How does a person tell the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet? Jeremiah answers that question quite succinctly when he says, "the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his predictions come true." Anyone can say anything he/she wants to, but the truth is defined by what happens after it is said. Hananiah is prophesying the return of the captives from Babylon in the next two years. He takes the wooden yoke that Yahweh told Jeremiah to wear and breaks it as a further affirmation of his prophecy. Can you imagine how confused God's people were during that time? They heard Jeremiah's prophecies of gloom and doom, and they heard Hananiah's "ear-tickling" prophecies of brighter days ahead. Their natural tendency would have been to listen to the positive, fun stuff and ignore the rest. The problem with that perspective is that God does not always speak in the positive and upbeat, especially when His people are living in sin and worshiping false gods. He wants Judah's inhabitants to overcome their sin and destroy their false gods. Then He will renew His covenant with them and they can enjoy His blessings. They want the blessings but do not want to give up their sin and idolatry. The false prophets paint a big, beautiful picture that is completely false and will end in disaster. God tells Jeremiah to confront the false prophet and give him a prophecy that will come true. The true prophet of God tells Hananiah that he will be dead in less than a year, and he dies two months later. The sign of a true prophet is that his prophecies come to pass. Did the people suddenly turn their attention to Jeremiah after Hananiah's death? Nope, they just listened to someone else and rejected Yahweh's message to them.

Help me, Lord, to only listen to Your true prophets and preachers by listening to their words and comparing them to Yours. Help me to only preach the truth of Your Word and to reject anyone that tries to misuse it or abuse it for their own benefit.