“Then Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.”Jeremiah 28:11
“For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.”Jeremiah 29:11
Do you have long-term goals for your life? Perhaps you want to get married, own a home, travel abroad, or master a skill. Planning is commendable, if you always acknowledge the will of God.
“For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” James 4:15
Hananiah was a prophet alongside Jeremiah (Jer. 28:15). He knew the ropes of prophethood, for he was also the son of a prophet (28:1). His prophesying was more dynamic and persuasive than Jeremiah’s (28:10). His message also carried the popular opinions of the people of Israel.
What was his message? First it was a positive one. Between the attacks on the northern and southern kingdoms (606BC-586BC), the priests in Judah began to push for ‘national revival’. They were so desperate to claim 1 Chronicles 7:14 that they utterly rejected any other word from God. But at this point in time, the Lord had already rejected them for repeated, unrepentant wickedness (“shed(ding)…innocent blood; which the LORD would not pardon.” 2 Kings 24:4). There was no more power in positive thinking.
But it was also the best guess anyone could muster. Hananiah had lived long enough to observe trends, so he predicted an up-swing. He had studied enough science, so he deduced accordingly. He had mingled in politics, and his colleagues were convinced that a time for ‘hope and change’ had come. That was the ‘word on the street’! He wanted very badly to believe better days were ahead.
Hananiah had all of his sources, all of his precedents, all of his statistics down pat. The ONLY thing he lacked was the word of God.
Dr. Peter S. Ruckman’s comments on the passages nail the ‘theses to the castle’ with a summary view of these two prophecies, and what mainstream religious viewpoints do with them:
“As you can see, Jeremiah prophesies what Hananiah prophesied (Jer. 28:4-11)—just not with the same time element. Jeremiah’s prophecy didn’t take place within two years (Jeremiah 28: 11) or seventy years (Jer. 25:11—12). It hasn’t taken place yet and won’t until the Second Advent (Nah. 1: 13—15; Ezek. 34:22—27). Verses 5—24 are all Second Advent references (note “the latter days” in vs. 24). All the verses have either been spiritualized by the Postmillennialists (Catholic and Protestant) or relegated to history by Amillennialists (Presbyterian, Reformed, etc.). “Comments from The Ruckman Reference Bible on Jeremiah 30:8
Without comparing Scripture with Scripture, you’ll do what Hananiah did, and what they all do: GUESS.
Two years is a safe enough guess for anyone. One year may be enough to change a nation’s outlook, but two years are certainly enough time to reshape everything. As far as guesses go, Hananiah’s had all the right elements. Any betting man could have felt sure of his odds given the credibility of Hananiah’s position.
But Scripture pays no mind to man’s approximate predictions. Throw the “Book of Enoch” into the same trash heap as the ’10-day weather forecast’. Put Scientology on the same shelf with Dr. Seuss. Tomorrow’s news is as used-up as a knock-knock jokebook. Educated guesses are man’s way; the definite certainty of BIBLE PROPHECY is God’s way-
and that’s the way it will be.
Jeremiah 29 introduces a letter written by Jeremiah from his cell in Jerusalem to the captives in Babylon. In it, God reveals his plan for Jerusalem- the land rests seventy years from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity to fulfil the Sabbaths of the 4th Commandment (2 Chronicles 36:21) that the land had not been allowed to enjoy.
This plan is not just different, it is Divine. You or I can make predictions in a two-year period of variables. But to call a thing SEVENTY years before it happens? You’d have to have God’s word on that, because there is no such luck. Even if you did guess it; seventy years is more than an entire generation away. You may call it, yet never live to see it.
Jeremiah leaned on the revelation he already had from God’s words to learn something new. His letter disclosed God’s long-term thoughts for Israel, and these thoughts carry some solid expectations that only Bible prophecy brings.
Bible prophecy carries an implication for duty.
- Bible prophecy carries an implication for duty. The captives were told to build houses and plant gardens (29:5), have families (29:6), and pray for the peace of Babylon (29:7). Prophecy is preaching- delivering future truth for present action. Any good ‘end-time’ prophecy will not leave you hopeless, but it will contain instruction for now.
The expectation of bad prophecy leads you to inaction, or worse, to buy into something that will ‘make life easier thru these tough times’. The Bible encourages us to “study to be quiet, and to work with your own hands, as we have commanded you.” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)
Bible prophecy assures of blessings you can’t obtain otherwise.
- Bible prophecy assures of blessings you can’t obtain otherwise. The Lord promised a restored inheritance (32:15), a resurrected king (30:9), and best of all, real peace (29:11-12). Those Jews who had sold off their inheritance, killed God’s chosen men, and rejected His terms of peace had not made this prophecy hard- they had made it IMPOSSIBLE! God’s promises rely entirely on the absolute fulfillment of His prophecies.
Fake prophets give you a quick fix. They give you the ol’ reliable lines. ‘Revival in the nation!’ ‘Hope for the next generation!’ and such like. Belief in what God says leads to unfathomable blessing.
"Saviour, if of Zion's city I through grace a member am; Let the world deride or pity, I will glory in thy name: Fading is the worldling's pleasure, All his boasted pomp and show; Solid joys and lasting treasure, None but Zion's children know." -John Newton, Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken
Bible prophecy presents itself as madness to the world.
- Bible prophecy presents itself as madness to the world. Jeremiah was considered just a mad-man hollering from prison cell under the palace in Jerusalem (29:26). Paul was accused of madness when he testified to Festus and King Agrippa in Acts 26:24-25, “Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.” This is an expectation of real Bible prophecy, and must not be shunned by the Bible-believer, but rather embraced.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”1 Corinthians 1:18
The act of telling the future accurately and with authority grates on the Bible skeptic. The long-predicted nature of this prophecy made contemporaries of Jeremiah red with hatred. Hananiah so vehemently opposed it, he literally took God’s name in vain. And the Lord did not hold him guiltless. Because of this, Hananiah lived to see neither the two- nor seventy-year plan.
“Hear now, Hananiah; The LORD hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the LORD. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.”Jeremiah 28:15-17
As an example of approximate prediction versus Bible prophecy, we note James Carroll’s book, Jerusalem, Jerusalem. Carroll’s opening line is shadowed with doubt as he pledges to discuss “the lethal feedback loop between the actual city of Jerusalem and the apocalyptic fantasy it inspires.” Carroll, a Catholic, in the book gives his opinion on Jerusalem’s future, discounting real truth found in the Old Testament. If by “apocalyptic fantasy” he means Jeremiah, Daniel, or Revelation, you can place his predictions alongside Hananiah’s headstone. God’s plans may be long-awaited, even far-fetched, but they are certain.
Any hope, outside of the will of God, ends in disaster. Some of Jeremiah’s prophecy according to Daniel has been ‘paused’ by the Lord until future notice. God has not abandoned the fulfillment, rather, He has worked a bigger miracle in reviving Israel, and meeting prophetic deadlines with timely precision for the last 2,000 years.