Telling the Truth
“As for the prophet who prophesies peace, when the word of that prophet comes true, then it will be known that the Lord has truly sent the prophet.” – Jeremiah 28:9
Quick and easy. That’s what the prophet Hananiah promised the Israelites’ return from exile would be. God would break the yoke of King Nebuchadnezzer, free them from Babylon, and make Israel great again. All within two years max.
With a yoke around his neck, the Prophet Jeremiah stood before the same people and said “no.” Their exile wasn’t over. Rebuilding their nation would take repentance and sacrifice, and most of all, a recommitment to God’s justice and mercy. Making Israel great again wouldn’t be quick and easy.
Anyone who told them differently, proclaimed Jeremiah, wasn’t telling them the truth. “Listen,” he said to Hananiah, “the Lord has not sent you, and you made this people trust in a lie.” It was quite a confrontation, but as George Washington once said, “truth will ultimately prevail when there is pains to bring to light.”
Jeremiah didn’t tell the people what they wanted to hear. He told them the truth. A hard truth, but the only truth that would set them free. Free to acknowledge their faithlessness. Free to confess their need for God’s mercy and guidance. Free to receive God’s healing grace. If the Israelites were ever to know true peace as a nation, they first had to hear Jeremiah’s hard truth.
This week, we’ll hear many words about our nation, and about freedom and greatness. May we also hear Jeremiah’s words about the hard work real freedom and true greatness demand.
Help us, God, to hear your true words of justice and peace. Give us the courage to make those words real in our nation and this world. Amen.
Stillspeaking Small Group Discussion
Talitha Arnold is Senior Minister of the United Church of Santa Fe (UCC), Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is the author of Mark Part 1 and Mark Part 2 of the Listen Up! Bible Study series and Worship for Vital Congregations.