Jeremiah 11 & 12

These chapters fall into three sections: 11:11-17, Judah’s stubborn idolatry and breaking of the covenant; 11:18 – 12:6, a complaint of the prophet because of plots against his life, and God’s answer to his questionings; and 12:7-17, which seems to refer to the attacks of surrounding peoples (see 2 Kgs. 24:1, 2), and closes with a remarkable promise to these nations on condition of their turning from idols to worship the Lord.

  1. What were the constituent elements of ‘this covenant’ (11:2)? What was God’s part and what the people’s? Cf. 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1.
  2. What did Jeremiah do with his perplexities, and what answer did he receive? Can we come with his confidence? Note 12:5 and 6 in particular. What does this answer of God imply? Cf. Heb. 12:3, 4.
  3. Jeremiah is often described as a Christ-like figure. As you read the book chapter, note the similarities. With 11:21 and 12: 6, cf. Mark 3:21; Luke 4:24, 29; 21:16.

Notes

  1. 11:15. See Note on 7:22, 23.
  2. 12:13. ‘They’: i.e., the people of Judah.

Jeremiah 9:23 – 10:25

  1. 9:23, 24. What is better than wisdom, power and wealth?
    Cf. also 1 Cor. 1:25-31; Phil. 3:8-11. What do you set most store by in the normal course of life?
  2. Set down, on the hand, the characteristics mentioned here of the idols of the heathen and, on the other, the character of the living God.
  3. What are the implications of 10:23, 24?
    Have you learnt to live by them? See 30:11 and cf. Prov. 3:5-7, 11, 12.

Notes

  1. 9:25, 26. All these nations practiced circumcision, and Judah, despite the fact that her circumcision was ordained to mark a unique relationship with God, takes her place here between Egypt and Edom because her spiritually uncircumcised state (cf. 4:4; Rom. 2:28, 29) has rendered her physical circumcision no more meaningful than theirs.
  2. 10:11. ‘Belongings’: a few hastily gathered possessions for immediate flight.
  3. 10:21. ‘Shepherds’: see 2:8 and mg.; 3:15.

Jeremiah 8:4 – 9:22

Further exposure of the moral and spiritual plight of the people, and descriptions of the coming judgment. Jeremiah’s heart is almost broken.

  1. What specific charges does God level against his people in these chapters?
    Are there any traces of these faults in your own life?
  2. Consider the evidence this passage gives of the effects of sin on a nation’s morale and prosperity. See e.g., 8:14, 15, 20; 9:5, 6.
  3. Compare 8:11 with Jeremiah’s anguish. What modern counterparts to the former must we beware of?
    Are we ready to sorrow for others like Jeremiah, and to keep on pleading with them as he did? See 25:3.

Notes

  1. 8:4-7. The sin of Judah runs counter to the pattern of nature. Cf. Is. 1:3.
  2. 8:20. Probably a proverbial saying expressing the thought that it is too late.

Jeremiah 7:1 – 8:3

It is thought by many that this is the address given by Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as described in 26:1-9.

  1. How does this passage show the uselessness of outward worship when separated from the daily practice of godliness? What was lacking in the people of Jerusalem? Are your worship and your life all of a piece? Cf. Matt. 5:23, 24.
  2. In what ways can we in our day act in a spirit similar to that rebuked in 7:10? What is involved in a Christian’s being ‘delivered’ or ‘saved’? Cf. Col. 1:13; Titus 2:14; Matt. 7:21-23.
  3. How does this section illustrate our Lord’s warning in Luke 8:18?

Notes

  1. 7:4, 8. Confidence in the temple itself as a protection was a delusion. Cf. 1 Sam. 4:3-11.
  2. 7:10b. ‘Thinking you are now quite safe – safe to go on with all these abominable practices’ (Moffatt).
  3. 7:12. Shiloh was probably destroyed around the time of the disaster recorded in 1 Sam. 4.
  4. 7:18. ‘The Queen of Heaven’: probably Ashtoreh, a goddess widely worshipped in the Semitic world.
  5. 7:22, 23. Such a categorical statement 9’not just given then .. but I gave them ..’) is a Hebrew idiom to express where the real emphasis falls. The essence of the covenant made at the Exodus was, on Israel’s side, obedience (11:6, 7). God did not commission sacrifice for its own sake – or for his own sake – but to be the expression and embodiment of heart-devotion and ethical obedience. Cf. 6:19, 20; 11:15; 1 Sam. 15:22; Is. 1:10-17. Where these were absent, mere external ritual was worse than nothing. Hence in 7:21 the people are bidden to eat the meat of the burnt offerings, which were wholly offered to God, as well as their proper portions of the other sacrifices. Emptied of all spiritual significance, it was now merely meat, and might as well be eaten. But in the worship of a purified people, sacrifices would again have their rightful place. See 17:24-26; 33:18.
  6. 7:32. ‘The valley of Ben Hinnom’: a valley on the south of Jerusalem, where the city refuse was cast. The day will come, says the prophet, when the slain will be so many that they will have to be buried even in this unclean spot.

Jeremiah 5 & 6

Further indictments of Judah (5:1-5) – all classes are alike corrupt), warning of coming judgment, and depictions of the invasion and its effects.

  1. Make a list of the main sins charged against the people. Are we in danger of any of these sins? Note especially Judah’s response to God’s word and messengers.
  2. Was judgment inevitable? Was God not willing to pardon? What are we taught here about the ‘kindness and sternness of God’ (Rom. 11:22)? Cf. Rom. 4:4, 5.

Notes

  1. 6:1. Tekoa and Beth Hakkerem were few miles south of Jerusalem. The ‘signal’ (I.e., a beacon; cf. Judg. 20:38) would alert the south, or perhaps guide the refugees from Jerusalem.
  2. 6:3. ‘Shepherds with their flocks’ here means kings and their armies.
  3. 6:16. ‘Stand at the crossroads’: i.e., Judah must return to the crossroads to regain the right path. Cf. 18:15.
  4. 6:25-30. Jeremiah’s work is described as that of a tester of silver. But no pure silver results from the process of refining. Cf. 9:7.

Jeremiah 3:6-4:31

  1. 3:6-20. What is the offence of Judah?
    And what aggravated it in the eyes of God?
    What forms does this sin take today?
    Cf. Jas. 4:4; 1 John 5:20, 21. What does God offer, and on what conditions?
  2. Trace the process of restoration as outlined in 3:21-4:4.
    What is meant by such phrases as ‘Break up your unploughed ground’ and ‘Circumcise yourselves to the Lord’? Cf. 9:26; Deut. 10:16; Rom. 2:28, 29.
  3. 4:5-31. A vivid picture of the approach of an invader from the north.
    What place does he have in the purpose of God?

Notes:

  1. 3:8. An allusion to the conquest of northern Israel in 721 BC by the Assyrians.
  2. 3:10. See Note on 3:4.
  3. 3:14. ‘Husband’. Cf. verses 19, 20 for similar mixing of metaphors from the family.

Jeremiah 2:1-3:5

A review of Israel’s backsliding from the beginning.

  1. According to this section, what are the components of backsliding?
    Compare Israel’s beginnings with her later condition.
    Is any of this story true of you? Cf. Gal. 5:7.
  2. 2:12, 13. ‘Living’ water means fresh water from an ever-flowing spring. Cf. 6:7; John 4:13, 14. What do the ‘spring of living water’ and the ‘broken cisterns’ stand for in spiritual experience? Do you take as serious a view of backsliding as God does?
  3. What evil results does Jeremiah say have already followed from the nation’s forgetfulness of God?

Notes:

  1. 2:10. ‘Kittim’ was Cyprus and western coastlands and ‘Kedar’ was a tribe east of Jordan. The verse means ‘search from east to west…’
  2. 2:16. ‘Memphis’ and ‘Tahpanhes’: cities of Egypt.
  3. 2:25. ‘Do not run thy foot bare, and thy throat dry in the eager pursuit of strange gods’ (Driver).
  4. 3:4. An allusion probably to the feigned penitence of many at the time of Josiah’s reform. Cf. 3:10; 2 Chr. 34:33.