Day 121: An Actual Contradiction

Jeremiah 28:10-17

Then Hananiah the prophet took the bar from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and broke it. Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Yahweh says: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from off the neck of all the nations within two full years.’ ” Then the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

Then Yahweh’s word came to Jeremiah, after Hananiah the prophet had broken the bar from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Go, and tell Hananiah, saying, ‘Yahweh says, “You have broken the bars of wood, but you have made in their place bars of iron.” For Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel says, “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they will serve him. I have also given him the animals of the field.” ’ ”

Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen, Hananiah! Yahweh has not sent you, but you make this people trust in a lie. Therefore Yahweh says, ‘Behold, I will send you away from off the surface of the earth. This year you will die, because you have spoken rebellion against Yahweh.’ ”

So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

When Hananiah went on to say that Babylon’s power would be completely broken in the region within two years, a contradiction was not only apparent, it was real. God has spoken through Jeremiah that the people in other nations were to prepare for the Babylonian takeover. That takeover would not be happening if what Hananiah said was true.

Notice that Jeremiah didn’t say anything after Hananiah took the bar from his neck and used it as an illustration. He probably saw the contradiction quite clearly himself now. Both Hananiah and Jeremiah could not be true prophets of God. One of them was an imposter. Evidently, Jeremiah walked away. I know this because God told Jeremiah to “Go,” and tell Hananiah a new message which means he had to go to where Hananiah was. It’s important when we see a real contradiction, that we not try to accept it. It is also true that we shouldn’t speak until God shows us to what to say, but this passage also demonstrates that God will deal with a false prophet.

If God would have left things like they were, the people would have been confused. Which message was from God? To me, this seemed like an impossible problem but God provided an amazing way out.

The people had only one way to tell if a prophet is true. They had to see if what he predicted would happen. Both prophets could not be right, but if they were to wait until two years passed, it might be too late to follow Jeremiah and surrender to Babylon. I would imagine that Satan created this dilemma but God made it look easy. He simply had Jeremiah predict the death of Hananiah in a few months! Since both prophets could not be false, all the people had to do is watch to see if Hananiah would or die not! God not only proved to the people that Jeremiah was a true prophet, He also took out the bad one. God is quite capable of making His voice clear to us. He is also very serious about those who speak His word. This is a blessing to those of us who are telling the truth and a fearful warning to those who don’t.

Day 120: Handling Apparent Contradictions

Jeremiah 28:1-9

That same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month, Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet, who was of Gibeon, spoke to me in Yahweh’s house, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, “Yahweh of Armies, the God of Israel, says, ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two full years I will bring again into this place all the vessels of Yahweh’s house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried to Babylon. I will bring again to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, who went to Babylon,’ says Yahweh; ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’ ”

Then the prophet Jeremiah said to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people who stood in Yahweh’s house, even the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May Yahweh do so. May Yahweh perform your words which you have prophesied, to bring again the vessels of Yahweh’s house, and all those who are captives, from Babylon to this place. Nevertheless listen now to this word that I speak in your ears, and in the ears of all the people: The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet happens, then the prophet will be known, that Yahweh has truly sent him.”

This passage presents a serious problem. What do you do when two prophets speak seemingly contradictory messages? Here, the prophet Hananiah said that in two years, Nebuchadnezzar will return all of the captives taken to Babylon as well as all of the temple vessels. Jeremiah had just said that if the people refuse to surrender to Nebuchadnezzar, they will be destroyed and all of the rest of the temple vessels will be taken away. Why would Nebuchadnezzar give back what he had taken if they were just going to end up surrendering? More importantly, how are we supposed to handle it when prophets say things that don’t seem to go together?

Thankfully, Jeremiah shows us how to handle this by his own example. First of all, Jeremiah agrees that if it is the word of God, it must be accepted. He started out by saying: “Amen!” If it really was a word from God, then God is certainly able to change His mind and stop Nebuchadnezzar. After all, Jeremiah was asking the people to repent. Perhaps, within those two years, the people were going to repent and God would send the captives home. Perhaps, Jeremiah realized that God could bring them home with the temple vessels and then the people would surrender to Nebuchadnezzar and both of their prophesies would work out together after all. There was one problem though. Many prophets, including Isaiah, had said that war, evil and pestilence was coming. Those prophets had already been proven to be legitimate. That leads us to an important thing to remember when someone seems to contradict the Bible. It’s not possible for the Bible to be wrong. Either we don’t understand how it will work out together, or the prophet that is now speaking is false. That’s what Jeremiah also says here. If the prophet’s words don’t happen, then it will be obvious that God didn’t send him. Hananiah had just given a definite time in which something had to happen. They would all find out in two years if Hananiah was speaking God’s word or not.

Day 110: A Survey of Jeremiah’s Experience

Jeremiah 25:1-6The word that came to Jeremiah concerning all the people of Judah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah (this was the first year of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), which Jeremiah the prophet…

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Day 99: God Makes His Word Clear

Jeremiah 22:10-19Don’t weep for the dead.Don’t bemoan him;but weep bitterly for him who goes away,for he will return no more,and not see his native country.For Yahweh says touching Shallum the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of…

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Day 92: God’s Word vs. The Authorities

Jeremiah 20:10-13

For I have heard the defaming of many,
“Terror on every side!
Denounce, and we will denounce him!”
say all my familiar friends,
those who watch for my fall.
“Perhaps he will be persuaded,
and we will prevail against him,
and we will take our revenge on him.”
But Yahweh is with me as an awesome mighty one.
Therefore my persecutors will stumble,
and they won’t prevail.
They will be utterly disappointed,
because they have not dealt wisely,
even with an everlasting dishonor which will never be forgotten.
But Yahweh of Armies, who tests the righteous,
who sees the heart and the mind,
let me see your vengeance on them,
for I have revealed my cause to you.
Sing to Yahweh!
Praise Yahweh,
for he has delivered the soul of the needy from the hand of evildoers.

Jeremiah’s friends turned on him when God required that he speak to them about the coming terror. I think we can understand this. Jeremiah was thrown in jail by the authorities. A person isn’t popular after they have been thrown in jail. In our culture we say that they “have a record.” People tend to trust the authorities and doubt the one who was convicted. Obviously, Jeremiah knew that God was asking him to be shamed for the sake of the truth.

This may not seem like a big deal to us today. We may think that things are different for us, but that is so very far from the truth that it should cause us to be afraid. Jeremiah’s friends treatment caused God to condemn them to “everlasting dishonor which will never be forgotten.” That’s how serious it can be to trust the views of the authorities rather than God’s word. God is able to look beyond the command of the authorities. He sees “the heart and the mind” of every one of us individually. Today, there are many leaders who are attempting to control people by denying them the right to guide their behavior by their own conscience. If we give in to them, we are putting them in the place of God and that is idolatry. They seek our worship and it is our responsibility to be like Jeremiah and deny them of it.

Jeremiah could see that God was going to bring him justice by delivering him from his old friends, but that doesn’t mean that Jeremiah was immune from his emotions as we read next.

Day 91: Jeremiah’s Source of Strength

Jeremiah 20:7-9Yahweh, you have persuaded me, and I was persuaded.You are stronger than I, and have prevailed.I have become a laughingstock all day.Everyone mocks me.For as often as I speak, I cry out;I cry, “Violence and destruction!”because Yahweh’s word has…

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