Wisconsin Lutheran Chapel logo

God’s Word for You

Jeremiah 28:5-11

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, April 13, 2015

You may recall that in chapter 26 Jeremiah was threatened with death for his preaching. In chapter 27, he condemned the preaching of false prophets who contradicted the word of God. The Lord told Jeremiah to construct a wooden yoke to wear around his neck as an illustration of God’s message: Submit to the yoke of Babylon. Now, still wearing the yoke, Jeremiah is being confronted by the prophet Hananiah, whose message is the opposite of Jeremiah’s. Hananiah predicted that within two years the Lord would bring back the exiles, release King Jehoiachin, and even return the temple dishes used for sacrifices.

5 Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD. 6 He said, “Amen! May the LORD do so! May the LORD fulfill the words you have prophesied and bring back the vessels of the LORD’s house, and may he bring back all the exiles from Babylon to this place. 7 Nevertheless, listen now to what I have to say in your hearing, and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets from ancient times who came before you and men prophesied war, famine and plague against many countries and great kingdoms.”

We don’t need to say that Jeremiah was being sarcastic when he said “Amen! May the LORD do so!” Jeremiah loved Jerusalem and the land of Judah and the people of God. He certainly would have wanted things to go differently than they were going. Commentator J.A. Thompson aptly calls Jeremiah a patriot. But Jeremiah knew that the Lord had actually spoken this message to him and had commanded him to construct and wear the yoke that was around his neck.

Jeremiah’s message agreed with that of the earlier prophets. Those prophets (Isaiah 14:3-4; Micah 4:10; Habakkuk 1:6, etc.) foretold exile or oppression by Babylon, but also that there would be restoration once again. Hananiah’s message was that enough was enough. The restoration should come now.

9 “When his word comes true
      the prophet who prophesies peace
will be known as a prophet
  whom the LORD has truly sent.”

Jeremiah did not dispute Hananiah any further. His statement is simple and absolutely true. All they had to do was wait and see whose prophecy came true. But by prophesying peace, Hananiah was countering every warning God had been giving for more than one hundred years.

10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke it. 11 In the presence of all the people, Hananiah said, “This is what the LORD says. This is how I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from off the neck of all the nations within two full years.” But the prophet Jeremiah went on his way.

Hananiah was bold to remove the yoke and break it. When we think about false prophets, we tend to think of men who were convinced they were right, perhaps for political or social reasons. This appears to be the conviction of ministers who promote more and more liberal (they sometimes say “moderate”) views of the Bible today, espousing abortion, mercy killing, homosexuality and other sins. The same arguments were heard in the past when preachers would try to use God’s word to support slavery, evolution or prohibition. Evidently Hananiah thought he was in the right, and he even used Jeremiah’s yoke to illustrate his point.

Jeremiah did not start an argument. This could easily have degraded into a spitting match, but Jeremiah simply left.

There are times when a false teacher should be confronted, and there are times when he should just be left alone. Solomon said, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself” (Proverbs 26:4). Jeremiah’s example might not be the easiest to follow, but by walking away he gave glory to God. An answer would come soon enough.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.