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Jeremiah’s conflict with Hananiah ch. 28
Jeremiah’s symbolic act of wearing a yoke led to another symbolic act: the breaking of that yoke. Jeremiah’s act brought a false prophet into direct confrontation with the true prophet.
The following event took place in the same year as the preceding one, 594 or 593 B.C., in the fifth month. Another prophet, Hananiah ben Azzur from Gibeon in Benjamin (about 5 miles northwest of Jerusalem), spoke to Jeremiah in the temple courtyard, in the presence of the priests and the people who had assembled there (cf. Jeremiah 27:16). Ironically, the Gibeonites had deceived the Israelites in Joshua’s day (Joshua 9:1-15), and now a man from Gibeon would again try to deceive the Israelites.
Hananiah prophesied that Yahweh had broken Babylon’s authority over Judah. Within two years the Lord would return to the temple the vessels that Nebuchadnezzar had already taken to Babylon. Hananiah, whose name means "Yahweh has been gracious," announced a message that Yahweh would be gracious. There are about 14 different Hananiahs in the Old Testament; his was a common name. This man probably appears only here, though he may have been the brother of Jaazaniah whom Ezekiel denounced (Ezekiel 11:1-3). Jeremiah predicted that the captivity would last 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Jeremiah 29:10), but Hananiah predicted it would last only two years.
The Lord would also return Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and the people who went with him to Babylon as captives, Hananiah predicted, because Yahweh would break Babylon’s yoke. This flatly contradicted Jeremiah’s prophecy that Jeconiah would die in Babylon (Jeremiah 22:24-27; cf. Jeremiah 52:31-34).
Jeremiah responded to Hananiah sincerely but ironically. So be it, he said. Would that the Lord would do just as Hananiah had predicted. Jeremiah wished that Hananiah’s prophecy would come true because he loved his people and his land and did not want them to experience invasion and a long exile.
Yet Jeremiah urged the people to listen to what he was about to say to them. What Jeremiah wished could happen, would not.
Time would tell, he said, whether Hananiah’s prophecies of peace, or Jeremiah’s prophecies of war, were truly from Yahweh. One of the tests of a true prophet in Israel was the fulfillment of his predictions (cf. Jeremiah 23:16-40; Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
"Jeremiah’s meaning was that the usual message of the earlier prophets was one of doom, and that when he spoke of judgment he was more in the line of the predecessors than Hananiah, who spoke only of peace and prosperity (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)." [Note: Thompson, p. 540.]
Hananiah proceeded to deliver a symbolic act of his own by vandalizing Jeremiah’s sign. He dramatically smashed the yoke that Jeremiah had been wearing on his neck (cf. Jeremiah 27:2). He claimed that, similarly, within two years Yahweh would break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar off the neck of all the nations that he was oppressing.
Shortly after these events, the Lord told Jeremiah to return to Hananiah with a message. He told the false prophet that by breaking the wooden yoke off of Jeremiah’s neck, he had only made Nebuchadnezzar’s oppression more certain. Failure to repent had resulted in more certain judgment.
". . . we only add to our chastening when we resist it-exchanging wood for iron." [Note: Kidner, p. 99.]
Jeremiah told Hananiah that Yahweh of Hosts, Israel’s God, said that all the surrounding nations would serve Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king would even control the wild animals; his supremacy would be total. Nothing the people could do would divert this judgment (cf. Acts 20:26-27). His yoke over them was as unbreakable as iron (cf. Jeremiah 15:12).
Jeremiah also told Hananiah that the Lord had not sent the false prophet. Furthermore, the Lord had revealed that He would take Hananiah’s life within a year because he had encouraged the people to rebel against the Lord’s Word. The penalty that false prophets were to suffer under the Mosaic Covenant: was death (Deuteronomy 18:20).
"It is a serious thing indeed to use the name of God to say that secondary solutions can cure our problems when the real problem is that people have turned away from God and the truth that He has revealed in verbalized, propositional form concerning Himself." [Note: Schaeffer, p. 59.]
Sure enough, about two months later Hananiah died (cf. Jeremiah 28:1; 2 Kings 1:17; 2 Kings 7:19-20; 2 Kings 8:10-15; Ezekiel 11:13; Acts 5:1-11). The prophet who predicted deliverance in two years died in two months. God graciously gave him two months to repent before He put him to death. His death was another object lesson to the people on the importance of obeying God’s Word.
"In chapters 26-29 the deaths of four prophets are predicted and/or reported. Of the prophets named in these chapters, only Jeremiah survives to see the fulfillment of the prophecies given to him by the LORD." [Note: Scalise, p. 58.]
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 28". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany