Monday, May 26, 2008
The Showdown Over The Yoke Jeremiah 27 and 28
Although he was a qualified meteorologist, Hopkins ran up a terrible record of forecasting for the TV news program. He became something of a local joke when a newspaper began keeping a record of his predictions and showed that he'd been wrong almost three hundred times in a single year. That kind of notoriety was enough to get him fired. He moved to another part of the country and applied for a similar job. One blank on the job application called for the reason for leaving his previous position. Hopkins wrote, "The climate didn't agree with me."
Who wants to be foretold the weather its bad enough when it comes let alone to be told before hand.
We feel an affection for the man who prophecies good weather.
But for the man who prophecies bad weather we feel bad towards him, and even worse if the weather turns out bad because we somehow thinks its his fault in some way
We decide how to live and what to believe by choosing to listen to what we want to hear and what we find reassuring and nice.
Chapters 27 and 28 are about 2 things.. the people of God should submit to the yoke of Babylon, and the showdown between 2 prophets.
Both prophets spoke in the name of the Lord. Both prophets were very dramatic ion their presentations. Both prophets used a yoke as their example.
1. There was the Public Proclamation. Jeremiah 27
Jeremiah said three times that there needed to be submission to the yoke of Babylon.
He told the ambassadors of the nations around about.
He told King Zedekiah.
He told the people of Judah, God’s people tat they should submit to this yoke.
This was not good news to these folks.
Zedekiah and the ambassadors and kings of the surrounding nations were in a war conference. They had learnt that there had been an uprising in Babylon, and they were hopeful of shaking off the rule of Babylon over them. They were ready to rebel. Now was the time! It was time for a change. Time for freedom. "It's Time" is arguably the most famous political slogan in Australian political history.
The slogan encapsulated the political mood of 1972, even amongst non-Labor supporters. "It's time for a change" seemed to be the prevailing mood after 23 years of coalition government which began in 1949 under Robert Menzies.
It’s time for freedom, It’s time for moving, It’s time to begin, Yes It’s time It’s time Australia,
It’s time for moving, It’s time for proving, Yes It’s time
That’s what Zedekiah was singing. Its time for rebellion, its time for freedom, its time for a solidarity with our Arabic neighbours. And at just that time, as the campaign was hitting full steam, jeremiah turns up and says.. yep..submit to the yoke of Babylon. Jeremiah is saying “You have a bigger problem than the Babylonians your real problem is with God! Submit to Him by submitting to Babylon!”
Jer 27:5 By My great strength and outstretched arm, I made the earth, and the people, and animals on the face of the earth. I give it to anyone I please. 6 So now I have placed all these lands under the authority of My servant Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. I have even given him the wild animals to serve him.
God Controls History! Babylon doesn’t rule the world by chance but only because God allows it.
God plans to get rid of Babylon before too long too ..God is using them to bring about Judgment.
Now who did Zedekiah, the other ambassadors and the people want to listen to?
Jeremiah with his doom and gloom message, or the choir of voices and prophets singing “Its time!”
“Time for better, Come together, It’s time to move, Yes It’s time
Time to stand up, Time to shout it, Time, Time, Time,
Yes It’s time Time to move on, Time to stand up, time to say ‘yes’, Yes It’s time”
SO the bottom line was .. who are the people going to listen to?
2. And then there was the Public Confrontation vs 1-11.
Hananiah stands up, and proclaims that Jeremiah has got the timing wrong. 2This is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. 3 Within two years I will restore to this place all the articles of the Lord’s temple
God is going to deliver the Jews from the Babylonians and he’s going to do it within two years! The message was contradictory to Jeremiah’s. In a way, its clear, Jeremiah hoped Jeremiah was wrong, and that perhaps Hananiah might be right!
5 The prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the temple of the Lord. 6 The prophet Jeremiah said, “• Amen! May the Lord do so. May the Lord make the words you have prophesied come true and may He restore the articles of the Lord’s temple and all the exiles from Babylon to this place!
Good news is good news… you can’t beat it. But…
7 Only listen to this message I am speaking in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, disaster, and plague against many lands and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace—only when the word of the prophet comes true will the prophet be recognized as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”
It leaves us with a need to decide who is right and wrong. We can tell from here..We know the end of the story. The book of Jeremiah appears in our Bible’s not the book of Hananiah. .. But back then it may not have been so obvious. Hindsight is 20/20.
