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Series Theme:   Studies in "Introduction to Jeremiah" 3/5  (Mixed)
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Introduction to Jeremiah Part 3 - Jeremiah's Action Parables


A. Why a Parable?


     A parable is a short story with one main message, like Jesus often told. An action parable is therefore, something acted out or something done that conveys a simple message. Often it will need a word of interpretation to go with it. Quite often when God is giving prophetic revelation He will give a picture to someone and then tell them the meaning of the picture. The reason He does it like this is because most of us think in picture form and that helps us to remember it that much better.


B. What we will see :


  In the studies in the next part we will see the Lord giving Jeremiah:

- something to DO with a linen belt

- something to WATCH in the Potters shop

- something to DO with a Pot

- something to MAKE and DO with an ox yoke

  In these cases Jeremiah had to:


- get understanding from the first two before he could convey it

- convey a message and then act for the benefit of others with the third one

- do something and convey a message to others to back up the action for

   the benefit of others


                       i.e. several different orders for using prophetic action pictures.


     In each instance Jeremiah will be bringing a warning. See what it is in each case. So, watch for the detail and watch for the message in each case.




Chapter: Jer 13


Passage: Jer 13:1-11     


A. Find Out:


1. What did the Lord tell him to buy? v.1

2. What was he to do with it? v.1

3. Then what was he to do with it? v.4

4. What happened to it? v.7

5. What was this to picture? v.9

6. What were the people like? v.10


B. Think :


1. Why do you think God wanted Jeremiah to DO something like this?

2. How had the belt first of all been a picture of Israel ?

3. What might Jeremiah have felt when he dug the belt up and saw it?


C. Comment :

     We now come to the first of a number of "action parables" where the Lord required Jeremiah to DO something which was then going to act as a picture of what the Lord wanted to say. Note here that the Lord looks not necessarily for our understanding but for our obedience. He will bring understanding in due time.

      In this action parable Jeremiah had to buy a belt and put it on - so that it was close to him. Having had it for some time he then has to go and find a place in the ground and leave it there - where it would obviously spoil. When Jeremiah was completely obedient the Lord told him the meaning of it all.

      The belt on Jeremiah was a picture of the relationship that God had designed Israel to have with Him, a picture of a close relationship. The spoiling of the belt, taken off and ruined in the ground was a picture of what was to happen to the nation.

     This very vivid picture would not be forgotten and as Jeremiah dug it up he possibly thought, "What a waste!". That would certainly be true of Israel as well, for they needn't ever have let it happen. There really was no need for them to be destroyed - IF they repented!


D. Application?

  Thank the Lord that He takes time to speak to us and teach us, knowing that we often need time to come to understanding.



Chapter: Jer 18

Passage: Jer 18:1-12


A. Find Out:    


1. Why was Jeremiah to go to the potter's house? v.2

2. What was wrong with the pot? v.4a

3. So what did the potter do with it? v.4b

4. What did this portray? v.6

5. When would the Lord relent over destruction? v.7,8

6. So what does He call Israel to do? v.11


B. Think :

1. What was the point of watching a pot being reformed?

2. How did the Lord say His mind could be changed?

3. Why was it pointless with Israel ?


C. Comment :

     In this next "action parable" instead of doing something himself, Jeremiah simply has to watch what another person is doing.

     First, note that the Lord wants him to see what is happening before He will give Jeremiah His message. Often the Lord wants us to have a clear visual picture before His word of explanation comes, so that we will remember it clearly.

     Second, note that the Lord is sovereign. He is as different from Israel as the potter is from the clay. He can do what he likes with the clay. He decides in His wisdom whether or not to reshape a nation.

     Third, God's dealing with a nation depends on how that nation responds to Him. He will not judge an evil nation if it repents. He will not bless a good nation if it turns to evil. God's dealings with nations are not arbitrary. It depends on the nation itself! In no way is this the picture of a capricious God who is hasty in His actions. It is the picture of God who waits for a nation to decide its own fate.

     Finally it is clear that every nation has a free will to choose its course, and Israel has chosen evil, and for that it will be destroyed. They have fixed their minds and will not change. The end is therefore inevitable destruction. They have chosen it!

D. Application?

1. Praise God that He is sovereign and almighty and deals with the nations

    as He will.

