21 May, 2024

July 2 | Hope in Repentance

by | 26 June, 2023 | 0 comments

INTRODUCTION TO JULY LESSONS: In darkness there still can be hope—like when grade-school students come into a classroom and see the blinds pulled and the projection unit on. A movie beats homework any day. Jeremiah sounded warnings, but he also sounded hope. From the potter, students will learn the hope in repentance. From a letter, students will learn the hope of God’s plans. From a new covenant, students will learn the hope of God’s loyal love. From the purchase of a field, students will learn the hope of God’s promise. From restored land, students will learn the hope of God’s faithfulness.

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Unit: Jeremiah (Part 2)
Theme:​ ​Hope for the Hopeless
Lesson text: Jeremiah 18:1-12; 24:1-10
Supplemental texts: 2 Kings 24:8-12, 15; 25:27-30; Ezekiel 18:20-23; Zechariah 1:3; Matthew 4:17; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9
Aim: Repent when you feel hopeless, and trust God to relent.

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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_July2_2023.

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

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By Mark Scott

Repentance can change predictive prophecy. Sometimes a prophet in the Bible would predict coming judgment, but then the judgment never came. That was because the coming judgment was conditioned by the people’s repentance. An example is Jonah and the Ninevites. Jonah predicted that the city would be destroyed in 40 days, but it was not destroyed because the people repented.  

Jeremiah held out the same prospect of avoiding coming judgment for the people of Judah, provided they would repent. But alas, the people refused, and judgment came. For several chapters Jeremiah has been plucking up, breaking down, destroying, and overthrowing (1:10) the people to get them to repent. Illustrations such as the loin cloth and the jars filled with wine (Jeremiah 13) have been used to drive home the need for repentance. In the lesson text, two illustrations will be used—a potter at his wheel and two baskets of figs. 

Hope of a Fresh Start—Pottery 
Jeremiah 18:1-12 

The land of Israel is filled with clay pots. Archeologists date events and people groups from the pottery found in the dirt. So, this object lesson would not be difficult to understand. God told Jeremiah to go to the potter’s house and there he would be given a word (or message). Jeremiah watched the potter at his wheel (stool). Jeremiah did not watch long before the pot (vessel or instrument) was smashed so that the potter could start over. The clay had become marred (corrupt, spoiled, or destroyed). The potter formed (the Hebrew word shub, meaning to turn or repent so as to be restored) the clay into another pot as the potter deemed best. 

The lesson is obvious. God is the potter and the people of Judah are the clay. In his sovereignty, God can do as he sees fit with the people. He can uproot them, tear them down, or destroy them. However, if said nation repents of its evil, then God, in that same sovereignty, can relent (the Hebrew word nacham, meaning comfort, like what Noah’s name means) on the disaster of his coming judgment. Repentance can keep God’s judgment at bay. Similarly, if a nation ceases in their obedience to God, he will reconsider the good he had intended to do to that nation.  

In verses 11-12, God made a passionate plea for the people to repent. God was preparing a disaster and devising a plan against the nation of Israel. The nation’s best move would be to turn (again the word shub) from evil and reform (to do well and even live to bring “praise”) their ways and their actions. But this passionate plea fell on deaf ears. The people, in their stubbornness, replied, “We will continue with our own plans; we will all follow the stubbornness [hardness] of our evil hearts.” Repentance gave the prospect of a fresh start, but lack of repentance demanded the clay be smashed.  

Hope of a Good People—Figs 
Jeremiah 24:1-10 

The land of Israel is also filled with figs. Olives, dates, and figs are abundant in the lands of the Bible. Figs are sweet and tasty. Therefore, figs also functioned well as an illustration of the state of Judah.  

At the beginning of Jeremiah 24 is a historical reference. The text referenced the capture of King Jehoiachin, the grandson of good King Josiah. So, the date of this text was 597 BC, when Nebuchadnezzar took the king captive to Babylon. Sometime shortly after this happened, God gave Jeremiah a vision. In this vision, God showed Jeremiah two baskets of figs. These baskets were set in front of the temple, the centerpiece of Judah’s worship . . . a structure that would be destroyed. One basket contained good (tov, as in the Genesis record of creation) figs and one basket contained bad (ra, the normal word for evil) figs

God drew Jeremiah’s attention to the figs in both baskets and then drew out the lesson for the prophet. The good figs represented the good remnant kept alive in Judah. They would obey what God wanted—even to the point of going into Babylonian captivity. God would cause them to prosper there, retain their good hearts, and someday bring them back to Judah. 

But the bad figs represented the rebellious people who tried to fight the Babylonians or escape to Egypt. The last terrible king, Zedekiah, and his minions would be destroyed due to their lack of obedience. They would be abhorrent, an offense, a reproach, a curse, and an object of ridicule to the nations. Repentance always provides hope of averting judgment. 

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