"And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon" (Jeremiah 28:1-2).
Hananiah reiterated the statement that the vessels of the Lord's house were soon to be returned from Babylon, even setting a definite time limit -"within two full years." He also predicted the return of Jeconiah, with all the captives of Judah, declaring that the Lord was about to break the yoke of the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 28:3-4).
Had it indeed been true, Jeremiah would have heartily rejoiced in it; though his own utterances would have entirely failed. Having the secret of the Lord, however, he knew it should be quite the contrary. In reply to Hananiah, he said before all the priests and the people that were assembled in the house of the Lord, "Amen: 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 28:5-6).
The meek and faithful Jeremiah - how gladly would he, true lover of Judah as he was, have welcomed such an end to the miseries of his people! But he knew it was not to be.
"Nevertheless," he continues, "hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people: The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. 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" (Jeremiah 28:7-9).
He brings no railing accusation: nor is he drawn into useless argument. With the earlier prophets, whose writings they had, his word agreed; while Hananiah's was to the contrary. If it be fulfilled, then he would admit that the Lord had sent him. "The servant of the Lord must not strive." (2 Timothy 2:24)
Hananiah, however, evidently fearing that the composure of the man of GOD would have some weight with his audience, assumes the dramatic; and taking off the yoke which Jeremiah, in accordance with the Lord's command (Jeremiah 27:2), was wearing about his neck, he broke it in pieces, saying, as he did so, "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" (Jeremiah 28:10-11).
Error is generally insistent and dogmatic - the more so, often, the farther it is removed from the truth.
The servant of the Lord makes no reply. He has no reputation to save: he desires not to attach the people to himself by a display of words. He can afford to wait, for he knows he has the mind of the Lord, which will be verified in its own time. We simply read, "And the prophet Jeremiah went his way" (Jeremiah 28:11).
Alone in the presence of GOD he received a message for the man who had sought to triumph over him and had withstood his words. He was told to go and tell Hananiah that he had but broken yokes of wood: the Lord should make a yoke of iron, and put it upon the neck of all the nations he had before referred to, and the sentence is reaffirmed, that they should serve the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 28:12-14).
For Hananiah himself a most solemn word was added.
He had sinned unto death. In GOD's holy and righteous government, he must die. "Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah: The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord: Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord" (Jeremiah 28:15-16).
Solemn is the responsibility resting upon "vain talkers and deceivers," (Titus 1:10) who, by their "good words and fair speeches," (Romans 16:18) deceive the hearts of the simple. "The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." (Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11) Not alone to profanity does this refer; but to taking upon one the name of the Lord when the life is dishonoring His holiness; or professing to speak in the name of the Lord when one has received no message from Him.
Scarce two months elapsed ere the judgment so solemnly foretold overtook the impostor. "So Hananiah the prophet died the same year, in the seventh month." (Jeremiah 28:17) All GOD's ways are in righteousness, whether in mercy or in judgment.
~ end of chapter 14 ~
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Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 28". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany