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Scripture

Jeremiah 20:7-9

Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

 

 

Observation

Jeremiah lived in the small village of Anathoth which was about five kilometres outside Jerusalem, in the land of Benjamin. He came from a priestly family who would have lived close to the temple and he would have been able to see the walls of the city from the village.

He was a prophet whose ministry stretched for forty years. He was a kind, gentle man whom God called to deliver His words of condemnation over Judah. Jeremiah did not have an easy time but he displayed tremendous courage and faithfulness in delivering God’s word to the straying people of Judah. However, he did not see great results as a result of God’s message. He was often discouraged and had to face great opposition during this time.

He was called to His ministry in the eighth year of the reign of Josiah, the king who introduced great reform in Judah. This would place the call of Jeremiah at about 632 BCE. Jeremiah began his campaign to purify Israel from idolatry and return back to God. Both the king and the prophet served God together, although their work did not produce favourable results. They opened every door for Judah to return to God and avoid the punishment which Jeremiah told them would be delivered by the Babylonians.

Jeremiah had had a personal encounter with the Lord when he was a young man. Young as he was, the Lord wanted to him to know that He had called even before he was born.

Jeremiah had objected. He was too young for such work, he said. God had dismissed his protest straight away. A person’s youth does not prevent them from serving God and being used by Him.

David was a boy when he killed Goliath; Timothy was a young man when he followed God’s call and was encouraged by Paul to do so. Jeremiah and any other young person could be used by God in His service.

Although Jeremiah was reluctant and shrank from his work again and again, suffering persecution as a result of his message, he found he could not hold back from speaking the words of warning God gave him to speak to Judah. His ministry lasted through the reign of several kings and life became increasingly challenging for him. He did not go to Babylon with the exiles, but was allowed to stay in Jerusalem. In the end he was taken to Egypt against his will by a group of exiles who fled from the city to Egypt for their own safety.

During this particular time of Jeremiah’s ministry, he had delivered God’s message to the people, warning them that the Babylonians would completely conquer Judah. As a result he had been beaten and placed in the stocks, but even when he was released he continued to speak out against Pashur, the priest and governor. In fact, he told Pashur that he would die in Babylon.

Jeremiah 20:7-9

The scene now changes to a moment when Jeremiah speaks to God alone. He says he never looked for this work, or even wanted it, yet God was stronger than he was and His will had prevailed. As a result,

Jeremiah had been beaten and mocked for the message he gave and he was in despair. He had been faithful, giving the same message for so long, yet it had not been fulfilled and so people ridiculed him.

He had often considered giving up, or softening the message. It is interesting to note that Jeremiah’s objections to God were never expressed in public. He gave the people the impression he was strong and unswerving in his position as God’s messenger. Only when he was alone with God did he express his despair and the tension his position produced in him.

He would have like to have given up. Yet he couldn’t. His message came from God and the words burned in his heart like fire. It took great energy to hold it back to the extent that he found he was unable to do so. His call was irreversible and he could not hold back God’s words. He found that silence was worse than the suffering that God’s message brought him as he delivered it.

Icebreaker:

When did you last do a jigsaw? What size was it? Was it complete? Why did you do it? How did you feel when you finished it (or gave up)?

Application

  • How do you feel about being a ‘piece of a jigsaw’ (that is part of the Body of Christ) whose work for God will not be complete if you do not fulfil your part in it?
  • Jeremiah pays a high price for following the calling God placed on his life. What does it cost you to follow your own calling? How do people respond to you when you do? Have you ever faced persecution (from family, friends, colleagues, strangers) when you do so? Where are the pressure points which discourage you?
  • Several questions were asked during the sermon. Spend some time together thinking them through
    now:
    – If you were to face a tribunal in regard to your calling, would you be found guilty of a zealous heart? Why/why not?
    – What angers or excites you to feel and act in compassion?
    – What do you love to do?
    – If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do for God?
  • In response to your answers to the above questions, how has your personal mission been clarified, and how are you encouraged to follow God’s call on your life?
  • How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?

Prayer

Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group. Pray for all those facing persecution as they follow God’s call on their lives, for the courage, strength, perseverance and faith they need to continue in their work for Him.

Service

What can you do for God this week that will make a difference to the lives of those around you? Take at least one step towards fulfilling God’s calling on your life for the benefit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Encourage and support one another, especially those of you for whom this is a new concept, to do this during the week. Report back to each other next week.

Bibliography

Jeremiah Chapter 1

Jeremiah Chapter 20

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