So Hananiah is described as a prophet. He had good credentials, he came from a priestly family, he came from a priestly city. He claims to speak for God. Hananiah : “the Lord shows favour”
But Hananiah contradicts Jeremiah. Hananiah casts doubt on this whole yoke thing.
Hananiah says no no no. this business with the yoke.. it won’t happen. 28:3 Within two years I will restore to this place all the articles of the Lord’s temple
And then Hananiah gets physical. And then he gets hold of the yoke around Jeremiah’s neck and he breaks it off!
Jer 28: 10 The prophet Hananiah then took the yoke bar from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke it. 11 In the presence of all the people Hananiah proclaimed, “This is what the Lord says: ‘In this way, within two years I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from the neck of all the nations.’ ” Jeremiah the prophet then went on his way.
And it’s all done in the public eye. Vs 1, 5, 7,
3. And Now There Is The Personal Evaluation
a. The Personal Evaluation Involves The Need To Decide
Which is true.. is God going to punish us or reward us?
Should we submit to the yoke of Babylon or resist the yoke?
There they were, standing on the brink of fate, and whatever they decided would have massive ramifications for them If they rebelled against Babylon and Jeremiah was speaking the truth, then they were sunk as a nation, and most of them would be wiped off the face of the earth. On the other hand, if they listened to Hananiah and Hananiah was right, and they did rebel, then in 2 years time everything would be absolutely honky dory! But if they listened to Jeremiah and didn’t rebel, then they’d be under the yoke for a long, long time, in slavery and agony.
They needed to make a decision, and it was time. It was time to decide. What were they going to do?
How could they know who was the true Prophet!
Have you ever been in that sort of fix? Whatever you decide will take you down a path, and that path could end in disaster or relief. Which will it be?
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t run off madly in both directions at once. You have to make a decision.
You can’t be like the politician who “nailed his colours firmly to the fence.”
The people were faced with a problem. They had a need to decide.
You likewise have a need to decide.
If you have not yet yielded your life to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, you have some things to settle. Is Jesus God’s Son our Saviour or not? Is this God’s book or not? You are frequently faced with those who strenuously object to Christianity, particularly those who have no idea what true Christianity is about. They call it superstitious nonsense. Sometimes they will make outright brazen statements like Hananiah did. I have heard people say in this last month, “We have to get rid of Christianity. We have to remove every vestige of it from our Australian society. It is anti women. It is about use of power and manipulation.” I am sure Hananiah thought he was right.
I am sure people who say such things about Christianity think that what they are saying is right.
You need to decide. You need to decide whether this is God’s Word, and Jesus is God’s Saviour. And if you are already a believer, you have to decide as well. There are so many people claiming to preach God’s Word today. And yet some are so contradictory. One fellow says Jesus Is the only way to heaven. Another says there are many paths to heaven. Which is right? How do you know? Could one of these be a false teacher? And if so which one? How can you know whether it is God speaking to you or not. Sometimes we hear of people offering “Words of Wisdom”. These people claim their word of wisdom or word of knowledge is from God. Its God speaking through them. How do you know? These Words of knowledge may direct someone to marry someone. I remember hearing of a guy who had a word of knowledge that of he marched around a certain girl in his church 7 times, like Joshua marched around the city of Jericho, and the walls fell, she would fall in love with him and they would marry. He did this. She wasn’t impressed at all. So he figured next time he would blow trumpets as well!
There is a word for this.. nuts!!
But how can you know whether something is a word from God or not?
b. The Personal Evaluation Involves The Means or The “Know-How” To Decide
5 The prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the temple of the Lord. 6 The prophet Jeremiah said, “ Amen! May the Lord do so. May the Lord make the words you have prophesied come true and may He restore the articles of the Lord’s temple and all the exiles from Babylon to this place! 7 Only listen to this message I am speaking in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people.
2 tests to assess. There are two things here that can help you decide.
We Can Judge What IS True By The test of Scripture… 8 The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, disaster, and plague against many lands and great kingdoms. 9 As for the prophet who prophesies peace—only when the word of the prophet comes true will the prophet be recognized as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”
For centuries the thrust of the prophets is to wake people up.. now Hananiah says something different. Do you think Hananiah is the first one to say something different? Do you think the other prophets were wrong? Jeremiah has immediately in mind to Deut. 18:18-19, God’s word in the mouth of a prophet is truly God’s word, with the full authority of God’s word:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you [like Moses, from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.
