Explore the Bible Study: Exclusive

7:30 AM

Do you believe people take promises like “‘til death do us part,” “I solemnly swear to tell the truth,” or “I will defend the constitution of the United States" seriously today? These phrases indicate we are making a very exclusive and serious promise or covenant.  Sadly, when we observe the breaking of covenants and promises, it might cause us to question God about His justice. You will discover in the Explore the Bible Study: Exclusive, that Jeremiah asked God some hard questions when he observed the people of God breaking their promises to God.

Jeremiah asked God a hard question and God’s response related to the devastating impact when people reject the exclusive relationship God desires to have with His people. Let’s begin by examining Jeremiah’s question to God.

Is God just? – Jeremiah 12:1-4

Notice how Jeremiah approached God. He affirmed that God is righteous, but Jeremiah had some questions. We can learn from Jeremiah’s actions that it’s o.k. to ask God tough questions. He wants us to understand His work and His ways. Jeremiah needed a sense of peace because of what he was observing. He couldn’t understand how God was working.

Notice how Jeremiah expressed what he already knew about God. He emphasized the consistency of God’s nature and character.  God is perfect and can be trusted in every aspect of life. God also understands the questions we might have. He is not scared of them or intimidated by them. He wants us to bring them to Him.

Today, we probably know people who ignore God, yet prosper—even as we struggle to live godly lives. Sometimes such circumstances are difficult to understand, but we must remember that God remains in control. He does not always bring justice when we’d like, but He will bring it in His own timing. 

What do you know about God? Do you have similar questions for God as Jeremiah did? What additional questions might you ask God as you observe the actions of people today? 

When Jeremiah looked at the past and how God’s people had rebelled time and time again, he struggled. Now God asks Jeremiah a question. 

Can you handle the heat? – Jeremiah 12:5-6

Have you ever complained to God about others, and God in turn leads you to examine your own life first? What can we learn from God’s response to Jeremiah in this passage? How would God word this if He were talking to you?

The Lord’s response to Jeremiah is something we can apply when we are struggling: 

  1. He asked how Jeremiah could “compete with horses” when racing against human “runners” wore him out. Jeremiah’s new task would be as difficult as outrunning horses! God had promised Jeremiah His presence and protection, but He never promised the ministry would be easy. 
  2. This leads to a second response. If Jeremiah had struggled in a “peaceful land,” it would be very difficult to navigate “the thickets of the Jordan.”  The Hebrew wording suggests trust and security. God likened Jeremiah’s situation to a “peaceful” place, though Jeremiah disagreed. Jeremiah already had battled conspiracies (Jeremiah 11:21-23) and corrupt leaders (Jeremiah 6:13-14). But God’s response implied that his toughest situations were still ahead. 
  3. The Lord then reminded Jeremiah of facts he already knew; even his family had been “treacherous” toward him. Still, Jeremiah’s emotional pain was especially intense. Rejected at home and in Jerusalem, Jeremiah had few places of refuge.
  4. Finally, God warned Jeremiah not to base his confidence on them speaking well of him. The command implies that Jeremiah may have been trusting them—or was thinking about it. But God emphasized that while the people’s words seemed good or encouraging, they ultimately meant him harm.

With which of these responses to Jeremiah from God can you most closely identify? Do you wonder if you can “compete with horses”? Do you wonder if you can navigate the “thickets of the Jordon”? Has your family criticized or rejected you because of your commitment to the Lord? Do you base your confidence on people speaking well of you?

Next God responds to Jeremiah’s frustration with an expression of pain of His own. He sees His covenant people abandoning the exclusivity of their relationship with Him. It prompts God to tell Jeremiah how He feels about what He is observing.

When the relationship with God isn’t exclusive – Jeremiah 12:7-13

What feelings did God express regarding how the people had abandoned this exclusive relationship with Him? What broke His heart the most regarding the way they had abandoned him? How is His pain similar to Jeremiah’s pain that he has already expressed to God in the previous passages? 

We see in verse 7 the overall feelings of God toward His people. First, He “abandoned” His house, likely referring to God’s people in general. Second, God affirmed that He had “deserted” His inheritance. The wording here describes God’s people as His special portion or possession. Finally, God “handed the love of my life over to her enemies.” One can’t imagine God handing the love of his life over to her enemies. This sounds so painful for God to do, yet He had no choice.

Judah’s rejection of the Lord had led Him to reject them and leave them to the consequences of their sin. God had a special relationship with His people, but their disobedience would bring His discipline. God had invited the people of Judah into a special covenant relationship with Himself. They had rejected God, so He was forced to abandon them.

Advice When You Are Discouraged

Based on Jeremiah’s question and God’s response, what advice would you give to a believer who might be so discouraged that they are tempted to quit serving the Lord? How can we encourage one another to maintain a singular and exclusive devotion to the Lord while living in a sinful world?

The Lord’s description of His people as “the love of [His] life” is a beautiful statement, yet it is accompanied by sadness because of how God’s people abused this relationship. Consider how God views your relationship right now. Is He excited to say that you are the “love of His life,” or is He sad because of the way the relationship has been abused?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version

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LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

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