Monday 22 March 2021

Bible Book:

‘you have made this people trust in a lie.’ (v. 15)

Jeremiah 28:1-17 Monday 22 March 2021

Psalm 38:10-22


2 Kings 24 describes how King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has captured Jerusalem and taken away all the wealth of the city and Temple. He has also taken King Jehoiachin, all the officials, soldiers and wealthy members of Judean society into exile in Babylon, leaving only the poor behind. King Zedekiah was then installed by Nebuchadnezzar as a puppet king over Jerusalem.

It is in this context that the prophet Hananiah speaks words of optimism, prophesying that the power of King Nebuchadnezzar has been broken and that everything that was taken, including the old king, will be returned in two years. It is of course a false optimism, reminiscent of hopes in modern times that the pandemic will be over by Christmas. ‘Amen’ replies Jeremiah and we might accuse him of being a little disingenuous or sarcastic in response. But he is keen to paint a picture of himself as someone who wants to hear good news as much as everybody, despite his reputation for being a doom-monger. He concludes by saying that if these words come true, then it will be known that Hananiah is a prophet.

In verse 10 we are told that Hananiah broke the yoke that was around Jeremiah’s neck. This was not his normal attire. He put it on in chapter 27 at God’s command as a prophetic act to all the local kings with specific instructions not to listen to anyone who incites them to rebel against King Nebuchadnezzar. Those who accept the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar will be left to live in the land, but those who rebel will face pestilence, famine and the sword. Hananiah’s actions could be described as populist and indeed Jeremiah tells him in verse 15 "The Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie." Within a year, as prophesied, Hananiah is dead and Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke is not broken after two years.


To Ponder: 

  • What can this passage teach us about fake news and populism?
  • How can we discern the truth?
  • What is the difference between optimism and hope?
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