Jeremiah had a duel of words with a false prophet, in the presence of priests and people. The false prophet told the people God would bring back very quickly the Jews that were exiled.
Now in the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, in the fifth month, Hananiah the son of Azzur, the prophet, who was from Gibeon, spoke to me in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I am going to bring back to this place all the vessels of the LORD’s house, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place and carried to Babylon. I am also going to bring back to this place Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and all the exiles of Judah who went to Babylon,’ declares the LORD, ‘for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.’” Jeremiah 28: 1 – 4
This false prophet used the Lord’s name, attributed a message to God, and delivered that message to the people. But he was not called of God – Jeremiah was. Here is what followed the false prophecy:
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 the LORD, and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD confirm your words which you have prophesied to bring back the vessels of the LORD’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 great 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 the LORD has truly sent.” Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from the neck of Jeremiah the prophet and broke it. Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Even so will I break within two full years the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all the nations.’” Then the prophet Jeremiah went his way. The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah after Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “Go and speak to Hananiah, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, “You have broken the yokes of wood, but you have made instead of them yokes of iron.” ‘For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “I have put a yoke of iron on the neck of all these nations, that they may serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and they will serve him. And I have also given him the beasts of the field.”’” Then Jeremiah the prophet said to Hananiah the prophet, “Listen now, Hananiah, the LORD has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I am about to remove you from the face of the earth. This year you are going to die, because you have counseled rebellion against the LORD.’” So Hananiah the prophet died in the same year in the seventh month. Jeremiah 28: 5 – 17
This battle of words between Jeremiah and Hananiah has a precedent in the garden of Eden. Just as Hananiah falsely predicted peace, Satan lied to Eve and told her she would not die if she ate of the forbidden fruit. The first lie told to men, recorded in Scripture, was a message of peace as opposed to truth. This is one of the hallmarks of false teachers – peace instead of truth.
This theme of peace versus truth has continued to our day. One type of false peace offered to people comes from America’s most popular Christian heretic, Joel Osteen. His primary doctrine is one of human potential – the ability for men to increase in God’s favor by applying the principles that Joel teaches. He teaches how to achieve dreams and live out visions. He teaches how to have “your best life now.” He leads his people in chants where they declare who they are becoming, as if their words held a magical power to bring their hopes to fruition: “I am strong!” “I am healthy!” “I am confident!” “I am secure!” “I am talented!” If leading sinners in those chants is not a false message of peace, then nothing is.
The Biblical truth, God’s truth, is a far different message. God would never deceive people into thinking they are strong when they are weak. God would never deceive people into thinking they are healthy when they are sick and dying. Jesus said as much in an encounter with some Pharisees.
It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice’, for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9: 12 – 13
The Apostle Paul attests to the fact that Jesus calls the sick and sinful, when he reminds the Corinthians of who they really are.
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. 1 Corinthians 1: 26 – 29
Jesus does not promise good health or strength and might to achieve all your dreams or talent that will impress all whom you encounter. He is not terribly concerned with such things, for His concern is far more weighty and substantial. His concern is with sin and redemption, hell and heaven, eternal death and eternal life.
The gospel of Jesus Christ makes no sense without presenting both the wrath of God and the redemption of God, hand in hand, side by side. If we could only be like John, who merely repeated the message that Jesus spoke.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3: 16
Do not believe – perish. Believe – do not perish. Simple logic spoken by Jesus. Let us repeat His message, for it is a true message of peace, far different from the messages of peace that flow from the mouths of the false prophets.