March 27 I Tuesday
“…from early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague… But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.” —Jeremiah 28:8-9
Many scholars and theologians question whether prophecy is more foretelling or forth telling, and whether it is a prophet’s job to predict the future or proclaim a problem, but this is not what defines prophesy. Prophecy is defined by its origin, not its content. A prophet is the mouth of God, speaking His words to His people so they will know His heart and mind. As Peter says, “No prophecy in Scripture ever came from a prophet’s own understanding of things. Prophecy never came simply because a prophet wanted it to. Instead, the Holy Spirit guided the prophets as they spoke. So, although prophets are human, prophecy comes from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NIRV).
Jeremiah 27–28 provides a sobering example. God instructed Jeremiah to wear a wooden yoke while warning King Zedekiah and the people of Judah of their upcoming exile to Babylon. God told the people to ignore the prophets who said Israel would not serve the king of Babylon, for they were prophesying lies and would only make Judah’s conquest worse if the people resisted out of false hope.
A few months later, the prophet Hananiah also appeared before King Zedekiah. He prophesied that God would break the yoke of His people and return to Jerusalem everything the Babylonians had stolen from the temple. Jeremiah sarcastically responded, reminding the people that a prophet is only proven true if his prediction is fulfilled. But Hananiah persisted, breaking Jeremiah’s wooden yoke from him and promising God’s deliverance.
The word of the LORD then came to Jeremiah. God now told Jeremiah to put an iron yoke around his neck, illustrating the fact that Babylon would now have an even stronger grip over Judah, and to prophesy again of the exile to come. God also proclaimed through Jeremiah that Hananiah would die within the year for making the nation trust in lies. In the end, everything Jeremiah said would happen did happen. Hananiah died within two months, and Judah was conquered and exiled a few years later. None of this happened because of the foretelling or forth telling of Jeremiah. The content of his message took place because it had come from the God who sees all and knows all.
Despite the dreadful message, God does not abandon His people. The prophets continued to receive messages from the LORD well into and after the exile. While we may not experience prophecy nearly as frequently today, the same Spirit that inspires prophecy now lives in us and speaks to us. We would be wise to listen, because even when God gives a message we do not want to hear, He always speaks truth and will never abandon us in the midst of trials.
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, thank You for being with me and speaking to me. Help me to act on what You have said, knowing Your words are true and are given to grow Your Kingdom. Thank You, God.