The Conflicts of the Prophet

Discovery for Teachers

The Conflicts of the Prophet

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Jeremiah 26:1 through 29:32

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

BACKGROUND

It was common for Hebrew writers of this era to arrange the record of historical events under a theme, rather than in chronological sequence. These chapters are a collection of incidents and oracles from different periods of Jeremiah’s life, and show the reactions of the false prophets, the people, and leaders during Jeremiah’s ministry.

The leaders of Judah resisted the prophesies of Jeremiah because he brought bad news to them. His bitterest foes were the religious leaders of the nation. God reminded Jeremiah that he must preach the entire message from God, and to “diminish not a word” (Jeremiah 26:2). It would have been much easier for Jeremiah to soften his pronouncements. The pure message from God made Jeremiah sound like a traitor to Judah, for God had told the prophet to warn the people to submit to King Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon. God had ordained that Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Judah as judgment for sin.

False prophets were telling the leaders of Judah to resist captivity, and to join with other nations to fight against Nebuchadnezzar. Chapter 26 records how Jeremiah’s warning made the leaders of Judah so angry that they apprehended the prophet with the intent of killing him. However, certain of the elders intervened, and after the rehearsal of two historical examples, Jeremiah was spared.

In chapter 27, the prophet continued to urge the people to submit to Babylon. At God’s instruction, he used a yoke to portray the God-ordained captivity of Judah and her allies by Nebuchadnezzar. In chapter 28, the false prophet Hananiah contradicted Jeremiah’s words. However, God led Jeremiah to tell Hananiah that because he had taught rebellion against the Lord, he would die. Two months later, this prophecy was fulfilled — another demonstration of God’s judgment.

In the last chapter of our lesson, Jeremiah prophesied that God would bring the exiles back to Jerusalem after seventy years of captivity. This event took place shortly after Daniel was delivered from the lion’s den in 537 B.C.

Jeremiah was a faithful prophet. Instead of preaching what the people wanted to hear, he preached the truth, offering the only hope for Judah. The false prophets offered temporary comfort, with the consequence of long-term punishment. Jeremiah offered temporary correction but long-term benefit. Tragically, the people failed to heed Jeremiah’s warning.

SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS

  1. The first six verses of our text begin a message the Prophet Jeremiah was instructed to deliver to King Jehoiakim of Judah. What was the response to this message? (Jeremiah 26:7-9) What are some ways people today respond to warnings from God’s Word?

    The people of Judah were angry with Jeremiah for preaching the truth to them, and they seized the prophet, intending to put him to death.

    People today respond in various ways to the warnings of God’s Word. Your class may bring out that some respond by ignoring the message. Others fight actively against it by trying to mock or discredit it. They may even persecute the messenger, as happened in Jeremiah’s day. However, some respond by coming under conviction, and at times that conviction will lead to repentance.

    As Christians who have responded to the call of God to repentance, there will be times when the Word of God will reveal spiritual ground we need to cover. When we read God’s Word, listen to the preacher or Sunday school teacher, or converse with our parents or others in spiritual authority over us, it is important that we have hearts that are open to the whole truth, even if it is painful or challenging. Ask your class: What will be the indicators if our hearts truly are teachable and open to correction and instruction from the Word of God? Discussion will bring out such thoughts as a lack of resistance, a willingness to hear, and most importantly, obedient follow-through.

  2. In Jeremiah 26:18-24, the elders relayed historical accounts of two prophets of God. A number of years before, Micah had prophesied a similar message of destruction. Instead of harming Micah, King Hezekiah had called upon God for help and judgment was withheld. However, God’s Prophet Urijah prophesied destruction and he was put to death. What can we learn from these two accounts?

    Class response should bring out that we may not always obtain earthly deliverance from our persecution or trouble. In some cases God chooses to deliver. In other cases, His people will obtain a martyr’s crown. We don’t understand God’s ways, but we do know that He works all things for good to His chosen people. We can have peace, because the Lord will be with us in trouble or in prosperity, and whether we live or die. All that matters is that we are in His Hands.
  3. In Jeremiah 27:2-3, what did God tell Jeremiah to do as an object lesson for the people? What did his actions signify? Jeremiah 27:8,11

    God told Jeremiah to make yokes, which were wooden frames used to hitch teams of animals to plows. He was to place a yoke upon his own neck, and to send one to each of the kings God named. The yokes signified the bondage that Judah and the other kingdoms, allies of Judah, would be under from Babylon. They were warned that they should submit to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar. The nations that resisted would be punished by the sword, famine, and pestilence until they were consumed. The nations that submitted were promised life.

    You could amplify this point by asking your class for examples of object lessons God has used in their own lives or in the lives of others. You should be able to conclude that God is endlessly creative in the means by which He teaches us the lessons we need to learn.

  4. God alone sets up and brings down those in authority. In Jeremiah 27:5-7, He made it plain that He had ordained for Nebuchadnezzar to rule over Judah, and instructed the people to submit to his authority. In what ways should we submit to those God has placed in authority over us?

    God expects us to honor those who have authority over us. That is not to say we cannot disagree or oppose evil practices of governmental leaders in a respectful manner. However, we should show respect for the office, even if we do not agree with those who hold that office. Honor should also be given to parents, teachers, pastors, and other non-political leaders.

    Ask your class to mention specific ways that respect and honor should be shown. Some possibilities would be: speak about them in a respectful manner, pray for them, be mannerly, avoid criticism, be attentive, and be fair.

  5. The false prophet Hananiah resisted Jeremiah’s proclamation regarding Nebuchadnezzar and the armies of Babylon. He deceitfully told the priests and the people that the yoke of the king of Babylon would be broken, and that the exiles would return within just two years. What did Jeremiah say would happen to Hananiah as a result and why? Jeremiah 28:16-17

    Jeremiah told Hananiah that because he had taught rebellion against the Lord, and had made the people to trust in a lie, he would die within that year. This prophecy came to pass two months later.

    Ask your students how we can be sure a message is truly from God. Class discussion should bring out several guidelines. These may include the following:

    • We need to compare the message to Scripture. A message from God will always align with His Word.

    • We must consider the credibility of the messenger. Does his or her life bear witness to a connection with God?

    • Other godly people, especially those in authority over us, will concur.

    • Providential circumstances will confirm the message. Ultimately, there will be open doors rather than closed doors.

    • If we have any doubt, we can ask God for additional confirmation. He will be faithful to make Himself plain to us, if our hearts are open and honest.

  6. What specific commands did God tell Jeremiah to put in his letter to those in exile? (Jeremiah 29:4-6) How would these commands apply to us?

    The exiles were commanded to build houses and live in them, to plant crops and eat from them, to marry and have children, and to pray for the peace of their new country.

    God tells us to occupy until He comes. Just as the people of Judah were in a strange country, we are also pilgrims. We are to live, work, marry, have children, and pray for the peace of our land. However, just as the Jews kept their identity, we recognize that we are citizens of God’s Kingdom, and we want to maintain our identity as Christians in an ungodly world.

  7. In Jeremiah 29:11, God offered a message of hope, directing the prophet to announce that He had good plans for Israel and Judah, who would one day seek Him. What were God’s good plans for Judah? How can we apply that promise in our lives? Jeremiah 29:10-14

    God said that after seventy years, Judah’s captivity would be ended and the exiles would be restored to their homeland. You may wish to point out that this is one of those prophecies which has both a short-term and long-term fulfillment. In the end times, God will gather the Jewish people “from all the nations” (verse 14). At that time, not only will they return to their home in Jerusalem, but they will return home to the Lord, who will rule and reign over them and all the world in righteousness.

    God’s love and mercy toward Judah help us to understand that He also longs to bless us. He has a plan for each of our lives, and it is a very good plan. There is a wonderful future for us as we follow it. Class discussion should bring out that this does not mean that we will never experience pain, sorrow, or trials. Those are a part of life, but we have the hope of Heaven beyond this life. As we follow God to the best of our ability, and obey Him, we can be assured that God will see us through to a glorious eternity with Him.

  8. There is a key for answered prayer in Jeremiah 29:13. How do we search for the Lord with all of our hearts? What will happen as a result?

    Responses may include: Pray earnestly, study God’s Word, seek His will in our lives, do His will, mind the checks of the Holy Spirit, gather often in His House, keep a consecrated life.

    When we search for the Lord with all our hearts, He will be found of us, and all His promises will be ours.

CONCLUSION

As God instructed Jeremiah to not deviate from His words in spite of the opposition he faced, we also must never diminish or ignore what God has instructed us to do. It may not be easy or popular, but if we are faithful, we will receive God’s richest blessing.