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!
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!)
- 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?
- 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?
- God’s Solution
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Our Superior God
- Read Jeremiah 10:1-2. What are “signs in the sky” that
terrify people? (These are eclipses and other unusual
- 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?)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- Read Jeremiah 10:6-7. Who is like God? (No one.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- What should we do in situations like this?
(Read Jeremiah 10:24. We need to pray that God
will “correct” the situation.)
- The Risk
- 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.)
- 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?
- Read Jeremiah 26:7-8. What third alternative did the
people choose? (To silence Jeremiah by killing him.)
- 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.)
- Read Jeremiah 26:9. How would you feel if you were
Jeremiah – people surround you yelling that you must die?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Jeremiah 26:12-15. Does Jeremiah seem to be afraid?
(He speaks boldly!)
- 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.)
- 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?
- Next week: Josiah’s Reforms.