Hananiah’s story is a chilling example of what can happen to false prophets. Hananiah seemed so confident that the words he was speaking were from God. Was he just that conniving or simply misled by listening to something other than the word of God?
Whatever his intention or motivation, the people were happy to believe the message he was delivering. People like stories with happy endings. Even Jeremiah exclaimed, “May your prophecies come true! I hope the Lord does everything you say.” If only Hananiah had had it right.
Then Jeremiah reminded Hananiah to prove himself and the validity of this message. It seems Jeremiah was the only one who knew that it was only “wishful thinking” that things would turn out like Hananiah said. Jeremiah confronted Hananiah with these words. “So a prophet who predicts peace must show he is right. Only when his predictions come true can we know that he is really from the Lord.”
Hananiah seemed to be possessed with his own version of the story and wouldn’t let Jeremiah’s gloom and doom be the last word. He even broke the yoke that Jeremiah had been wearing (we read about that in our last reading). Jeremiah walked away rather than continue the confrontation. Some time later, Jeremiah delivered the message of Hananiah’s death sentence for what he had done against the LORD.
Jeremiah was given a message for Hananiah from God after this whole spectacle. It wasn’t pleasant. A word this serious goes way beyond punishment for having your “hand in the cookie jar.” What do you think Hananiah thought when he heard this was God’s plan for him? “You must die. Your life will end this very year because you have rebelled against the Lord.”
The life of Hananiah is an example for us to never associate God’s name with lies. Not everyone is a prophet, but I believe everyone can hear from God. The Bible says a lot about God communicating with us. Here are a few examples.
Jesus told us in John 8:47: “Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”
Jesus said in John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
Romans 10:17: “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”
The psalmist knew the importance of listening for God in Psalm 85:8: “I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people. But let them not return to their foolish ways.”
Have you heard Jesus knocking? He said in Revelation 3:20, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.”
God communicates with us through his word, during our prayer and meditations, and through other believers. Some say that even God’s creation, being in nature, speaks loudly to them. The key thing is to take time to listen, so you don’t miss out on a message God wants to share with you.
If you’re not sure what you are hearing is from God, ask. Let God know you desire to hear his voice and want clarity. His answer may not come immediately. That’s where the patience comes in that the Holy Spirit gives us. We certainly don’t want to be like Hananiah giving God credit in error. What else can we learn from Hananiah’s story?
Take some time to sit quietly and listen for God’s response to what is on your mind today.
Let’s pray … Lord, thank you that I can come to you and share my concerns and celebrations. Thank you for how you provide for me each day. Forgive me when I rush around and forget to stop and listen for your voice. I am waiting for your direction today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.