Chapter 49, part 2: Babylonian captivity and false prophets
Mystery Babylon and the Stone Kingdom, part 145—Hananiah, the false prophet, denounces Jeremiah
Continuing from where we left off in the previous post in this series…
KJV 2 Kings 25:1 And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his host, against Jerusalem, and pitched against it; and they built forts against it round about.
2 And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah.
After about 18 months of the siege, the Babylonian armies finally succeed in breaching the wall and gaining entrance into Jerusalem. By night King Zedekiah tries to escape but he is captured the next day in the plains of Jericho.
6 So they took the king, and brought him up to the king of Babylon to Riblah; and they gave judgment upon him.
7 And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon.
There Zedekiah was imprisoned and there in Babylon, King Zedekiah died some years later. Turn now to Jeremiah, chapter 52. What was it that brought about such a horrible end for King Zedekiah?
Well, of course, nationally speaking, it was the people’s continued disobedience to God’s laws that resulted in this terrible and bloody end.
But I am asking specifically, what was it that Zedekiah did that caused such a tragic and bloody end for himself? Seeing his sons slain before his eyes and then having his own eyes gouged out!
Well, we read it previously in 2 Kings 24 (previous post) and we find here in Jeremiah 52, verses 1 to 3. These three verses are exactly the same as we just read in 2 Kings 24:18-20.
Jeremiah 52:1 Zedekiah was one and twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And his mother's name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
2 And he did that which was evil in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.
3 For through the anger of the LORD [Yahweh] it came to pass in Jerusalem and Judah, till he had cast them out from his presence, that Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon.
Remember, the deal with Nebuchadnezzar was, that as long as Zedekiah was a good boy and did as he was told by his boss, the king of Babylon, that everything was fine. But it says here that he rebelled against the king of Babylon.
But prior to his rebellion, Zedekiah had even gone on a mission to Babylon to try to work out a more favorable arrangement. This is alluded to in...
Jeremiah 51: 59 The word which Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah, the son of Maaseiah, when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah into Babylon in the fourth year of his reign. And this Seraiah was a quiet prince.
I think that we can safely presume that when King Zedekiah came home to his people, that he did as political leaders are wont to do, he put the best face on his discussions with King Nebuchadnezzar.
Or did he? You will notice that verse 59 only states that he went to Babylon. It does not say he even got an audience with King Nebuchadnezzar.
He may have been turned away by guards at the gates of Babylon. And since CNN and Fox News were not there to accompany Zedekiah on this diplomatic mission, who knows what really happened? —a little sarcasm there.
Certainly, back home in the kingdom of Judah, no one would ever know if Zedekiah came home and assured the people that he negotiated a much better deal for them.
Now I am clearly speculating here because the Bible does not say one way or the other—as far as I can tell—whether he actually met with Nebuchadnezzar or not, but this is certainly a plausible scenario, and it makes sense with the false prophet’s subsequent actions.
So, continuing along this speculative line, Zedekiah came home and perhaps lied about even getting an audience with the king of Babylon. Therefore, when Hananiah—the false prophet—heard this seemingly good news, he, being an opportunist, recognized a chance to win favor with the people.
How so? By jumping on the bandwagon of this seemingly good news from Zedekiah. Hananiah did this by inventing his own favorable prophecy but declared that it was “from the Lord.” Notice where this confrontation took place. Back to Jeremiah 28:1 again.
Jeremiah 28:1And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the LORD [Yahweh], in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying,
“in the house of the LORD [Yahweh].” In other words, this took place in Solomon’s temple itself, or at the very least, in the immediate vicinity of the temple, perhaps between the porch and the altar.
Remember now, Jeremiah had been walking around with this wooden yoke around his neck from time to time as a visual reminder of what Jeremiah claimed was a message from the Yahweh God: that they, the Judah kingdom, were in captivity to Babylon and that they should not rebel, but rather submit to the “wooden” yoke of Babylon.
And now in a very public manner, here comes Hananiah and directly contradicts the message of Jeremiah.
Jeremiah 28:2 Thus speaketh the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.
3 Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the LORD'S [Yahweh’s] house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:
4 And I will bring again to this place Jeconiah, the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, saith the LORD [Yahweh]: for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.
Now just as a point of interest, we are informed elsewhere that about 13,000 people of the Judah kingdom had been captured and taken earlier to Babylon. That included the previous king, named Jeconiah, aka Coniah, aka Jehoiachin.
Alright, so as Hananiah stood up to pronounce this rosy prophecy, we can be almost certain that King Zedekiah was not in the audience there at the temple. How do we know that? Because Hananiah was prophesying that within two years King Zedekiah would be out of a job.
