“Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who were standing in the house of Yahweh, and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May Yahweh do so; may Yahweh confirm your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of Yahweh’s house and all the exiles from Babylon to this place.
‘Yet hear now this word which I am about to speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people!
‘The prophets who were before me and before you from ancient times prophesied against many lands and against kingdoms, of war and of calamity and of pestilence.
‘The prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, then that prophet will be known as one whom Yahweh has truly sent.'” (My italics.)
A few posts ago, I shared that I was on my third reading of Jeremiah. One of the intriguing parts of Jeremiah is its candid accounts of prophet battles. The above is taken from the middle of one such scene. I used to think that Israel’s prophetic history was clean. But reading it for myself has revealed that it was anything but clean. This Hananiah claimed to be speaking the Word of Yahweh, no different than Jeremiah. Moreover, the account has Jeremiah acknowledging this fact.
So how does Jeremiah suggest, in front of all the people, that their dispute be resolved? He says to wait. But in his suggestion is the subtle claim that Hananiah should be able to see that when involved in prophesying, one sides with true prophets when one prophesies against earthly powers. Instead of this, Hananiah had just prophesied earthly peace, you see?
But here’s the tricky part. Jeremiah wasn’t suggesting that earthly powers needed to be exchanged by other earthly powers that would do better, no. He was declaring, like the true prophets of Yahweh who came before him, that the people of Israel had disobeyed Yahweh for so long that Yahweh would not stop the oncoming judgement. (War, calamity, pestilence.)
Implied in this entire scene, and Jeremiah’s claim, is the fact that Yahweh is running the show and that Yahweh expects obedience.
On this Independence Day I am thinking of this passage because it is so very different from what we hear and say today. Our prophets, the 20, all claim to be speaking against the man, capital T. But not one of them measures up to the prophet bar Jeremiah set. This, of course, is no surprise. The 20 would hardly announce themselves as prophets of Yahweh. And yet half, and perhaps more than half, of the voting public in our country is behaving like the Israelites who apparently ate up and drank up Hananiah (as indicated by their lack of repentance) and his declarations that peace was on the way.
The next president will not bring peace or liberty. You’re a fool if you believe he or she will. And Jeremiah knew this. That’s why his words are worth reading on this day.
The question that remains is do you know who has the power to bring peace and liberty?