The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker


Lesson 31
THE DEATH OF A FALSE PROPHET

Text: JEREMIAH 28:1-17


INTRODUCTION:


  1. Jeremiah 28 is a continuation from chapter 27 (cf. 27:1-6).
  2. The Bible has many warnings about false prophets (II Timothy 3:13).
  3. Jeremiah had to constantly contend with false prophets (cf. Jer. 27:9, 10, 14-18). They were always contradicting him and telling the people they were in no danger (cf. 27:9, 10, 14-17).
  4. Before we get into our study of Jeremiah 28, I would like to point out some Biblical principles. First of all, there were plenty of false prophets in Old Testament times, and there are many around today (II Peter 2:1).
  5. We must know the Bible to be able to recognize false teachers and false prophets.
  6. Furthermore, God does judge false prophets. Tonight we will look at the death of a false prophet, a man by the name of Hananiah (28:1).
  7. God does kill certain sinners. Thankfully He does not do it every day but we see it all throughout Scripture (cf. Genesis 38:7-10; I Samuel 25:38; I Chron. 10:13, 14).
  8. Sometimes God even kills disobedient believers (cf. II Samuel 6:6; Acts 5:1-11).
  9. There is a "sin unto death" (I John 5:16; cf. I Cor. 11:27-32; Heb. 12:9; James 1:13-16).

 

I. HANANIAH'S FALSE PROPHECY AND JEREMIAH'S REPLY

  1. Like all of the other false prophets, Hananiah contradicted Jeremiah.
  2. Jeremiah had to constantly contend with false prophets (cf. Jer. 27:9, 10, 14-18). They were always contradicting him and telling the people they were in no danger (cf. 27:9, 10, 14-17).
  3. The false prophets lied to the people and told them that the vessels of the LORD's house would soon be returned from Babylon (27:16).
  4. These vessels had been brought to Babylon earlier during the reign of King Jehoiachin (cf. II Kings 24:8-17).
  5. Jeremiah challenged the false prophets in 27:18. If they truly were prophets, and if the word of the LORD were with them, "let them now make intercession to the LORD of hosts, that the vessels which are left in the house of the LORD, and in the house of the king of Judah, and at Jerusalem, go not to Babylon."
  6. After challenging the false prophets, Jeremiah made another prophecy. All the vessels that remained in the temple would also be taken by the Babylonians (27:19-22).
  7. When this prophecy was soon fulfilled, the false prophets were once again exposed as liars.
  8. The strange thing about false prophets is that no matter how many times they are exposed, people still follow them.
  9. Jeremiah had warned them that everything of value would be taken. Not only the vessels, but also the bronze pillars that stood in front of the temple, and the sea (a bronze washbasin in the temple court), and the bronze bases (27:19).
  10. These would all remain in Babylon during the seventy year captivity. After the captivity, the LORD then would bring them up from Babylon, and restore them to their proper place in the temple (27:22).
  11. The fulfillment of this prophecy is recorded in the book of Ezra.
  12. Now Hananiah was saying that the LORD had broken the yoke of the king of Babylon and that within two full years all the vessels would be returned to the temple (28:1-3).
  13. Jeremiah had already said that the vessels would remain in Babylon until the end of the 70-year captivity (27:21, 22).
  14. Furthermore, Hananiah predicted that Jeconiah (aka Jehoiachin and Coniah) would return safely from Babylon (28:4).
  15. This also contradicted what Jeremiah said (22:24-27).
  16. After Hananiah's false prophesy, Jeremiah said, "Amen" (28:6) -- not that he was in agreement with Hananiah, but signifying that he would be happy if it were true.
  17. But sadly it was not true. It was contrary to what all the true prophets had been saying (28:6-9; cf. 26:20).
  18. Jeremiah reminded Hananiah that the test of whether the prophet is a true prophet is the accurate fulfillment of his prophecy (cf. Deuteronomy 18:20-22; Isaiah 8:19, 20; Jer. 6:14; 8:11; I John 4:1).

 

II. HANANIAH'S RESPONSE TO JEREMIAH (28:10, 11).

  1. Hananiah followed his bold prediction with a dramatic stunt. He took the wooden yoke from off the neck of Jeremiah and then he broke it (28:10).
  2. Merrill Unger said that Hananiah's "impious audacity dared to destroy what God had appointed...Jeremiah realized that such reckless and wicked presumption did not deserve a reply. Hence the prophet Jeremiah wisely went his way, not deigning to answer a fool according to his folly, lest he too be like him (Proverbs 26:4)" (Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament).
  3. Jeremiah would wait to hear from the LORD. "And the servant of the Lord must not strive" (II Tim. 2:24).

 

III. JEREMIAH'S PREDICTION OF JUDGMENT (28:12-17).

  1. Though Jeremiah walked away from the false prophet, Hananiah's wicked presumption would not be unpunished. "Then the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah the prophet..." (28:12).
  2. Verse 13 says, "Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them (i.e., the people who were deceived by Hananiah and the other false prophets) yokes of iron."
  3. These yokes of iron symbolized service to King Nebuchadnezzar (28:14; cf. Deut. 28:47, 48).
  4. Even the beasts of the field would serve King Nebuchadnezzar. In this case, even the animals would have more sense than the false prophets and their deceived followers.
  5. Other examples: Balaam's ass had more sense than Balaam; the great fish that obeyed God and swallowed up disobedient Jonah.
  6. After this, Jeremiah pronounced judgment upon Hananiah because he was a false prophet, and because he "taught rebellion against the LORD" (28:15, 16).
  7. The LORD was going to cast him from off the face of the earth. He would die that year, and when he died it would prove that he was a false prophet, and Jeremiah was the true prophet of God (28:15, 16).
  8. This prophecy was fulfilled in just two months (28:17; cf. 28:1).
  9. "Solemn is the responsibility resting upon 'vain talkers and deceivers,' who, by their 'good words and fair speeches,' deceive the hearts of the simple. 'The Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.' Not alone to profanity does this refer; but to taking upon one the name of the Lord when the life is dishonoring His holiness; or professing to speak in the name of the Lord when one has received no message from Him. Scarce two months elapsed ere the judgment so solemnly foretold overtook the impostor. 'So Hananiah the prophet died the same year, in the seventh month.' All Godís ways are in righteousness, whether in mercy or in judgment" (H.A. Ironside, Jeremiah).

 

CONCLUSION:

Irving Jensen said, "The message of this chapter is very pertinent to the present world system. There is much talk of peace. The human heart would want to see peace (cf. "Amen: the LORD do so" in 28:6). But the prophecies of God's Word -- true prophecies -- speak not of peace but of wars for the end times. A nation may appear to thwart the just and righteous plan of God by breaking the wooden bars of a yoke, but the iron bars of His irresistible power reveal themselves in every instance" (Jeremiah and Lamentations).



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