The “Yoke” Is On Them!
Scripture reading for August 11th: Jeremiah 26-29
One of the many illustrated messages that Jeremiah was told to give the Israelites involved an ox yoke. Jeremiah was to put this yoke on his own neck and deliver the message of God’s coming judgment through King Nebuchadnezzar. He warned nations around Israel that this yoke of Babylon was coming.
He then went to Zedekiah, king of Judah with the same message. (Jeremiah 27:1-3, 12-15) Zedekiah was warned about listening to the false prophets who said that Judah would remain free. He told them to bow under the yoke of Babylon and serve him and they would live. This message seemed false to those who heard and Jeremiah was not popular.
One day Jeremiah and the leaders of Judah were in the house of the Lord. Jeremiah was wearing the yoke and the prophet Hananiah began to speak to all who would hear. (Jeremiah 28:1-4) He told them that the God of Israel had told him that He would break the yoke of the king of Babylon and within two years bring back the captive articles from the Lord’s house. Jeremiah said “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon.” (Jeremiah 28:5-6) Who would not desire this good word?
The test for a true prophet is that his words come to pass. Jeremiah had prophesied that the nation would go into captivity to Babylon and they would wear the yoke. Hananiah had said the opposite would happen in two years. Who was right? The prophet Hananiah then took Jeremiah’s yoke and broke it, repeating the promise of deliverance. Jeremiah went his way and God spoke to him. He must go back and give Hananiah a message. “This is what the Lord says: You have broken a wooden yoke, but in its place you will get a yoke of iron. . .” “Listen Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies. . . .This very year you are going to die because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.” (Jeremiah 28:13,15-16)
Before the year ended, Hananiah was dead, according to Jeremiah’s word from the Lord. Within two years the people went into captivity because they did not heed the true word of the Lord! The “yoke” was on them!