CLICK HERE to read Jeremiah 28.
This is one of the chapters that opens up with an actual time reference, the fourth year of the reign of Zedekiah in Judah. Zedekiah was made king over Judah by Nebuchednezzar himself, in 597 when he was only twenty-one years old (verse 1). Nebuchednezzar made Zedekiah king after the first Babylonian king – Nebuchednezzar’s nephew – was overthrown by the people after a short reign of only three months. This shows the people had begun to turn to the Lord, and the Lord was helping them fight against Babylon, and even lifted the burden of their captivity by giving them a foreign king who kept Jeremiah as an advisor (verse 2).
It was during the first year of Zedekiah’s reign that Lehi had his vision in 1 Nephi.
But the people, and so also the king, would not listen to Jeremiah as the true prophet. But listening to the true prophet meant hearing hard things and doing the hard work of repentance. Instead, the people chose to listen to false prophets who told them everything would be fine and they did not need to repent. One of these false prophets was Hananiah, who falsely prophesied that the Lord had already conquered Babylon and so within two years even the temple valuables would be returned (verse 3) and the kings of Judah restored (verse 4).
Jeremiah confronted him in front of everyone (verse 5), saying that would be great if it were really true (verse 6). But he testified that this was not true (verse 7), and also that it was not consistent with what any of the prophets in the history of the people had ever testified (verse 8). Jeremiah pointed out that whether or not prophets promise peace, only the ones truly chosen by the Lord have all their words and promises come true (verse 9).
The false prophet Hananiah took the yoke from Jeremiah, which the Lord had told him to wear, and broke it (verse 10). Hananiah told the people that this was symbolic of him becoming the new prophet and that they would be released from captivity within two years (verse 11). The people did not want to listen to Jeremiah tell them the truth, so he left them (verse 11).
But the Lord called Jeremiah (verse 12) and told him to go back to Hanahiah and use the metaphor against him by saying that the yoke of wood may have been broken by false prophets, but because of this they would have a harder captivity like a yoke of iron (verse 13). The Lord then explained that Babylon was his tool to deliver justice and consequences to the surrounding nations that had chosen bondage, and that all of them would be in bondage to Babylon (verse 14).
Jeremiah also went back and confronted the false prophet Hananiah, directly saying that Hananiah was a false prophet lying to the people (verse 15). Jeremiah said that because Hananiah was a false prophet and leading the people away, he would be killed (verse 16).
Instead of Hananiah’s words coming true that Judah was restored in two years, it was Jeremiah’s words that came true when Hananiah died later that year (verse 16), once again leaving the people with no question that Jeremiah was a true prophet of the Lord.