Jeremiah Condemns Hananiah
Zedekiah was the puppet king put on the throne of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. In this season Nebuchadnezzar was distracted by problems in other parts of his empire. Judah and some of the surrounding nations thought it was a smart time to rebel against what seemed to be a weakened king of Babylon. In Jeremiah 27, the prophet spoke to a gathering of representatives of those kingdoms, who came to Zedekiah to plot their strategy.
–David Guzik (and all comments in red)
One day in late summer of that same year—the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah—Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, addressed me publicly in the Temple while all the priests and people listened.
This prophet and son of a prophet didn’t like Jeremiah’s gloomy message to the gathered kings (Jeremiah 27:1-11). Jeremiah came to them wearing the yoke an animal would use, to show that they would remain subjected to Nebuchadnezzar and their dreams of successful revolt would be unfulfilled.
He said, 2 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will remove the yoke of the king of Babylon from your necks. 3 Within two years I will bring back all the Temple treasures that King Nebuchadnezzar carried off to Babylon. 4 And I will bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the other captives that were taken to Babylon. I will surely break the yoke that the king of Babylon has put on your necks. I, the Lord, have spoken!’”
False prophet Hananiah directly challenges Jeremiah’s message. Instead of seventy years, he claims they will be gone no more than seven (four years have already passed, as per v. 1, and then about two more).
5 Jeremiah responded to Hananiah as they stood in front of all the priests and people at the Temple. 6 He said, “Amen! May your prophecies come true! I hope the Lord does everything you say. I hope he does bring back from Babylon the treasures of this Temple and all the captives. 7 But listen now to the solemn words I speak to you in the presence of all these people. 8 The ancient prophets who preceded you and me spoke against many nations, always warning of war, disaster, and disease.
“Namely, Joel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and others; all of whom denounced similar evils against a corrupt people.”
9 So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the Lord.”
10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and broke it in pieces.
11 And Hananiah said again to the crowd that had gathered, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Just as this yoke has been broken, within two years I will break the yoke of oppression from all the nations now subject to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.’” With that, Jeremiah left the Temple area.
Now it is in God’s hands. Either one or the other, Hananiah or Jeremiah, is speaking the true words of the Lord.
12 Soon after this confrontation with Hananiah, the Lord gave this message to Jeremiah: 13 “Go and tell Hananiah, ‘This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but you have replaced it with a yoke of iron. 14 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I have put a yoke of iron on the necks of all these nations, forcing them into slavery under King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. I have put everything, even the wild animals, under his control.’”
The yokes of iron can be understood as God’s stricter discipline upon His people. If we resist God’s gentler discipline – yokes of wood– we may find ourselves under much more unpleasant yokes of iron. It is far better to surrender the better yoke of Jesus Christ (Matthew 11:28-30).
15 Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, but the people believe your lies. 16 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord.’”
17 Two months later the prophet Hananiah died.
A true prophet, of course, is one whose predictions come true. Here Jeremiah passes the test.
HERE is a song about yokes being broken! And for us, it is a True Prophet who says so! “I Am Free.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.