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Jeremiah, Chapter 28
Hananiah, the False Prophet (28:2-17)
Chapter 28 continues the prophecy of the yokes. One of the false prophets, Hananiah, refutes the prophecy of Jeremiah and claims to give the true Word of the LORD.
Having already tried to execute Jeremiah under the reign of Jehoiachim, the false priests and prophets elected to lessen Jeremiah's teachings by a dramatic confrontation and denial of his prophecies publicly. Their representative in this endeavor was Hananiah, son of Azur, a Gibeonite, probably a priest, a self-called false prophet with the bold face, the loud voice, and the arrogant self-confidence that made him quite convincing with his smooth message of peace, prosperity, restoration and glory for Judah, all to be within two years.
Hananiah means The LORD is Gracious, and there are about fourteen men in the Old Testament who bear this name. Nothing is revealed in the Bible concerning this man except what is written here. The fact of his being a Gibeonite should have warned the people to be cautious. The citizens of this place deceived Joshua and earned for themselves favored status in the conquest of Canaan (Jos.9:23); King Saul massacred large numbers of them (2 Sam. 21:1); and it was there Joab treacherously slew Amasa (2 Sam. 20:11-12)
In Chapter 27, Jeremiah had charged the false prophets with lies who foretold the speedy breaking of the yoke of the king of Babylon and the speedy return of the vessels of the sanctuary. Here we have his challenge with a certain prophet. (1). Hananiah, a pretender to prophecy, in contradiction to Jeremiah, foretold the sinking of Nebuchadnezzar's power and the return both of the persons and of the vessels that were carried away (vs.1-4), and, as in addition of this, he broke the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah (vs.10-11). (2). Jeremiah hoped his words might prove true, but appealed to the event whether they were so or not, not doubting but that would disprove them (vs. 5-9). (3). The doom both of the deceived and the deceiver is here read. The people that were deceived would have their yoke of wood turned into a yoke of iron (vs.12-14), and the prophet that was the deceiver would be shortly cut off by death, and he was so, within two months (vs.15-17).
Hananiah, a Pretender to Prophecy,
Opposes Jeremiah (Jer. 28:1-4)
Jer. 28:1 And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, (KJV)
Reign of Zedekiah (Jer. 27:1). The fourth year would be about 593 B.C.
Hananiah . . . this man was one of several by this name in the Bible, and in this case, he was an enemy of God’s TRUE prophet, different from the loyal Hananiah (Dan. 1:6).
Zedekiah reigned 11 years, so it could have been thought that anything under 5 years would have been considered the beginning of his reign.
This event where Hananiah spoke was a gathering of priests, most likely to discredit Jeremiah. Consider the specific date they met . . . the 4th year, in the fifth month. That time is very important in the next few verses. Gibeon was a city of priests. We remember that Jeremiah was also the son of a priest as well. Since the priests and all the people were there, it was probably a special feast day.
Verses 2-3: I have broken the yoke. The false prophets were the kind Jeremiah warned of (27:14-16). Hananiah boldly predicted victory over Babylon and the return of the Temple vessels within two years. In reality, Babylon achieved its third and final step in conquering Judah 11 years later (586 B.C.; as in chapters 39, 40 and 52 of Jeremiah; and as to the vessels, see (Jer. 27:21-22).
Jer. 28:2 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. (KJV)
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . Hananiah used the language of the TRUE prophets, describing the LORD in the same way they did, when coming from Him, and speaking in His Name. It was quite a bold and daring action, when he knew the LORD had not sent him, nor had said anything at all to him.
Saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon . . . which he had put upon the neck of the king of Judah, indicating that he would no more be subject to him, meaning that he had determined to do it, and would do it, in a very short time.
*****The prophets who were prophesying good times were actually false prophets. They had NOT been sent by God, but had come on their own. Hananiah stated his message was from God, but he is bringing an exactly opposite message than the message the LORD had given to Jeremiah. Jeremiah's message was placed in his mouth by God. Hananiah's message came from his own will, prompted by the devil.
Jer. 28:3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD'S house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon: (KJV)
Within two full years . . . one says, at the end of two years. What the false prophets before had said would be done in a very little time . . . a very short time, when compared to the seventy years that Jeremiah had spoken of (Jer. 25:11).