How so? Because the previous king, Jeconiah, along with all 13,000 captives taken earlier to Babylon, would be coming home. If that occurred, what would happen to the present king, Zedekiah?
Hmm. We have to wonder—didn’t that take a lot of guts to predict something like that? Or else Hananiah was pretty stupid, one or the other, wouldn’t you agree?
To expound that a bit further, Jeconiah, aka Jehoiachin (pronounced Jeh-hoya-keen), had been put on the throne when he was only eight years old and had remained on the throne for a mere one hundred days before he himself was dragged off into captivity in Babylon.
That is when Nebuchadnezzar appointed Jeconiah’s uncle, Zedekiah, to be his vassal king of Judah. Zedekiah also happened to be the third son of Josiah, the great and godly king.
Regrettably, every one of Josiah’s three sons who reigned over Judah, as well as his grandson, the boy-king Jeconiah, all turned out to be wicked. The Bible says of each one of them: But he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.
There is one thing which is generally true about false prophets: they are like most politicians in that they always have their finger in the air checking to see which way the political winds are blowing.
Hananiah had evidently gauged the public sentiment and knew that the previous king, the boy, Jeconiah, was more popular than the twenty-something-year-old Zedekiah. Therefore, Hananiah predicts the return of the popular boy-king.
So how did Jeremiah handle this challenge? Did he take personal umbrage at being publicly humiliated and rebuked by Hananiah? No. In fact, Jeremiah had such a heart for his wayward people, that the first thing he said was that he wished he were wrong and that Hananiah were right.
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah said unto the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests, and in the presence of all the people that stood in the house of the LORD [Yahweh],
6 Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD [Yahweh] do so: the LORD [Yahweh] perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD'S [Yahweh’s] house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place.
Jeremiah, however, was also quite certain that he had heard correctly from the Lord, and therefore he could not let this comfortable-sounding, mushy-gushy, false prophecy go unchallenged. Therefore, in his answer to Hananiah, Jeremiah continued:
7 Nevertheless hear thou now this word that I speak in thine ears, and in the ears of all the people;
8 The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence.
9 The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD [Yahweh] hath truly sent him.
Here Jeremiah reminds Hananiah and the people that most prophets were sent to Israel and/or to Judah to bring bad news—why? Doom and gloom has never been a popular message; and the messenger, the bringer of the bad news, often ends up paying a heavy price for predicting bad news—sometimes paying with his life.
The prophets are sent with a message of bad news (i.e., imminent judgment) for the purpose of trying to get the people to repent, to turn their hearts back to the Lord God of Israel by being obedient to His law.
In contrast, Jeremiah notes, anyone who predicts that peace and prosperity are immediately ahead, that person will shortly be either proven or disproven as a true prophet of God. Predictably, Jeremiah’s words had no effect on Hananiah. Instead, Hananiah dug in his heels as we now see.
Jeremiah 28: 10 Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.
11 And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh]; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.
Clearly, at that point, Jeremiah knew that any further attempt on his part to get Hananiah and the people to see the truth would be futile. It would be like spitting into the wind. Have you ever experienced that feeling when trying to get friends and relatives to understand? Me, too. So Jeremiah went home.
12 Then the word of the LORD [Yahweh] came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying,
13 Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD [Yahweh]; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.
14 For thus saith the LORD [Yahweh] of hosts, the God of Israel; I have put a yoke of iron upon the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they shall serve him: and I have given him the beasts of the field also.
15 Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD [Yahweh] hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie.
16 Therefore thus saith the LORD [Yahweh]; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD [Yahweh].
17 So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.
And that concludes Jeremiah, chapter 28. What are the key facts of this chapter? There are only two that I want to emphasize at this time.
Fact #1. When God’s people are under judgment, God usually hires a foreign nation to be the instrument of punishing His people.
As it was in the time of Jeremiah, so also I believe, it fits our own era. First, is the lighter judgment—the wooden yoke. That came upon us in 1913/1914 with the formal take-over of our money system by the international bankers.
The Federal Reserve Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Wood-row Wilson, a nice clue left by the God of Israel but not seen by virtually anyone until relatively recently.
Fact #2. When Hananiah, a false prophet, comes along and declares the judgment of God will be over in two years, and Hananiah removes the wooden yoke and smashes it to pieces—by that act, he has just ratcheted up the punishment.
God then responds with, Okay, if you are going to rebel against the wooden yoke, I will put you in iron yokes. Let’s see how you like that! Try to break that yoke!
(To be continued.)