of blood is none other than Zedekiah, the last king of Judah before it is overthrown completely by the Babylonians. As Jeremiah’s neck chafes in the stocks, and his blood spatters the ground at his feet – a fresh humiliation is presented in the person of Hananiah – a fellow prophet.
Hananiah the prophet stands before Jeremiah in the presence of all the people and gives a prophetic word diametrically opposed and in contradiction to everything Jeremiah has said. Have you ever witnessed such a thing? I have seen men and women of God stand publically before each other – casting dispersions and dire pronouncements at each other, all in the name of the Lord. What are we to do when two respected voices contradict one another? What was Jeremiah’s response?
Hananiah gives a detailed prophesy about when and how the people who have been taken captive to Babylon will return. He declares that within 2 years Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim will be returned to the throne of Jerusalem. He declares the all the captives will be free and that the gold and silver vessels taken by the king of Babylon will be returned to the temple of Solomon. What a positive word! How does Jeremiah take this challenge?
Remember that Jeremiah is exhausted, both physically and mentally. He just cannot endure further and in his exasperation and desperate suffering he affirms the words of Hananiah. Hananiah with a flourish of mock clemency takes the wooden yoke off of Jeremiah’s neck and sets him free. Jeremiah utters not a word and retreats to lick his wounds. He has come into alignment with the prophetic community in Jerusalem. He is now one of them. He can rest now – he has capitulated to the will of the people and the obvious authority of a well known, popular prophet. Hananiah, no doubt looks serene, and clucking his tongue as Jeremiah departs, observes that Jeremiah might not have suffered so horribly if he had just kept up with what all the popular prophets were posting on their Facebook accounts!
12 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah [the prophet], after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, 13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. 14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. 15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. 16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. 17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
Jeremiah is in seclusion, and just trying to keep himself out of trouble when the word of the Lord comes to him. Hananiah is to be openly rebuked. What a blow to Jeremiah, who knows that if he obeys God, he may be tortured or worse once again. The Lord tells Jeremiah that the yoke of wood he broke off of Jeremiah would be nothing compared to the yoke of iron that the Babylonians would bring upon the necks of the people. Remember that Hananiah while prophesying deliverance, refrained from making one demand upon the people to change their lives. The altar to Baal stands leering in the Holy Place. The smoke of the bones of their children still smolder at the valley of Hinnom where the kings sacrificed their children to pagan dieties. Yet how do we gainsay Hananiah? Remember that the mark of a false prophet is when he offers promise without penitence. Jeremiah’s words always came with an exhortation upon the people to repent and return to the pure worship of Jehovah. All true prophetic words will convey direct or implied expectations upon their recipients to walk in yieldedness and obedience to God in all things. The absence of such counsel in a prophetic word is suspect in nature.
Because Hananiah has so flamboyantly taken upon himself to contradict the words of God – he dies an untimely death just a few months later. Jeremiah lives on, hated and reviled by the people around him, with no friends or supporters to validate the words God has given him. Sometimes you have to stand alone and obey God to the best of your ability. Remember that we all see through a glass darkly. We can be wrong in our interpretations, but let us not be wrong in our hearts or in our motives. Let us remain pure before God and guard our hearts from compromise lest the outcome for us be that of Hananiah rather than Jeremiah.
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