2. Pray for your own nation today.





Chapter: Jer 19

Passage: Jer 19:1-15   


A. Find Out:


1. What was Jeremiah to buy? v.1a

2. Who was he to take with him? v.1b

3. What message was he to bring? v.3c, 7-9

4. Why was the Lord doing this? v.4,5

5. What was Jeremiah then to do? v.10

6. Where would the destruction come? v.6,13


B. Think :


1. Summarise the order of events in this chapter.

2. Who was Jeremiah making sure heard God's word?

3. What effect should it have had on these men?


C. Comment :

     The Lord sets up yet another action parable. This time it is very much for the benefit of the leaders of Jerusalem , both spiritual and social leaders. The method of delivering this message should ensure it well and truly stays imprinted on their memories. They will never be able to say they hadn't heard, or that they forgot, that is how vivid this is.

     Jeremiah takes them outside of Jerusalem , into a valley just to the south that had been used for idol worship. There he first delivers the Lord's strong word of judgement that is coming because of the idolatry. Death is coming to this valley and to Jerusalem from the hand of God through their enemies who will lay siege to the city.

     Having delivered the message Jeremiah now smashes on the ground the clay pot he has bought with him. After his ringing, denouncing tones, the sound of shattering pot would further echo round the valley. The violence of it will stay with these men whether they like it or not! They will not forget this warning! To ensure they are still under no illusions, Jeremiah makes a final declaration of God's intent both there and back at the temple in Jerusalem . God has certainly made sure these people hear His warning again and again.


D. Application?

1. Do we need reminding when God's word of chastising has come?

2. Ask the Lord to help you retain and respond to His word at all times.





Chapter: Jer 27

Passage: Jer 27:1-11


A. Find Out:


1. To whom was Jeremiah to speak? v.3

2. What does the Lord say about Himself? v.5

3. What is he going to do? v.6,7

4. What will happen to those who refuse this yoke? v.8

5. Who were speaking against this? v.9

6. What will happen to those who wear this yoke? v.11


B. Think :

1. How has God's word gone "international"?

2. What is God's purpose for this whole area?

3. Who will be survivors?


C. Comment :

     We have now moved on to Zedekiah's reign when he is obviously getting together with the envoys from the surrounding kingdoms, perhaps to form an alliance against the Babylonians. The Lord takes this opportunity to bring a graphic picture to these men to take back to their masters.

    Jeremiah has to take and wear a yoke that was worn by oxen and show himself to these envoys and bring God's word to them. That word is shocking: God is going to make Nebuchadnezzar ruler over all of them, despite what their false prophets and mediums say. The Lord is obviously going to bring a uniform rule to this whole area, perhaps so that in the days to come when His people return to Israel they won't have opposition. God's word further says that He wants these nations to accept this "yoke", this being bound to the Babylonians, and if they won't accept this then He will bring death to them.

      This was quite a remarkable period of history when the Lord took one ungodly nation to chastise and rule over other ungodly nations. The Lord who is concerned to bring righteousness and blessing to His people, sometimes does it in what to us might seem unorthodox ways!

D. Application?

1. Thank the Lord that He is concerned with ALL the world.

2. Thank Him that he is working to bring righteousness and peace to the






RECAP - "Jeremiah's Action Parables" -   Jeremiah 13,18,19,27




In these 4 studies we have seen Jeremiah being told to:

- go and buy a belt and hide it in the earth

- recover the spoilt belt

  - understand this is a picture of what is happening to Judah

- go to the Potters shop and watch

- understand that the Lord reshapes nations like the Potter

   reshaped the pot

- understand that the Lord deals with nations according to how

   they respond to Him

- take the leaders out into the valley & declare God's purpose of destroying

   them and smash the pot as a visual confirmation of what He's going to do

- make and wear an ox yoke and tell the king and surrounding nations that

   they are to wear the yoke of Babylonian rule.



     The Lord conveys His intentions to the people through action pictures. He tells them that unless they repent and cease their sins he will ruin them as a belt is ruined if left in the ground, He will reshape them as a potter reshapes a pot, He will smash them as a pot dashed to the ground, He will put them under the yoke of Babylonian rule.

      The message is quite clear: repent or reap the consequences! Any questions???



1. The Lord understands that we need time to understand what he is saying

2. The Lord is sovereign and deals with the nations as He will

3. The Lord's judgement is strong if the people will refuse to heed His many warnings

4. The Lord is working to bring peace and righteousness to the world.



     Ask the Lord to help you have a wide view of the world and His working in it.