Will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD'S house . . . that king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away all the vessels from the Temple, where Hananiah now was. That is to say, all those vessels as before this time had been taken by him, both in Jehoiakim's reign, and at the captivity of Jeconiah his son, who also was called Coniah and Jehoiachin.
And carried them to Babylon . . . where they still remained, and according to Jeremiah would remain (Jer. 27:19).
This prophecy appeals to the flesh of man. These people want to accept this message because it is good news. The message is that there is no need for repentance. Jeremiah said the captivity would be for 70 years, and they did not want to hear that.
Jer. 28:4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. (KJV)
Bring again . . . Jeconiah . . . this rash, false claim fell into public disgrace. Jeconiah, taken to Babylon in 597 B.C., would live out his years there and not return to Jerusalem (Jer. 52:31-34). Other captives either died in captivity or didn’t return until 61 years later (Jer. 22:24-26).
Hananiah said that he spoke in the Name of the LORD and his message sounded very much like Isaiah’s earlier Promises that the LORD would deliver Jerusalem from the Assyrians (Isa. 37:33-35). False prophets speak just enough truth to make their message sound good, which is why the Bible reminds us to test the spirits (1 John 4:1), and warns us that Satan has the power to present himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). Jeconiah is the same as Jehoiachin, and he was in captivity 36 years in Babylon. This prophecy is a lie.
Verses 5-6: Jeremiah points out that, humanly speaking, he wished that Hananiah’s prophecy were true. Unfortunately, without repentance and renewed obedience to the terms of the covenant, Judah would not know either peace or the return of the captured sacred vessels of the Temple.
Jeremiah Appealed to the Event, Whether It Were so or Not (Jer. 28:5-9)
Jer. 28:5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD, (KJV)
Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah . . . the false prophet, as he is called by the Targum, Syriac, and Arabic versions.
In the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD . . . waiting and worshipping in the Temple. And Jeremiah said boldly before them all, in answer to Hananiah's prophecy, what follows.
Jer. 28:6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD'S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place. (KJV)
Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen . . . Amen or may it be so. He wished it might be so as Hananiah had said, IF it were the will of God, but as a TRUE prophet, he knew it could not be. As an Israelite, out of respect to his country, he wished it might be; and he wished that they would repent of their sins, that the evil he had threatened them with might not come upon them. He wished the good that Hananiah had prophesied might be fulfilled, but he knew differently.
The LORD do so . . . the LORD perform the words which thou hast prophesied. Such a whole-hearted regard Jeremiah had for his country, that, were it the LORD'S pleasure to do this, he would be content to be counted a false prophet, and Hananiah the true one. It was very desirable to him to have this prophecy confirmed and fulfilled by the LORD.
To bring again the vessels of the LORD'S house, and all that is carried away captive, to Babylon into this place . . . as a priest, this must be very desirable to Jeremiah, since he would gain by it. Being a priest, he would eat of the holy things . . . when Hananiah, being a Gibeonite, would be a hewer of wood and a drawer of water to him. Some think that Jeremiah spoke sarcastically.
Jer. 28:7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people; (KJV)
Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears . . . although this would be very acceptable to me, and I would be glad to have it fulfilled, yet carefully pay attention to what I am about to say, it being what greatly concerns you, as well as all those present to listen.
And in the ears of all the people . . . that stood around to hear the conversation that passed between the two prophets.
*****Nevertheless, is the key word in this verse. Jeremiah says, I hope what you are saying is true, but God has given me a different message. Jeremiah did not hide somewhere to give his message just to Hananiah. He spoke his prophecy so all the people could hear.
Jer. 28:8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. (KJV)
The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old . . .the TRUE prophets such as Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and others. These,
Prophesied both against many countries and against great kingdoms . . . such as Egypt, Babylon, Syria, Ethiopia, Moab, etc., just as Isaiah mainly did.
Of war, and of evil, and of pestilence . . . by evil some think is meant famine, because that usually goes along with war. The prophets that prophesied of these things were sent by God, and were TRUE prophets of the LORD. If they would not come to pass, yet a man is not to be counted a false prophet, because such things are threatened in case nations do not repent of their sins and reform. Which they may do; and then the evils threatened are prevented, as in the case of the Ninevites (Jon.3:2-10; Lk.11:30).
