Lesson 7

The Crisis Continues

(Jeremiah 9, 10 & 26)
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Introduction: If you are a parent of adult children, was there a time when you did not know what to do to help your children? I had those times. If you are a church leader, do you have times when you do not know what to do to solve church problems? Even as a child, there were conflicts that I could not resolve in my family. What do we do in situations like that? The first answer is to turn to God for help! But, does God, as our heavenly Father, also face situations like that? Does God have a difficult time solving the problems of His children because He gives us free-will? Jeremiah continues his warnings to God's people in our study this week, but in his warnings we get some insight in how to resolve what seem to be impossible problems. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Conflicted


    1. Read Jeremiah 9:1. Have you ever looked at a public fountain and thought that maybe it should have been sculpted to look like your head? (That never crossed my mind! But, Jeremiah is thinking about it.)


      1. Why is Jeremiah having such unusual thoughts? (He is very sad about those who have died because they did not follow God's word. Fountains have lots of water, and he uses this symbolism (think about last week's lesson) to show how much he would like to cry about this great loss.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 9:2. What other thoughts does Jeremiah have about his people? (He would like to haul them out to the desert and leave them there!)


      1. Does this seem a little inconsistent to you? On the one hand Jeremiah weeps for his people, and on the other hand he would like to abandon his people in the desert. Have you ever had those kinds of thoughts about people you know?


    3. Read Jeremiah 9:3. Jeremiah complains that the people lie, they engage in all kinds of sins, and they do not acknowledge God. If these were your children, would you both cry for them and want to leave them in a desert?


  2. God's Solution


    1. Read Jeremiah 9:7. What is God's solution for these people? I asked you how you would react if your children were like the people Jeremiah described? (As a parent, I've been uncertain about the right thing to do at times. I love the fact that God says, "What else can I do?" What God does is to "refine and test" them.)


      1. What do you think it means to "refine and test" the people? (God brings hardships to His people - or at least He allows the hardships to come.)


      2. How would this apply to our children? (At some point we need to let our children experience the results of their poor decisions - and pray to God that the damage will not be permanent.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 9:23-24. What is God's goal for His people? (They will boast about knowing and understanding God, and not boast about being smart, rich or strong.)


      1. This worries me a bit. How would you go about boasting that you know and understand God? Have you heard people claim to speak on behalf of God and you think, "That's not the way I understand God?" Are not humans absolutely inadequate to understand the mind of God? (I think the answer is in the text. We boast about God's kindness, justice and righteousness. God delights in exercising these virtues. This is much different than arrogantly claiming to know exactly how God thinks.)


      2. How we should apply this instruction to solving problems in our family and our church? (We may not know what we should do (other than pray), but as representatives of God, we can be confident in representing God as being kind, just and righteous. God delights in being kind, just and righteous! That is a great message about God.)


  3. Our Superior God


    1. Read Jeremiah 10:1-2. What are "signs in the sky" that terrify people? (These are eclipses and other unusual events.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 10:3-5. How stupid is it to worship an idol? (Very. God says you made it, it cannot stand up straight, or walk or talk. Why would you expect to be protected by something that cannot protect itself?)


      1. Notice the last few words of verse 5: "They can do no harm nor can they do any good." Have you ever heard that some people fear some sort of idol curse? (God says you have nothing to fear.)


      2. What is the modern equivalent of this? As I've pointed out before, no one I know hacks down a tree, carves it, and then worships it. (God's logic extends to anything created by humans. If you depend on what another human has done, as opposed to depending on God, you are in the same logical problem.)


    3. What do you think about the difference between making your own idol and being worried about signs in the sky? (One seems stupid, on a very fundamental level. The other is a fear of things not understood. We need to turn to God for understanding.)


    4. Read Jeremiah 10:6-7. Who is like God? (No one.)


      1. Is God entitled to our worship? (Yes! "This is Your due." Those who do not believe in God are fools. They deny God what is due to Him. They also fear things they do not understand.)


    5. No doubt all of what we have just discussed in these last few questions is obvious to you. Why is Jeremiah writing about it? (Because it is not obvious to God's people. They are depending on trees and other things they have made.)


      1. What does this suggest to us about the difficulty of solving problems in our families and our churches? (Some people have no common sense. The answer is obvious about worshiping a tree. No doubt the answer to many problems in the family and the church are also obvious, but God and Jeremiah have to deal with those who cannot see the obvious - and so will we. Other problems may arise from irrational fears.)


        1. What should we do in situations like this? (Read Jeremiah 10:24. We need to pray that God will "correct" the situation.)


  4. The Risk


    1. Read Jeremiah 26:1-3. What is God's hope? (That when the people hear what Jeremiah has to say on God's behalf, that they will turn from their evil.)


    2. Read Jeremiah 26:4-6. God gives the people options. Turn from sin and be saved from disaster, or continue in sin and become an object lesson. What do you think you would do if faced with those clear alternatives?


    3. Read Jeremiah 26:7-8. What third alternative did the people choose? (To silence Jeremiah by killing him.)


      1. Let's revisit our problem-solving discussion. When you tell the truth about solving a problem in the family or the church, will things always go well for you? (Clearly not, as Jeremiah shows. But, you have to be sure that you are speaking for God.)


    4. Read Jeremiah 26:9. How would you feel if you were Jeremiah - people surround you yelling that you must die?


    5. Read Jeremiah 26:10-11. What is the charge against Jeremiah that is worthy of death? (He said bad things about the future of Jerusalem.)


      1. What do you think about the logic of those charges? (The issue is not truth, but whether I'm offended by what you say. We have this same problem today. People do not really care about truth, because truth is whatever you believe is true. Instead, the issue is whether someone is offended by what you said.)


    6. Read Jeremiah 26:12-15. Does Jeremiah seem to be afraid? (He speaks boldly!)


    7. Read Jeremiah 26:16. Does this encourage you? (It seemed that these people were just hopeless. But, Jeremiah speaks boldly and the people are convicted of their sins. No doubt the Holy Spirit is at work.)


    8. Friend, when we face problems that we do not know how to solve, we should turn to God for the solution. God tells us that in the midst of problems we can tell others that He is kind, just and righteous! Will you turn your problems over to God?


  5. Next week: Josiah's Reforms.

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Lessons on Jeremiah

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