Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in "Introduction to Jeremiah" 1/5 (Mixed)|
Introduction to Jeremiah: Part 1
Historical Setting and Overview:
Jeremiah lived in the closing years of Israel 's history before they were finally over run by the Babylonians and taken away into exile in Babylon .
Although king Josiah was generally a good king and some great things happened, he got into trouble in the last years of his life. The kings who followed him did nothing to turn the people back to God.
Eventually, following warning after warning, God allowed the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, to over run Israel and Jerusalem and take the people into captivity, first in 597BC when he simply took a number into captivity, and then in 587BC when he destroyed Jerusalem and took the rest into exile.
In this, the first half of the book of Jeremiah, we see the early years of his ministry as he brings warning after warning to the nation. In all of this there are many important lessons for us to learn, but it is important that we understand the overall historical context as shown above. Keep this in mind as you read Jeremiah.
THE APPROACH TO THESE STUDIES
Approaching the Book of Jeremiah:
Jeremiah isn't a very easy book to study if you are seeking to follow it through in chronological order, very simply because it isn't all in that sort of order. Some of it is, some isn't! So what is there?
A simple overall division of the book could be:
However, that is rather simplistic and within all those prophecies there is a lot of action which needs to be studied. So, as we consider the first 29 chapters, instead of trying to follow Jeremiah historically, we will adopt the thematic approach shown below. You will, no doubt, need to continually refer to the previous Introduction page to check the historical setting.
To help you take in what is happening, in this particular set of Studies, you will find a much enlarged Introduction to each subsequent Part, that follows the Recap page.
Themes in these Studies:
In the light of the above comments, the themes we will consider in this book are:
Part 1 : Jeremiah's Calling
In these first four Studies we will see the young man, Jeremiah, receiving his call from God, and the Lord testing him with his first two pictures.
Note especially the youth and the sense of inability of this young man, but also God's confidence in him and the reason for that confidence. It is true of us also!
Chapter: Jer 1
Passage: Jer 1:1-3
A. Find Out:
1. What was Jeremiah's father? v.1a
2. Where did he live? v.1b
3. What came to Jeremiah? v.2a
4. When did it first come? v.2b
5. Through the reign of how many kings? v.2,3
6. Until when did he keep receiving it? v.3b
In these opening verses we should note three important things.
First, Jeremiah's background: a son of a priest (v.1). His upbringing would have taught him much about the Lord. Soon he wasn't just going to know about God, but know Him personally. That is God's desire for each one of us, that we don't merely know about Him, but that we know and encounter Him personally.
Second, we see the kings during whose reigns he prophesied (v.2,3). Josiah was generally a godly king who sought to turn his people back to God. His sons who followed him were not the same! Jeremiah spoke to each of them and to the nation throughout their reigns.
Third, we note that he continued until the people went into exile into Babylon (v.3c) - a tragic time when God removed the people from their land in judgement. The people had not heeded Jeremiah's warnings which had come again and again, but that was not his responsibility, as we shall soon see. Jeremiah, like us, had to speak God's word; how they responded to it was up to them! Don't take on the responsibility for how others respond!
Chapter: Jer 1
Passage: Jer 1:4-10
A. Find Out:
1. When did the Lord say He knew Jeremiah? v.5a
2. When did the Lord say He had set him apart? v.5b
3. What had the Lord appointed him to be? v.5c
4. What was Jeremiah's one concern? v.6
5. Why did the Lord say he needn't be afraid? v.8
6. What did the Lord appoint him to do? v.10
In these verses the Lord calls Jeremiah and says that He has known him from the first moments of his being (v.4,5). This calling to be a prophet is not sudden, it has been in the mind of the Lord all along. Jeremiah can therefore rest in the knowledge that God is in sovereign control of his life.
In Eph 1:4 we are told “He chose us in him (Jesus) before the creation of the world” which means that WE who are Christians can know the same as Jeremiah: our lives are not an accident but are in the plans of God. We may not be clear what they are yet but we should be able to rest assured of His calling. This is a fundamental truth that we each need to receive: if I am a Christian, God knew me from before birth! (Read Psa 139:13-16 and ponder on Rom 8:28).
