Sometime after the prophet Hananiah had broken the yoke-bars from off the neck of Jeremiah the prophet, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Go, tell Hananiah, ‘Thus says the Lord: You have broken wooden bars, but you have made in their place bars of iron. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’” And Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord.’”
In that same year, in the seventh month, the prophet Hananiah died.
This is the purpose that is purposed
concerning the whole earth,
and this is the hand that is stretched out
over all the nations.
For the Lord of hosts has purposed,
and who will annul it?
His hand is stretched out,
and who will turn it back? Isaiah 14:26-27 ESV
In 1666 the King’s bakery in London broke out in flames. It was summer, and the weather had been hot and dry. The blaze took hold and soon 300 houses collapsed as the fire spread rapidly. King Charles II ordered that houses in the path of the flames should be pulled down, but this didn’t stop the fire. Soon the king was joining others in bucket brigades, trying to put the fire out. They even blew up houses in the path of the flames with gunpowder to try to stop it, but by the time they finally got the fire out, only one-fifth of London was left standing. St. Paul’s Cathedral and 89 other churches, almost all the government buildings, many halls and markets, and over 13,000 homes were destroyed. But the people of London didn’t abandon their city. Instead, they rebuilt it to be a better and cleaner and safer place. An architect named Christopher Wren designed the new city and rebuilt many of the churches as well as a beautiful new St. Paul’s Cathedral. The disaster didn’t stop Londoners in their purposes.
When the false prophet Hananiah told lies about God’s purposes, he even broke the wooden yoke that Jeremiah had been wearing. Jeremiah had used the yoke as a picture of the idea that the people needed to obey the king of Babylon, and after Hananiah took it off his shoulders and broke it, God told Jeremiah to tell Hananiah that the Lord would make a stronger yoke, one made out of iron. God’s purposes would not be stopped. He was working out his purposes in the world by bringing Nebuchadnezzar to power, and one of his purposes was to punish his people for their sins. The Lord’s judgment also fell on Hananiah for lying to the people in God’s name. The Lord said that Hananiah would die before the year was over, and seven months later he died.
One of the Lord’s purposes in our broken world is to judge and punish sin, but all through history God has had an even greater purpose. God loves us and he doesn’t want us to be separated from him forever. His purpose from the very beginning, when our first parents sinned, was to save us and bring us back to himself. That’s why Jesus came. When he died on the cross, he took God’s judgment and punishment for all the sins of the world, and because of Jesus all our sins are forgiven. God has made us his children, and we will live forever with him in his heavenly kingdom. Nothing will ever stop the Lord’s purpose to save us and keep us his.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your loving purpose to love us and save us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.