My little brother had a nickname given to him by my dad. “Yeah-but” was the name because no matter what was said, my brother was driven to dispute it, twist it, or exaggerate as he presented his case against the statement. I remember my toddler brother advanced from the “why stage” of always asking questions about everything to his “yeah, but…” stage of communication that lasted throughout his teen years.
As a young adult he tried to dignify his statements by beginning each rebuttal with, “Well, actually…” We all loved him through those stages and remembered that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” with this human habit. Yes, we all see it. Yes, we all do it from time to time.
Jeremiah as prophet is confronted by a “yeah-but” prophet who comes along to dispute the words God has given to Jeremiah. Hananiah confronts him right in the Temple for all to hear. Well, that’s awkward to say the least! So, if two prophets give opposite messages and say the words are from God, who do we believe? We believe the prophet whose words happened exactly as God said. No yeah-but’s about it!
“We’ll wait and see. If it happens, it happens—and then we’ll know that God sent him.”
Jeremiah 28, The Message
From a Wooden to an Iron Yoke
1-2 Later that same year (it was in the fifth month of King Zedekiah’s fourth year) Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, confronted Jeremiah in the Temple of God in front of the priests and all the people who were there. Hananiah said:
2-4 “This Message is straight from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: ‘I will most certainly break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Before two years are out I’ll have all the furnishings of God’s Temple back here, all the things that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon plundered and hauled off to Babylon. I’ll also bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the exiles who were taken off to Babylon.’ God’s Decree. ‘Yes, I will break the king of Babylon’s yoke. You’ll no longer be in harness to him.’”
5-9 Prophet Jeremiah stood up to prophet Hananiah in front of the priests and all the people who were in God’s Temple that day. Prophet Jeremiah said, “Wonderful! Would that it were true—that God would validate your preaching by bringing the Temple furnishings and all the exiles back from Babylon. But listen to me, listen closely. Listen to what I tell both you and all the people here today: The old prophets, the ones before our time, preached judgment against many countries and kingdoms, warning of war and disaster and plague. So any prophet who preaches that everything is just fine and there’s nothing to worry about stands out like a sore thumb. We’ll wait and see. If it happens, it happens—and then we’ll know that God sent him.”
10-11 At that, Hananiah grabbed the yoke from Jeremiah’s shoulders and smashed it. And then he addressed the people: “This is God’s Message: In just this way I will smash the yoke of the king of Babylon and get him off the neck of all the nations—and within two years.”
Jeremiah walked out.
12-14 Later, sometime after Hananiah had smashed the yoke from off his shoulders, Jeremiah received this Message from God: “Go back to Hananiah and tell him, ‘This is God’s Message: You smashed the wooden yoke-bars; now you’ve got iron yoke-bars. This is a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s own God: I’ve put an iron yoke on all these nations. They’re harnessed to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They’ll do just what he tells them. Why, I’m even putting him in charge of the wild animals.’”
15-16 So prophet Jeremiah told prophet Hananiah, “Hold it, Hananiah! God never sent you. You’ve talked the whole country into believing a pack of lies! And so God says, ‘You claim to be sent? I’ll send you all right—right off the face of the earth! Before the year is out, you’ll be dead because you instigated sedition against God.’”
17 Prophet Hananiah died that very year, in the seventh month.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
A true prophet can spot a phony prophet. God gives His spokesperson the gift of discernment when it comes to speaking for Him. Jeremiah’s response to Hananiah’s message was “Amen! The LORD do so; the LORD perform your words which you have prophesied.” How are we to interpret this reply? Certainly not as agreement with what the false prophet had said, because Jeremiah knew better. Perhaps we might paraphrase Jeremiah’s words, “You wish! I wish that the Lord would do what you have said! This would make me very happy!” But Jeremiah knew that Hananiah’s prophecy of peace wouldn’t be fulfilled.
Wait and see. Although prophets are holy, set apart, for God’s work, they are also human. We do not see what God sees as He looks at our hearts. There will always be those who dispute what we are confident God said to us in all areas of our lives that are dedicated to His service. So, sometimes we must “wait and see” if certain “prophets” are telling the truth or not. There will be signs in their behaviors, but most of all, if what they say does not happen, then the answer is clear—the prophet if not of God. False prophets create messages to gain approval, manipulate emotions, seek popularity, and insist on material gain. Run from them!
Abide in God/Jesus/Holy Spirit as He promises to abide in us. The message to Hananiah was both national and personal. As far as the nation was concerned, because they had followed his deceptive counsel, an iron yoke would replace the wooden yoke. The nations would not escape; Nebuchadnezzar would enslave them. This always happens—when we reject the light yoke of God’s will, we end up wearing a heavier yoke of our own making.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” –Jesus (John 15:4)
Going our own way, disputing what you say, trying to gloss over the truth or avoiding your Truth altogether never goes well for us. May we see Truth, live Truth, and tell Truth by Your Holy Spirit working in and through us so others will know Truth—YOU! I trust you, Jesus. Guide me. Speak to my heart for I am listening. I love you with all that is in me. I give all I am to you.
In Jesus Name, Amen
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)