*****In general, the TRUE prophets brought warnings from God to the people. They stood before kings with messages from God. They spoke of the need of repentance. They spoke to priests to keep the worship of God Holy. They were messengers with warnings from God. Jeremiah reminds all of them that the prophets who speak of good times are usually false prophets. Hananiah's prophecy is not a warning from God. He speaks of peace at a time, when the people have been worshipping false gods. This means he is a false prophet.
Jer. 28:9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him. (KJV)
The prophet which prophesieth of peace . . . of prosperity, of good things, as Hananiah did, things which are always acceptable to men. Such a prophet is agreeable to them then and to people today. Be careful who you listen to. It could bring eternal results you may not want!
When the word of the prophet shall come to pass . . . when the prophecy of good things, which he delivers in the Name of the LORD, shall be fulfilled.
Then shall the prophet be known that the LORD hath truly sent him . . . and not until then; it is the event that makes it be truth, and whether it comes to pass or not, that a prophet is a true prophet. A TRUE prophet’s prophecies agree with the Word of God and are the declared will of God.
*****When a man prophesies of peace, he is to be suspected of flattering the people, and of prophesying out of his own heart. Nothing but the event can show him a true prophet. The final proof of whether a prophet is a TRUE prophet or not, is whether the prophecy comes true or not. If the LORD truly sent the prophet, his words will come to pass.
He Broke the Yoke From the
Neck of Jeremiah (Jer. 28:10-11)
Jer. 28:10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah's neck, and brake it. (KJV)
Took the yoke . . . brake it . . . the false prophet, foolishly removed the yoke from the TRUE prophet, Jeremiah and broke it, as a sign of his own prediction coming true (verses 2-4, 11).
Jeremiah had been wearing the yoke on his neck to give the people a visible sign of their captivity. What wicked boldness was shown by Hananiah as he broke what God had appointed as a solemn pledge of the fulfillment of His Word! Only the LORD should have removed the yoke from Jeremiah.
Jer. 28:11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way. (KJV)
And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people . . . explaining to them his meaning, in taking the yoke, and breaking it.
Saying, thus saith the LORD . . . wickedly making use of the LORD'S Name, to give untrue proof to his words and actions.
Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations, within the space of two full years . . . the time he had fixed for the bringing back the vessels of the sanctuary (verse 3).
And the prophet Jeremiah went his way . . . showing thereby his opinions for him, and intense dislike of his lies and blasphemies. Patiently bearing his actions and disrespectful behavior; and prudently withdrawing to prevent riots and mayhem. Returning no answer until he had received one from the LORD Himself, which he quickly had.
The time table that Hananiah gave would make him either a true prophet or a false prophet, within the two years spoken. Jeremiah left because he knew this was not true.
The Doom Both of the Deceived and the
Deceiver Follows (Jer. 28:12-14)
Jer. 28:12 Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, (KJV)
Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet . . . when in his own house or apartment, to which he retired. The word of the LORD came to him either in a vision or dream, or by some kind of voice, or by an urge upon his spirit, directing him what to say to the false prophet. Whatever it was, it was from the LORD!
After that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the Prophet Jeremiah . . . how long afterwards is not known, possibly the same day. It is certain it was in the same year, and less than two months after (Jer. 28:17). And most likely a few hours after.
Saying . . . as follows: the LORD has something to say about all of this.
Verses 13-14: Breaking Jeremiah’s yoke did not have the power to magically frustrate the Word of God (Deut. 28:48).
Jer. 28:13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron. (KJV)
Go and tell Hananiah . . . Jeremiah apparently left the meeting, and later God sent him back to confront the liar.
Saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron . . . wearing a yoke of iron, which Hananiah could not break, to replace the wooden one and to prove his message.
*****The yoke of wood could be broken easily, but a yoke of iron is not breakable. God is saying to him, you are right; the wood could not hold him long, but the iron yoke will be hard and lasting.
Jer. 28:14 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also. (KJV)
For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel . . . under these titles, the LORD is often spoken, and which He uses, when He delivered anything to His prophets to declare in His Name to others.
I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations . . . mentioned in Jer. 27:3.
That they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him . . . this is directly opposite to what Hananiah had prophesied (verse 11), that his yoke should be broke off from them. But instead of that, it would become heavier to them, and they would be forced to serve him . . . whether they willingly would or not; and refusing to pay tribute to him, would be carried captive by him, as had been foretold.
And I have given him the beasts of the field also . . . as he had said he would (Jer. 27:6), and which is repeated, to show that the whole would be fulfilled on time. That not only those nations, the men, the inhabitants of them, would be delivered to him; but even the very cattle, and all that belonged to them.
