Jeremiah 1–19

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 177–79


Introduction

In Jeremiah 1–19, the prophet laid a foundation for the prophetic and historical chapters that follow. Those first chapters tell of Jeremiah’s call and preparation and of his scathing denunciations of Israel’s wickedness.

Jeremiah not only contended with a rebellious people but also with many false prophets who openly opposed the word of the Lord. As you read these chapters, notice how Jeremiah continually tried to save his people, even though he knew they would not repent. Consider what we learn from his undaunted efforts (compare Mormon 3:12).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Jeremiah 1:1–11. In the premortal life, Heavenly Father foreordained Jeremiah to be a prophet. (20–25 minutes)

Write Jerusalem—about 600 B.C. on the board. Underneath, write Lehi and ____________. Have students read 1 Nephi 1:4.

Ask them what Nephi said about the number of prophets that were in Jerusalem when Lehi was there. Have them read

1 Nephi 7:14 and identify the prophet Nephi named there. Write Jeremiah in the blank space on the board.

Have students read Jeremiah 1:5 and tell what they learn about Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet. Ask:

  • Who called him to be a prophet?

  • When was he called?

Tell students that most people do not understand that we existed before we came to this earth. Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 365).

Ask students how they can find out what they may have been foreordained to do. (For example, they can live worthily, read their patriarchal blessings, fast, pray, and seek father’s blessings.)

Ask students to imagine that someone received a mission call but hesitated to accept it because he felt inadequate in the following ways:

  • I don’t know the scriptures very well.

  • I am still too young to leave home.

  • I am not a polished speaker—I wouldn’t know what to say.

  • I am intimidated by people.

Have students read Jeremiah 1:6 and find how Jeremiah felt about his call to be a prophet. Ask them if they can think of any other prophets or Church leaders who said they felt inadequate when they were called. Read verses 7–10 and discuss the following:

  • What did the Lord say to comfort Jeremiah?

  • What do we learn from those verses about the Lord’s prophets? (see the commentary for Jeremiah 1:6–10 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 235).

Invite students to think about feelings they had when they received a calling or assignment in the Church. Ask: Do you think the Lord knows us as well as He knows Jeremiah?

Help students understand that a person does not have to be called as a prophet to feel overwhelmed and inadequate. We can receive comfort in knowing that the Lord has promised to help all those He calls to serve in His kingdom. Speaking at the priesthood session of a general conference, President Thomas S. Monson said:

“If any brethren within the sound of my voice feel unprepared, even incapable of responding to a call to serve, to sacrifice, to bless the lives of others, remember the truth: ‘Whom God calls, God qualifies.’ He who notes the sparrow’s fall will not abandon the servant’s need” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 54; or Ensign, May 1987, 44).

weekly icon Jeremiah 1–19. Those who forsake the Lord for worldly wisdom and pleasures will find that their own wisdom cannot save them and that their sins will condemn them. (35–50 minutes)

Bring a bucket or jug with several holes in it to class. Pour some water into it and show students how it leaks. Ask: If the water symbolizes the gospel of Jesus Christ and the bucket or jug is symbolic of our lives, what do you think the holes represent?

Have students read Jeremiah 2:13 and look for how the people of Jeremiah’s day were like the leaky container in the object lesson. Tell them that a cistern is an underground reservoir carved in rock and used to store water from rain or a spring. A cistern produces no water itself, and a broken cistern cannot even hold the water the heavens provide.

Elder Marion D. Hanks said:

“The substitutions we fashion to take the place of God in our lives truly hold no water. To the measure we thus refuse the ‘living water,’ we miss the joy we could have” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 127; or Ensign, July 1972, 105).

Read Jeremiah 2:14–23 and ask:

  • What were some of the sins that made these people like broken cisterns?

  • How do you think the Lord’s chosen people could have become so wicked that they could not hold any of the living water of the gospel?

Write the following list on the board. Ask students to search the references and find what the groups have in common.

Have students read 2 Nephi 26:11 and Ether 2:9–10, and ask at what point the Lord removes a group of people from the earth.

Help students understand that the people of Judah were ripened in iniquity. Jeremiah chapters 2–35 are full of the prophet’s warnings to Judah to repent or be destroyed. Choose some or all of the following passages and have your students look in them for what Jeremiah warned Judah about: Jeremiah 2:5–8; 3:1–11; 5:1–8, 23–31; 6:10–15; 7:1–31; 9:1–9; 10:1–14; 17:19–27.

As you read those scriptures, make a list of some of the people’s sins, and discuss why the people did not repent (see the commentaries for Jeremiah 2–19 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, pp. 236–42).

Discuss the following questions:

  • How are the sins of our day similar to the sins of Jeremiah’s day?

  • Do you think the prophets and apostles today warn us the way Jeremiah warned his people? Why or why not?

  • What have the prophets warned us about recently in conference addresses or Church magazine articles?

  • How do people become so trapped in sin that change is no longer possible? (see the commentaries for Jeremiah 13:22–27 and 15:1–14 in Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, p. 240).

Encourage students to repair any leaks that might drain them of spiritual water by repenting of sins and heeding our prophet’s warnings.

Jeremiah 14–26. Satan sends false prophets to lead people away from the true prophets. (40–50 minutes)

Before class, make a hollow egg by using a pin or needle to make a small hole in the top and bottom of an egg and blowing through one of the holes. The inside of the egg will come out and only the outer shell will be left.

