posted on Nov, 11 2016 @ 05:05 PM
At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, the Lord instructed Jeremiah to make himself a set of yoke-bars with thongs, and
hang them around his neck (ch27 v1).
This was in the fourth year of Zedekiah’s reign, according to the next chapter.
Publicly wearing this visual aid, he was then to send messages to various groups of people.
There were envoys in town from local monarchs, hoping to build up an alliance against the king of Babylon. The conspirators included “the king of
Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the sons of Ammon, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon”.
The envoys were to be given this message;
The Lord God of Israel is the one who stretches out the earth and all its inhabitants, “and I give it to whomever it seems right to me”.
He had chosen to give it to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, for at least three generations of that monarchy.
So if any nation at all refused to submit to that king and put its neck under his metaphorical “yoke”, the Lord would consume them with the sword,
with famine, and with pestilence.
The kings should ignore any prophets, diviners, or soothsayers who were telling them any other story.
Rebellious nations would be taken into exile, but submissive nations would be allowed to remain on their old lands.
Jeremiah spoke to his own king, as well, in exactly the same terms.
Zedekiah should not listen to those prophets who were confidently asserting that the nation would never serve Babylon.
“I have not sent them, says the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name” (v15).
He said the same thing to the priests and the people.
Those prophets were claiming that the sacred vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had taken away to Babylon, after the first siege, would soon be brought
On the contrary; if their advice was followed, the sacred vessels which still remained would be carried off in the same direction.
There was a batch of such false prophets amongst the exiles in Babylon, and Jeremiah complained about them in the letters he sent there.
There were Ahab the son of Kolaiah and Zedekiah the son of Maaseiah;
“They have committed folly in Israel, says the Lord, they have committed adultery with their neighbour’s wives, and they have spoken in my name
lying words which I did not command them” (ch29 vv21-23).
While Shemaiah the son of Nehelam had the cheek to write to the priests and people of Jerusalem recommending that they place Jeremiah in the stocks,
along with all the other madmen.
Ezekiel was one of the exiles in Babylon at this time. His own visions would begin in the following year.
Ezekiel, too, complains about the prophets of false hope in his community, though he does not name them.
In the intervening chapter, Jeremiah himself met one of those false prophets, whom the Lord had not sent.
“Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet from Gibeon”.
Hananiah and Jeremiah had a direct encounter in the house of the Lord, “in the presence of the priests and all the people”, which looks like an
Hananiah gave a prophecy, as from the Lord;
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
Within two years, I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away”.
He would also bring back all the exiles, including the former king, Zedekiah’s predecessor (ch28 vv2-4).
Jeremiah spoke in his turn, addressing the same audience.
Amen! May those words come true! Unfortunately, they won’t.
“As for the prophets who prophesy peace, when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the
This is quite a mild way of calling a man a liar. Micaiah the son of Imlah was much blunter in his own time (1 Kings ch22).
Hananiah’s response had undeniable visual impact. He came over, took the wooden yoke-bars from the shoulders of Jeremiah, and smashed them;
“Thus says the Lord; even so will I break the yoke of the king of Babylon”.
Jeremiah could not think of an immediate answer, and he went away.
The applicable solution came to him later;
“You have broken wooden bars, but [the Lord] will make in their place bars of iron”.
He also had a personal message, straight from the Lord, for Hananiah himself;
“The Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie.
Therefore thus says the Lord; I will remove you from the face of the earth” (ch28 vv13-16).
The prophet Hananiah died two months later.
But the leaders of Jerusalem, unfortunately, continued to place more trust in his message of misguided optimism than in the sound advice which
Jeremiah and Ezekiel were offering.
This was the policy which resulted in the destruction of the city.
They would rather be guided by self-appointed men than be guided by God.