“Then the prophet Jeremiah spoke to the prophet Hananiah in the presence of the priests and all the people who were standing in the house of the Lord; and the prophet Jeremiah said, ‘Amen! May the Lord do so; may the Lord fulfill the words that you have prophesied, and bring back to this place from Babylon the vessels of the house of the Lord, and all the exiles. But listen now to this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people. The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms. 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 28:5-9)
These words from Jeremiah come in the middle of a strange story. Judah has been conquered by Babylon according to the will of God, and now neighboring rulers have come to Jerusalem to plot an overthrow of Babylon. The false prophet Hananiah prophesies that this rebellion will lead to the restoration of Judah, but Jeremiah protests: Judah must bear the yoke of its iniquity until such time as God and God alone brings Judah out from under Babylon’s rule. A rebellion will only end in violence and death. “All the prophets who came before have prophesied violence,” Jeremiah says. “The real prophet of God is the one who prophesies peace.”
Do our words and actions prophesy violence or peace? Do we create fear or trust? Do we promote inequity or justice? God seeks to create a more trustworthy world for all. As people of God, our work is to contribute to a trustworthy world through peaceful action — not passive peace that won’t rock the boats of power, but active peace that works for justice. May we all learn to follow God in the ways of peace.
God of shalom, our lives are often anything but peaceful; calm our hearts so that we may be instruments of your peace and justice in the world. Amen.