The Circumstances of the Prophet

Discovery for Students

The Circumstances of the Prophet

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Jeremiah 34:1 through 45:5

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.” (Jeremiah 36:3)

BACKGROUND

Following the message of consolation contained in chapters 30-33, the Book of Jeremiah resumes the biographical narrative of the prophet. Proclamations are woven around the circumstances of the prophet during a span of time from approximately 607 B.C. to 586 B.C. This text covers Jeremiah’s experiences just prior to the fall of Jerusalem (chapters 34-36), during the fall (chapters 37-39), and after the fall (chapters 40-45), although events are not presented in a strictly chronological order.

Judah had continued in a state of rebellion against God, with idolatry and heathen practices taking place in the land in spite of repeated warnings from God’s prophets. God had been faithful and patient with His people, but the time for mercy had expired. The city of Jerusalem had twice been invaded by the Chaldean army, and a majority of the people had been taken captive to Babylon, along with many of the Temple treasures. As these chapters begin, the final collapse of the nation of Judah was imminent. The last two fortified cities of Judah, Lachish and Azekah, were about to fall (Jeremiah 34:7). The terrible penalty for sin that the prophet Jeremiah had foretold was coming upon the people.

QUESTIONS

  1. Chapter 35 gives an account of the Rechabites, a nomadic people related to the Kenites and Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law. More than two hundred years earlier, their ancestor Jonadab had commanded his sons to stay away from any type of wine. How did God tell Jeremiah to test the Rechabites’s resolve to keep that instruction? How did they respond to this test? Jeremiah 35:2, 5-6
  2. In Chapter 36, God commanded Jeremiah to write down all the prophetic messages he had given, thus providing Judah with a written document that would reinforce his spoken words. In obedience, he dictated his pronouncements, and these were transcribed by Baruch, his faithful scribe. When King Jehoiakim heard the words of the book, he cut up the scroll and burned it. Yet he could not destroy God’s Word and God commanded Jeremiah to rewrite his words (see Jeremiah 36:27-28). What are some ways people may try to nullify or destroy God’s Word today?
  3. King Zedekiah sent word to Jeremiah asking the prophet to pray to the Lord for the land. What information contained in Jeremiah 37:1-3 reveals the reason why God would not bestow His blessing upon the people, even though it was requested? What spiritual truth can we derive from this?
  4. Jeremiah’s message of coming destruction angered the princes of Judah, and he was put into a dungeon — likely a narrow cistern designed to catch rain water. He would have died except for the intervention of Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian. This man was willing to risk his life by asking for Jeremiah’s removal from the dungeon. (See Jeremiah 38:7-13.) What are ways we may have to take a stand that will not be popular or may cause us damage to some degree? What will be the results of taking that stand?
  5. God had not forgotten His promise to the prophet (see Jeremiah 1:8), and Jeremiah was freed from his bonds when the Babylonians overthrew Jerusalem. He was allowed to choose to go to Babylon with the exiles, or to stay in Jerusalem to care for the remnant there. What did Jeremiah choose, and why do you think he made that choice? Jeremiah 40:2-6
  6. Johanan was leading the remnant after the assassination of Gedaliah, the governor in Judah. He, the captains, and the people came to Jeremiah and begged for the prophet to find the will of the Lord concerning their plans for the future. (See Jeremiah 42:1-3.) Yet God knew they were asking with deceitful hearts and had no intention of following His way. After Jeremiah told them God’s will, they went ahead and fled to Egypt against the Word of the Lord. What were the consequences of their action? Jeremiah 44:7-12  
  7. In chapter 44, Jeremiah made a final plea to the Jews in Egypt, but the people responded by saying they would do as they pleased (Jeremiah 44:17). They went so far as to say it was the heathen goddess they were serving who had blessed their lives with good in the past. These people were not ignorant of the God of Israel and His words to them. Based on this passage, do you think spiritual light can become darkness? If so, what causes that to happen?
  8. Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet because of his sorrow over the people’s rejection of God and the punishment that was coming upon the land. In the course of his prophetic ministry, he was beaten, ridiculed, starved, imprisoned, and forced to leave his homeland. Yet he was faithful to proclaim the word of the Lord. The people refused to listen or heed, yet Jeremiah kept on with his mission. What lesson can we learn from his life?

CONCLUSION

Jeremiah faithfully warned the people to turn to the Lord and obey Him. We can be encouraged to faithfully fulfill our call from God and leave the results to Him. That is all He asks from us.