JEREMIAH CHAPTER 28.
Against the False Prophet Hananiah.
HANANIAH’S FALSE PROPHECY. — V. 1. And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, that is, in the first half of his reign, after he had become fully established in his position, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Hananiah, the son of Azur, the prophet, a member of a family of priests, which was of Gibeon, a city some eight miles northwest of Jerusalem, spake unto me in the house of the Lord in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, in a false message modeled after the true revelations given the real prophets, v. 2. Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon, which the country had then borne for about ten years. V. 3. Within two full years, literally, "years of days," that is, after the years would be completed down to the last day, 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, 2 Kings 24,13; v. 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, 2 Kings 24, 14. 15; for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. This was a bold move on the part of the false prophet, intended to offset and neutralize the clear proclamation which Jeremiah had made concerning the length of the coming captivity. V. 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, for, having the truth on his side, he possessed the boldness which a true servant of the Lord should always exhibit, v. 6. even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen, that is, So be it! 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! Jeremiah was personally in the heartiest accord with this, idea of the early restoration of the captives and of the Temple vessels; nothing would have pleased him better than to have this fortunate turn of events come true. V. 7. Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, in a most emphatic manner, and in the ears of all the people; v. 8. The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old, as Isaiah, Joel, Hosea, Amos, and others, prophesied both against many countries and against great kingdoms, of war and of evil, of misfortune and calamity of every kind, and of pestilence. V. 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. That is, the fulfillment of a prophecy such as had been made by Hananiah would be the best proof of his having spoken the truth. But from the start the presumption of truth is in favor of the prophecies of calamity, since they are connected with danger to him who brings the message. Prophecies of good fortune may be flattery and have the object of providing their maker with pleasant conditions; it is necessary, therefore, to wait for results before accepting them. V. 10. Then Hananiah, the prophet, took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, which he wore by God's order, chap. 27, 2, and brake it, an act of audacity and impertinence with which he intended to strengthen his position over against the people. V. 11. And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, in another base falsehood. 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. He thought that the bold repetition of his false prophecy, together with the symbolic act which accompanied it, would cause the people to believe him without question. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way, leaving the justification of his prophecy to the Lord for the present. In many cases it is the part of true wisdom for believers not to reply to bold statements on the part of the adversaries, but to leave the vindication of the Lord's honor to the Lord Himself.
THE REBUKE GIVEN TO HANANIAH. — V. 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, that is, within a few weeks or a month later, saying, v. 13. Go and tell Hananiah, Saying, Thus saith the Lord, Thou hast broken the yokes of wood, but thou shall make for them, in their stead, yokes of iron. The result of Hananiah's rash and impertinent action was merely to increase the emphasis which the Lord placed upon the fulfillment of His prophecy against Judah. V. 14. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, speaking with the solemnity of His majestic power, I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, cp. Deut. 28, 48, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, the punishment of the Lord being certain to strike them; and I have given him the beasts of the field also, a power which was, for the time being, practically unlimited. Cp. chap. 27, 6. V. 15. Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah, the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah: The Lord hath not sent thee, thus confronting the false prophet with his base deception; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie, in getting them to believe the message which he imagined. V. 16. Therefore, thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth, the words implying a complete removal, to take away also the effect of his false prophecy; this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord, causing men to forsake Him and the Word of Truth. V. 17. So Hananiah, the prophet, died the same year in the seventh month, the quick fulfillment of Jeremiah's prophecy serving to emphasize all the more strongly the seriousness of his offense against Jehovah. The punishment of the Lord upon the false prophets of our day may often seem to be delayed in coming, but He will certainly vindicate His honor against all who assail His Word.