John T. Willis

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Jeremiah's Conflict with Hananiah: The Symbolic Act of the Yoke--Jeremiah 27-28

Jeremiah's second conflict recorded in Jeremiah 26-29 is his conflict with the prophet Hananiah. This conflict is related in Jeremiah 27-28. The stories recorded in Jeremiah 27-28 fall into five paragraphs.

I. Yahweh instructs Jeremiah to announce that Yahweh is sending Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians to overthrow God's people in Judah and surrounding nations. Jeremiah 27:1-11.
a. The composer of the Book of Jeremiah dates the events recorded in Jeremiah 27-28 are in the fourth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, thus 594 BCE. 27:1; 28:1. [Note that the Hebrew text has "Jehoiakim," but this is undoubtedly incorrect, and the correct reading is "Zedekiah." See 27:3, 12; 28:1).
b. Yahweh instructs Jeremiah to put a yoke on his neck and send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, and Phoenicia, who have cometo Jerusalem as envoys to King Zedekiah of Judah. 27:2-3.
c. The message of Yahweh that Jeremiah is to declare to these kings is: Yahweh made the earth, and gives the earth to whomever Yahweh pleases. 27:4. See Psalms 115:3; 135:6.
d. Yahweh NOW has declared that he will give all the lands of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Phoenicia and Judah into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar II and the Babylonians until the Babylonians fall. 27:5-7.
e. If any nation does not serve Nebuchadnezzar and put its neck under the YOKE of the Babylonians, Yahweh will punish that nation "with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence." These nations must not listen to other prophets, for they are lying. If any nation brings its neck under the YOKE of Nebuchadnezzar, Yahweh will leave that nation on its own land. 27:8-11.

II. In obedience to Yahweh's instructions, Jeremiah goes to King Zedekiah of Judah and declares Yahweh's message to Zedekiah in behalf of the people. Jeremiah
27:12-15. This message is very repetitive of Yahweh's message to Jeremiah in 27:6-11.

III. Again, in obedience to Yahweh's instructions, Jeremiah goes to the priests and all the people of God and declares Yahweh's message. Jeremiah 27:16-22.
a. This message is essentially the same as that proclaimed in 27:6-11. 27:16-17.
b. Jeremiah places emphasis on what will happen to the vessels in the Jerusalem temple which had not already been taken into Babylon. The false prophets declare that these vessels with remain. Jeremiah declares that the Babylonians will seize them and carry them into exile. 27:18-22.

IV. The prophet Hananiah breaks the wooden yoke on Jeremiah's neck, declaring Yahweh will break the yoke of Babylon on Judah. Jeremiah 28:1-11.
a. In the same year that Jeremiah appeared wearing a wooden yoke, declaring Yahweh has brought the Babylonians into the land of Canaan to overthrow the people of God and carry them into captivity, the prophet Hananiah appears in the Jerusalem temple and declares Yahweh has declared that he will break the yoke of the king of Babylon and will bring Jehoiachin and the other Judeans in Babylon back to Jerusalem and Judah. 28:1-4.
b. Jeremiah responds, saying in mockery: "Amen! May the Lord do so!" 28:5-7.
c. Then Jeremiah declares that former prophets of Yahweh declared "war, famine, and pestilence" against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who declares peace will be considered a true prophet if this really happens. 28:8-9.
d. The prophet Hananiah responds by taking the wooden yoke from the neck of Jeremiah and breaking it, declaring that Yahweh will break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon from the neck of all the nations within two years. Jeremiah quietly walks away.

V. A few weeks later, Jeremiah appears at the Jerusalem temple to confront Hananiah and tell him that Yahweh will put an iron yoke on the neck of Judah under Babylon. Jeremiah 28:12-17.
a. Yahweh comes to Jeremiah and tells him to tell Hananiah that Yahweh has put an iron yoke on Judah and the surrounding nations. 28:12-14.
b. Jeremiah confronts Hananiah, declaring that Hananiah has delivered a lying message. Therefore, Hananiah will die within a year. Two months later, Hananiah dies. 28:15-17.

Note: Jeremiah's message was very effective because he used A SYMBOLIC ACT to arouse the curiosity of the people and appropriately declare Yahweh's message. He appeared in public at the church building [the Jerusalem temple] wearing a yoke on his neck. We often assume preaching is or should be a presentation of mere words. NOT SO, Biblically!!! There is much drama, symbolic acts or signs, gestures, art work, music, etc., necessary or essential to communicate God's message. We need preachers who will follow this biblical example of preaching, so that God's message will be powerful and effective.

Share YOUR insights and thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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