Show a whole egg and the hollow egg to your students, concealing the holes with your fingers. Ask them if they can tell any difference between the two eggs. Crack open both eggs, and point out that the important difference is on the inside.

On the board write A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Ask students:

  • What do you think this means?

  • How does it relate to the two eggs?

Have students read Matthew 7:15 and find who the Savior referred to as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Jeremiah had several encounters with false prophets. Copy the following charts on the board or on a handout. Include the scripture references but leave the answers blank. Have students search the references for the differences between true and false prophets.

Characteristics of False Prophets

Deuteronomy 18:20; Jeremiah 14:14; 23:16

They are not sent by the Lord.

Isaiah 30:8–10; Jeremiah 23:25–27, 32

They prophesy lies and say what the people want to hear.

Jeremiah 23:14

They lead adulterous lives.

Jeremiah 14:13

They offer false promises of security and peace.

Lamentations 2:14

They do not preach against sin.

Jeremiah 26:8–9, 11

They try to destroy true prophets.

Characteristics of True Prophets

Jeremiah 1:5–9

They are called by the Lord.

Jeremiah 18:7–10

They teach repentance and righteous living as the only true security.

Jeremiah 24:9–10; 2 Nephi 9:40

They prophesy the truth, even when it is painful.

Jeremiah 23:1–2, 11–13

They condemn false prophets and priests and preach against sins.

Jeremiah 20:4–6; 25:8–12

Their prophecies are fulfilled.

Ask students why it is wrong for someone who was not sent by God to claim to speak for Him. Have them search Deuteronomy 13:5; Jeremiah 14:15–16; and 23:9–40 and list what the Lord said about false prophets.

You may wish to have your students read the story of the confrontation between Jeremiah and the false prophet Hananiah in Jeremiah 28 as an example of how the Lord feels about false prophets (see also D&C 121:11–24). Discuss how we can guard ourselves against those who may be considered false prophets today and would destroy our faith in God.

scripture mastery icon Jeremiah 16:16 (Scripture Mastery). The missionaries the Lord calls today are some of the “fishers” and “hunters” Jeremiah prophesied about. (15–20 minutes)

Write the words fishers and hunters on the board. Have students explain what each does, what preparations and equipment are necessary, and how much effort, time, and concentration are required to hunt and fish.

Write the word missionaries on the board and draw lines from fishers and hunters to missionaries. Read Jeremiah 16:16 and ask:

  • What are some ways missionary work could be compared to fishing and hunting?

  • What skills do missionaries need to help them find, teach, baptize, and retain converts?

If possible, invite a returned missionary to discuss the experiences he or she had in finding those who were looking for the truth. Consider giving each student a copy of the following four statements and discussing them as a class.

Elder LeGrand Richards, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said:

“Where do you find those fishers and hunters that we read about in this great prophecy of Jeremiah? They are [the] missionaries of this church, and those who have preceded them from the time that the Prophet Joseph Smith received the truth and sent the messengers out to share it with the world. Thus have they gone out, fishing and hunting, and gathering them from the hills and the mountains, and the holes in the rocks” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1971, 143; or Ensign, June 1971, 99).

Elder L. Tom Perry, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“Now the demand for increased numbers of full-time missionaries is greater than ever before. And again we issue the call for every worthy young man to heed the voice of the prophet to serve as a full-time missionary. We call on you bishops and branch presidents to see that every worthy and able young man has an opportunity to go forth into the mission field. …

“President Kimball made the following statement regarding young women serving: ‘Many young women have a desire to serve a full-time mission, and they are also welcome in the Lord’s service. This responsibility is not on them as it is on the elders, but they will receive rich blessings for their unselfish sacrifice. The Lord is pleased [with] their willingness to bring souls to him’ (President Kimball Speaks Out [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], p. 30)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1992, 32; or Ensign, May 1992, 24).

President Howard W. Hunter said:

“Again and again during his mortal ministry, our Lord issued a call that was both an invitation and a challenge. To Peter and Andrew, Christ said, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’ (Matthew 4:19). We are in the work of saving souls, of inviting people to come unto Christ, of bringing them into the waters of baptism so that they may continue to progress along the path that leads to eternal life. This world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel provides the only way the world will ever know peace. As followers of Jesus Christ, we seek to enlarge the circle of love and understanding among the people of the earth. Earlier prophets have taught that every able, worthy young man should serve a full-time mission. I emphasize this need today. We also have great need for our able, mature couples to serve in the mission field. Jesus told his disciples, ‘The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest’ (Luke 10:2)” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 118–19; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).

President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

“Now I wish to say something to bishops and stake presidents concerning missionary service. It is a sensitive matter. There seems to be growing in the Church an idea that all young women as well as all young men should go on missions. We need some young women. They perform a remarkable work. They can get in homes where the elders cannot. …

“… The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve are united in saying to our young sisters that they are not under obligation to go on missions. I hope I can say what I have to say in a way that will not be offensive to anyone. Young women should not feel that they have a duty comparable to that of young men. Some of them will very much wish to go. If so, they should counsel with their bishop as well as their parents. If the idea persists, the bishop will know what to do” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 72–73; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 52).