27 September, 2023

June 4 | Warning to Jeremiah

by | 29 May, 2023 | 1 comment

INTRODUCTION TO JUNE LESSONS: We see warnings everywhere. Bridge out. Slow down. Don’t drink the water. Warnings even predate the fall of humankind (Genesis 2:16-17). In the perfect Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve against failing to trust his goodness. For the June lessons we are studying the book of Jeremiah, written by the weeping prophet, who also wrote the book of Lamentations, the subject of our May study. Students will learn how Jeremiah was warned about fear overtaking him, how worshipping anything other than God ends in judgment, how relying on a man-made temple is trusting in the wrong thing, and how liars like Hananiah will meet their doom. 

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Unit: Jeremiah (Part 1) 
Theme: Warning—Danger Ahead 
Lesson text: Jeremiah 1:1-19 
Supplemental texts: Isaiah 6:1-13; Jeremiah 26:1-24; Acts 9:15-16; Revelation 2:8-11 
Aim: Obey the Lord’s word even if it makes you fearful. 

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions by Michael C. Mack): LOOKOUT_June4_2023.

Send an email to [email protected] to receives PDFs of the lesson material each month.

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By Mark Scott

Warnings usually carry with them fear and threats of consequences. That was true for the weeping prophet Jeremiah. It was also true for the nation of Judah to whom Jeremiah prophesied. The book of Jeremiah is a long and involved prophetic work. It was completed sometime around the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. It is a discouraging book in that God has to uproot and tear down his people. But it is also an encouraging book in that God was going to provide a new way for his people to be right with him (31:31-34).  

In the brief introduction to this book (Jeremiah 1:1-3), we see that Jeremiah was born into a priestly family (Hilkiah), but his was more a prophetic ministry than one of carrying out priestly functions. He lived in Anathoth (a few miles north of Jerusalem) in the Benjamin territory. The word of the Lord (a phrase that appears more in Jeremiah than any other book of the Bible) came to Jeremiah during the reign of good King Josiah. Josiah’s sons, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, compromised their father’s faith resulting in the exile of Jerusalem’s people.  

Fearful of Age and Ability 
Jeremiah 1:4-10 

Since God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29), serving him is no small thing. Jeremiah was undone by the call of God on his life. When the word of the Lord came to him (i.e., when he was called to prophetic ministry), he believed he was too young (the Hebrew word used means “lad” or “child,” perhaps indicating he was in his teen years or early twenties) and did not know how to speak (cf. Exodus 4:10).  

But God reassured Jeremiah in three ways. First, God reminded him that he was the Creator, the maker of heaven and earth. God had formed him (shaped like a potter molds clay) in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16) and therefore knew him intimately. Even before Jeremiah’s birth, God had set him apart and appointed (made or set) him as a prophet to the nations (which of course would include nations other than just Judah). Second, God challenged Jeremiah not to think about his youthfulness. God would be with Jeremiah, and God would rescue him. Third, Jeremiah would not be inventing the message. When God touched Jeremiah’s mouth, he symbolically placed his message in it. Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry would be marked by destruction (uprooting and destroying) and construction (building and planting).  

Fearful of the Enemies
Jeremiah 1:11-16 

God provided two visions to show Jeremiah what would transpire in the fearful days ahead. First was the vision of the almond tree. This vision seems unfinished. All Jeremiah sees is an almond tree. But the key to this vision lies in the word almond, which means “to watch” or “to wake.” The almond tree is the first tree to bud in the spring. It is the “wake-up” tree. It can bud as early as January. So, we have a play on words here. The wake-up tree is calling the people of God to wake up—to judgment. 

Second was the more fleshed-out vision of the boiling pot. The pot was about to boil over, and it was tilting from the north (the direction from which invading enemies would come) to the south (where Judah was). By this time the Assyrian empire had crumbled. The Babylonians were now the world power and would come with vengeance toward Judah.  

King Nebuchadnezzar would make more than one military campaign against Jerusalem. In the end, he would walk through the entrance of the gates and besiege the city by surrounding the walls. God would use the king of Babylon to pronounce judgments on his people. God’s people had forsaken him and embraced idolatry. 

Fearful of Self 
Jeremiah 1:17-19 

Jeremiah had already confessed his youthfulness and his perceived inability to speak. But now he had to face the demons of his insecurity. He clearly did not feel up to this task and had not asked for this assignment. So, God challenged him to “stand up and be a man.” “Get yourself ready” was the ancient concept of “girding up one’s loins”; we might say, “Pull up your britches and tighten your belt, because here we go.”  

God challenged Jeremiah not to be terrified (dismayed or broken to pieces) or God would terrify Jeremiah. God used three metaphors to embolden Jeremiah (i.e., he was to be a fortified city, iron pillar, and a bronze wall to his own people). God warned Jeremiah that his own people would fight him, but God assured the prophet he would not be overcome. God’s promises to be with Jeremiah and to rescue him are like his calls of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-13) and Paul (Acts 9:15-16). 

1 Comment

  1. Robert Hagedorn

    “In the perfect Garden of Eden, God warned Adam and Eve against failing to trust his goodness”

    All they have to do in the story is eat allowed fruit that is not fruit from the tree of life that is not a tree. But instead, they choose to eat forbidden fruit that is also not fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil that is also not a tree, the nontree of life’s next-door neighbor nontree in the center of the Garden that is not a garden. So what do they eat?

    They disobey the commandment–their first commandment–to “be fruitful and multiply [in the Garden]” when they become one flesh incorrectly by eating allegorical fruit from the allegorical wrong tree in the allegorical Garden’s center.

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