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LESSON 1 – THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1: THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
JEREMIAH PROPHET OF GOD by R. E. Harlow Copyright, Used by his permission
These lessons show the verses in Jeremiah which refer to the notes about other verses in Jeremiah. For example: 1:1 (chapter 1 verse 1) helps explain the notes on 28:1 and 29:3. Do not look up the notes on these two verses at first, but later on if you want more help on the first verse, you will find it is mentioned in the notes on 28:1 and 29:3. This list shows the verses in Jeremiah which are connected in some way with many other verses throughout the Bible. For example, Genesis 1:2 is mentioned in the notes explaining Jeremiah 4:23. Genesis 1:14-15 are used in the notes on Jeremiah 31:35, etc.
How to Study Jeremiah
The book of Jeremiah is long but very important among the books of the Bible. You should first read the entire 52 chapters quite quickly without trying to understand every verse the first time. Then make a plan of study for yourself, perhaps to study one or two chapters every week, or more, if you have the time. Get a notebook and write down every day what you have learned. Write down the date you are starting, and your plan of study and how many chapters you want to do every week. First, read through the chapter in your Bible, two or three times if possible. Then read the notes in this book, one or two verses at a time. Read again each verse before you read what this book says about it. Try and understand every word, or at least what the verse means. Always ask the Lord to help you understand His precious Word. Write down in your notebook in short form what you have learned. Thank the Lord for helping you to understand His Word better. Tell someone else what you have learned which was a help to you.
Jeremiah was a prophet of God who lived in Jerusalem during the saddest event in the Old Testament. The LORD had chosen Jerusalem, and His people built His temple there. However, they chose to worship false gods and Jeremiah protested against their sins. Finally, God sent the armies of Babylon to destroy His city and His temple. Who was this Jeremiah? His name may mean Exalt Jehovah, and he certainly did that in both of his books. The Holy Spirit led Jeremiah to use the name Jehovah or LORD 712 times in his prophecy and 32 more times in the book of Lamentations. Jeremiah also tells us a good deal about himself, more than any other Old Testament prophet does. Therefore, his book includes prophecy and history. Jeremiah did not write his book as history with the events of one year following another as things really happened. He lived, prophesied, and wrote while five different kings ruled on the throne of Judah, one after another. The books of Kings and Chronicles tell us what happened to each king in order. Jeremiah does not do this; he puts things together for different reasons.
We can think of the book of Jeremiah with these divisions:
1. God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, chapter 1.
2. Prophecies of Jeremiah over many years, chapters 2-20
3. What happened to Jeremiah, chapters 21-45
4. Prophecies against ten Gentile nations, chapters 46-51
5. Babylon captured Jerusalem, chapter 52.
LESSON 1: GOD CALLED JEREMIAH TO BE A PROPHET
This chapter tells us how the LORD called a young man to serve Him.
1. Jeremiah and the five kings, verses 1-3
2. God commanded Jeremiah what to do, verses 4-10
3. Jeremiah's first two visions, verses 11-19
1. Jeremiah and the five kings, 1:1-3
These verses teach us a little about the prophet and the kings who lived at the same time as he did. Jeremiah and his father lived in the village of Anathoth, about 5 kilometres or three miles north of Jerusalem. Jeremiah did not marry a wife or have a family of his own, Jeremiah 16:2. God set 13 cities apart for the priests, including Anathoth, Joshua 21:18-19. We know that Abiathar lived there but King Solomon would not let him serve as a priest because he helped Adonijah when he tried to take the throne from his brother, 1 Kings 1:7; 2:26. Hilkiah was a priest, a descendant of Aaron. Only the sons of Aaron could serve as priests. One king tried to act as a priest but God judged him at once, 2 Chronicles 26:16-21. Others could not prove that they were truly descendants of Aaron and Nehemiah would not let them serve as such until they could find out for sure, Nehemiah 7:64-65. Only those who were born priests could serve as priests. Today it is much the same. Every believer is born again a son of God, and all of us are