Jeremiah, Prophet to Judah – Jeremiah 1 – 52 – OVERVIEW OF JEREMIAH AT END OF DOC
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet because he brought to Judah such devastating news, often accompanied with tears. His message was rarely received well, so Jeremiah’s life was filled with difficult circumstances. God had even told him to NEVER attend a wedding or a funeral, basically cutting him off from some of the most important community gatherings. Jeremiah was beaten and thrown in prison, yet he served God faithfully.
Jeremiah reminds us that our God is both Judge and Redeemer. He longs to redeem us, but if we refuse, judgement awaits. As we experience Jeremiah with our kids, let’s remind them that God cares about the condition of their hearts. According to Jeremiah, all our hearts are “desperately wicked,” but God through Jesus can re-make them and cleanse them!!
Activity – Laminated Hearts – give each kid a laminated heart and a dry erase marker. Each day, ask God to impress something or someone on your heart. Write or draw it on the heart with your dry erase marker and leave the heart where you will see it. Each day talk to God about it. He cares so much about your heart.
· Ask kids what the hearts of the Israelites were like.
· Remind kids that our hearts can be just like theirs – stubborn, selfish, refusing to repent or listen.
· Remind kids that our hearts can be hard or soft. God wants our hearts to be soft so that we can hear Him.
· Let kids take a moment of quietness to think and draw/write. Imagine what God would tell you about your heart if He were sitting beside you right now. What is on your heart? Anxious thoughts? Offensive ways? Something you’re sorry for?
Discuss the following additional questions:
What did you learn about God/Jesus?
· God is a judge who will punish even those He loves because He doesn’t want them to continue in their sin.
· God is a compassionate, forgiving God.
· God wants people to repent of their sin so that He can forgive them.
What did you learn about people?
· People must humble themselves to admit that they need to repent of their sins.
· People can talk to God about the shame they feel when they sin.
What did you learn about yourself?
· I want to repent (turn from) my sins.
· I want my heart to be tender towards God.
· I want to hear what God’s Holy Spirit is telling me, especially when He is pointing out my sins to me.
OVERVIEW OF JEREMIAH 1 – 52
Intro: Jeremiah was a priest, who was also called to be a prophet, commissioned to proclaim to Judah God’s coming judgement and also God’s future plans of hope and restoration.
Jeremiah was called to prophesy during Josiah’s reign (five years before the Book of the Law was discovered in the temple – II Chron. 34), so Jeremiah witnessed the revival that came to Jerusalem during Josiah’s reign. However, Jeremiah continued prophesying after Josiah died, so he also witnessed the apostasy that occurred when three of Josiah’s sons and one grandson succeeded him as king. They were all evil men and were all eventually carried away in chains to either Egypt or Babylon. During this time, Jeremiah lived through the siege and destruction of Jerusalem, an incredibly difficult experience. Yet, in the midst of the trouble, Jeremiah delivered a message of hope to the people of Judah, foretelling that their captivity would last only 70 years and that God would one day rescue them!
Below are some notable passages, divided into 5 sections.
· Sections 1 and 2 tell Jeremiah’s story – his call to become God’s prophet and all the hardships he suffered as he followed God’s leading.
· Section 3 describes God’s judgement against Judah.
· Section 4 describes the hope God gave His people that one day things would turn around; they would be redeemed!
· Section 5 is our story of redemption, hidden right in the middle of Jeremiah!
#1 - The Call of Jeremiah
Jer. 1:4-10 - The word of the Lord came to me, saying,5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” 6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. 9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Note that Jeremiah is given the job of both proclaiming judgement (tearing down and destroying) and of proclaiming redemption/hope (building and planting).
#2 - The Hardships of Jeremiah
Jer. 16:1, 5, 8 - Then the word of the Lord came to me: 2 “You must not marry and have sons or daughters in this place.” … “Do not enter a house where there is a funeral meal; do not go to mourn or show sympathy, because I have withdrawn my blessing, my love and my pity from this people,” … “And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink. 9 For this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Before your eyes and in your days, I will bring an end to the sounds of joy…
Jer. 20:1 & 2 - When the priest Pashhur son of Immer, the official in charge of the temple of the Lord, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things, 2 he had Jeremiah the prophet beaten and put in the stocks at the Upper Gate of Benjamin at the Lord’s temple.
Jer. 26:11 - Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, “This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!”
Jer. 32:3 - Now Zedekiah king of Judah had imprisoned Jeremiah the prophet in the courtyard of the guard in the royal palace of Judah …
Jer. 40:2-4 - 2 When the commander of the guard found Jeremiah bound in chains among all the captives from Jerusalem and Judah who were being carried into exile to Babylon, he said to him, “The Lord your God decreed this disaster for this place. 3 And now the Lord has brought it about; he has done just as he said he would. All this happened because you people sinned against the Lord and did not obey him. 4 But today I am freeing you from the chains on your wrists. Come with me to Babylon, if you like, and I will look after you; but if you do not want to, then don’t come. Look, the whole country lies before you; go wherever you please.”
#3 - Jeremiah’s Judgement Against Judah – Jeremiah chapters 1 - 24
Jer. 22:17 – “your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.”
Jer. 22:21 & 25 - 21 I warned you when you felt secure, but you said, ‘I will not listen!’ This has been your way from your youth; you have not obeyed me…. I will deliver you into the hands of those who want to kill you, those you fear—Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the Babylonians!
#4 - God’s Promises of Hope – Jeremiah chapters 25 – 33
Jer. 25:8 – 11 - Because you have not listened to my words, … 11 this whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.
Jer. 29:4-14 - 4 This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.… When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity!
Jer. 31:3-10 - “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. 4 I will build you up again … 10 He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over his flock like a shepherd.”
Jer. 31:33-34 - “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
#5 - Our Story of Redemption Hidden in Jeremiah
Jer. 31:18-20- I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return, because you are the Lord my God. 19 After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast.
I was ashamed and humiliated… The Lord declares, “Are you not my dear son, the child in whom I delight? I still remember [you]. Therefore, my heart yearns for [you]. I have great compassion for [you].
Although this was written to Ephraim (another name for Israel), the process of repentance and forgiveness because of God’s faithful love is a picture of what He still does for any one of us when we come to Him with humble, repentant hearts.