Jeremiah 23

  1. Verses 1-8. To meet the situation created by the failure of Judah’s rulers, what does God say he will do?
    Cf. Ezek. 34:1-16. How much of what is promised here has been fulfilled?
    Cf. John 10:1-18; Luke 1:32, 68-70; 1 Cor. 1:30.
  2. What does Jeremiah say concerning:
    (a) the religious life, worship and ministry of the prophets of his day;
    (b) their moral character and conduct; and
    (c) their influence?
    What qualifications are essential in those who are called to speak in the name of the Lord?

Notes

  1. Verse 1. ‘Shepherds”: see 2:8 and mg.
  2. Verse 5. ‘Branch’: better, ‘shoot’ or ‘sprout’, i.e., a growth of new life. Cf. 33:15; Is. 11:1.
  3. Verses 7, 8. ‘The new and more wonderful Exodus’ (C.R. North). .
  4. Verse 9. Describes the effect of God’s words on Jeremiah himself.
  5. Verses 33-40. The Hebrew word translated ‘oracle’ (or ‘burden’ RSV) could also mean, figuratively, a solemn utterance, normally of ominous import (cf. Is. 13:1; 15:1; 17:1). The people had evidently been speaking mockingly of the prophet’s utterances as ‘burdens’. Jeremiah uses it to rebuke its users (verses 33, 39), and forbids its employment in such an irreverent context.

Jeremiah 21 & 22

These chapters refer in turn to the last five kings of Judah: Josiah (22:15, 16), Jehoahaz or Shallum (22:10-12), Jehoiakim (22:13-19), Jehoiachin or Coniah (22:24-30), and Zedekiah (21).

  1. Zedekiah’s hope was that God would work a miracle, as he had done in the days of Hezekiah, a little over a century before (21:2; 2 Chr. 32:20-22).
    What was Jeremiah’s answer, and what light does this throw on ‘unanswered prayer’?
    Cf. 7:16; 11:14; 14:11, 12; Is. 59:1, 2.
  2. Chapter 22. Why did Jeremiah condemn injustice and outrage?
    Consider the contemporary application of this word from the Lord.
    Are we guilty of conforming to any current social iniquities or sharp practices?
  3. 22:21. (The northern kingdom behaved in the same way – see 3:25.) Reflect upon this verse as depicting the pattern of Judah’s history.

Notes

  1. 22:6. Gilead and Lebanon typify prosperity.
  2. 22:20. ‘Abarim’: a mountain range to the south-east of Palestine.
  3. 22:22. ‘Shepherds’: see 2:8 and mg.

Jeremiah 19 and 20

  1. Reflect on Jeremiah’s courage, and what it must have cost him to deliver the message of 19:1-13.
    What was his immediate reward?
    See 19:14 – 20:6.
  2. The strain and tension caused the prophet to break out into a more bitter lament than he had yet uttered (20:7-18).
    In the midst of it his faith triumphed in the assurance of God’s protection, and he was able even to sing his praise (20:11-13).
    Then once more waves of sorrow swept over him. In the light of this passage, try to enter into the loneliness, hardship and suffering of Jeremiah’s life.
    Note especially verse 9, do we know anything of this almost irresistible constraint to speak God’s word, even when we are daunted by the costliness of speaking?
    Cf. Acts 5:27-29.

Notes

  1. 19:5, 6, 11b. See 7:31-33 and Note on 7:32.
  2. 19:13. ‘Defiled’: i.e., by dead bodies.
  3. 20:16. ‘The towns’: i.e., Sodom and Gomorrah; see Gen. 19:24, 25.

Jeremiah 17:19 – 18:23

  1. The issue between God and his people turned in the question of obedience. How was it brought in 17:19-27 to a single test?
    In your Christian obedience are there test issues of this kind, which, although possibly not themselves the most important subject, are the heart of the question of obedience at the time?
  2. To Jeremiah the condition of the people made the destruction of the kingdom inevitable; yet the destruction seemed to involve the failure of God’s purposes. How does the illustration of the potter throw light on this problem (18:1-12)?
    What other lessons about God does it teach? Cf. Rom. 9:20, 21.
  3. How does 18:13-23 reveal the costliness for Jeremiah of being a more faithful spokesman of the Lord?
    Cf. Matt. 10:24, 25, 28-33.

Notes

  1. 17:26. ‘The western foothills’ (‘The Shephelah’, RSV): the lowlands of Palestine between the coastal plain and the higher central hills.
  2. 18:14. The Hebrew is uncertain, but the meaning is clear. The snows of Lebanon remain, and its streams do not run dry; but God’s people have failed.
  3. 18:18. ‘The law… will not be lost …’: the people refused to believe that the present order of things would be destroyed.

