Prophetic ministry is a word-based ministry; prophets speak the words of God to an intended audience. Occasionally signs accompany those words, like when Jeremiah carries a yoke to demonstrate the rule and authority which Babylon will wield over Judah, along with other nations. After such powerful demonstration, I have thought it strange that Jeremiah so quickly and willingly ceded ground to Hananiah’s prophecy that Babylon will not prove victorious, especially after Jeremiah warned the people not to listen to this very kind of prophet (Jeremiah 27:16-17).
To be fair to Jeremiah, he responded to Hananiah’s prophecy by reminding that few prophesies of peace come true, thus suggesting Jeremiah was uncertain. Still, it seems to this reader that Jeremiah likely hoped to be wrong, hoped that Hananiah had received a “newer word” from the Lord that He would indeed relent instead of bringing promised punishments. I think it likely that in those moments Jeremiah wished God had chosen a more favored prophet to promise mercy to Judah. This indicates the love Jeremiah had for Judah and his hope that justice and true worship of God would be restored other than through the purifying furnace of Babylonian exile. Unfortunately for Jeremiah and the people, Hananiah was false and paid dearly for lying about God.
The story of Jeremiah continues with him proven right in a way that feels so wrong to him. Tomorrow God brings great promises to Judah through the prophet, which serve as a prophetic oasis of grace in a desert of judgement.