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Bible Commentaries

The Church Pulpit Commentary

Jeremiah 28

Verse 5

THE FALSE PROPHET AND THE TRUE

‘The prophet Jeremiah … the prophet Hananiah.’

Jeremiah 28:5

I. The prophecy of Hananiah of the speedy return of the exiles and the break-up of the power of the king of Babylon was evidently dictated by a desire to win popularity with the people.—He spoke in the name of Jehovah, and may even have supposed that his message was Divinely given, but his soul was filled with human voices and reasonings, which made him unable to distinguish the still small voice of inspiration. Jeremiah was quite as anxious as he was that his country should be spared further suffering. He uttered a fervent Amen to Hananiah’s predictions. Nothing could have given him deeper pleasure than their realisation; but, standing as he did in the counsels of God, he knew it could not be.

So is it still. Men who follow simply their own thoughts, or are deeply dyed with the spirit of society around, are apt to prophesy smooth things to such as live selfish and worldly lives. ‘There is no such place as the outer darkness, no such experience as the second death.’ So they speak. But we know it cannot be. Earnestly as we might wish for it, and say Amen, we know that it cannot be immaterial how men live, and that wickedness is destined to bring infinite anguish and pain. Ah! how terrible will their position be at last, who cried Peace, Peace, when there was none, and encouraged rebellion against the Lord. Let them be warned by the fate of this false prophet!

Hananiah was, without doubt, very popular. It was not easy for Jeremiah to stand alone, as we find him doing.

II. What a picture is presented, as these two prophets oppose each other in the presence of priests and people in the house of God!—By his amen to the words of Hananiah, the true prophet avowed his passionate desire that his hopes might be realised, but he knew certainly that they could not be. Hananiah closed the conference by breaking the yoke which Jeremiah carried on his neck, but the prophet of God made no reply, he simply went his way. It is good not to hold altercations with men who have set their hearts on opposing the truth. Better yield quietly and go your way. Better say nothing than speak in temper. Hold your peace, even from good, until you know precisely what is the message from the Lord.

The word of the Lord did come to him afterwards: that iron would be substituted for wood, that the land would be given up to the beasts of the field, that Hananiah should die. And God vindicated his words by the false prophet’s sudden decease. The man who can commit himself to Him that judgeth righteously cannot fail of vindication.

Illustration

‘A false prophet, a miserable comforter disputes with him, brings good news and appeals to an oracle, a voice which he had perhaps heard more lately than Jeremiah. Jeremiah, without getting warm about it, says “I shall be heartily glad if it be so: but take care that you have understood it correctly.” His opponent is encouraged and goes further, he breaks off the prophetic yoke from Jeremiah’s neck. Jeremiah, with the same indifference which he has shown from the beginning, goes his way.… “I dare not speak of anything,” says Paul, “which Christ hath not wrought by me” ’ ( Romans 15:18).

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Jeremiah 28". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/jeremiah-28.html. 1876.