21 May, 2024

June 25 | Warning for Liars

by | 19 June, 2023 | 0 comments

Unit: Jeremiah (Part 1) 
Theme: Warning—Danger Ahead 
Lesson text: Jeremiah 28:1-17 
Supplemental texts: Jeremiah 6:13-14; Ezekiel 13:8-9; Colossians 3:9-10; Revelation 21:8 
Aim: Speak God’s truth even when your own ideas seem better. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_June25_2023.

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By Mark Scott

Lying started early and finished late. The serpent said, “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), and all liars will experience the second death (Revelation 21:8). People have many motivations for lying. Pride, saving face, selfishness, greed, and more can well up in a person and motivate them to be dishonest. Hananiah, it seems, was angered by Jeremiah’s message of doom. 

Jeremiah had predicted that the captivity of Judah would be 70 years (Jeremiah 25). And even though Jeremiah was threatened with death (Jeremiah 26), he stuck with the message the Lord had given him about the upcoming exile by placing a yoke on himself (Jeremiah 27). The year is roughly 594 BC, and Jeremiah must correct Hananiah, the false prophet. The narrative and dialogical text might be outlined as follows (using contemporary idioms): 

Fat Chance 
Jeremiah 28:1-4 

Zedekiah was one of the sons of good king Josiah, but he was not like his father, and he ended up being the last king of Judah before captivity in Babylon. Toward the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign, Hananiah (which means, “the Lord is gracious”), the son of Azzur (“he that assists”) from Gibeon (in the hill country of Benjamin) spoke to Jeremiah in the temple in the hearing of the people and the priests.  

Hananiah said he received his message from the Lord, but he lied. He claimed to be quoting God when he said, “I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon” (New American Standard Bible). The verb tense he used is called a “prophetic perfect” tense (i.e., it hasn’t happened yet, but it is being spoken of as if it had already happened). Is someone a bit overconfident?  

Hananiah predicted that within two years everything would be back to normal. The vessels stolen from the temple would be returned, and Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the exiles would be brought home (cf. Jeremiah 22:26-27). Fat Chance! The reason he said “two years” was because Nebuchadnezzar had returned home to put down a rebellion (according to Babylonian Chronicles).  

I Could Wish 
Jeremiah 28:5-9 

It is challenging to determine whether Jeremiah is being sarcastic or genuine in this part of the dialogue. Jeremiah answered, “Amen!” in kind to the priests and the people in the temple. This passage and Jeremiah 11:5 are the only two references to “amen” in the book. Jeremiah is saying “so be it,” or “I wish it were true.” Even though Jeremiah had predicted the captivity would be 70 years, he still could wish the exile would be over in two years. He would have loved to have the vessels and the people back home where they belonged. 

But Jeremiah invoked the teaching of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 to answer Hananiah. The prophets from early times spoke about war, disaster and plague. They spoke about countries and kingdoms. If they spoke about peace or anything else for that matter, and it came true, then that prophet was a true prophet. Fulfilled prophecy met the test of truthfulness. Alternatively, if what the prophet said did not come true, then the prophet was not from God and therefore was a false prophet, as was Hananiah. 

The Yoke’s on You 
Jeremiah 28:10-17 

One can imagine that when Hananiah took the yoke from Jeremiah’s neck and broke (destroyed or crushed) it, it was done in a violent way. Hananiah used his violence as an object lesson to indicate that God would do the same thing to Nebuchadnezzar’s figurative yoke of bondage. 

How much time passed between verse 11 and verse 12 is hard to say. But sometime later, God had a message for Hananiah via Jeremiah. “Hananiah, the Lord is going to replace the wooden yoke with a yoke of iron.” It will start with Judah and spread to other nations as well. God was going to use Babylon to accomplish his will no matter what lies Hananiah had told. The extent of every nation’s servitude was evident in the phrase that it will be even to the wild animals.  

The place for object lessons and metaphors was over. Jeremiah said directly to Hananiah, “The Lord has not sent you,” and even worse, “you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies.” Next came the crucial, stinging sentence of death. “The Lord says: ‘I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This very year you are going to die.’” The epilogue of the story is that roughly two months later, Hananiah died, and so did his false prophecy. The yoke was on Hananiah.  

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