*****The power of Nebuchadnezzar is from Almighty God. He will rule with iron or hardness. The Creator God can do whatever He chooses with His creation. In this case, He has given these nations over to Nebuchadnezzar.
Verses 15-17: The LORD hath not sent thee: Jeremiah told Hananiah that
(1) God had not approved his message;
(2) He was guilty of encouraging the people to trust in a lie, even rebellion; and
(3) God would require his life that very year, 597 B.C. The TRUE prophet’s word was authenticated by Hananiah’s death in two months (verse 17).
Hananiah had promised the LORD would deliver Judah from Babylon within two years, but the LORD put him to death two months after he had challenged Jeremiah and deceived the people.
The Deceiver Would Be Shortly Cut Off by Death,And He Was (Jer. 28:15-17)
Jer. 28:15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. (KJV)
Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet . . . the false prophet, where Jeremiah went and met with him, whether it was in the Temple or somewhere else, is not said. It was most likely in a public place, where there might be witnesses of what was said.
Hear now, Hananiah, the LORD hath not sent thee . . . although he spoke in the LORD’S Name, and pretended his mission was from Him . . . he had none, which was abominable wickedness.
But thou makest this people to trust in a lie . . . that the LORD would break off the yoke of the king of Babylon, and free the nations from servitude to him, especially Judea, and that the king, his princes, the people and the vessels of the Temple, carried away with him, would be returned within two years. The people depended on this as coming from the LORD, when Hananiah was NOT sent by God.
*****To speak against a prophet of God is a dangerous thing to do, but we must remember that this is the LORD speaking through Jeremiah. Hananiah was recognized as a prophet, but God says He did NOT send him. The people had believed the lie he had told, because it was good news. It is very strange that people will believe a lie before they will believe the truth.
Jer. 28:15-17. Hananiah died, just as God said he would. You would think this would wake the people up, but they went on in their rebellion against the Word of God brought by Jeremiah. Judah listened to the wrong voices, and we have done the same thing in our own country. We are headed down the wrong path, just as Judah did. We have refused to listen to and obey the Word of God. BEWARE!!!
Jer. 28:16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. (KJV)
Therefore thus saith the LORD . . . because of this dreadful offence, lying in the Name of the LORD, and deceiving the people.
Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth . . . with the greatest anger and hatred, as not worthy to live upon it. This indicates that Hananiah would die, and not a natural death, but a violent one, by the speedy Hand of God, by some judgment on him. He would be taken off the Earth by force, and buried in it, and be seen no more.
This year thou shalt die . . . within the present year, and he died within twelve months from when this was spoken, it was sufficient to have verified the prophecy.
Because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD . . . to despise God’s Word by his TRUE prophet, and to contradict His will, by refusing subjection to the king of Babylon. To neglect God’s instructions, directions, and exhortations. And to believe a lie. Rebellion is opposition to God's plan, that all should submit to Babylon as God had spoken through Jeremiah (Jer. 29:32).
*****Jeremiah has given him a shorter time to prove whether he is of God or not. Hananiah had said, within two years; Jeremiah now says within one year. Remember if the prophecy comes true, the prophet is of God. God will kill Hananiah to stop him from telling lies to the people. He made a bad mistake when he told the people to rebel; against the wishes of God. This year thou shalt die . . . the prediction was uttered by Jeremiah in the fifth month (28:1); Hananiah's death took place in the seventh month, within two months of the prediction. Death is the punishment prescribed for the false prophet (Deut. 18:20). In the case of Hananiah, it was the LORD, not man Who applied the punishment. There is no doubt that Hananiah's death helped confirm Jeremiah as a TRUE prophet.
Jer. 28:17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month. (KJV)
So Hananiah the prophet died the same year . . . that he had delivered his prophecy, in the same year in which Jeremiah said he would die. Which proved Hananiah to be a false prophet, and Jeremiah to be a TRUE one.
In the seventh month . . . it was two months after Hananiah had prophesied, for it was in the fifth month that he prophesied, and in the seventh month that he died. So dangerous it is for ministers to teach people contrary to the revealed will of God. Two months after Jeremiah prophesies Hananiah’s death, he dies. It seems that the two months are because Hananiah’s prophecy was about two years. Now the people know that Jeremiah is the TRUE prophet of God.
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