June 28, 2016

Jeremiah 27-28
Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, Jeremiah received this Message from God: “Make a harness and a yoke and then harness yourself up. Send a message to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon.... 

Tell your masters:
“‘I’m the one who made the earth, man and woman, and all the animals in the world. I did it on my own without asking anyone’s help and I hand it out to whomever I will. Here and now I give all these lands over to my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. I have made even the wild animals subject to him. All nations will be under him, then his son, and then his grandson. Then his country’s time will be up and the tables will be turned: Babylon will be the underdog servant. But until then, any nation or kingdom that won’t submit to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon must take the yoke of the king of Babylon and harness up. I’ll punish that nation with war and starvation and disease until I’ve got them where I want them....

Then I gave this same message to Zedekiah king of Judah: “Harness yourself up to the yoke of the king of Babylon. Serve him and his people. Live a long life! Why choose to get killed or starve to death or get sick and die, which is what God has threatened to any nation that won’t throw its lot in with Babylon? Don’t listen to the prophets who are telling you not to submit to the king of Babylon. They’re telling you lies, preaching lies. God’s Word on this is, ‘I didn’t send those prophets, but they keep preaching lies, claiming I sent them. If you listen to them, I’ll end up driving you out of here and that will be the end of you, both you and the lying prophets.’”

And finally I spoke to the priests and the people at large: “This is God’s Message: Don’t listen to the preaching of the prophets who keep telling you, ‘Trust us: The furnishings, plundered from God’s Temple, are going to be returned from Babylon any day now.’ That’s a lie. Don’t listen to them. Submit to the king of Babylon and live a long life. Why do something that will destroy this city and leave it a heap of rubble?... 

Later that same year (it was in the fifth month of King Zedekiah’s fourth year) Hananiah son of Azzur, a prophet from Gibeon, confronted Jeremiah in the Temple of God in front of the priests and all the people who were there. 

Hananiah said:
“This Message is straight from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, the God of Israel: ‘I will most certainly break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Before two years are out I’ll have all the furnishings of God’s Temple back here, all the things that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon plundered and hauled off to Babylon. I’ll also bring back Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and all the exiles who were taken off to Babylon.’ God’s Decree. ‘Yes, I will break the king of Babylon’s yoke. You’ll no longer be in harness to him.’”

Prophet Jeremiah stood up to prophet Hananiah in front of the priests and all the people who were in God’s Temple that day. Prophet Jeremiah said, “Wonderful! Would that it were true—that God would validate your preaching by bringing the Temple furnishings and all the exiles back from Babylon. But listen to me, listen closely. Listen to what I tell both you and all the people here today: The old prophets, the ones before our time, preached judgment against many countries and kingdoms, warning of war and disaster and plague. So any prophet who preaches that everything is just fine and there’s nothing to worry about stands out like a sore thumb. We’ll wait and see. If it happens, it happens—and then we’ll know that God sent him.”

At that, Hananiah grabbed the yoke from Jeremiah’s shoulders and smashed it. And then he addressed the people: “This is God’s Message: In just this way I will smash the yoke of the king of Babylon and get him off the neck of all the nations—and within two years.” Jeremiah walked out.

Later, sometime after Hananiah had smashed the yoke from off his shoulders, Jeremiah received this Message from God: “Go back to Hananiah and tell him, ‘This is God’s Message: You smashed the wooden yoke-bars; now you’ve got iron yoke-bars. This is a Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel’s own God: I’ve put an iron yoke on all these nations. They’re harnessed to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. They’ll do just what he tells them. Why, I’m even putting him in charge of the wild animals.’”

So prophet Jeremiah told prophet Hananiah, “Hold it, Hananiah! God never sent you. You’ve talked the whole country into believing a pack of lies! And so God says, ‘You claim to be sent? I’ll send you all right—right off the face of the earth! Before the year is out, you’ll be dead because you fomented sedition against God.’” Prophet Hananiah died that very year, in the seventh month.

Acts 4:32- 5:11 -

The whole congregation of believers was united as one - one heart, one mind!...They shared everything.  The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master, Jesus, and grace was on  all of them.  And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy.  Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it.  The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need.  

Joseph, called by the apostles, “Barnabas” (which means “Son of Comfort”), a Levite born in Cyprus, sold a field that he owned, brought the money, and made an offering of it to the apostles.  But a man named Ananias -- his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him---sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it.  Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back a part of the price of the field?....Ananias, when he heard those words, fell down dead.  That put the fear of God into everyone who heard of it....Not more than 3 hours later, his wife, knowing nothing of what had happened, came in.  Peter said, “Tell me were you given this price for your field?”  “Yes,” she said, “that price.”  Peter responded, “What is going on here that you connived to conspire against the Spirit of the Master?”...No sooner were the words out of his mouth than she also fell down, dead. 

By this time the whole church and, in fact, everyone who heard of these things had a healthy respect for God.  They knew God was not to be trifled with.