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Lesson 5: More Woes for the Prophet *

Introduction: "No good deed goes unpunished" is an old saying. In our study this week, it seems that this saying dates back to the time of Jeremiah! How many times has a religious leader suffered as a result of doing God's will? Those involved in evil do not want to be rebuked or reminded of God's will. No doubt the extent of the problem sometimes increases because of a lack of tact and wisdom, but the main problem is the underlying resistance against light by those who love the dark (see John 3:19-21). Let's dive into our study of Jeremiah and learn more!

  1. Tingling Ears


    1. Read Jeremiah 19:1-3. If someone said that what he was about to tell you would make your ears "tingle," would you wait and listen?


    2. Read Jeremiah 19:7. Do you have plans for your life? What will happen to the plans of those who live in Judah? (They will be ruined.)


      1. I'm going to take a wild guess that no one would like an animal to eat them when they die. What is the greater concern here? (No one who cares about you is left alive to bury you!)


    3. Read Jeremiah 19:8-9. How bad will things get in Jerusalem? (People will become cannibals - they will eat their own children.)


    4. Read Jeremiah 19:10-12. God has Jeremiah use a visual aid, smashing a jar, to convey His message to the people. Why? (Different people learn in different ways, but a visual aid helps people to understand and remember the message.)


      1. We have several references in these verses to Topheth. Read Isaiah 30:33 and 2 Kings 23:10 and tell me what kind of place this seems to be? (This is hell on earth. They created a big fire trench and then burned their children as a sacrifice to Baal and Molech.)


      2. Are your ears tingling? Jeremiah says Jerusalem will become like hell on earth. How would you react if Jeremiah were speaking to you in this way?


  2. The Leaders' Reaction


    1. Read Jeremiah 20:1-2. The ears of the religious leaders are tingling so much that they beat Jeremiah and threw him into some stocks. When I was in Williamsburg, Virginia, I tried out the wooden stocks they have in the colonial village. If you have experienced what it is like to be in stocks, tell me what additional problems you can imagine if you were beaten before you were put in stocks? (Read Deuteronomy 25:2-3. Stocks are very uncomfortable, and if I had just been flogged, it would make things far worse!)


      1. How do you explain what the religious leaders did to Jeremiah? (Violence is the response of those who are unable to put up a logical counter-argument.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 20:3-6. Has Jeremiah learned his lesson? (He tells Pashhur, the man who put him in stocks, that he will be terrorized (his new name means "terror on every side"), captured and die in Babylon.)


      1. What clue do we get about Pashhur's special interest in what Jeremiah is prophesying? (The last line tells us that Pashhur is a false prophet who has been lying about Judah's future. Now we see more clearly why Pashhur wants to hurt Jeremiah.)


  3. Jeremiah's Reaction


    1. Read Jeremiah 20:7-8. How do you feel when people make fun of you? When they insult you? Imagine that people did not respect you, but instead daily ridiculed you. What kind of attitude about life would you have, especially if the ridicule was constant?


      1. Read Jeremiah 1:6-8. Recall this exchange between God and Jeremiah at the very beginning? What does Jeremiah mean when he says that God "deceived" him? (God told Jeremiah not to be afraid, that God would rescue him.)


        1. Has God deceived Jeremiah?


        2. If you say, "yes," (or "maybe"), what does this suggest about Jeremiah's confidence in the main message he brings to Judah?


    2. Read Jeremiah 20:9. Jeremiah has apparently tried to keep his mouth shut to avoid further abuse. Why is that a problem? (Doing God's will is like a fire in him. He cannot hold God's fire inside.)


      1. Have you experienced that? Doing God's will seems so natural that you cannot refrain from doing it?


    3. Read Jeremiah 20:10. Is it just Jeremiah's enemies who are making fun of him and opposing him? (Jeremiah writes "all my friends" are waiting for him to make a mistake.)


      1. Notice the friends are hoping that Jeremiah will be "deceived." Didn't Jeremiah just say ( Jeremiah 20:7) that he was deceived?


        1. Does this mean that Jeremiah believes his "friends" (who are really his enemies) will prevail?


    4. Read Jeremiah 20:11. How do you explain this confident statement in light of Jeremiah 20:7? (Jeremiah is human. He was beaten. He has been insulted and embarrassed. His faith wavered when bad things happened that he thought God would prevent. But now his faith strengthens.)


      1. How is the dishonor being heaped on Jeremiah different than the dishonor that will be experienced by his enemies? (His is temporary. Their dishonor "will never be forgotten.")


        1. What lesson is there in this for us? (We should always take the "long view" in life. Things might not be going well for us at the moment, but God has promised to make everything right in the end.)


    5. Read Jeremiah 20:12. Will it make us feel better to know that the end for those who persecute us will not be good? (Read Luke 23:34 and Mark 11:25. Jeremiah may feel better asking for vengeance, but this is not the attitude to which God calls us.)


    6. Read Jeremiah 20:14-15 and Jeremiah 20:18. Is Jeremiah falling back into depression after his glorious statement of faith in Jeremiah 20:11? (Yes, now he says that he wishes he had never been born.)


      1. Read Jeremiah 1:4-5. God says that He knew Jeremiah "in the womb" and Jeremiah says he wishes he had died in the womb, rather than living the life of a prophet. What is the lesson for us? (Jeremiah sounds like he is deeply depressed. God's servants may experience times when they are depressed. If you contemplate this, you may recall that Solomon was depressed (Ecclesiastes 6 & 9), Elijah was afraid and depressed (1 Kings 19), and David was afraid (1 Samuel 21:12-13). God reveals this to us so that we will not think that we are the only ones to go through this kind of experience.)


    7. Read Jeremiah 21:1-2. Wait a minute! Who is now asking for advice? (King Zedekiah! Jeremiah is now being asked to inquire of God by the highest official of his country.)


      1. When you feel discouraged and afraid, how does it feel to have a very important person seek your help?


  4. Our Choice


    1. Read Jeremiah 18:1-5. Why does God tell Jeremiah that He will get the next message down at the potter's workshop? (Once again, this is a visual aid to help understand God's message.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 18:6-10. What is the lesson for our understanding of prophecy? (We have a role to play in our future. Because God knows the future, I'm sure that some prophecy reflects God's knowledge of the future and is not conditional. On the other hand, God tells Jeremiah humans can change what God announces by their behavior. At least some prophecy is conditional.)


    3. Friend, do you sometimes feel discouraged? If things are going poorly because of your own bad choices, God tells us that our future can improve if we follow His will. If things are going poorly because you have been following God's will, and evil people are harming you, God says that He will take care of the problem and He will make it right in the future. The consistent theme is to follow God's will. Will you decide, right now, to do that?


  5. Next week: Symbolic Acts.
* 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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