“Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the LORD;” ( Jeremiah 28:5)
When I read this passage, I had the suspicion that the prophet Hananiah may not have discerned the word and intent of the Lord God. Hananiah was, to put it simply, prophesying that peace and restitution was coming to Israel. (I know this because I read the opening sentences of Jeremiah 28. If you want to read them before continuing on, go ahead. I will “wait”.) It was a very bold and ambitious thing to say in front of the priests and everyone. And I am sure it was received as good new. Jeremiah received the news that way too.
“. . . and the prophet Jeremiah said, “Amen! May the LORD do so; may the LORD fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the LORD, and all the exiles.” (Verse 6)
Jeremiah might have prophesied gloom and doom (in fact I have read that he was referred to as the “weeping prophet” because I guess he had so many laments) but he wanted good news as much as any other resident of Israel.
“But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms.” (Verses 7 – 8)
Reality check – while good news may be what we all want to hear, Jeremiah, there is a long strong line of bad new prophesy, and we are still in the midst of the times that were prophesied about.
You know prophets are a lot like weather forecaster; they want to tell us there will sunshine and “happy” skies, but they have to be honest and forthright is there is bad weather coming.
“As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet.” (Verse 9)
This is interesting; Jesus Christ preached both peace and hard times. Both came to pass. I guess that means (if we did not know otherwise) Jesus was sent by the Lord. The RCL does not include the verses that followed; but the Lord told Jeremiah, and Jeremiah told Hananiah that he had it all wrong. And because, as Jeremiah told him, Hananiah had gotten the people of Israel to believe in a false hope, Hananiah’s life was forfeited and he died within the same year that Jeremiah spoke the words of the Lord to him.
Everyone wants good news, beloved reader, everyone. But spreading false hopes based on erroneous information is not a wise move. We hear a great deal of news these days; some good and some bad. Without a “prophet” who is under the auspice of the Divine and so privy to the reality of the situation according to the Divine, it is hard to know what is true and what can be trusted & believed. May you, beloved reader, not put your faith and make your plans according to false information but rely on the Word of the Lord God as inspired by the Holy Presence. Shalom & Selah!