“October 10–16. Jeremiah 1–3; 7; 16–18; 20: ‘Before I Formed Thee in the Belly I Knew Thee,’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Old Testament 2022 (2021)
“October 10–16. Jeremiah 1–3; 7; 16–18; 20,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2022
Record Your Impressions
At first, Jeremiah didn’t think he would make a good prophet. “Behold, I cannot speak,” he protested when the Lord first called him (Jeremiah 1:6). The Lord reassured him, “I have put my words in thy mouth” (verse 9). Jeremiah felt that he was an inexperienced “child” (verse 6), but the Lord explained that he was actually more prepared than he realized—he had been ordained to this calling even before he was born (see verse 5). So Jeremiah set aside his fears and accepted the call. He warned Jerusalem’s kings and priests that their pretended holiness would not save them from destruction. The “child” who thought he could not speak came to feel God’s word “in [his] heart as a burning fire” and could not be silent (Jeremiah 20:9).
Jeremiah’s story is also our story. God knew us, too, before we were born and prepared us to do His work on the earth. Among other things, that work includes something Jeremiah foresaw: gathering God’s people, one by one, to “bring [them] to Zion” (Jeremiah 3:14). And even if we don’t know exactly what to do or say, we should “be not afraid … ; for I am with thee, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:8, 19).
For an overview of the book of Jeremiah, see “Jeremiah” in the Bible Dictionary.
As you read in Jeremiah 1:4–19 about Jeremiah’s call to be a prophet, ponder the role of prophets in your life. What do you learn about prophets from the Lord’s words to Jeremiah? (see also Jeremiah 7:1–7). Jeremiah’s preaching was often rejected (see Jeremiah 20:8, 10). What do you learn from Jeremiah’s words in Jeremiah 20:9? Keep these thoughts in mind throughout your study of Jeremiah’s teachings. What do you find in these teachings that inspires you to follow our latter-day prophets?
Before Jeremiah was born, God knew him and chose him, or foreordained him, to fulfill a specific mission on earth (see Jeremiah 1:5). Why do you think it was valuable for Jeremiah to know this?
God also knew you before you were born and foreordained you to specific responsibilities (see Alma 13:1–4; Doctrine and Covenants 138:53–56; Abraham 3:22–23). What difference can this knowledge make in your life? If you have received your patriarchal blessing, you might prayerfully review it and ask God how to accomplish what He foreordained you to do.
In the arid region where the Israelites lived, people stored precious water in underground reservoirs called cisterns. Why would receiving water from a fountain be better than relying on a cistern? What does it mean to forsake “the fountain of living waters”? What do you think the “broken cisterns” mentioned in Jeremiah 2:13 might symbolize? As you read Jeremiah 2 and 7, notice how the people were forsaking the Lord’s living waters, and think about how you are receiving living water in your life.
Jeremiah 7 is addressed to those who were entering “the gate of the Lord’s house … to worship the Lord” (Jeremiah 7:2). Yet despite this outward appearance of devotion, they were guilty of great wickedness (see verses 2–11). What messages do you feel the Lord might have for you in verses 21–23?
When Jeremiah prophesied of the gathering of scattered Israel, he said it would be even more monumental than the Exodus from Egypt (see Jeremiah 16:14–15). In a similar spirit, President Russell M. Nelson said: “You were sent to earth at this precise time … to help gather Israel. There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that [gathering]. … This gathering should mean everything to you” (Russell M. Nelson and Wendy W. Nelson, “Hope of Israel” [worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018], supplement to the New Era and Ensign, Aug. 2018, 12, ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
As you study Jeremiah 3:14–18; 16:14–21, what inspires you about the latter-day gathering of Israel? What do these verses suggest about how that gathering happens? What additional insights do you find in the rest of President Nelson’s message cited above?
You could use this verse to talk about our life with Heavenly Father before we were born. Resources like “I Lived in Heaven” (Children’s Songbook, 4) and “Introduction: Our Heavenly Father’s Plan” (in New Testament Stories, 1–5) could help. How can knowing about our premortal life affect the way we live our mortal life?
Jeremiah 2:13; 17:13–14.
To help family members visualize these verses, you could demonstrate what happens when you put water in a cracked or broken container. What might the “fountain of living waters” and “broken cisterns” represent? (Jeremiah 2:13). How do we drink from the Lord’s living water?
President Russell M. Nelson has compared the fishers and hunters in this verse to latter-day missionaries (see “The Gathering of Scattered Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 81). Family members could “hunt” for objects around your home and talk about how you can help “fish” and “hunt” for scattered Israel.
To explore these verses, you might discuss or show how pottery is made. What message does the Lord have for Israel in Jeremiah 18:1–6? What does it mean to be clay in the Lord’s hands? (see also Isaiah 64:8). For another story that compares us to potter’s clay, see Elder Richard J. Maynes’s message “The Joy of Living a Christ-Centered Life” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 27–30).
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.
Suggested song: “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling,” Hymns, no. 7.