Pentecost 4 (Proper 8), June 28, 2020

Hard Truth and Real Good

Text: Jeremiah 28:5–9

God’s Word is not always what the world wants to hear—and it may prove challenging to us as well. 

Jeremiah prophesied in the last days of the Kingdom of Judah, the remnant of Israel before their enemies overwhelmed them and took away their kingdom. Yet the glory of Israel will long outshine the glory of Babylon. Jesus, who sits on King David’s throne, will reign forever as the rightful King of Israel and the nations. That’s what the prophets of the Lord have testified. Many kingdoms would rise and fall along the shores of the Euphrates River. The Babylonians would sack Judah, but Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian empire was only a temporary placeholder in the stream of human history. For a while, they would dominate the people of God, steal their treasure, and hold their princes captive. How could the Lord allow it? Isn’t he a defender of his people? The question is an old one, but not a good one. It’s built on the assumption that earthly success, honor, and glory naturally come to God’s people. What’s more, their behavior or whether they’re acting like his people is irrelevant in some minds. Thus, even in our age, we hear the voice of false prophets like Hananiah: “If you have faith, God will heal you.” “If you have faith, God will keep you from hardship.” “If you have faith, God will protect your things.” Through the ages, those who have trusted Hananiah’s message have been deceived into believing that God’s place is to give them stuff. Jesus will fix all your problems. He’s in heaven to give you what you want. Name it and claim it. But Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Mt 6:19).

V 5: The English translation tends to mask the power of verse 5: “Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to Hananiah the prophet in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord.” 

  • As we keep reading in verse 6, we get the impression that Jeremiah doesn’t just start speaking: he seems to interrupt Hananiah. 
  • Jeremiah is in conflict with the other prophets as to the "length of the exile".  Other prophets are saying it will be 2 years - Jeremiah has been preaching that God said it will be 70 years in exile.
  • Jeremiah has been wearing a "yoke" that is to symbolize that Israel should settle in and accept the "yoke" of Babylon and not try to fight back and revolt in order to "shorten" their exile because it is God who is imposing this Babylonian Yoke and cannot be changed or shortened by their effort.
  • BOTH men are called the same name - Prophet.
  • Both of them are standing IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD - conflicting sermons!!

V 6: Jeremiah contrasts Hananiah’s words with the word of the Lord by emphasizing the source of Hananiah’s words: “your words” (debareka), “you have prophesied” (nibbe‘tha).

  • "It would be great if...!!"
  • ’amen (“Amen”). Jeremiah does not wish harm upon the people and would prefer to bring good news. Unfortunately, he knows for certain that Hananiah brings a false hope.

V 7: Jeremiah speaks the truth, and no one can escape it.

  • Very "polite" feel - "Please listen to this word..."
  • Prophets are only TRUE prophets when the prophesy of that prophet comes true - i.e. if the exiles are back in 2 years, you know Hannaniah is right.
  • What is going to "happen" if they believe Hannahiah for 2 years and is proven false?  What would be better if they listened to Jeremiah now rather than later?
  • “Hananiahs” deceive us into thinking God will always give his people earthly good.
  • But Jeremiah prophesies good that comes true through Jesus Christ.
  • Jeremiah Proclaims to Us Real Good News Instead of Misleading Dreams.

V 9: A prophetic message about earthly peace is so unusual that one must discount it until it comes true (bebo‘ debar hannabi‘). Thus a prophet “who prophesies peace” (‘esher yinnabe‘ leshalom) will be known as one sent by Yahweh only after the good news is accomplished. 

  • This has tremendous implications for the role of the Lord’s apostles.
  • Hind sight it 20/20 - we know that Jesus was TRULY from God because He did do what he said - and on the third day rise.

Jeremiah Proclaims to Us Real Good News Instead of Misleading Dreams from Hananiah and all the false prophets. How do we know? Because through Jesus Christ, all the words of the apostles and prophets have come true. In him, we have peace. Amen