priests. No one else can claim to be a priest of God unless he or she is a child of God. The high priest in Jerusalem was called Hilkiah, but he may have been a different person, not the father of Jeremiah. Verse 2. Josiah became king when he was eight years old, after his father, Amon's servants had murdered him. Amon was a wicked king but Josiah followed the LORD. When he was twenty years old, he began to take away the idols, which people of Judah were worshipping. At age 26, he commanded his men to clean out the temple of Jehovah. In the temple Hilkiah, the high priest found the book of Deuteronomy hidden in the dust. God had commanded every king to read this book, and write a copy of it for himself, Deuteronomy 17:18-19, but many had not done so. The book helped Josiah to restore the worship of Jehovah but most of the people did not really repent of all their sins. Josiah brought the nation together to keep the feast of the Passover and did many other good things. He was killed in battle when he was 38 years old. Read more in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35. Josiah was 21 years old when the LORD called another young man, Jeremiah, to help the king in his desire to bring the people of Judah back to God. Verse 3. God also spoke to the people of Judah through His servant Jeremiah during the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah; and again right on to the eleventh year of Zedekiah, who was also a son of Josiah. Zedekiah was the last king of Judah, because the Babylonian armies burned Jerusalem and took the king away as a captive. There were four kings after Josiah, three of them were his sons, and one was his grandson. Usually in Judah, the king's son became king when his father died. However, God at this time allowed the enemies of Judah to control them and say who would be the next king. Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, was also called Shallum, 22:11. He ruled only three months, and then Pharaoh King of Egypt, put him out, and set his brother Eliakim on the throne as king, changing his name to Jehoiakim, ruled for eleven years, but did evil before the LORD. We will read about him in 25:1; 26:1; 35:1; 36:1 36:9; 45:1; and 46:2. He died when he was 36 years old. Jehoiachjn was the son of Jehoiakim, and was also called Jeconjah or Coniah, 22:24 and 22:28. He was so wicked that God said no son of his would ever sit on the throne of David. Zedekiah was another son of Josiah, Coniah's uncle, and he reigned for eleven years. See 21:1; 24:8; 28:1; 29:332:4; 34:2; 34:8; 38:5; 38:14; 38:24; and 39:1-7.
Therefore, here is the family of Josiah:
Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah)
The eleventh year of Zedekiah was the year 586 B.C. The prophet tells us what happened then in both chapters 39 and 52. After that, Jeremiah kept on warning the people of Judah and we will read the record of this in chapters 41 to 45.
2. God commanded Jeremiah what to do, 1:4-10
The LORD told Jeremiah that He wanted him to serve as His prophet, verses 4-5; and that he should not be afraid, verses 6-8. Then He touched his mouth and gave him authority over the nations, verses 9-10.
a) God's call to Jeremiah, verses 4-5
Verse 4. Jeremiah knew that God spoke to him and through him to the people of Judah. The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, 1:4; 1:11; 1:13; 2:1; 7:1; 11:1; 14:1; 16:1; 18:1; and 30:1. God's word also came to His servant: in the reign of Jehoiakim: in the beginning, 26:1; 27:1; in the fourth year, 25:1; 36:1; also, see 35:1; in the reign of Zedekiah, 21:1; 34:8; in the beginning, 37:6 in the 10th year, 32:1; 33:1; 34:1 after the Babylonians had captured Jerusalem: 40.1; 44:1 against the Gentiles, 46:1; 47:1; 48:1; 49:1; 50:1. Verse 5. God knew Jeremiah before he was born; formed him and created him; set him apart for His holy service; gave him to be His prophet to the nations. God knows all men before they are born, but He specially states that He formed Jacob, David and Isaiah, Psalms 139:16; Isaiah 44:24; 49:5. The LORD had sanctified Aaron, Jeremiah's forefather, for the priesthood; and Jeremiah also, to be a prophet as well as a priest. We think of Jeremiah as a prophet to Israel and Judah, but God always intended that His people should give His truth to other men and not keep it for themselves. Other prophets had messages for Gentile nations: Isaiah 13-23; Ezekiel 25-32; Daniel 2:5; Jonah 3:4; Nahum 2:8; 3:7. God gave Jeremiah as a prophet to other nations as well as Judah, 25:15; chapters 46-51. He warned them that God would judge them, but we do not see any sign that they repented.
