In the preceding Chapter the false prophets were generally spoken of, in their making the people to trust in lies. In this we have an example of one more impudent and bold than his fellows. The awful termination of his career is here recorded.
I hardly know anything in scripture more striking, and what tends to interest the feelings of the Reader more sensibly, than this short but affecting Chapter. The Prophet Jeremiah knew himself to have been called to the Prophetic office from the womb. (See Jer 1.) But he had to contend with all the malice and contradiction of the world, as well as the powers of darkness all the way. We have here one of the sons of the Prophets publicly standing up to oppose and confront him. And that, not in a private insinuating manner: but in an open, bold, and avowed contradiction of all that Jeremiah had said. Let the Reader figure to himself the congregation of the people all assembled in the house of the Lord: and then behold the son of the Prophet Hananiah, standing up to disprove the whole of Jeremiah's preaching; and delivering the whole of what he professed to prophesy, in the name, and by the authority of the Lord. This will give him a lively idea of the subject of this Chapter.
It is hardly possible to conceive, what were the feelings of Jeremiah upon this occasion. He could not indeed, but know in himself, that what Hananiah had said, must be false; but yet from the natural unbelief that is by nature in every man's heart, he might for the moment, be tempted to doubt, whether the Lord had not indeed sent Hananiah. Besides the heart of Jeremiah as well as the hearts of all the people, naturally leaned to a wish, that what Hananiah had prophesied might prove true. So that under these circumstances, Jeremiah no doubt felt himself most dreadfully exercised. And as the false prophet Hananiah had very artfully referred the decision of his prophecy to two full years; of consequence, if the matter rested upon the event, before it could be determined, the minds of the people would not be enabled to discover, on which side the truth was, until the period had fully run out. Ministers of Jesus in the present hour, as well as the faithful Prophets of old, know what it is to be so exercised.
What impudence do men proceed to, when hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Jeremiah had constantly worn a wooden yoke around his neck, as he walked up and down among the people, both to enforce the truths he preached, by type as well as by word. And Hananiah it is plain, considered the Prophet's yoke in this point of view. By breaking it therefore, and taking it from Jeremiah, he showed the bitterness of his heart, against the poor despised, and mournful prophet, and vented all that he dared to do, to testify his contempt of his person and preaching. Reader! it is blessed in the present hour, that God's faithful servants have the protection of the law: for otherwise, the malice of hell would break out in open acts of violence, against the Lord's servants. As they did by Stephen, so would carnal men in all ages do to all, and gnash upon them with their teeth. Acts 7:54. I beg the Reader, not to overlook the peaceable and meek temper of Jeremiah upon this occasion, in going his way. And while the Reader remarks the conduct of the servant, I hope he will not need to be reminded of the unequalled patience of the Master, who when he was reviled, reviled not again. Oh! precious, precious Lord Jesus! in all things thou must have the preeminence. 1 Peter 2:23.
With what blessedness doth the Lord make known to his servants in their retirements, the sacred purposes of his will. No doubt though it be not related in this place, the Prophet Jeremiah when he left Hananiah, and went his way, went to spread the whole matter; like another Hezekiah, before the Lord, Isaiah 37:14. Where shall a poor exercised soul go, but to a throne of grace? Where shall a servant opposed in his message relate the reception he hath met with, but to his Master? Oh! it is most blessed in all things; by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving to make our requests known unto God. And the promise is absolute and encouraging. See Proverbs 3:6; Psalms 25:14.
Behold Reader! what holy boldness the Lord imparts to his faithful servants. It doth not appear by what was said in the former verses, when the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, that it was revealed to him of Hananiah's death. And yet observe, Jeremiah not only pronounced his death, but limited the time. He had said, that within two years, the people should be delivered from the fear of the King of Babylon. Now Jeremiah limits Hananiah's death to one. I beg the Reader to remark this, and to turn to other passages in the word of God, to observe how the Lord doth at times, thus give sanction to the message of his faithful servants. See Num 6:28-33; Acts 13:8-11.
This is but a short verse, but it is a most awful one. The Holy Ghost hath made a great emphasis of it. So Hananiah the prophet died. And not only the same year, but within two months from the time, that he taught rebellion against the Lord. Two years he had limited to the fulfillment of his lies. And two months only the Lord limited to the fulfillment of his iniquity. Reader! pause and ponder well the awfulness of such a character! See another such a death. Luke 16:22-23.
READER! Can any portion of God's holy word speak more decidedly or more awfully, in determining between true and false Prophets and Teachers, than what is said in this Chapter.
Who that had been present at Hananiah's message, as he solemnly prefaced, what he had to say in the name of the Lord, but would have taken part with him, leaning so much as it did to the side of mercy? And who but would have looked at Jeremiah with displeasure, as one that had been making the people sorrowful, with unnecessary alarms? But what an awful reverse of circumstances soon took place, to determine their true character. And are there not Hananiah's in the present hour? Do not many come forth in the Lord's name, whom the Lord never sent? And do not they cause men to trust in lies, saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace. Robbing the Redeemer of his glory, and precious souls of their true happiness: in bolstering sinners up in the false confidence of their own righteousness, instead of preaching Christ to the people?
Lord! do thou countenance all thy faithful Jeremiah's of gospel times, and stop the mouths of them that run unsent, who speak smooth things, and prophecy deceits. Manifest the truth of thine own cause, and let not thy people be brought under their delusions: but give to all thy redeemed, Pastors after thine own heart, that may instruct and feed thy people with true understanding and knowledge.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 28". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany