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Hananiah Opposes Jeremiah and Dies


In that same year, at the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah of Judah, in the fifth month of the fourth year, the prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the L ord, in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, 2“Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3Within two years I will bring back to this place all the vessels of the L ord’s house, which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. 4I will also bring back to this place King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, and all the exiles from Judah who went to Babylon, says the L ord, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.”

5 Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the L ord; 6and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the L ord do so; may the L ord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the L ord, and all the exiles. 7But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 9As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the L ord has truly sent the prophet.”

10 Then the prophet Hananiah took the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, and broke it. 11And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the L ord: This is how I will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years.” At this, the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

12 Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke from the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, the word of the L ord came to Jeremiah: 13Go, tell Hananiah, Thus says the L ord: You have broken wooden bars only to forge iron bars in place of them! 14For thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put an iron yoke on the neck of all these nations so that they may serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, and they shall indeed serve him; I have even given him the wild animals. 15And the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the L ord has not sent you, and you made this people trust in a lie. 16Therefore thus says the L ord: I am going to send you off the face of the earth. Within this year you will be dead, because you have spoken rebellion against the L ord.”

17 In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.

There would not have been weight enough in the plain teaching of Jeremiah had he not confronted his adversary, as the case is at this day with us; when insolent and unprincipled men rise up and dare to vomit forth their blasphemies, by which they darken and degrade the doctrines of true religion, we are under the necessity to contend with them, otherwise what we teach would be ineffectual; for the minds of many, I mean the simple, are in suspense and fluctuate when they see a great conflict between two contrary parties. It was therefore necessary for the holy man to expose the lies of Hananiah, for he ever vaunted himself and boasted of his own predictions.

But what did Jeremiah say? Jehovah hath not sent thee This refutation ought to be noticed whenever we contend with Satan’s ministers and false teachers; for whatever they may pretend, and with whatever masks they may cover their lies, this one thing ought to be more than sufficient to put an end to their boastings, — that they have not been sent by the Lord. Jeremiah might have contended in a long speech with Hananiah, for he might have been made sufficiently eloquent through the Holy Spirit suggesting and dictating whatever was needful on the subject; but this concise brevity produced much greater effect than if he had made great display and used many words. Let this, then, be borne in mind, that wherever there is a controversy about religion, we ought ever to ask whether he who speaks has been sent by God; for whatever he may babble, though the most acute, and though he may talk things which may fill with wonder the minds of the simple, yet all this is nothing but smoke when his doctrine is not from God. So also we ought at this day to deal in a brief manner with those mercenary dogs of the Pope who bark against the pure truth of the Gospel; we ought to be satisfied with this compendious answer, — that God is not their master and teacher. But as our state now is different from that of the ancient people, we must observe that sent by the Lord is he only whose doctrine is according to the rule of the Law, and of the Prophets, and of the Gospel. If, then, we desire to know whom the Lord has sent, and whom he approves as his servants, let us come to the Scripture, and let there be a thorough examination; he who speaks according to the Law, the Prophets, and the Gospel, has a sure and an indubitable evidence of his divine call; but he who cannot prove that he draws what he advances from these fountains, whatever his pretences may be, ought to be repudiated as a false prophet. We hence see what an important instruction this passage contains.

He then adds, Thou hast made this people to rely on falsehood They pervert the meaning of the Prophet who thus render the words, “Thou hast falsely rendered this people secure,” at least they lessen by one half what the Prophet intended to express; for not only is Hananiah condemned because he vainly and falsely pretended God’s name, but the word שקר, shicor, is introduced, the very thing employed; as though he had said, “Thou feedest this people with a vain hope which thou hast formed in thine own brains; therefore thy fictions make this people to go astray.” Hence Jeremiah not only accused this impostor that he by his fictions deceived the people, but also that he brought forward his prophecies in God’s name; and these removed their fear and gave them some hope, so that the people became torpid in their security.

Let us learn from this passage that we ought especially to take heed when the ground of trust is the subject, lest we rely on any empty or perishable thing, like wretched hypocrites who devour shadows only, and afterwards find nothing solid in their own fictions. But when we refer to trust, let there be something solid on which we can safely rely; and we know that we cannot possibly be disappointed, if we look to God for all things, if we recumb on his mercy alone; for there is no rest nor peace for us anywhere else but in Christ. Let us then retain this object of trust, and let it be our only support. It follows, —

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