Jeremiah’s career cresendoed in intensity until an aide came from King Zedikiah to beg for the prophet’s help. “Ask the Lord to help us. Maybe God will do a mighty miracle for Judah like He has done in the past.”
Jeremiah’s answer has to be one of the all-time, end-of-argument answers from the Lord:
“This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless…I myself will fight against you with a strong hand and powerful arm…I will hand over King Zedekiah, his staff, and everyone else in the city who survives the disease, war, and famine. I will hand them over to King Nebuchadnezzar…He will slaughter and show them no mercy, pity, or compassion.
“Tell all the people, ‘This is what the LORD says: Take your choice of life or death! Everyone who stays in Jerusalem will die from war, famine, or disease, but those who go out and surrender to the Babylonians will live. Their reward will be life! For I have decided to bring disaster and not good upon this city, says the LORD. It will be handed over to the king of Babylon, and he will reduce it to ashes.’” (Jeremiah 21:4-10)
King Zedekiah and his men considered Jeremiah’s words as an act of treason. They threw him into a muddy cistern where eventually an Ethiopian, Ebed-melech, rescued him and placed him in protective custody.
A little later, a so-called prophet named Hananiah disagreed with Jeremiah’s judgment prophecies. He prophesied peace for Judah and that all of the Temple’s vessels and the people would be returned to Judah from Babylon within two years.
Jeremiah listened to Hananiah’s words and said, “That would be great if it happens, but it won’t because God is bringing judgment on Judah. And if you are going to prophesy peace for our nation, it had better come to pass because then the people will know you are a prophet of the Lord.”
Then, Hananiah broke the yoke that Jeremiah wore around his neck as a sign to other nations about King Nebuchadnezzar’s strength. “Just as this yoke was broken off Jeremiah’s neck so will the Lord break the yoke of Babylon off Judah,” said Hananiah.
Jeremiah replied that the Lord had replaced the wooden yoke with a stronger iron one and he prophesied:
“Listen, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the LORD.’” (Jeremiah 28:15-16)
Is today’s America like backslidden Judah? If so, where are the Jeremiahs?
(Continued in Part 15…if you’re interested, the full series to date may be seen here.)