Lesson 9

Jeremiah's Yoke

(Jeremiah 16, 27 & 28)
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Introduction: When you are uncertain of God's will, what do you do? Pray, right? Study to see if the Bible gives direction, right? Do you examine yourself in case your personal preferences might be interfering with your search for God's will? "I am willing to do God's will, as long as God's will is to do what I want to do!" I'm certain this has been a problem in my life in the past. While God is flexible in the paths our lives can take, our greatest blessing comes from taking the path He has in mind. Our lesson this week demonstrates that if we truly want to understand God's will, we can. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Single

    1. Read Jeremiah 16:1-4. Why does God tell Jeremiah not to get married and have children? (Because they will be killed by disease, sword or famine.)

      1. I recall wondering what kind of life my children would face. Now I ask what kind of life my grandchildren will face. If you decide the future is too terrible, should you simply not get married?

        1. If you were Jeremiah, would you consider this another burden laid upon you by God or another mercy shown to you by God? (There are studies about the loss of money and the loss of physical things. People regret twice as much losing something, then not having it in the first place. I'm not sure how that translates to children, but I would rather not have children then to see them die terribly.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 16:14-15. In the midst of this bad news, what hope does God give the people? (That God will restore them to their land.)

      1. Why does God do this? Why give this message of hope? (It shows that God still loves them.)

    3. Read Jeremiah 16:16-18. God says that He will repay them "double." What do you think this means? (God says that the penalty is worse than the sin. Perhaps God is aware of the mental attitude about losing things. Thus, He says you will regret what you have done because the loss will feel twice as bad.)

      1. This "repay them double" opens a portal into God's thinking. God says that He is aware of the proportionality of the sin and the penalty. Is this something that human judges take into account? (Yes. I think the goal is to make the penalty for the crime proportional to the crime itself.)

      2. Christians who understand the Bible realize that they are saved by grace, not by their works. ( Romans 8:1-4.) That means that a "good person" who does good things will be lost and die eternally if he does not accept Jesus' sacrifice on his behalf. What do many Christians believe is the fate of those who are lost? (An eternity suffering in hell.)

        1. Does this make any sense for a God who considers the proportionality principle? You have a "good" person who resisted the impulse of the Holy Spirit, and that person burns for eternity? (That seems completely disproportionate.)

  2. Dueling Prophets

    1. Read Jeremiah 28:1-4. Is this a message of hope? (Absolutely!)

    2. Read Jeremiah 28:5-9. How should we react to a prophecy that tells us good things will happen?

      1. Is there a double standard here? If so, why? (Jeremiah says that if you prophesy peace, you will be tested by whether that turns out to be true. I think all prophets are tested by the truth of what they predict. Jeremiah's point seems to be that if you predict what you don't want to have happen, that has the ring of truth. If you predict what you want to have happen, what your audience wants to have happen, you are more likely making it up.)

    3. Read Jeremiah 27:1-2 and Jeremiah 27:12-15. What does that tell us about the clash between the message of Jeremiah and the message of Hananiah? (They are in direct conflict.)

      1. What object lesson has God given Jeremiah to support God's message? (An actual yoke. Jeremiah is wearing a yoke.)

      2. Put yourself in the place of the audience. What would you think about a guy who was wearing a yoke? (Part of me would think he was mentally unbalanced. Another part would think that he was very serious about the message, otherwise he would not be suffering wearing a yoke.)

    4. Read Jeremiah 28:10-11. Hananiah is now the one using an object lesson. What gives Hananiah the right to destroy Jeremiah's property? What gives him the right to interfere with Jeremiah's message?

      1. What does this tell us about Hananiah? (He is not in favor of free speech! It certainly makes things hard for the audience. Who is telling the truth about the message from God?)

      2. What did Jeremiah do after Hananiah broke the yoke he made? ("Jeremiah went on his way.")

        1. Is that what you would have done? This guy is lying about God's message, he is lying about the message God gave to you, and he is endangering lives. (I would have felt like punching Hananiah, or at least yelling at him. But God tells us to leave vengeance in His hands.)

    5. Read Jeremiah 28:12-16. How does God react to such aggressive behavior by a person who is making up his message? (Read Jeremiah 28:17. Hananiah dies.)

      1. What do you think, was Hananiah just lying and he knew it? Or, was Hananiah deceiving himself that he was sharing God's will? (Read Jeremiah 28:15. Jeremiah calls what Hananiah is saying "lies." That suggests that Hananiah knew his statements were false, but I've seen people who I thought believed their own lies.)

      2. Why didn't God tell Hananiah personally to stop proclaiming lies, instead of sending that message through Jeremiah? (This shows Hananiah had no connection with God.)

      3. Does God still "remove from the face of the earth" those who preach rebellion against Him? (Yes, I think so. I recall a horrible comic who would regularly attack God. He loved to mock God. At the time I heard him say these things I wondered how long God would permit this. A few years later, I read that young comic died.)

    6. If we put our self in the audience listening to Jeremiah and Hananiah, we worry that we might be deceived. Was it possible for the people to know who was lying and who was telling the truth? (We already have Jeremiah's "tip" that if a prophet is saying what we want to hear (and what he wants to say), that should make us cautious.)

      1. Read 2 Timothy 4:3-4 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. Whose fault is it that these people believed lies? (Their fault. They want to believe lies. Jeremiah's message was not simply that destruction was coming, it was coming because of the past sins of the people. Those sins involved, among other things, worshiping false gods. These people had already decided to disregard God's will, and Hananiah just facilitated their continued rebellion against God's will.)

      2. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15. Notice that Paul tells the people they have historically held onto the truth and they should continue to do so. What other important factor does Paul mention? (The "sanctifying work of the Spirit." We must never lose sight of the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal truth to us.)

    7. Read 1 John 4:1. Does this describe the problem presented by Hananiah? (Exactly.)

    8. Read 1 John 4:2-3. John gives us a test that we can use to sort out false prophets. Would this test have worked with Hananiah? (John writes specifically about acknowledging Jesus. But, I think the theory behind the test still works. If Hananiah recognized and followed false gods along with the true God, then he would flunk the theory behind this test.)

    9. Read Romans 12:2. What other test does Paul suggest? (If your mind is transformed and renewed by the Holy Spirit, you will be able to tell what is God's will.)

    10. Friend, God wants us to understand His will. Part of His love for us is that He is on our side. If we sincerely seek His will, we will find it. Why not ask the Holy Spirit right now to remove any barriers to our understanding of God's will?

  3. Next week: The Destruction of Jerusalem.


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Lessons on Jeremiah

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