Jeremiah's worry was over his ability to do what was required of him (v.6). In this the Lord reassured him that: a) HE was with him (v.8) and b) He was putting His words in Jeremiah (v.9).
The ministry he would have would destroy evil unbelief and idolatry and build up faith and courage. It would also bring literal destruction as well!
Chapter: Jer 1
Passage: Jer 1:11-15
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord ask? v.11,13
2. What did Jeremiah say he saw first? v.11b
3. What did the Lord say He was watching to see? v.12
4. What did Jeremiah see the second time? v.13
5. What did the Lord say this signified? v.14
6. How would this happen? v.15
There are two things to be noted here: first what was happening to Jeremiah and second the meaning of the pictures.
First, as to what was happening: the Lord is testing Jeremiah to see if he is being observant. The Lord gives him a picture (v.11) and then sees if he has really taken in what is in it. With the branch, it is not just a branch but a branch of an Almond tree. With the pot (v.13) it is not just a pot but a pot tilting away from the north.
When the Lord gives pictures, He is careful about the detail, so we should be careful to take note of it as well. One of the marks of a prophet is that he listens and takes in all the Lord says.
Second, the meaning of the pictures. An Almond tree grew very quickly and so the Lord goes on to say that He is not just saying words, but He is saying things that are going to happen SOON, so He is keeping a watch to see it soon fulfilled (v.12). He then announces that He is about to bring judgement by using the people from the north (v.14). By using pictures the Lord will make it more memorable to Jeremiah. These two pictures will be the basis of all that is to come in his ministry.
Chapter: Jer 1
Passage: Jer 1:17-19
A. Find Out:
1. What was Jeremiah to do? v.17a
2. What was he to say? v.17b
3. What was he NOT to be? v.17c
4. How had the Lord now made Jeremiah? v.18a
5. Who was he to stand against? v.18b
6. Why would they not overcome him? v.19
Here we see the Lord instructing, warning and encouraging Jeremiah. First the Lord INSTRUCTS him only to say what he is told by the Lord to say (v.17a). That seems a fairly simple job doesn't it! The practical difficulty is to be sure that what we have heard IS, in fact, the Lord. However, having done that the very real temptation we must avoid is, in our enthusiasm, to add to it.
Second, the Lord WARNS him (v.17b) not to fear the people (that would be unbelief - believing the people are more powerful than Almighty God!), or the Lord would have to reveal Himself in such a way that Jeremiah himself would fear (God's greatness brings fear to all men). The fact that He warns Jeremiah not to fear indicates that there will be something to fear! When the Lord says He will give us grace, patience or whatever, it means we are going to need it! He explains that the leaders and the people will fight against him.
Third, the Lord ENCOURAGES him by saying that He, the Lord, had made Jeremiah very strong (consider the descriptions in v.18) and would also rescue him from anything they tried to do against him (v.19). We, similarly, need each of these things as we serve the Lord in our daily lives.
In these first 4 studies we have seen :
In the first half of this opening chapter, we have Jeremiah's BACKGROUND, probably being raised in a godly family. Second, we have his ENVIRONMENT, life in an unfaithful nation, with poor leaders. Next, we have his CALLING by God to say whatever God gave him. Finally we have his SENSE OF INABILITY and the Lord's encouragement.
In the second half of the chapter we have the Lord TESTING Jeremiah and then REVEALING HIS PURPOSES to Jeremiah. The Lord will share more with those who listen and watch carefully!
1. We need to be aware of the times in which we live
2. The Lord called us even before He made the world
3. The Lord teaches us with gentleness but firmness
4. The Lord promises provision & protection for those who serve Him
5. The Lord wants us to listen carefully to Him
1. Proclaim afresh the certainty of your calling if your KNOW you are a Christian
2. Thank the Lord that He promises that He will provide all you need, AS you seek first
3. Ask Him to help you to become a good listener and an observant watcher.