There is one message the same from beginning to end. Man’s sin, God’s wrath against sin, God’s rescue plan. It all leads up to Jesus.
You and I need a revelation from God about many things in our lives. Many decisions that come upon us need wise thinking, governed by God’s Word.
Jesus answers all the questions and is the culmination of everything. It reads as one book. It’s all integrated together. If something contradicts it.. its contrary to God’s revelation in Scripture.
As for the prophet who prophesies peace—only when the word of the prophet comes true will the prophet be recognized as one whom the Lord has truly sent.”
Deut 18: 20 But the prophet who dares to speak in My name a message I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die.’ 21 You may say to yourself, ‘How can we recognize a message the Lord has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in the Lord’s name, and the message does not come true or is not fulfilled, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.
We Can Judge What IS True By The Reasonableness of the Facts.
Vs 11 he quietly leaves. He knows that the Lord is in control and he can let things quietly take their course. Jeremiah reasons that if the Lord is doing something different to what He had told Jeremiah, Jeremiah should go away and sort through the issues. He does. And the Lord speaks to Him again.
There are reasonable things that Jeremiah expects from God. If God is sovereign, and if God has directed him this way, Jeremiah should expect God to work in a direct manner on this matter.
11… Jeremiah the prophet then went on his way. 12 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke bar from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet: 13 “Go say to Hananiah: This is what the Lord says: You broke a wooden yoke bar, but in its place you will make an iron yoke bar. 16 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to send you off the face of the earth. You will die this year because you have spoken rebellion against the Lord.’ ” 17 And the prophet Hananiah died that year in the seventh month.
Jeremiah expected some sort of clarity on the issue.
We ought to expect God to give clarity on the issues for us as well. Has God spoken through his Word? Then this is our primary means of understanding His will for us.
Expect God to make it plain to you.
HM WARNER 1927 Who wants to hear actors talk anyway.”
“Drill into the ground and try and find oil?? You’re crazy..”1859.
Only one command in the whole chapter.. 9, 10 , 14, 15, 16, 17
“Do not listen! To those who tell you what you want to hear!”
We Can Judge What IS True By Its Accord With Conscience.
Scripture also teaches this fact by its identification of God as light: “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Note also the many applications to Jesus of the metaphor of light (Matt. 4:16, Luke 1:79, 2:32, John 1:4-9, 3:19-21, 8:12, 9:5, 12:46, 1 John 2:8, Rev. 21:23). When people see God, they see a great light, often described as the glory. That glory also radiates from Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Matt. 17:2). 1 John 1:5 associates that physical light with God’s moral purity.
But light does not only refer to God’s moral excellence, but also to the communication of that excellence, the revelation of it, to human beings. The light of God’s essence is a light that we are to walk in: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). The light is our ethical guide: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Ps. 119:105). The light reveals good and evil (John 3:19-21). So we should not walk in darkness (Matt. 6:22-23, John 8:12, 12:46, Rom. 13:12, 1 Cor. 4:5, 2 Cor. 6:14). To dwell in the light is to dwell with God; to dwell in darkness is to be apart from him. Indeed, we are to be the light (Matt. 5:14, Eph. 5:8).
So, by his very nature, God is not only ethically pure, but he inevitably reveals that moral purity to human beings, calling them to live in accord with it. When sinners see God in Scripture, they are often filled with a sense of moral guilt (Isa. 6:5, Luke 5:8). God’s very being is ethically normative.
In every form of revelation, God reveals himself. All revelation bears the lordship attribute of presence. So in every form of revelation, God reveals his ethically normative being. God’s word is always one with God himself. All revelations of God manifest his presence, as well as his authority and controlling power. The speech of God, his word, has divine attributes, attributes of righteousness (Ps. 119:7), faithfulness (verse 86), wonderfulness (verse 142), truth (same verse, and John 17:17), eternity (Ps. 119:89, 160), omnipotence (Gen. 18:14, Luke 1:37, Isa. 55:11), and perfection (Ps. 19:7-11). It is an object of worship (Ps. 56:4, 10, 119:120, 161-62, Isa. 66:5). And indeed, God’s word is God (John 1:1).
