OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 41
Jeremiah 1-2; 15; 20; 26; 36-38
- Jeremiah is called of God to be a prophet.
- Many people oppose Jeremiah and try to prevent him from fulfilling
- Jeremiah is strengthened in adversity by his love for the word of God.
A study of this lesson should encourage us to remain faithful in times
of opposition and adversity.
Jeremiah Is Called Of God To Be A Prophet
Introduction To Jeremiah
- Who was Jeremiah?
- Born about 645 BC.
- He was the son of Hilkiah, the priest.
- Came from the little town of Anathoth near Jerusalem.
- His ministry:
- Began about 626 BC, the 13th year of Josiah's reign.
- Continued until about 586 BC.
- One of the few prophets who lived to see the fulfillment of his prophecies.
- Jeremiah preached in support of Josiah's reformation, 621 BC.
- Jeremiah was tried for prophesying the fall of the temple, 609 BC.
- He continued to prophesy through the fall of Jerusalem.
- He was caried captive into Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem.
Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Jeremiah was probably a descendant
of the priestly line, and his forefathers apparently were from Israel rather
than Judah. Unlike Zephaniah, Jeremiah had no political connections and
was not influential in the affairs of the royal court during Josiah's time.
Like Zephaniah, Jeremiah was a young man in the days of Josiah. The recorded
ministry of Jeremiah extended over fifty years and during the reign of
five kings of Judah. Jeremiah was of an introspective and emotional temperment."
(Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament, p437)
- Probably: Nahum, Obadiah, Habakkuk (we know little about them).
- In Babylon: Daniel & Ezekiel.
- READ JEREMIAH 1:4-5. Jeremiah ordained to be a
prophet before his birth.
- WHAT SIGNIFICANT DOCTRINES ARE REFERRED TO IN THIS VERSE?
- DO YOU SUPPOSE THE KNOWLEDGE OF JEREMIAH'S PRE-EXISTENCE & FOREORDINATION
HELPED JEREMIAH MEET THE DIFFICULTIES OF HIS MINISTRY?
- Orson F. Whitney: "A prophet's name, place of birth, and the
character of his everyday calling, are matters of little moment compared
with other things pertaining to him. What of his state and standing before
he came on earth? This is a far more important consideration. God's prophets
are chosen before they are born,f and are sent into the world as He needs
them. Their aims are high and holy. They desire the welfare and happiness
of the race. Yet almost invariably their motives are misunderstood, and
they and their followers are opposed and persecuted." (Saturday
Night Thoughts, p14)
- Joseph Smith: "Every man who has a calling to minister to the
inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand
Council of heaven before this world was." (HC 6:364)
- DOES THIS SAME KNOWLEDGE SUPPORT US AS WE FACE DIFFICULTIES IN LIFE
AND IN OUR CALLINGS?
- As we begin to understand this doctrine, it cannot help but strengthen
us as we step forward to fulfill our callings. If we come know that we
were foreordained, it can give us the courage for forge ahead when things
are frustrating or even seem impossible. As we reflect upon this principle,
we are reminded that we were chosen in the pre-existence because we had
the talent necessary to fulfill this calling. As we exercise our faith,
we will find the strength necessary to continue.
- READ 1:6-10. Jeremiah expresses his weakness and
is reassured by the Lord.
- V6 - Jeremiah feels inadequate.
- V8 - Reassured by the Lord.
- V10 - His charge from the Lord.
- HAVE YOU FELT INADEQUATE WHEN CALLED IN THE PAST? HOW HAS THE LORD
HELPED OR STRENGTHENED YOU?
- Several years ago, while I was still in my 20s, I was called to teach
early morning seminary to the kids in our ward. To me, this was a formidable
task. There was the challenge of having a quality lesson prepared each
day. But even more challenging to me was the prospect of teaching teenagers.
I didn't think I could do it, but I accepted the calling and took on the
challenge. I was blessed. When I look back at that year of teaching, I
don't remember the challenge of getting up early, having lessons prepared,
or even facing teenagers. I remember the association of those kids. I remember
their strength and testimonies. The Lord does bless us if we have the courage
to do as he asks.
Jeremiah Faces Opposition
- Jeremiah preached to the people in an effort to turn them from idolatry
Jeremiah 2:13: "For my people have committed two evils; they
have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns,
broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
- Consider the opposition he faced as he fulfilled the mission given
to him by the Lord:
- Jeremiah 20:1-6: Pashur, the chief governor of the temple, "smote
Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks". Even after this,
Jeremiah had the courage to prophesy that Pashur, his family, and friends
would be taken captive by the Babylonians and would die in Babylon.
