True Prophet of the Lord

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It’s easy to predict trouble. We tell children “life isn’t fair” and “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” These phrases assume that we encounter unfairness and that hurtful words are spoken to us. Jesus Himself told His disciples: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33a). But what he said after that is more important. He uttered this command: “Take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:34b).

Hananiah was a false prophet who came to the Jews in exile claiming that God was going to “break the yoke of the king of Babylon” (Jeremiah 29:4). It sounds familiar. Politicians tell us that they will fix our lives, end our wars and stabilize our economy. They’re going to free us from all the troubles of the world. And this is what we love to hear—that someone, be it God or Congress—will make life easier.

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Jeremiah’s responses to Hananiah were probably some of the most heartbreaking the Jews ever heard. He went back soon after this reading to relay a message from God: “I will put an iron yoke on the necks of all these nations to make them serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they will serve him” (Jeremiah 28:13, 14). God promised Israel a life of struggle and of hardship. Hananiah promised the Israelites another life of struggle and of hardship. How did he think the rule of Babylon would be broken, because Nebuchadnezzar grew fond of daisy-picking?

When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The Christian life is full of the hardships that the prophets and Jesus talk about, as Jeremiah reminds us. But the prophet who prophesied peace has come. And we should take heart, for He has overcome the world.

Pray: Dear God, This life is full of hardships. Sometimes it’s easy to put my hope in the promises of people. Help me to remember that Jesus has overcome the world, and that the life of peace has come. Amen.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.