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Lesson 1: The Prophetic Calling of Jeremiah *

Introduction: Does God have a plan for your life? Do the actions of the leaders and the people of your nation make a difference in how God treats your nation? This week we start a new series of lessons about a man God called to warn a nation that had turned its back on God. Let's dig into our study of Jeremiah and see what we can learn about difficult jobs!

  1. The Call

    1. Read Jeremiah 1:1-3. Assume you are listening to a story, and you doubt its truth. What could you do, right then, to have more confidence in the story? (You could ask about the details. Someone who is telling the truth will know the details.)

      1. What stands out in these first verses of Jeremiah? (The details!)

      2. What ends Jeremiah's prophecies, those recorded in this book? (His people go into exile.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 1:4-5. What do these verses suggest about abortion? (God knows us from the very beginning. God assigns to us roles that He would like us to undertake before we are born. Abortion interferes with the plans of God.)

      1. Was Jeremiah God's first choice for this work? (Absolutely!)

      2. Put yourself in Jeremiah's place, how difficult would it be to turn down the call of God? (God told me He had this specific plan for my life - and I was born with that plan in mind. How could I turn down God?)

    3. Read Jeremiah 1:6. What is Jeremiah's concern? (That he is too young.)

      1. What, specifically, about his youth is a potential problem? (His speaking ability.)

      2. Is Jeremiah trying to turn God down? Is he stalling for time? Is he just being humble?

    4. Read Jeremiah 1:7-8. What is God's solution to Jeremiah's concerns? (God says the He will tell Jeremiah what to say.)

      1. Let's assume that God calls you to be a prophet and you are concerned that you are not a good speaker. What is your real fear? (You will be embarrassed. People will not think well of you.)

        1. What is God's answer to that? (Do not be afraid. God will rescue you, Jeremiah.)

        2. How much of your concern about witnessing has to do with the possibility of being embarrassed?

    5. Read Jeremiah 1:9. How does this work? If we opened Jeremiah's mouth would we find a bunch of words crammed in it? If not (and I doubt anyone expects to find words), what is God doing? (Recall that when Jesus performed miracles sometimes He spoke and sometimes He touched the person. I think the touch is for the benefit of the person receiving the miracle. Jeremiah is encouraged by the touch that he has a special gift from God.)

    6. Read Jeremiah 1:10. If God gave you this job description, how would you understand it?

      1. Notice the order of his work assignment. What does that suggest? (He will be tearing down before he builds.)

      2. Consider this order with our own gospel work. My attitude is generally to build upon whatever exists. Should we sometimes tear down before we build?

        1. If so, how do we know when tearing down is the right thing? (I would need specific directions from God.)

  2. Testing the Equipment

    1. Read Jeremiah 1:11. Notice something I've not mentioned before. This is the second time we read "The word of the Lord came to me." What does that mean? Recall last time God "touched" Jeremiah's mouth. Is Jeremiah in vision? Is God actually visiting him? What has been happening? (The way Jeremiah writes this he seems to be having a vision.)

      1. When God said "I have put my words in your mouth," did He mean that He had given Jeremiah the ability to receive visions? (I think so. He also means He will help Jeremiah to speak.)

    2. Re-read Jeremiah 1:11 and add Jeremiah 1:12. How do you understand God's response? Is God concerned that the vision might not be working?

      1. Whenever I'm going to speak with a microphone, I always test it. I don't like to be testing once I'm speaking. Is God testing Jeremiah's ability to see the vision like I would test a microphone? (I think so. The point being, "Jeremiah, see this works!)

    3. Look again at Jeremiah 1:11-12. In addition to "testing the equipment," is God delivering a real message? (Many commentaries point out that the almond tree is the first to bloom. It actually blooms during the winter. If you were watching for signs of the coming of spring, you would watch the almond tree.)

      1. What meaning do you find in this? (God says that He is beginning a process of judgment for His people. God keeps close watch on this to see how it progresses, just like a person would watch an almond tree to see how the season progresses.)

    4. Read Jeremiah 1:13-14. What does God add to the continuing test of Jeremiah's vision? (God adds another view and an interpretation. Can you see the logical progression. First, God checks to see if Jeremiah can see the pictures (visions) God is sending. Second, God explains what that pictures mean.)

      1. What does this teach us about witnessing for God? (God will help us in a step by step way.)

  3. The Warning

    1. Read Jeremiah 1:15. We previously read that the boiling pot is "tilting" away from the north, making it appear that its boiling contents are threatening the south. What does this mean? (Disaster will come from the north and be inflicted on the south. In the Old Testament, a reference to the "north" is often a reference to bad guys. Here, it seems to be a reference to Babylon.)

      1. The word picture is that the "thrones" of the kings of the northern kingdoms will be set at the gates of Jerusalem. What ideas do you connect with "gates" of a city of that time? (That is where business (Genesis 23:10-11) and government ( Deuteronomy 21:18-19) took place.)

      2. What, then is the meaning of this vision? (The kings of Babylon will rule over the business and government of Judah.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 1:16. Why will an evil empire (Babylon) execute God's judgment on God's people? (God's people have forsaken Him. They burn incense to things they have made.)

      1. Let's explore this. No one in my neighborhood worships an idol they have made. What is at the heart of this sin? (God made humans. Humans can make many things. Why would humans worship something they have made as opposed to the God who made them? Can you see how insulting this is to God? Can you see how this is stupid and illogical?)

        1. Does God punish stupidity? (It is really an arrogant rejection of God.)

      2. What is the purpose of making an idol? (Presumably, it will make your life better in some way. It will protect you or bring you stuff.)

        1. Do you trust the money you have made to protect you or bring you stuff?

        2. Do you trust other humans to protect you or bring you stuff?

        3. Can you see how the essential problem in idol worship exists today, even where we don't see anyone worshiping a physical idol?

      3. Does it make sense to you to use evil people to punish God's people? Isn't the problem with God's people that they have entered into evil? Why reward people who are already evil? (When the twin towers in New York were attacked, people in the United States rallied to say, "God bless America." The idea being that God must be with the Christians and not the Muslims who destroyed the towers. But, the message to Jeremiah tells us that God is not performing a character check on those He uses to punish His people. We cannot say we will be free from punishment simply because we think we are more righteous than others.)

    3. Read Jeremiah 1:17-19. Would you like to be Jeremiah? Would you trade jobs with him?

    4. Friend, God sometimes chooses us for difficult jobs. Will you trust Him in difficult situations?

  4. Next week: The Crisis (Within and Without).
* Copr. 2015, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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