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Bible: What Does Jeremiah 28-29 Teach Us About False Prophets and Jerusalem's Hope?
The Foolishness of Hananiah
Jeremiah records the very date on which Hananiah challenged his message and made it public (v. 1).
Not only did this "prophet" foretell an early return for the vessels, Jehoiakim’s son (Coniah), and everyone else (that is, two years), contradicting Jeremiah's prediction of seventy years--a prophecy he had made known several years earlier in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (see 25:1, 11), Hananiah foolishly claimed divine inspiration for his message (vv. 2-4).
Jeremiah responds publicly (and, it appears, quite diplomatically) to Hananiah's words, approving of the return of everything and everyone to Jerusalem (vv. 5-6).
Yet he maintains that since Hananiah's words of peace ran counter to the prophecies of old that predicted great destruction and war, they would first have to come to pass to be recognized as truly from God (vv. 7-9).
[Note the confidence of one who speaks the truth; he does not attack his adversary, but merely stands upon what he knows].
Hananiah reacts forcefully, using an object lesson of his own (breaking Jeremiah's yoke) and then repeating his prediction of a two-year stint for Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 10-11).
The real prophet meekly walks away with an unspoken "We'll see."
Quickly, the LORD puts an end to the controversy by revealing to Jeremiah a sobering message not only for the nations, but also (and especially) for Hananiah.
The nations will now undergo a harsher servitude, and Hananiah seems responsible for the change in its severity (vv. 12-14).
Perhaps even more harsh (harsh, but just) is God's punishment upon this would-be prophet, whose false words taught the people rebellion and made them trust in a lie (vv. 15-16).
The LORD gives him about two months to "put his house in order" (v. 17).
The Length of the Captivity
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Jerusalem's Future and Hope
The first three verses give the letter’s particulars: author, origin, destination, recipients, time of composition and couriers.
Jerusalem is its origin and Babylon its destination. Jeremiah (the author) addresses certain captives in the Chaldean capital (its recipients), instructing them by the word of the LORD to prepare to live the rest of their lives in that foreign land.
He advises them to establish long-term dwelling places and promote peaceful personal and community relationships (vv. 4-7).
Jeremiah also relays God’s word which tells them to beware of false prophets, who undoubtedly continued to predict a soon return home (vv. 8-9).
Yahweh offers hope to the captives. He has not given up on them, but will yet bless them by allowing them to return home after seventy years (v. 10).
[Of course, most of them would die before that return, so this promise is more for their grandchildren to claim than for them.
National survival, therefore, is of greater importance than is individual happiness. In a sense, the parents live on in their progeny.
(The author may be missing something, but somehow, for him, not being allowed to return as an individual would remove considerable appeal from that promise)].
God's thoughts toward Israel are such that He will again establish peaceful relations with His chosen people.
In an act of grace and condescension, the LORD will allow them to find Him when they seek for Him diligently and pray to Him (vv. 11-14; cf. Heb. 11:6).
The Destiny of False Prophets
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God Sends True Prophets Only
After this brief note concerning Israel's hope, the LORD returns to a discussion about false prophets, responding to the people's false perception that He has sent them prophets in captivity (v. 15).
In sum, He asserts that that kind of thinking got them into their present mess!
Directing His remarks to the Davidic king, his people in Babylon, and those yet in Israel, God reiterates the punishment that will befall them because they disobeyed His true prophets (vv. 16-19; cf. 24:3, 8-10).
Subsequently, He personalizes the message, naming those "prophets" whom He would move Nebuchadnezzar to execute (vv. 20-21).
So profoundly will this event/lesson affect the captives that they will "take up a curse" concerning the false prophets Ahab and Zedekiah (vv. 22-23).
Jeremiah also records Shemaiah's efforts to curtail the prophet’s proclamation of a long captivity by influencing the priests to imprison him (vv. 24-28).
The LORD's response: Shemaiah and his family will not see His deliverance. In other words, his name will perish because of this teaching (vv. 29-32; cf. 28:16).
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