COUNSEL: HANANIAH OR JEREMIAH?
"Then the prophet Jeremiah said to Hananiah the prophet, 'Listen, Hananiah! The LORD has not sent you, yet you have persuaded this nation to trust in lies...' "
You have a problem. You are in a difficult situation. You don't know what to do. You need some advice. But from whom will you seek some counsel?
Or maybe it is not you who need advice. Instead you are the one being asked for advice. What will you say? Do you have the right words to give?
Judah and Jerusalem were undergoing a hard time. They were being attacked by Babylon- a very powerful kingdom. The people sought advice . They asked prophets to inquire what the LORD would do or tell them- prophets like Hananiah and Jeremiah.
Prophet Hananiah son of Azzur, prophesied about freedom from Babylon and of peace. He said to Jeremiah in the house of the LORD in the presence of the priests and all the people:
"This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, the God of Israel, says, 'I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon. Within two years I will bring back to this place all the articles of the LORD's house that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon removed from here. I will also bring back to this place Jehoiachin... for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon.' (v.2-4)
Now, who would not want to believe what Hananiah prophesied? Who would not want to hear they'll be freed from Babylon and there will be peace in the land?
And who in the world would even want to listen to Jeremiah who prophesied war, famine and death? Who on earth want to die in such kind of death?
No one. Not even I. Most if not all of us only want to hear all the positive things that could and would happen to us. We always want to hear positive comments but shove aside criticism. We only want to accept and see the brighter side of every picture but disregard the dark and gloomy part of it.
During times of difficulty, when I realize I could no longer handle the situation on my own, I look for advice from people - a friend, family - I know. Oftentimes I get two opposite advice or opinion, adding another burden on my part.
There are those people who would tell me that I'm doing just fine. They speak to me reassuringly to make me feel better. I admit, it's what I long to hear.
On the other hand, there are those who tell me the "right thing'"to do. They tell me I should do something better or I'm better that what I've become. To hear words like that is painful and sometimes I tried to disregard what they say. Maybe they only see my wrong? Are they trying to pull me down? I want them to encourage me and make me feel better but they are actually making me feel worse.
Which advice should I follow?
If I would base my choice from my feelings and what I want to hear, I would certainly believe the type of person like Hananiah. But whether I'm certain they are speaking the truth, I don't know.
Sometimes, the greatest advice could be the most painful truth. Sometimes, it is better to listen to criticism or rebuke than all praise. "It is better to heed the rebuke of a wise person than to listen to the song of fools." (Ecclesiastes 7:5) It is also said that "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." (Proverbs 27:6)
If you are facing a great problem and you no longer know what to do in your situation just like Judah and Jerusalem:
- Inquire of the Lord. Pray. Pray for His guidance. He is the greatest counselor and He can give you the best solution and advice for everything. Go to God first!
- Read the Bible. It is God's word. He will speak to you through His Word.
- Go to the right person for advice. Go to someone who is mature in the faith. God will speak in many ways, through reading His word, through events, and through someone He will use. Do not listen to wrong prophecy or advice from fake prophets or friends. Always test every spirit.
If someone is asking for your advice or counsel:
- Pray. Ask God to guide and help you. Ask that He will put the right words in your mouth.
- Do not prophesy lies or give wrong advice. Speak words to build up and not to break. No matter how painful, speak the words if it is the truth. Do not twist it. Don't say anything just to make the person better and let the person believe the wrong idea. If it is bitter, don't add flavors just to make it sweet. It will only lead to destruction.
- If the LORD did not send you, don't pretend He did. I don't know about Hananiah's motive, maybe he just wanted to be famous and please the people. But don't be like him. If you don't know the answer, send that person to someone who has wise answers.
To my Wonderful Counselor be the glory!
Your sister through the blood of Christ,