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Jeremiah 28:1-17 - Homilies By D. Young

A false prophet and his fate.

I. HANANIAH 'S PRESUMPTION . Note his direct challenge to the true prophet . He seeks out Jeremiah in the house of Jehovah, "in the presence of the priests and of all the people." A prophet was, of course, bound to make his utterances in public, but Hananiah waited his chance until he found an opportunity of bearding the hated Jeremiah in as open a way as possible. He speaks explicitly in the Name of Jehovah . He is not afraid to take the great Name in vain. Let us be warned lest we heedlessly utter, under the pretended authority of God, what is nothing more than the daring imagination of our own hearts. The false prophet Ventures on the very figure which had been employed by the true prophet . It would almost seem as if Jeremiah had habitually borne something in the shape of a yoke, and if so, it must have been a very irritating sight to the false prophets. Little wonder that, under the pretence of a prophetic mission, he ventured on the removal of this yoke. Above all things, there is the confident assertion with respect to time . Notwithstanding all the manifest difficulties of the achievement, Hananiah is not afraid to say that in two years Judah will again be firmly resting on its old foundations. Thus from all these indications of presumptuous action, we have an illustration of how confident heretics are in their error. Too often we are doubtful and partial in our statements of truth. We lack that faith and that thorough-going assertion of the truths God has revealed which are so necessary to make those truths full of operative and irresistible force. Hananiah here is as confident as he can be in all his deadly errors. He has not the least fear of plunging into the greatest responsibilities with regard to definite predictions. He passes from the ground of mere expostulations and remonstrances, and ventures on statements which in a very short time must either make him or ruin him. Let us learn from our enemies, and labor to be confident and determined in our assertion of truth, seeing there is no lack of determination on the part of those who have cast in their lot with error.

II. HANANIAH 'S PERSISTENCE . It is very noticeable that Jeremiah does not meet him in anything of an angry or denouncing manner. It would have well pleased the true prophet to see the predictions of the false prophet brought about; for it is made abundantly evident that the sufferings of his country were an unspeakable grief to Jeremiah. An angry reply served no good purpose. The true prophet could manifest a dignified patience, and leave time to vindicate both the validity of his prophetic claim and his fidelity in speaking the truth. Meantime, he can only recommend Hananiah to consider well the lessons of history, and how the prophets of old had spoken of stern dealings with many wicked nations. Unfortunately, bad men are hardly ever discriminating students of history. Hananiah was here given an opportunity of repentance, if only he had chosen to avail himself of it. But so full was he of his own devices that gentle treatment only increased his audacity, and he drew public attention more than ever to himself by removing the symbolic yoke from Jeremiah's neck. That he was allowed to do all this should teach us a lesson of patience and trust when we see wicked men pursuing, undisturbed, their chosen path. They are only climbing higher that their ultimate ruin may become more widely manifest.

III. HANANIAH 'S DOOM . The first result of his presumptuous conduct is to bring a more emphatic prophecy with regard to the captives. The second is to bring s sentence of death on the false prophet himself. He who has dealt rashly with the ordering of times and seasons is to know by a bitter experience that God has these times and seasons in his own hands. He is to die within the year. Notice the sin which he is charred with committing. He is doomed to death, not simply for the falsehood or the profanity, but for this, that he had taught rebellion against Jehovah. His words were an incitement to make a useless and premature attempt at liberation. God's prediction with regard to the captivity in Babylon had in it the nature of a command.

IV. HANANIAH 'S DEATH . It came very quickly. Two months at the outside was the space between the utterance of a false rebellious statement and the confirming of a true one. The death came at such an interval as was very impressive. Compare the relations between Jeremiah and Hananiah here with those between Peter and Ananias. Both Hananiah and Ananias dealt presumptuously with the holiest of things.—Y.

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