The prophet Jeremiah accurately spoke the Lord’s words to backslidden Judah for over forty years, from approximately 627 BC to 586 BC.
In one of the prophet’s most contentious confrontations, Jeremiah wore a wooden yoke around his neck to the court of King Zedekiah as a sign of being in submission to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
The king’s court was filled with Judah’s leaders, temple priests, other prophets, various soothsayers and ambassadors from five neighboring nations. King Zedekiah and the ambassadors were setting up a military alliance to fight King Nebuchadnezzar at that precise moment.
Perfect timing, right?
Jeremiah stepped forward and said, “The Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, has created all of the earth. He holds everything in His hands and gives control to whomever He decides should have it. Right now, He has given control to King Nebuchadnezzar. All of you need to summit yourselves under Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke. If you don’t submit yourselves to Nebuchadnezzar, God will punish you and your country. Don’t listen to any prophecies which disagree with these words because they are all lies.”
Heart beats probably sounded like base drums at that moment.
Then Jeremiah challenged them by adding, “Your prophets have prophesied that the vessels and articles taken from the Temple will soon be returned from Babylon. Well, if they are true prophets, let them make intercession to God to stop King Nebuchadnezzar from taking all of the rest of the vessels, articles and furniture still hidden in the Temple and the King’s house to Babylon. God is giving all of these to Babylon and will restore them to Judah at a later time.”
A prophet named Hananiah stepped forward and prophesied, “The Lord will destroy Babylon’s stranglehold on Judah. All of the Temple’s precious treasures and all of the people, including Jehoiakim, our former king of Judah, will be returned within two years.”
Jeremiah may have shrugged his shoulders when he replied to Hananiah, “I hope you’re right, but you aren’t! My words agree with the prophets who spoke before me about wars and disasters befalling Judah. So, your words of peace will have to come to pass before we will know if God has sent you or not.”
Hananiah boldly broke the wooden yoke off Jeremiah’s neck and proclaimed, “God will do the same for Judah within two years.”
Jeremiah meekly walked away from the court. Maybe the onlookers cheered and applauded Hananiah and his boldness to stand up to the old prophet.
But Jeremiah returned a short while later and said, “Yes, Hananiah, you broke a yoke of wood, but God will replace it with a yoke of iron on these nations. And because you – Hananiah – have convinced these people to believe lies and have taught rebellion against the Lord, you will die before this year is completed.
Hananiah died three months later.
What do we know about Hananiah? He was the son of a prophet named Azur and would have been trained in the proper ways of the Lord and prophesying.
It’s my guess that Hananiah had a history of speaking accurate prophecies. Otherwise, why would anyone pay attention to his words?
(Continued in Part 3…but if you want to read all of the parts to date, you can go here.)