- Jeremiah 26:7-15: Jeremiah went up to the temple and gave the Lord's
message of repentance. After Jeremiah had finished preaching, the priests
threatened Jeremiah with his life. Jeremiah continued his preaching after
this harsh opposition, "Then spake Jeremiah unto all the princes
and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy against this
house and against this city all the words that ye have heard. Therefore
now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your
God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced against
- Jeremiah 36:1-6, 20-32: The Lord commanded Jeremiah to write his message
of repentance on "a roll of a book". Jeremiah had Baruch
write down the words of the Lord as he spoke them. He then had Baruch go
read to Judah the words which he had written. When the king heard the words
of the book "he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the
fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire"
(36:23). The Lord then commanded Jeremiah to rewrite His message on another
roll and this additional prophesy was added, "And I will punish
him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring
upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men of Judah,
all the evil that I have pronounced against them" (36:31).
- Jeremiah 37:12-15; 38:4-13: As Jeremiah was leaving Jerusalem, he was
arrested in put into prison. "Therefore the princes said unto the
king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to death: for thus he weakeneth
the hands of the men of war that remain in this city, and the hands of
all the people, in speaking such words unto them" (38:4). Jeremiah
was then taken in put in a dungeon where "there was no water, but
mire: so Jeremiah sunk in the mire". Eventually, King Zedekiah
returned Jeremiah to the prison, which was better than the dungeon.
- DO YOU SUPPOSE JEREMIAH WAS FRUSTRATED WITH SUCH OPPOSITION TO HIS
- READ JEREMIAH 20:14-18. Jeremiah's frustration.
- WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM JEREMIAH WHEN WE EXPERIENCE ADVERSITY?
- Doing the will of the Lord is not always easy. We often face great
obstacles. Fortunately, our obstacles are not as formidable. Few of us
face threats to our life or are cast in dungeons.
- Jeremiah shows us that carrying out the will of the Lord is most important.
He put it ahead of his own desires, his comfort, and everything else in
his life. He was a man of great courage.
- WHAT TWO EVILS DID THE LORD SAY HIS PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED?
- They had forsaken him, he who is the fountain of living waters.
- They made for themselves broken cisterns that could not hold the Lord's
- WHAT ARE THESE BROKEN CISTERNS?
- These ancient Jews had sought fulfillment and security in worldly things.
- WHY WOULD PEOPLE WITH THESE CHARACTERISTICS HAVE DIFFICULTY ACCEPTING
THE WORDS OF JEREMIAH?
- A person cannot go opposite directions at the same time. It is another
way of saying that one cannot serve to masters. They were busy in their
wickedness and did not want to give up their ways.
- HOW DO WE SOMETIMES CREATE "BROKEN CISTERNS" THAT CANNOT
HOLD THE SAVIOR'S LIVING WATER?
- Any pursuit that leads us away from Christ.
- Marion D. Hanks: "Material objectives consume too much of our
attention. The struggle for what we need or for more than we need exhausts
our time and energy. We pursue pleasure or entertainment, or become overinvolved
in associations or civic matters. Of course, people need recreation, need
to be acheiving, need to contribute; but if these come at the cost of friendship
with Christ, the price is too high.
"'For my people have committed
two evils,' said the Lord to Israel; 'they have forsaken me the fountain
of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can
hold no water.'
"The substitutions we fashion
to take the place of God in our lives truly hold no water. To the measure
we thus refuse the 'living water,' we miss the joy we could have."
(Ensign, July 1972, p105)
- Brother Stephen R. Covey wrote a wonderful book entitled, The Divine
Center. In his book he lists a number of areas on which we may center our
life, rather than on God. Many of these areas are good, but when our focus
is taken from the Divine center, then we are hewing out "broken cisterns".
Consider these areas:
These ancient Jews centered their lives on the wrong things and refused
to change when called to repentance. As a consequence, Jeremiah's prophecies
that the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem were fulfilled.
- Spouse centeredness: This is the one of the most important relationships
in all eternity. But when our spouse becomes the center of our life, it
may come at the expense of our relationship with God. It might cause one
to postpone children or to frequently miss Church in order to spend weekends
away with one's spouse.
- Work or money making centeredness: This is part of life, but when it
leads us away from Christ, we have become too focused on this pursuit.
When one centers his/her life in this area, they neglect their relationship
with God, avoid their family, and may be minimally active in the Church.
