The Scripture begins to cover historical events, depicting a conflict between Jeremiah and a false prophet.
Jeremiah Chapter 28
Lessons from the text
How to Respond to Accusations
When Jeremiah was confronted by Hananiah, he responded to insult with wisdom, patience, and grace. Hananiah might as well have slapped Jeremiah in the face, yet Jeremiah had the ability to say “Amen” to the false message.
Jeremiah used a wonderful tactic against Hananiah. He acknowledged what he was saying, gave him credibility, and then made the obvious point that only time would tell which of them was speaking the truth. Jeremiah in no way degraded, insulted, or accused Hananiah.
When we actually listen to our accusers, they are surprised by the respect we demonstrate. Someone who is trying to pick a fight expects you to return slur for slur. When you are able to calmly acknowledge their point (or find some common ground on which you can agree with them), they are taken aback. At that point a seed can be planted in that person that you are different. Being off-guard, they may then be able to realize that there is something to the Christian faith.
Unfortunately, the accuser can respond in a less pleasant manner. As Hananiah demonstrated, when given a gentle, logical response from Jeremiah, Hananiah only became infuriated. He waxed bolder, making an even further insult by physically taking something of Jeremiah’s and breaking it. The yoke that Jeremiah wore was more than just an object. It was symbolic of the message, and therefore anointing, that God had given him. Hananiah was completely discrediting Jeremiah in front of all the priests and prophets.
Since Hananiah did not respond in a decent manner to reason, Jeremiah got up and left. If someone throws a punch at us, our flesh wants to punch back. Jeremiah was man enough to take the blow, get up, and walk away without debasing himself to Hananiah’s low moral conduct. I imagine that after the scene unfolded, all the priests were thinking, I can’t believe Jeremiah had enough strength to not say something. I don’t know that I could have done that.
When we are able to overcome accusations with patience, reason, and integrity, everyone who watches us will see that our moral character outshines the actions of our accusers. Such is why Paul tells us to let our conduct be blameless (I Pet. 2:11-12). When someone rails against us, if our conduct is pure, they will be exposed as hateful, crude, and false accusers. Our enemies will, if we maintain a Godly attitude, fall apart on their own.
1-4 A short while after Jeremiah proclaimed his message from the previous chapter, Hananiah gets up and prophesies the exact opposite of what Jeremiah said even though Jeremiah’s prophecies have up to this point come to pass. According to Jeremiah, all those who refuse to serve Babylon will be put under a yoke of service; Hananiah says that God had broke Babylon yoke (Jer.27:7). Jeremiah warns that if the Jews continue to rebel against Babylon, all the sacred items that remain in the temple will be removed; Hananiah prophesies that all the sacred items will be returned to the temple (Jer. 27:21-22). Not to be shown out by Jeremiah, Hananiah sets a two-year time limit on his prophecy so that he sounds just as well informed by the Lord as Jeremiah who prophesied of 70 years of captivity (Jer. 25:11). He even goes one step further and saying that the rightful king of Judah who is currently in captivity in Babylon will be restored to the throne of Jerusalem. Satan is constantly trying to contradict the word of God to make people believe the exact opposite of what He says.
Verse by Verse Commentary
5-9 In response to Hananiah's false prophesy, Jeremiah appeals to the law of Moses (Deut. 18:22). Jeremiah publicly admits that Hananiah could be a true prophet (even though Jeremiah knows that God is with his own messages). Rather than engage in an argument over who is really called by God, Jeremiah wisely suggests that if Hananiah is a true prophet, then his words will come pass. If not, then all will know he is lying. This reveals a sound strategy for countering Satan's lies: tell the person to prove that they are speaking the truth. Since God is truth, those who oppose Him will be unable to present valid evidence for their beliefs. See I Kings 18:17-39 for another example of this tactic.
10 Hananiah responds to Jeremiah’s reasonable request with extreme arrogance and disrespect. Jeremiah has been wearing this yoke as a constant reminder of the message the Lord gave him that all those who rebel against Babylon will be put under Nebuchadnezzar's yoke (27:6-8). By breaking the yoke, Hananiah is declaring that Jeremiah speaks falsely and that his words are the true words of God. He is not willing to wait two years to see whose prophecy is fulfilled. Jeremiah, acting nobly, does not retaliate against this insult but simply leaves the confrontation. Jeremiah is willing to let God settle the dispute. The only defense he feels he needs against Hananiah is the fulfillment of his prophecy against Jerusalem.
11-16 Hananiah, by blatantly disrespecting and contradicting God's words, incurs God's wrath. The message is two-fold. First, God reinforces His prophecy by strengthening the wooden yolks to iron yolks in addition to repeating the original prophecy (27:7). No matter what one says to deter people from the truth, God's truth only grows stronger. Second, God pronounces a death sentence on Hananiah. Because he is instructing the people to turn away from God, he has fallen under divine judgment. No one should ever speak in God's name unless God (through the Holy Spirit) is truly speaking through one.
17 According to God's words spoken by Jeremiah, Hananiah dies within the year. This proves to all the priests and other prophets that Jeremiah and not Hananiah is the one who spoke God's words. Noteworthy is that when Jeremiah allowed God to handle the situation, God faithfully defended and magnified the prophet.
Thank you for your faithfulness in studying God’s word.
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