Jeremiah 34–52

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 183–184


Introduction

Jeremiah 34–52 is a continuation of Jeremiah’s prophecies against Judah and its leaders, for which he was persecuted and imprisoned (see Jeremiah 34–38). These prophecies were fulfilled when Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. Many Jews were taken captive to Babylon, while some escaped to Egypt and took Jeremiah with them (see chapters 39–45).

Like other Israelite prophets, Jeremiah prophesied about the gentile nations surrounding Israel. He began with a prophecy against Egypt in the west (see Jeremiah 46), then moved eastward, prophesying against Israel’s closer neighbors (see Jeremiah 47–49), and concluded with prophecies against Babylon in the east (see Jeremiah 50–51). Egypt and Babylon were the two main powers that vied for control of Jerusalem during his ministry.

The book of Jeremiah concludes with details of Jerusalem’s captivity and destruction (see Jeremiah 52). For more information, see Bible Dictionary, “Jeremiah” (p. 711).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

Jeremiah 34–52. The Lord reveals the future to His prophets to prepare and bless those who will listen. (40–60 minutes)

Ask students if they have ever heard of people seeking advice about the future from fortune-tellers, psychics, astrologers, and such. Ask:

  • What has the Lord declared regarding such practices? (see Deuteronomy 18:10–14).

  • What helps has the Lord given us that are superior to those false practices? (Prayer, scriptures, patriarchal blessings, and especially prophets.)

Tell students that some of Jeremiah’s prophecies predicted events so far into the future that many people did not live long enough to see them fulfilled. However, many of his prophecies were fulfilled during his lifetime. Because prophecies are given according to the foreknowledge of God, we can have confidence that they will all be fulfilled.

Have students read Jeremiah 34:1–3; 37:1–10; and 38:17–23 and list what Jeremiah said would happen to Jerusalem and her leaders. Tell students how King Jehoiakim responded to Jeremiah’s prophecies (see Jeremiah 36:1–7, 14–16, 20–26). Read Jeremiah 36:28–32 and ask what the Lord told Jeremiah to do.

Read Jeremiah 37:1–2, 15–21; 38:1–6 with your students and have them list how King Zedekiah and his princes reacted to Jeremiah’s prophecies. Ask:

  • What do those verses teach about Jeremiah and about prophets in general?

  • What difficulties do you think modern prophets face as they do the work of the Lord? (for example, see D&C 122).

The people of Jeremiah’s day largely rejected his counsel and warnings. Read Jeremiah 39:1–9 (and Jeremiah 52 if you wish) with your students and review what happened to Jerusalem and to King Zedekiah. Ask: How close is what happened to what Jeremiah predicted?

Encourage students to consider how the decisions they make or have made will affect what happens to them later.

Tell students that even amidst all that tragedy there was a positive example shown. Have them read Jeremiah 38:7–13 and find out who came to Jeremiah’s rescue when he was starving in the dungeon. Have them read Jeremiah 39:15–18 and compare what happened to Ebed-melech, the gentile servant who believed the prophet, with what happened to Zedekiah, the Jewish king who rejected the prophet (see Acts 10:34–35). Explain that the Book of Mormon tells us that not all of Zedekiah’s sons were killed when Jerusalem fell (see Omni 1:14; Helaman 8:21).

Tell students that even after Jerusalem fell, people still had trouble following the prophet’s counsel. Write the following questions on the board or on a handout:

  • What did Johanan and the others want Jeremiah to do?

  • What did they promise Jeremiah and the Lord so that it would “be well with them”?

  • What did the Lord tell them through Jeremiah?

  • What was their reaction to that counsel?

  • How did Jeremiah end up in Egypt?

Read Jeremiah 42:1–43:7 with your students and have them raise their hands whenever they hear an answer to one of the questions on the board. Then call on a student to answer the question.

Ask students:

  • Why do you think people ask the Lord for guidance and then don’t follow it when it comes?

  • What may happen to those who willfully disobey the Lord’s counsel?

Have students read Jeremiah 44:21–30 and see if their predictions for those rebellious Jews were correct.

Ask students to write a paragraph or two about what they have learned about Jeremiah and following the prophet.

Note: If you have time you might want to study all of chapter 44 with your students. This chapter is a good example of how people rationalize their disobedience.

Jeremiah 49:7–39. The Lord accepts the repentant but punishes the rebellious, regardless of their family line or nationality. (20–30 minutes)

Ask students:

  • Where would you most like to travel if money or language skills were not barriers?

  • Are there some countries you would consider best to avoid? Why?

  • What are some ways we can learn about other countries?

Tell students that they are going to learn about several other countries that existed during the time of Jeremiah, look at the righteousness of the people of those countries, and look for what Jeremiah prophesied concerning them.

Assign groups of students the following scripture passages, which correspond to famous places of Jeremiah’s day:

If possible, give each group a current map of the world or display a large world map on the board.

Have each group read their passage and find the name of the place discussed in the verses. Then have them use their Bible index of place-names to locate that place on one of their scripture maps. Have them find the corresponding place or country on the current map and answer the following questions:

  • Was the prophecy concerning those people favorable or unfavorable?

  • What destructions did Jeremiah prophesy would come upon them?

  • Does the scripture say that those people were wicked or righteous?

Invite a member of each group to share what they found with the class. Have each tell what country Jeremiah prophesied against in their passage and point to that place on the current world map. Tell students that each of the prophecies was fulfilled exactly as Jeremiah prophesied.

Apply this lesson to today by discussing our world. Ask students:

  • What blessings can come to an entire nation?

  • How is missionary work and the placement of modern temples a testimony that the Lord is trying to bless all the peoples of the earth?

  • Are all peoples equally eager to receive His blessings?

  • What can we do to help spread the gospel throughout the world?