- Possession centeredness.
- Pleasure centeredness.
- Leader centeredness: What happens when we put our faith in the teachings
of a political leader or a self-improvement guru or even a bishop. Brother
Covey says they "then build their security on such expectations
and hopes and thereby become dependent and vulnerable." This does
not happen when our life is Divinely centered.
- Friend centeredness.
- Enemy centeredness: Do we every become possessed with how someone has
- Self centeredness.
- Church centeredness: Brother Covey says, "the Church is a means
to an end, not an end in itself." He goes on to say that, "Many
LDS marriages are in real jeopardy even though both parties are very active
in the Church." When even the Church becomes the center of our
life, at the exclusion of spouse, family, or gospel study, we are in jeopardy.
- Family centeredness: Brother Covey, "Ironically, the ultimate
result of family-centeredness can be the loss of the family. As an example,
a family-centered person may come to resent Church demands and callings
and may becom a law unto himself in judging and turning down properly inspired
- The Divine center: Brother Covey maintains that this is the only way
we can maintain proper perspective in the above areas. If we have properly
centered our lives, we will seek to find a proper balance between spouse,
family, church, work, etc. In his chapter entitled The Divine Center, he
quotes this verse from Helaman, "And now, my sons, remember, remember
that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God,
that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth
his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail
and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you
to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock
upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon
if men build they cannot fall" (Helaman 5:12). This is the only
way we can build "cisterns" to hold the living water.
- NOTE: Please see Brother Covey's book for a full explanation
of the above ideas related to various centers in our lives. He does a magnificent
job of teaching the importance of centering one's life on Christ and Heavenly
Father. If I were to recommend one book to add to the scriptures and the
teachings of the apostles and prophets, this would be it.
Jeremiah Is Strengthened In Adversity
- Jeremiah 1:9: "Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched
my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy
Jeremiah 15:16: "Thy words were found, and I did eat them;
and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am
called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."
- WHAT DID THE LORD PUT IN JEREMIAH'S MOUTH?
Jeremiah 20:9: "Then I said, I will not make mention of him,
nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning
fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could
- WHAT DID JEREMIAH DO WITH THE WORDS OF THE LORD?
- He ate them, which is poetic language meaning that the word of God
became part of him. I suppose this is what it means to feast upon the word
- HOW CAN WE "EAT" THE WORDS OF THE LORD AS JEREMIAH DID?
- By studying the scriptures and the counsel of latter-day prophets.
- Turning again to Brother Covey's book, consider what he had to say
about studying the scriptures or feasting upon the words of Christ.
- "Grasping and holding on to the rod of iron (the word of God)
is that discipline which will gradually bring unity and integrity to our
- "Regular and prayerful scripture study is like putting on the
glasses of the Lord. It will influence all you look at, see, and do."
- "I suggest that prayerful scripture study is the key to being
given personal revelation." (p187)
- "I believe that the habit of prayerfully searching and pondering
the scriptures (feasting) is the single most vital spiritual discipline
in life. What food is to the body, prayerful scripture study is to the
spirit. We physically die without food, and we spiritually die without
the Spirit and word of God." (p188)
- WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO HAVE WORD OF THE LORD BE A BURNING FIRE
IN YOUR BONES? WHY DO YOU THINK JEREMIAH COULD NOT HOLD BACK FROM TEACHING
THE WORD OF THE LORD?
- As we seek to know and understand the word of the Lord, we are moved.
There were times on my mission when I was so moved by the "fire shut
up in my bones" that I was constrained to bear witness of the gospel.
As we "feast" on the scriptures, this will happen to us. We will
be strengthened, as was Jeremiah, to fulfill our missions in life, even
during times of adversity.
Jeremiah lived in a time of great wickedness. He was called to preach
to gospel of repentance and though it was not easy, he was strengthened
by the Lord and fulfilled his mission. We also live in a time of great
wickedness. Living in the world exposes us to the carnal desires of man
and they are made to look attractive. We must be careful not to get caught
up in the ways of the world and "hew" out "broken cisterns".
One way to do this, to keep our lives Divinely centered, is by eating or
feasting upon the words of the Lord through prayerful, meditative scripture
study on a daily basis. If we do this, like Jeremiah, we will be able to
endure adversity and fulfill our missions.
Lesson 42: Jeremiah 16; 23; 29; 31.
Additional Reading: Jeremiah 3-9; 13; 30; 32:37-42; 33; 35.
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