b) The young prophet should not be afraid, verses 6-8
Jeremiah thought he was not able to serve God as His prophet but the LORD told him he must obey. He should not be afraid because God was with him. Verse 6. There are two words for Lord, Adonai and Jehovah; Jeremiah used both here. Adonai means my lord or master, while Jehovah means the One who exists in Himself. Jeremiah used the name Adonai fourteen times in his prophecy, always with the name Jehovah. The two names together are translated Lord GOD or Sovereign Lord. The name Adonai is used fourteen times also in Lamentations, always alone, without any other name for God. Many years before this, God had called Moses to His work, but Moses said he could not speak. He tried to make four other excuses also: Exodus 3:11,13; 4:1,10,13. Jonah tried to avoid God's command, but he had to go. Here Jeremiah said he was not able to speak - yet he was speaking as he said these very words! He called himself a child or a young man. This word is used for little babies, Exodus 2:6; 2 Samuel 12:16; but also for young men: Joseph, age 17; and Shechem, old enough to get married, Genesis 34:19; 37:2. Young people can really serve the Lord. Samuel, Timothy, and many others have done so. Verse 7. Jeremiah was indeed young at this time, we do not know just how old he was, but he was still serving the Lord forty years later. However, he was not a child and God told him not to call himself that. He had to obey; he must: go to the people to whom the LORD sent him; speak the words, which the LORD commanded him to say. For us, this means to go to all men everywhere and tell them the Good News. Verse 8. Perhaps Jeremiah called himself a child because he was afraid of people. God commanded him not to be afraid. Some Bibles say, do not be afraid of their faces. People can hurt you with their hands or feet, but with their faces, they can only show that they hate you. God commanded other people not to be afraid:
Abraham - Genesis 15:1
Moses - Numbers 21:34
Daniel - Daniel 10:12 and 10:19
Mary - Luke 1:30
Peter - Luke 5:10
Paul - Acts 27:24
John - Revelation 1:17
God often speaks to and through His servants, but here the Spirit used a strong word (ne'um) which means a command or a special revelation from God the Almighty. This word occurs again in verses 15 and 19, and 165 times in this book, more than any other book of the Old Testament. The word ne'um was a comfort to young Jeremiah at this time and he was sure all through his life that he was speaking the words, which Jehovah gave him.
Here the LORD declared that He would:
1. Be with His servant; and
2. Protect him from his enemies.
For us, the Lord Jesus Christ promises to be with us all the days, and will surely deliver us from evil, Matthew 2.20; Acts 18:10; 2 Timothy 4:17-18; Hebrews 13:5-6. Verse 9. Then the LORD reached out with His hand and touched Jeremiah's mouth. This was an action-picture to show that He would give His words to His servant. Later God made His words to be like fire in the mouth of Jeremiah, 5:14. The LORD put His words in the mouth of others also, Isaiah 51:16; Ezekiel 2:8. An angel touched Isaiah's lips with a hot coal from the altar; this made his lips clean so he could speak for God, Isaiah 6:5-7. God promised Moses He would be with his mouth, Exodus 4:12; and Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples they would know what to say in time of trouble, Luke 21:15. Verse 10. Jeremiah thought he was just a boy or servant, but God set him higher than the kings of the nations. Josiah was the king of the little country of Judah, but there were three great Gentile empires: Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. The prophet would announce the rise or fall of these nations and others also, not by his own authority, but as one speaking for God. Then the LORD used two word-pictures. The prophet would be like a farmer and a builder. He would plant good seed, but first he must pull up the weeds. He would build up good strong buildings, but first he must pull down the bad ones.
Jehovah warned that He would see to it that these things were done, Jeremiah 31:28. Later Paul and Apollos served as farmers and builders in helping the believers, 1 Corinthians 3:6-10.