Jeremiah 16:1 – 17:18

  1. Consider how hard it must have been for a man of Jeremiah’s affectionate and sympathetic nature to obey the commands of 16:2, 5 and 8.
    Why did God lay this burden on him?
    What other trials that Jeremiah had to bear are referred to in 17:14-18?
  2. How does the passage illustrate Jeremiah’s oft-repeated statement concerning God’s dealings with his people; ‘I will not make a full end of you’?
    See 4:27; 5:10, 18; 30:11; 46:28. Cf. Ps. 94:14; Rom. 11:1-5.
  3. Contrast, clause by clause, 17:5 and 6 with 17:7 and 8.
    How do verses 9-13 reinforce the certainty of curse or blessing? Examine yourself in the light of this contrast. Cf. Ps. 146.

Notes

  1. 16:6, 7. ‘Mourning customs. Cf. Amos 8:10; 2 Sam. 12:17; Prov. 31:6b.
  2. 17:1, 2. ‘The tablets of their hearts’: i.e., their inmost being. ‘The horns of their altars’: an allusion to their polluted idolatrous sacrifices (cf. Lev. 4:7, 30; and with verse 2, cf. 2:20). ‘Asherah Poles’: probably wooden images of the Canaanite goddess, Asherah.
  3. 17:15. Cf. 2 Pet. 3:3, 4.

Jeremiah 14 & 15

These two chapters consist of a kind of colloquy between Jeremiah and God. The prophet is driven to prayer by a time of drought (14:1-6).

  1. What pleas of the people does the prophet present before God in 14:7-9, and what does God’s answer (14:10-12) tell us of the people’s confession?
    Cf. 3:10; 15:6, 7; Is. 59:1, 2. What further pleas does Jeremiah urge in his second and third prayers (14:13 and 19-22)?
    What are God’s answers in each case?
  2. The prophet, ceasing to pray for the people, breaks into a lament (15:10) and prays for himself (15:15-18). Observe carefully God’s answer; especially in verses 19-21. How well did Jeremiah know himself?
    What new element is added in verse 19?
    Have you ever had a comparable answer to prayer?
    Cf. 2 Tim. 2:19-21.

Notes

  1. 14:7, 21. ‘For the sake of your name’: God’s name is ‘his nature as revealed in the covenant, which is the ultimate ground of prayer’ (Cunliffe-Jones). Cf. Exod. 33:19; 34:5-7.
  2. 15:1.Cf. Ps. 99:6-8. Moses (e.g., Exod. 32:11-14, 30-32) and Samuel (e.g., 1 Sam. 7:8, 9) were outstanding in intercession for their people.
  3. 15:4. See 2 Kgs. 21:1-5, 16.
  4. 15:11. The Hebrew is very difficult, and NIV, RSV, AV, and RV all differ considerably from each other.
  5. 15:12. A reference to the Chaldeans.There is no hope of breaking their power.

6.15:19. The tone is severe. Jeremiah must return to a more undivided allegiance. For ‘stand before’ (RSV), cf. verse 1 and Note 3 above, and 18:20.

Jeremiah 13

  1. What is the purpose of the incident of the belt? Which is a truer description of you, verse 10 or verse 11?
  2. Consider the images used to describe the coming judgment, and their usefulness for preaching today. See Notes below; and cf. Pss. 1:4; 60:3; Is. 8:22; 51:17; Mic. 3:6, 7; John 12:35; 2 Thess. 2:11, 12.
  3. Verse 23. What answer does the New Testament give to this question? See Rom. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:17.

Notes

  1. Verses 13, 14. ‘Drunkenness’ is used in a figurative sense to describe mental fear and bewilderment, when men in their panic turn against each other.
  2. Verse 16. ‘Give glory to the Lord’: a Hebrew expression for confession of sin, recognizing God’s holiness, and turning from sin to obedience. Cf. Josh. 7:19; Mal. 2:2; John 9:24.
  3. Verse 18: i.e., Jehoiachin and his mother Nehushta (2 Kgs. 24:8, 9). Queen mothers regularly wielded great influence at court.
  4. Verse 19. ‘The Negev’ is the area of Palestine south of Beersheba.

5. Verse 21. Another translation reads ‘he’, i.e., God instead of ‘they’ (Driver). Cf. Deut. 28:13, 44; Lam. 1:5.