Jeremiah 28:1. In the beginning. The LXX read, the fourth year of Zedekiah.— Hananiah, by education and profession, the prophet. Good men may teach and preach, though their learning be small, yet all ministers having to expound the holy scriptures should have learning, and be well read in natural and moral philosophy, the better to study the perfections of God, and know the human heart. But here is the difference; this man was a prophet of man’s making. Jeremiah was “a prophet of the Lord.”—Both the Chaldaic and the LXX read Hananiah the false prophet. How grievously did the false prophets obstruct the work of reformation, and the ministry of the true prophets.
Jeremiah 28:6. Jeremiah said amen, the Lord do so. But all present understood Jeremiah’s meaning from the tones of his voice. It is by the tone and pathos of the voice that the heart of one man speaks to another.
While Jeremiah was making yokes for the neighbouring nations, as emblems of their vassalage to the king of Babylon; while he was preaching with a yoke of wood about his own neck, and making every exertion to save a remnant of the sentenced people; it was high time for Satan also to be busy, lest his kingdom should fall. Therefore he swelled the pride and wickedness of Hananiah’s heart to oppose the Lord’s prophet. This man, to give effect to his wicked plot, forged a prophecy in the name of the Lord; for he is charged with making the people to trust in a lie. The subject of his prophecy was but a re-echo of the wishes of the court, and the passions of the populace. It contained not a word of humiliation for sin, nor a single trace of the glory and sanctity which attended the sermons of holy men.
We must learn to be meek, composed and confident under the contradiction of sinners. Jeremiah said not one sharp word to Hananiah, the first of hypocrites. He said, Amen; the Lord do as thou hast said. Let Judah live: my being accounted a false prophet is of no moment compared with the existence of a nation. But he consoled himself for the present by an appeal to prophecies of like nature, then quietly retired, and left Hananiah in full possession of the field. We learn farther, that the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment. God will never forsake his people in the day of trouble. Jeremiah having retired awhile for prayer, presently returned to the charge, refreshed in spirit, and irradiated in countenance. He arrested the artful culprit before all the people in the Lord’s house, and brought him to the tribunal of the sanctuary. He made manifest the atrocity of his crime in causing the nation to trust in a lie, and sentenced him to die that very year for leading the people to rebel against the sacred ministry. Let us fix our eye a moment on Hananiah for instruction. When Jeremiah was confronted he was meek but confident; he was beaten back, but he kept his shield: now when the false prophet was confounded he was speechless. Conscious guilt caused his countenance to turn aghast, and to seek a place to hide himself from the eyes of men. He sickened with despair, and in two months gave up the ghost. A pensive gloom covered the misguided crowd; they saw their champion fail, and sufficiently read in the countenance of the two prophets who was right, and who was wrong.—But oh, how many astonishing thoughts does the death of Hananiah suggest to the mind. This man tacitly thought to have taken Jeremiah’s life, which had twice been threatened; he thought to have made himself great as a counsellor of Judah; but behold his cunning could not save him, and his crime proved his destruction. Let all ministers learn from him never to flatter people in their sins, and accommodate the gospel to popular passions.
We learn farther, that there is a sin unto death, and I do not say that ye shall pray for that man. Ananias and Sapphira died instantly on the detection of their sin; but here two months of respite were allowed, probably for repentance, and that all Judah might be acquainted with the case; more especially that all other false prophets might hold their peace. Let us then revere the glory of God in his sanctuary, let us serve him with a purity of purpose, and a fidelity becoming the majesty and grace of our high calling.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Jeremiah 28". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
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