Summer is a time when ‘The Arts’ come into their own. Walk down The Royal Mile in Edinburgh on a mid August afternoon during the festival and you’ll no doubt find someone enacting out a piece of drama that is making a political point. The prophets of old did the same thing. The reading today centres around the dialogue between two prophets, Jeremiah and Hananiah, both believe they have a message from God. Jeremiah enacts his message by wearing a wooden yoke. He suggests that discretion is the better part of valour and that Israel and the surrounding nations should submit to the power of Babylon and get on with their lives. Justice will come in due course.
Hananiah, tells the people they must oppose Babylon and within two years the yoke of slavery will be broken. He then proceeds to take the wooden yoke off Jeremiah’s back, breaking it into pieces, prophesying that God will bring peace to the community within two years.
Jeremiah returns with a message that God will allow Babylon to put an iron yoke on all who oppose the power of king Nebuchadnezzar and the outcome will bring tragedy to the whole region. Today’s reading highlights the difficulty of knowing which prophet to believe. In the end Jeremiah suggests the only way to be sure is to look at the track record of the prophet. This brings its own difficulty it suggests when it comes to prophecy hindsight is a great gift. Sometimes its more effective to roll with the punches and wait for the right moment to break free.
Give me the wisdom to make good decisions
Tune my ears to recognise
Give me courage to hold my nerve
To be patient
To wait for your perfect timing
Help me heed the warnings in scripture.
Focus my eyes to see the signs
The provision that you have already made for me
And when I want to go to war against your enemies
You have called me to love even those who
Sin against you.
Thank you for the way you have guided me to this place
Help me keep faith
Remind me what it means
To remain constant.
Make me immovable
As I abide in your promises.
5 Then the prophet Jeremiah replied to the prophet Hananiah before the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord. 6 He said, “Amen! May the Lord do so! May the Lord fulfill the words you have prophesied by bringing the articles of the Lord’s house and all the exiles back to this place from Babylon. 7 Nevertheless, listen to what I have to say in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: 8 From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. 9 But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true.”