Explore the Bible Study: Prepares

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I'm sure you have been asked at some point in your life to do something that you felt you weren’t skilled or qualified to do. How did you handle the situation? The Explore the Bible Study: Prepares, begins a new study of the book of Jeremiah and the prophet for which it is named. You will discover that he too was asked to do something for which he felt unskilled and unqualified.

God called Jeremiah to warn God’s people of how He would use Babylon to judge them, but the people largely ignored his warnings. Jeremiah’s ministry would continue for about 40 years (627-586 B.C.), and he served under 5 Kings until he was deported to Egypt and there probably died.

It’s in this context that you will discover, at the very beginning of God’s assignment to Jeremiah, that he felt he was asked to do something that he was not able to do. It’s out of this God-sized assignment that you will discover how God prepares His people to represent Him in this world. First, you will discover the plans that go into the way in which God chooses.

God Has a Plan and Chooses – Jeremiah 1:4-10

Here are some excuses believers might use when God prompts them to fulfill a certain plan: I can’t. I don’t know how. I don’t have time. I’m afraid. I can’t afford it. I won’t. I have better things to do with my time.

Jeremiah's response might be similar to ours had we been in his place. He said he was not qualified to serve as God’s prophet because he could not speak eloquently and was only a youth.

Can you imagine saying what Jeremiah said to God? Can you imagine someone protesting and offering excuses when God gives them an assignment?

Before we are too critical of Jeremiah’s response, perhaps we should examine our own responses to God. Maybe we have said something similar.

God said to Jeremiah 1:5 that “I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born. I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Yet, Jeremiah said he couldn’t do what God had planned for him! So God reminds Jeremiah about who is really in charge. He tells Jeremiah and demonstrates to him in Jeremiah 1:9-10 exactly why Jeremiah was going do what God said he was going to do. It wasn’t determined by Jeremiah’s capabilities or capacities but by God’s plans and God’s power.

God took Jeremiah’s life in a direction the prophet certainly had not expected. Jeremiah would not be proclaiming his own message. Rather, he would go to everyone and speak whatever the Lord commanded. The Lord told Jeremiah not to be afraid of anyone. The Lord promised to be with Jeremiah and to rescue him when he faced opposition. 

Do you find it difficult that the God who chose you and set you apart before you were formed in your mother’s womb can also give you the tools needed to fulfill those plans? What can you learn from this passage about how God works with you when you doubt Him?

The reality of who God is and His power and plans for us should be enough. Yet, we might struggle as did Jeremiah. That’s when God will remind you of who He is and give you the strength and capacity to join Him in fulfilling those plans. God will also show you His plans.

God Will Show You His Plans – Jeremiah 1:11-16

God used the visual of the almond tree blooming to remind Jeremiah that he could depend on God’s message. The almond tree was the first to bloom (typically around January). When people saw it blossom, they were reminded spring was soon to come. God used this object lesson to confirm to Jeremiah that God was in control. His promise to fulfill His word was even more certain than knowing that spring would come after the almond tree blossomed. 

As you strive to follow God, how can God’s Word serve as a reminder of God’s faithfulness? How can it help you when you face uncertainties?

God also showed Jeremiah a “boiling pot” that “tilted from the north to the south.” This vision pointed to God’s impending judgment against His people, including “all the clans and kingdoms of the north.”

The tilting of the pot symbolically indicated the direction from which disaster would come. The highway system leading from Mesopotamia came from the north of Israel and entered the land above the Sea of Galilee. Invading armies such as Assyria and Babylon came from that direction and would invade the land by coming down through the Jezreel Valley toward the south. The Bible mentions the Babylonians as the chief army, but other people such as the Arameans would join in Judah’s judgment (See 2 Kings 24:2).  These kings who led an element of the invading armies would set up their thrones at the city’s entrance on the day Jerusalem fell (see Jeremiah 39:2-3).

Notice in verse 16 the reason for judgement. Their “evil” was twofold. First, they “abandoned” God, and second, they turned to idols made with “their own hands.”

What form of “evils” would idols take today?

We are reminded in Romans 1:25 that we still live in a broken world where evil is pursued. People today still exchange “the truth of God for a lie,” and worship and serve “what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever.” This refusal leads to ongoing judgment and the final judgment when Christ returns.

Today, we are either committing idolatry or are dangerously close to it when we become obsessed with our own personal goals, successes, and material gains to the exclusion (or diminished priority) of love for God and acknowledging our dependence on Him. We are equally close to committing adultery when we replace God’s moral standards with our own standards that place us at the center of determining what is right and wrong.

Since believers have been appointed to proclaim the gospel, how should the fact that judgment is and will take place for those who refuse to repent, impact the way we respond to God’s assignments for us? 

We have the same assurance that Jeremiah had. We can depend on God and His Word as we face the task of calling people to return to God. But we also have the assurance, as Jeremiah did in Jeremiah 1:17-19, that God will prepare us and instruct us as to how we are to fulfill His plans. 

God Will Prepare You to Fulfill His Plans – Jeremiah 1:17-19

Notice the instructions Jeremiah received and how it might apply to us today:

  • First, we are to “get ready” – How can we get ready? Is it more “on-the-job” preparation or do we spend all our time preparing but never going?
  • Second, we are to “stand up” – How can we stand up today and proclaim the need for people to return to God?
  • Third, we are to “tell everything” – What is “everything”? Why might we be tempted to omit certain biblical things with people in our culture today?
  • Fourth, we should “not be intimidated” – In what ways might you be intimidated as a believer? Is it difficult or easy for you to intimidated? Notice the result God will cause if you are intimidated – “I will cause you to cover before them.”

Preparing For God's Plans

God didn’t stop with the instructions. He also gave Jeremiah (and us) a promise in Jeremiah 1:18-19: “Today, I am the one who has made you a fortified city, an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests, and the population. They will fight against you but never prevail over you, since I am with you to rescue you.” This is the Lord’s declaration.

God had made Jeremiah like a fortified city, with all the strength He needed to serve faithfully. He will do the same for you as you join Him in His work.  Like an iron pillar or bronze walls, God equipped Jeremiah and will equip you to stand strong and represent Him. 

Jeremiah’s life of obedience to God’s plans was not a cakewalk, and we should not expect anything different when we live for, follow, and share Christ. Jeremiah faced faithless kings and opposition from Judah’s governmental and religious leaders, as well as the general population. Yet we will discover in this study that Jeremiah continued to strive to fulfill the plans God had already set in motion as stated up front in Jeremiah 1:5

“I chose you before I formed you in the womb; I set you apart before you were born.” 

Many Christians give excuses for why they will serve the Lord later. But now is the time. God has promised to be with you and will provide all we need. Even when we seem to be standing alone, God calls us to represent Him faithfully.

What is the greatest challenge you find in this passage regarding God’s plan for you? How can hearing everything God said to Jeremiah help you overcome those challenges?

The Lord challenged His prophet to get ready. Jeremiah could not have imagined all that lay ahead of him, just as we cannot when we serve God. Following the Lord will take our lives on unanticipated journeys, but He will guide our steps through both blessings and challenges

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

Download Word Version

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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