Introduction: “No good deed goes unpunished” is an old saying. In our
study this week, it seems that this saying dates back to the time of
Jeremiah! How many times has a religious leader suffered as a result
of doing God’s will? Those involved in evil do not want to be rebuked
or reminded of God’s will. No doubt the extent of the problem
sometimes increases because of a lack of tact and wisdom, but the
main problem is the underlying resistance against light by those who
love the dark (see John 3:19-21). Let’s dive into our study of
Jeremiah and learn more!

  1. Tingling Ears

    1. Read Jeremiah 19:1-3. If someone said that what he was
      about to tell you would make your ears “tingle,” would you
      wait and listen?

    2. Read Jeremiah 19:7. Do you have plans for your life? What
      will happen to the plans of those who live in Judah? (They
      will be ruined.)

      1. I’m going to take a wild guess that no one would like
        an animal to eat them when they die. What is the
        greater concern here? (No one who cares about you is
        left alive to bury you!)

    3. Read Jeremiah 19:8-9. How bad will things get in
      Jerusalem? (People will become cannibals – they will eat
      their own children.)

    4. Read Jeremiah 19:10-12. God has Jeremiah use a visual aid,
      smashing a jar, to convey His message to the people. Why?
      (Different people learn in different ways, but a visual
      aid helps people to understand and remember the message.)

      1. We have several references in these verses to
        Topheth. Read Isaiah 30:33 and 2 Kings 23:10 and tell
        me what kind of place this seems to be? (This is hell
        on earth. They created a big fire trench and then
        burned their children as a sacrifice to Baal and

      2. Are your ears tingling? Jeremiah says Jerusalem will
        become like hell on earth. How would you react if
        Jeremiah were speaking to you in this way?

  2. The Leaders’ Reaction

    1. Read Jeremiah 20:1-2. The ears of the religious leaders
      are tingling so much that they beat Jeremiah and threw him
      into some stocks. When I was in Williamsburg, Virginia, I
      tried out the wooden stocks they have in the colonial
      village. If you have experienced what it is like to be in
      stocks, tell me what additional problems you can imagine
      if you were beaten before you were put in stocks? (Read
      Deuteronomy 25:2-3. Stocks are very uncomfortable, and if
      I had just been flogged, it would make things far worse!)

      1. How do you explain what the religious leaders did to
        Jeremiah? (Violence is the response of those who are
        unable to put up a logical counter-argument.)

    2. Read Jeremiah 20:3-6. Has Jeremiah learned his lesson? (He
      tells Pashhur, the man who put him in stocks, that he will
      be terrorized (his new name means “terror on every side”),
      captured and die in Babylon.)

      1. What clue do we get about Pashhur’s special interest
        in what Jeremiah is prophesying? (The last line tells
        us that Pashhur is a false prophet who has been lying
        about Judah’s future. Now we see more clearly why
        Pashhur wants to hurt Jeremiah.)

  3. Jeremiah’s Reaction

    1. Read Jeremiah 20:7-8. How do you feel when people make fun
      of you? When they insult you? Imagine that people did not
      respect you, but instead daily ridiculed you. What kind of
      attitude about life would you have, especially if the
      ridicule was constant?

      1. Read Jeremiah 1:6-8. Recall this exchange between God
        and Jeremiah at the very beginning? What does
        Jeremiah mean when he says that God “deceived” him?
        (God told Jeremiah not to be afraid, that God would
        rescue him.)

        1. Has God deceived Jeremiah?

        2. If you say, “yes,” (or “maybe”), what does this
          suggest about Jeremiah’s confidence in the main
          message he brings to Judah?

    2. Read Jeremiah 20:9. Jeremiah has apparently tried to keep
      his mouth shut to avoid further abuse. Why is that a
      problem? (Doing God’s will is like a fire in him. He
      cannot hold God’s fire inside.)

      1. Have you experienced that? Doing God’s will seems so
        natural that you cannot refrain from doing it?

    3. Read Jeremiah 20:10. Is it just Jeremiah’s enemies who are
      making fun of him and opposing him? (Jeremiah writes “all
      my friends” are waiting for him to make a mistake.)

      1. Notice the friends are hoping that Jeremiah will be
        “deceived.” Didn’t Jeremiah just say ( Jeremiah 20:7)
        that he was deceived?

        1. Does this mean that Jeremiah believes his
          “friends” (who are really his enemies) will

    4. Read Jeremiah 20:11. How do you explain this confident
      statement in light of Jeremiah 20:7? (Jeremiah is human.
      He was beaten. He has been insulted and embarrassed. His
      faith wavered when bad things happened that he thought God
      would prevent. But now his faith strengthens.)

      1. How is the dishonor being heaped on Jeremiah
        different than the dishonor that will be experienced
        by his enemies? (His is temporary. Their dishonor
        “will never be forgotten.”)

        1. What lesson is there in this for us? (We should
          always take the “long view” in life. Things
          might not be going well for us at the moment,
          but God has promised to make everything right
          in the end.)

    5. Read Jeremiah 20:12. Will it make us feel better to know
      that the end for those who persecute us will not be good?
      (Read Luke 23:34 and Mark 11:25. Jeremiah may feel better
      asking for vengeance, but this is not the attitude to
      which God calls us.)

    6. Read Jeremiah 20:14-15 and Jeremiah 20:18. Is Jeremiah
      falling back into depression after his glorious statement
      of faith in Jeremiah 20:11? (Yes, now he says that he
      wishes he had never been born.)

      1. Read Jeremiah 1:4-5. God says that He knew Jeremiah
        “in the womb” and Jeremiah says he wishes he had died
        in the womb, rather than living the life of a
        prophet. What is the lesson for us? (Jeremiah sounds
        like he is deeply depressed. God’s servants may
        experience times when they are depressed. If you
        contemplate this, you may recall that Solomon was
        depressed (Ecclesiastes 6 & 9), Elijah was afraid and
        depressed (1 Kings 19), and David was afraid (1
        Samuel 21:12-13). God reveals this to us so that we
        will not think that we are the only ones to go
        through this kind of experience.)

    7. Read Jeremiah 21:1-2. Wait a minute! Who is now asking for
      advice? (King Zedekiah! Jeremiah is now being asked to
      inquire of God by the highest official of his country.)

      1. When you feel discouraged and afraid, how does it
        feel to have a very important person seek your help?

  4. Our Choice

    1. Read Jeremiah 18:1-5. Why does God tell Jeremiah that He
      will get the next message down at the potter’s workshop?
      (Once again, this is a visual aid to help understand God’s

    2. Read Jeremiah 18:6-10. What is the lesson for our
      understanding of prophecy? (We have a role to play in our
      future. Because God knows the future, I’m sure that some
      prophecy reflects God’s knowledge of the future and is not
      conditional. On the other hand, God tells Jeremiah humans
      can change what God announces by their behavior. At least
      some prophecy is conditional.)

    3. Friend, do you sometimes feel discouraged? If things are
      going poorly because of your own bad choices, God tells us
      that our future can improve if we follow His will. If
      things are going poorly because you have been following
      God’s will, and evil people are harming you, God says that
      He will take care of the problem and He will make it right
      in the future. The consistent theme is to follow God’s
      will. Will you decide, right now, to do that?

  5. Next week: Symbolic Acts.