3. Jeremiah's first two visions, verses 11-19
a) The almond tree, verses 11-12
b) The boiling pot, verses 13-16
c) Strength to obey, verses 17-19
Later the Lord gave Jeremiah a vision of a bunch of figs, 24.1; and Himself appeared to him with a message of love, 31.3.
a) The almond tree, verses 11-12
In the land of Israel, the almond tree produces its delicious nuts early in the year, before any other. Aaron's rod produced buds, flowers and nuts all in one night, Numbers 17:8. This miracle was to prove that God had chosen Aaron and the tribe of Levi to be priests, but it also shows that God can work very quickly when He starts. Verse 11. The LORD gave His young servant these visions to strengthen his faith. Jeremiah said that he saw a branch of an almond tree. Verse 12. This was correct and God said that He would fulfil His words of judgment quickly when the time came. This word for almond also means to watch, as in Psalms 127:1 and Ezra 8:29. Therefore, the LORD will watch over His word to make sure that His promises and warnings never fail, Isaiah 34:16. He will watch over His people both to judge them and to bring them back, 31:28; 44:27. To us it seems like a long time since the Lord Jesus Christ promised that He would come back for us. When the time comes, He will come very suddenly and quickly, 1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 22:20.
b) The boiling pot, verses 13-16
People made pots out of clay and cooked their food in boiling water in a pot. The pot on a fire was a picture of great trouble, Ezekiel 11:3; Micah 3:3. Verse 13. In this vision Jeremiah saw a pot of boiling water, but it was not level, it was tipped away from the north. Verse 14. The LORD explained this by saying that enemies would come on Judah from the north. From this we learn that the people of Judah were disobeying God and He would send trouble from the north to punish them. Syria was north of Israel, and had often come down to fight against Judah. Assyria and Babylon lay to the east but there was a great desert between them and Israel so they would also come from the north to attack, 35:11; 50:17. Egypt attacked Israel from the south when Josiah was killed, but it was Babylon, which finally destroyed the city and the nation. Verse 15. God warned Jeremiah that He would bring all Gentile nations against His own people. A nation like Babylon starts by taking over small countries nearby, then forcing them to help it defeating more and more. Kings would bring their armies against Judah and Jerusalem, the Jews would not be able to stop them. The people could live for a while in the cities with their big walls, but would soon have to give in. Verse 16. God said He would announce His judgment against Judah because the people were so wicked: they gave up Jehovah; they burned incense to false gods; they worshipped the idols, which they had made. So here we have a little summary in short form of the ministry of Jeremiah: God was going to give His word to young Jeremiah; the prophet would have to rebuke the sins of the people, especially their idolatry; he would warn them about God's judgment.
c) Strength to obey, verses 17-19
Jeremiah was afraid to be God's prophet, now that he knew what he must do, perhaps he was more afraid than ever. However, he could not obey. Verse 17. The LORD gave strength to David like a belt around his waist, Psalms 18:39. Here He commanded Jeremiah to get ready to go and speak all His words, verse 7. Again He told him not to be afraid of the people; if he was afraid, it would be worse still for him. Verse 18. The LORD then gave Jeremiah strength; he would be like a city with strong walls, like an iron pillar, like metal walls. He would need plenty of strength to stand up against: kings, all four of them after Josiah; princes, the sons of kings, or high officials; priests, descendants of Aaron, like Jeremiah; citizens of the whole land. Verse 19. All these would fight against one man, the prophet Jeremiah. Yet this one man was stronger than all of them together, they could not defeat him. The LORD was with this one man and He is stronger than all men together. He promised to deliver His servant from them.
TEST LESSON 1: THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH - GOD CALLED JEREMIAH TO BE A PROPHET
TRUE or FALSE
1. All born again believers are priests -True: ......... False: .........
2. Jehoiachin was a good king -True: ......... False: .........
3. Jeremiah was prophet also a priest -True: ......... False: .........
4. Moses made excuses when God called him -True: ......... False: .........
5. Young men should never be servant of the Lord -True: ......... False: .........
FILL IN THE BLANK SPACES WITH THE CORRECT WORD/S
6. Maybe Jeremiah called himself a ......... because he was ......... of the .........
7. The Lord ......... Jeremiah's .........
8. The Lord said that Jeremiah would be like a ......... and a .........
9. In a ......... Jeremiah saw a pot of .........; ..........
10. Jeremiah was told he would be like a ......... with ......... walls.
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Your name: ..............................................
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Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen