Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Jeremiah 27 - Chapter 27 is the first of three chapters that apparently existed separately at one time; and each is about the “false prophets.” The date of this first is supposedly 594 BC when an embassy of states—Edom, Moab, Sidon [south to north on the eastern side of the Jordan River]--conferred about what to do about Nebuchadnezzar. It is at the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign (c.598/597 BC). Jeremiah is called by God to make a yoke and to wear it as a sign to these leaders. There is nothing they can do to fight off defeat. Nebuchadnezzar will rule over all of them for a period. He tells them not to resist and not to listen to optimistic, nationalistic prophets, who are just saying things they know the people WANT TO HEAR. Jeremiah communicates this Word to the conferring kings, to the king of Judah, the priests and people. At the end, there is a quick reference to the fact that one day they will be restored, but that day is not now.
Jeremiah 28 - Hananiah, another prophet from the town of Gibeon (north of Jerusalem), prophesies that the temple vessels taken by Nebuchadnezzar will be returned in two years along with Jehoiakin, son of Jehoiakim (Zedekiah’s brother) and other exiles. Presumably to prove his point, Hananiah removes the yoke that Jeremiah is wearing as a sign of their need to “submit” to the Babylonians, and breaks it, saying “Yahweh will thus break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.” Competing prophecies from reputable prophets – this must be a very difficult thing for the leaders and the people to deal with.
Jeremiah says the truth of prophecy must be tested over time. Only by the fruits, the results, will the people be able to discern the true prophet. Jeremiah leaves, but after a time Jeremiah gets another word from Yahweh. “Go and tell Hananiah that he may be able to break the “wooden yoke” that Jeremiah was wearing, but “he will replace it with an iron yoke. . . he will put an iron yoke on all these nations and . . . they will serve King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia” (28:14). Jeremiah also tells Hananiah that he will die because he has misled the people. He does die soon after.
2 Corinthians 10 - Paul describes himself as one who bullies them only when he is away (in his letters). But he fancies he will have to do so in person to people who accuse him of “ordinary human motives” (10:3). He does not fight with fleshly weapons. They are assailing his authority – he defends it as given to build them up, so he won’t neglect to use it. He resolves to be more like the man of his letters when he is with them. He returns to the theme of boasting [see Jeremiah 9] urging them to come off believing in pretensions others have made and to recognize that Paul’s position of authority--his boast--derives from a commission from God.
The amount of time Paul devotes to this theme—of boasting, of seeing himself in conflict with others who are trying to denigrate his authority or puff up their own status in the church—indicates that there must have been some pretty caustic words going around and challenges among those preaching and teaching as to their relative status in the leadership. Ah! Some things NEVER change.