Bars of wood to bars of iron


The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to provide object lessons to the Nation of Israel to confront them on their rebellion. In Chapter 27 of the book that bears his name, we find that Jeremiah was to make a wooden yoke and put it around his neck as a symbol of the upcoming servitude of Israel to Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.

In Chapter 28 we read that one of the false prophets, Hananiah, took the yoke off Jeremiah, broke it, and proclaimed that Israel would not be conquered by Babylon and would not go into exile.

Here is the exchange between Jeremiah and Hananiah:

“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.”

(Jeremiah 28:12–13, ESV)

What a fitting metaphor for western society at present.

We have thrown off traditional norms that resulted from a Judeo/Christian world view. The established boundaries of marriage and family have been declared to be too restrictive. We have elevated personal freedom as a priority over responsibility to others, the most extreme example of this being the acceptance of abortion as a normal means of improving the quality of life.

But are we any happier as a society? Have the new-found freedoms brought personal peace? Based on the angry rhetoric from those who most loudly proclaim freedom from limits, I struggle to see that we are indeed happier.

Perhaps we have exchanged what has been perceived as a yoke and exchanged it for a collar of iron.

What do you think? I’d love to have you express your thoughts in the comment form below.