OT Truth: Facing Attacks for the Faith
Jeremiah 28—a verbal showdown between the prophet Jeremiah and false prophet Hananiah son of Azur. I'm sure Jeremiah had constant dealings with the warm-and-fuzzy prophets of his time, men who preached peace and prosperity in a time of extreme sinfulness in Judah. Why this is one of the few accounts in which we see their interaction, I can't say. All I know is that in this passage, Jeremiah exemplified a self-control that I found remarkable.
Jeremiah's life was mottled with suffering. He was loathed for the message he preached, isolated from his people, and justified in fearing for his life. That degree of reproach from his own countrymen must have been torment, but it didn't stop him from declaring the truth that Judah was being punished, and needed to repent.
Then along came Hananiah, proclaiming peace in the name of God, completely undermining Jeremiah's message, and essentially crying, "Liar, Liar," to his face.
What was Jeremiah to do?
His response was so astoundingly controlled, it's evident that God was granting him the strength to look Hananiah in the eye and say, "Well, I hope you're right."
He didn't retaliate with human indignation, justifying himself and his message. He didn't submit to prosperity-preaching to spare himself from further ill-repute. He didn't deny the message he'd been given, or the God from which it had been sent.
He simply said that time would tell and proceeded to deliver God's message, speaking not his own words, but the words that God gave him to meet Hananiah's blatant falsehoods head-on.
I'll get to the point. Jeremiah, by every human perspective, had the right to retaliate to Hananiah's confrontation. How many of us respond in impulsive anger to accusations and challenges brought against us? But as followers of God, not unlike Jeremiah, the scorn and reproach we face for our faith aren't truly against us, but against our Holy King. And while that doesn't relieve us of the duty to speak the truth, it means we must rely on God for the words and wisdom to respond to naysayers.
Restraint, temperence, self-control—that is how Jeremiah faced this attack. He relied upon God's Spirit for the words to speak, and made no offensive maneuvers against Hananiah that God was not guiding him to make. It's a critical example of the kind of response we must strive for in our dealings with a skeptical world—a response that lets God do the talking, and points not to our own understanding, but to His ultimate glory.
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