To encourage class members to participate in God’s great latter-day work and to have his law written in their hearts.
Suggested Lesson Development
You may want to use the following activity (or one of your own) to begin the lesson.
If you could have witnessed or participated in any story or event in the Old Testament, which one would you choose? (You may want to write class members’ responses on the chalkboard.)
Why would you like to have witnessed or participated in this event?
What is happening in the Church today that might be comparable to some of the events you have chosen?
Explain that although Jeremiah had few messages of hope for the people of his day, he foresaw a time of hope during the latter-day gathering of Israel. This lesson discusses Jeremiah’s prophecies of the great latter-day gathering that we are participating in today.
Scripture Discussion and Application
As you teach the following scripture passages, discuss how they apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. Jeremiah foresees the latter-day gathering of Israel.
If the story of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is not mentioned in the attention activity, explain that it is one of the most miraculous events in the Old Testament. It is referred to in the book of Jeremiah and in other books of the Old Testament, as well as in the Book of Mormon.
Many generations later, Jeremiah saw visions of a latter-day event that the Lord said would be as great as the Exodus (Jeremiah 16:14–16; 23:3–8). What event is described in Jeremiah 16:15 and 23:3? (The gathering of Israel and the growth of the Church.) Who are the shepherds spoken of in Jeremiah 23:4? (Priesthood leaders and other Church leaders.) Who is the King spoken of in Jeremiah 23:5–6? (Jesus Christ.) Why do you think these events are as great as the Exodus?
Elder LeGrand Richards said that the fishers and hunters described in Jeremiah 16:16 are missionaries of the Church (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 143; or Ensign, June 1971, 98–99). What do fishers and hunters have in common with missionaries? (See Matthew 4:18–19.) How can we be more effective missionaries?
2. God will write his law in the hearts of his people.
The children of Israel relied on Moses to receive revelation for them during their sojourn in the wilderness. What great longing did Moses express in Numbers 11:29? (He wanted the people to learn God’s law and learn to listen to the Spirit for themselves.)
As recorded in Jeremiah 31:31–34, what did the Lord promise to do in the latter days? (See also Ezekiel 11:17–20; 36:24–28; 2 Corinthians 3:2–3.) What does it mean to have God’s law written in our hearts? What must we do to have God’s law written in our hearts?
How is our behavior affected when we have God’s law written in our hearts? You may want to discuss how this helps us obey specific commandments, such as:
Loving our neighbors.
Honoring our parents.
Being morally clean.
Keeping the Sabbath day holy.
Choosing appropriate movies, television programs, books, and magazines.
Wearing modest clothing.
Selecting suitable music.
Joseph Smith was once asked how he successfully governed so many people. He said, “I teach the people correct principles and they govern themselves” (quoted by John Taylor, in Journal of Discourses, 10:57–58). How does this statement relate to having God’s law written in our hearts?
Jeremiah prophesied that 70 years after the people of Judah would be taken captive into Babylon, they would return to their homeland and once again live in harmony with God (Jeremiah 29:10–14; the fulfillment of this prophecy is discussed in lesson 47). According to Jeremiah 29:12–14, what can we do to draw close to God? What do the words call, pray, seek, and search imply about the attitude we should have as we strive to draw near to God? Invite class members to share experiences they have had as they have sought to draw close to God.
Bear testimony that we live in a time that Jeremiah and many other prophets have looked forward to with rejoicing. Encourage class members to participate in the gathering of Israel and to have the law of God written in their hearts.
Additional Teaching Ideas
The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use one or more of these ideas as part of the lesson.
1. Now is the time to repent
The Lord’s mercy is always extended to those who repent. However, people who postpone repentance may find it increasingly difficult to repent.
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “The man with accumulated and unforgiven wrong behind him may find all retreat cut off and his condition in the world hopeless; and he who recklessly cuts off every opportunity of retreat by the neglected evils of the past is most unfortunate. The daily practice, then, of seeking divine mercy and forgiveness as we go along, gives us power to escape evils” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 374).
2. Hearkening to the words of the prophets
3. Repeating the sins of previous generations
Jeremiah warned the Jews of his day that the sins they committed were the same sins for which past generations had been severely punished (Jeremiah 11:1–12). Why do you think Jeremiah’s generation would not learn from the sins of their forefathers, especially when the punishment for those sins was so clearly documented? How can we benefit more fully from lessons learned by previous generations of God’s covenant people?
4. The importance of trusting in God
In Jeremiah 17:5–8, what comparisons are made between people who trust in man and people who trust in God? How have you seen that these comparisons are accurate? How can we demonstrate our trust in God?
5. False prophets
Zedekiah was a king who wanted prophets to tell him what he wanted to hear. Consequently, many false prophets promised that Jerusalem would not fall (Jeremiah 28:1–4; 37:19). Today many false prophets come “in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15). What evidence is there that false prophets are among us today? What are some of the messages of today’s false prophets? How can we avoid being led astray by false prophets?