The people of God should have known to listen to Jeremiah because his reproofs were based upon the very character of God. It was inconceivable that God would not punish His people’s sins. Their own conscience’s should have informed them.
So it is today.
4. Then There Is The Divine Conclusion vs 12
12 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke bar from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet: 13 “Go say to Hananiah: This is what the Lord says: You broke a wooden yoke bar, but in its place you will make an iron yoke bar. 14 For this is what the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, says: I have put an iron yoke on the neck of all these nations that they might serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him. I have also put the wild animals under him.” 15 The prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah! The Lord did not send you, but you have led these people to trust in a lie. 16 Therefore, this is what the Lord says: ‘I am about to send you off the face of the earth. You will die this year because you have spoken rebellion against the Lord.’ ” 17 And the prophet Hananiah died that year in the seventh month.
There is a Chinese saying, “The success or failure of a man cannot be determined until the coffin lid is laid.” So does the Apostle to the Hebrews say of leaders, “Whose faith follow, (but) consider the end of their conversation (conduct)”. Hananiah’s abrupt end is a warning to every leader good or bad.
For Hanaiah Death Was Inevitable
It was the fulfillment of the Lord's promise in Deuteronomy 18.
Hananiah said 2 years.. and everything will be right. 2 months and he was dead.
Jeremiah said, Thou shalt die." That is a statement of actuality and reality. That statement reminds us of a fact that unavoidable and undeniable: WE SHALL DIE! (Cp. Heb.9:27) In Genesis, God had told Adam and Eve that if they ate of a cerain tree they would die. After they disobeyed God, history's first murder occured when Cain slew his brother Abel. When his blood stained the ground the actuality and reality of death came home to our first parents. Eventually Adam and Eve died. In the genealogy that followed we read with almost endless monotony, that so and so begat so and so and he died. The funeral bell has never ceased to ring.
George Bernard Shaw wryly wrote: "The statistics on death are quite impressive. One out of one people die."
Over 400 years ago the English author John Heywood noted: "Death makes equal the high and low."
One of the Greek proverbs says: "But learn that to die is a debt that we all must pay."
Death has often come in strange ways and in unusual fashions. Asechylus was killed by the fall of a turtle on his bald heed, dropped from the claws of an eagle in the air. Agathocles, tyrant of Sicily, was killed by a toothpick. Bassus died from the pick of a needle in his left thumb. Chalchas, the soothsayer, died of laughter at the thought of having out-predicted the hour of his death. Marquitte died of laughter on seeing a monkey trying to pull on a pair of boots. Charles VIII was conducting his queen into a tennis court, struck his head against the lintel, causing his death. Fabius the Roman Praetor was choked to death by a single goat hair in the milk he was drinking. La Belle Gabrielle, mistress of Henry IV, died from eating an orange. Cornelius died while kissing the hand of his wife. Qunitas Lepidus, going out of his house struck his big toe against the threshold and died. Louis VI met his death from a pig running under his horse, causing the animal to stumble. Otway the poet in a starving condition had a guinea given to him, with which he bought a loaf of bread and died while swallowing the first mouthful. William III died from a horse stumbling over a mole-hill. Regardless of how death comes, the simple fact is that death is coming.
Jeremiah not only told Hananiah that he would die, but also that "This year thou shalt die." As I previously stated, Hananiah died 2 months later. I know we don't like to think about it, but there is the possibility that we could die within this coming year. James said, "Go to now, ye that say, today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow, for what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a short time and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, if the Lord will, we shall live and do this, or that" (James 4:13-15).
For Hananiah was ACCOUNTABLE!
If we knew that we only had a year to live what would we do? How would our conduct be affected? This actuality coupled with this possibility presses upon us a sense of accountability.
In the first place, if I were not saved, I would settle the matter today.
In the second place, if I was saved, I would make sure that my spiritual life was pleasing to God.
I would also make sure that all my relationships were what they should be.
I would live each day as if it were my last and that I could be meeting God at any moment.
The reality of hell is not decided by a majority vote.
God is not asking for our votes or our support, but we need His
For you too its time to decide. Its time for you to decide about letting Jesus Christ be your Saviour and Lord. Will you follow Him in everything He commands you, or will you try and run it your way without Him.