I received the following question:

In Jeremiah 28, is the reason Jeremiah doesn’t speak up to rebuke Hananiah because they’re in front of the assembly and God is a God of peace and not of disorder?

In verses 1-4, Hananiah speaks and claims that within two years, Judah’s captives that were carried away and the temple articles that were stolen would be returned. This, of course, was in direct opposition to Jeremiah’s prophesies, which proclaimed that not only would the captives not be coming back, but that the remainder of the people were under God’s wrath as well, and would themselves be destroyed or made captives. Thus, Jeremiah answers him, pointing out that, “8. The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many countries and great kingdoms—of war and disaster and pestilence. 9. As for the prophet who prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes to pass, the prophet will be known as one whom the LORD has truly sent.”

This was an effective argument, and Hananiah must have felt he must do something to appear to keep the upper hand. Thus, we read that: “10. Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck and broke it. 11. And Hananiah spoke in the presence of all the people, saying, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Even so I will break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years.’

The part you find strange is the next statement. “And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.” It seems that he did not respond to this action of Hananiah’s. Why not?

Well, I don’t think it had to do with who was watching. Remember, Jeremiah was a prophet, and it was his job to speak God’s words. He could not curse anyone on his own, or use his power as a prophet to condemn anyone. Rather, he could only speak God’s words. In this case, I do not believe that he had a word from God. Therefore, he just took Hananiah’s words and went his way. He could not really speak to the matter, since the LORD had not given him anything to say. Later, however, he did hear from Him, and then he went to Hananiah with the LORD’s rebuke. That, after all, was far more effective than anything Jeremiah could have said anyway.

So ultimately, I don’t think it had to do with decorum or anything like that. He just didn’t have a word from God, and he knew it wasn’t right for him to just make up some rebuke on his own.

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