Friday, April 18, 2014

CCLV – Jeremiah 26-29

These chapters in Jeremiah will deal mainly with false prophets.  There have always been false prophets.  Even Moses dealt with false prophets and addressed the subject in Deuteronomy.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:15, “Beware of false prophets”.  The Apostle Paul warned about false apostles in II Corinthians 11:13.  Peter warned against them in II Peter 2:1.  I believe there are false prophets today.  They keep things confused.  I question anybody who claims to speak prophetically in the name of God.  We have the Holy Bible.  {I am not insisting that there will be no more prophets because I cannot possibly know that.  Nor can I articulate on paper the specific reasons I think this way.  However, when we get into the books of Corinthians and Ephesians I think I can promote a clearer understanding of my own thoughts and beliefs.}  Jeremiah had a difficult job and these false prophets made his job all the more difficult and dangerous.  This was a time in the History of God’s people when they needed to hear the truth, believe it, and repent in order to save themselves and their nation from total destruction.  Unfortunately, God’s message was unpleasant to hear.  They did not want to hear what God through Jeremiah had to say.  This gave the false prophets the opportunity to gain an audience and consequently a following.  They could achieve this by simply telling the people what they wanted to hear.  This made them very popular among Judah’s citizens.  But Jeremiah was constantly preaching the opposite, causing doubt among the people.  If there was doubt among the people, then the lofty position of the false prophets was being threatened.  Therefore the false prophets’ solution to this problem was to plot to kill Jeremiah, which brings us to chapter 26.

As mentioned before, the book of Jeremiah is not written in chronological order.  This chapter picks up immediately following Jeremiah’s Temple sermon that we studied back in chapter 7.  {When large books are written out of chronological order it is difficult study them without a lot of research.  I'm trying to simplify this as we go along.}  After Jeremiah had finished his Temple sermon the people and the priests seized him (verse 8) and said that he “must die”.  They confronted Jeremiah and demanded that he explain to them why he prophesied such gloom.  The people took Jeremiah to the officials, hoping to have him pronounced guilty and put to death.  But in verse 12 and following, Jeremiah did not change his message as he was asked to answer the charges.  I think the officials were frightened with the thought that Jeremiah was indeed the only true prophet, and pronounced him “not worthy of death” (verse 16).  {This story has similarities to that of Jesus at the time of His arrest.}  The remaining verses of this chapter tells how the officials defended their decision to set Jeremiah free, using examples of past prophets (Micah) and King Hezekiah’s decision.  I get the impression that this so called “trial” took a long time.

Chapter 27

This chapter seems to jump forward in time, as it is obvious that he was speaking during the early stages of Zedekiah’s reign which was considerably later than Jeremiah’s Temple sermon.  This chapter is dedicated to the foretelling of the captivity by the Babylonians, going into great detail.  But also Jeremiah was telling Zedekiah to submit to the bondage of the Babylonians in order to save his own life.  This would have been particularly difficult for the king to hear, but I think Jeremiah was telling him that God is beyond the point of changing His mind about the inevitable captivity.  Therefore to resist the Babylonians would lead to certain death.

Chapter 28  -  The False Prophet Hananiah

This chapter begins with a specific time reference which helps in understanding.  It was early in the reign of Zedekiah that Jeremiah was forced to deal with Hananiah, one of the false prophets.  Hananiah took a different approach than did the other false prophets.  The others simply said that Jeremiah was wrong about Judah being taken captive by the Babylonians.  Hananiah, on the other hand, submitted to Jeremiah’s prophecy, but went on to say that in two years, God would break the yoke of Babylon and the nation would be free again.  Hananiah said this publicly in the presence of Jeremiah, so Jeremiah confronted him in verse 5.  Don’t be confused by Jeremiah’s initial response to Hananiah’s words, which was to say “Amen”.  By that Jeremiah was saying “That would sure be nice.  If it was true”.  The chapter continues on with Jeremiah and Hananiah, using the analogy of the yoke, but then in verse 15 Jeremiah turns to very direct language, accusing Hananiah of being a false prophet, telling lies in the name of the Lord.   Jeremiah goes on to prophesy the death of Hananiah, which came about two months later.  {Jeremiah’s life was difficult.  Hard enough was his message and the peoples’ reluctance to hear, but he also had to deal with things like false prophets such as Hananiah and others.}

Chapter 29 – Jeremiah Speaks to the Exiles

This chapter is dedicated to the letter that Jeremiah writes to the elders who were carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in the first wave.  Note that in the letter he is telling them to “make a life” in Babylon.  Marry and have children.  He tried to tell them to make a life because they were going to be there for seventy years.  {This might seem cruel for him to tell them they were never going to leave and come back home, but actually he was being merciful in telling them, squashing false hopes for freedom any time soon.}

In the next post Jeremiah will speak of the restoration.

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