Lesson 132: Jeremiah 1–6
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“Lesson 132: Jeremiah 1–6,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 132,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 132

Jeremiah 1–6


During the reign of King Josiah, God called Jeremiah, explaining that he was foreordained to be a prophet to the nations of the world and to preach repentance to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The people had forsaken the Lord and were worshipping other gods. Jeremiah prophesied that the people of Judah would suffer at the hands of an opposing nation as a punishment for their sins.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jeremiah 1

God calls Jeremiah as a prophet to preach repentance to the Southern Kingdom of Judah

Before class, write the following question on the board: What are some things you hope to do during your life? Invite students to write their responses to this question in their class notebooks or scripture study journals.

After sufficient time, invite several students who are willing to report to the class what they wrote. Ask students to ponder whether there are specific tasks they are meant to accomplish in their lives. Explain that God revealed to a prophet named Jeremiah truths about his mission on the earth. Invite students to look for truths in Jeremiah 1 that can help them understand their purposes on the earth.

Summarize Jeremiah 1:1–3 by explaining that in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah, who ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Jeremiah received a revelation from the Lord. Invite a student to read Jeremiah 1:4–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jeremiah learned about his relationship with God.

  • What did Jeremiah learn about himself and his relationship with God?

  • What can we learn about ourselves from the fact that God knew Jeremiah before he was born? (Students may use different words, but be sure it is clear that before we were born, our Heavenly Father knew us and we existed as His spirit children.)

  • According to verse 5, when did the Lord appoint Jeremiah to be a prophet?

Explain that Jeremiah’s experience of being ordained before he was born is known as foreordination. To help students better understand what foreordination means, share the following statement:

“The doctrine of foreordination applies to all members of the Church, not just to the Savior and His prophets. Before the creation of the earth, faithful women were given certain responsibilities and faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood duties. Although you do not remember that time, you surely agreed to fulfill significant tasks in the service of your Father. As you prove yourself worthy, you will be given opportunities to fulfill the assignments you then received” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference [2004], 70).

Write the phrase Before we were born, … on the board.

  • Based on what you have learned about foreordination, how would you complete this statement? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truth: Before we were born, we were given specific responsibilities and duties to perform during mortality. Consider writing this truth on the board.)

  • What are some of the responsibilities and duties that the Lord may have ordained His children to do in this life?

  • In what ways can we identify the specific duties or responsibilities we are to perform during mortality?

In response to the previous question, students may have mentioned receiving patriarchal blessings. You may want to invite students who have received patriarchal blessings to describe what they felt as they learned about some of their foreordained responsibilities and duties. (Students should not share specific details from their patriarchal blessings in a public situation like a seminary classroom; however, they may share their feelings about their blessings.)

Encourage students who have not yet received their patriarchal blessings to ponder what they should do to prepare to receive theirs.

The Individual Worth value experience number 2 in the Young Women Personal Progress booklet [(2009), 30] encourages young women to learn how to prepare to receive a patriarchal blessing. You may want to point out this experience to young women in the class.

Invite a student to read Jeremiah 1:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Jeremiah responded when he learned God had foreordained him to be a prophet.

  • How did Jeremiah respond to the Lord?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Jeremiah 1:7–10. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord promised to help Jeremiah.

  • Which specific promises might have been comforting for Jeremiah to hear? How might these promises have helped him?

  • According to verse 9, how did the Lord help Jeremiah overcome his concerns about speaking?

  • What can we learn from this experience about what the Lord will do for those He calls to His work? (Students may suggest a variety of principles, but make sure they understand the following truth: When God calls us to do His work, He will help us do what He has asked.)

  • What are some examples of the work the Lord has called us to do? When has the Lord helped you do the work He has called you to do?

Summarize Jeremiah 1:11–16 by explaining that the Lord revealed to Jeremiah that a nation would come from the north and inflict judgments on the people in consequence of their wickedness.

Ask students to imagine they are in the prophet Jeremiah’s position. Invite them to read Jeremiah 1:17–19 silently, looking for additional ways the Lord promised to help Jeremiah. Ask students to discuss what they found with a partner.

Jeremiah 2–3

The Lord declares the wickedness of Judah and Israel

Invite students to look at the chart “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance” at the end of lesson 102 and find “Jeremiah.”

  • Who else was preaching around the same time as Jeremiah?

Explain that Jeremiah, Lehi, Zephaniah, and Habakkuk were some of the prophets commanded to tell the Jews that they must repent of their wickedness or be conquered by another nation. Summarize Jeremiah 2:1–12 by explaining that the Lord declared through Jeremiah that His people had loved Him when He had delivered them out of Egypt and given them a promised land. Now, however, the people had gone astray by worshipping idols and had defiled the land.

Explain that the Lord then taught about the people’s spiritual condition using the image of a water container. Bring to class two containers that can store water, and ensure that one has a very large hole in the bottom. Hold up these two containers.

  • If you were going to store water, which of these would be more useful? Why?

Explain that the Lord referred to cisterns, or large containers that hold water, as He taught Jeremiah about the people’s weakened spiritual condition. Invite a student to read Jeremiah 2:13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the two evils the people had committed.

  • What two evils had the people committed?

  • Whom does “the fountain of living waters” represent? (Jesus Christ.)

  • In what ways is the Lord like a “fountain of living waters”?

Explain that the broken cisterns represented the false gods the Israelites had chosen to worship instead of the Lord.

  • What did the Lord teach about false gods by comparing them to broken cisterns that cannot hold water? (False gods do not have the power to help us or to satisfy our needs and desires.)

  • What can we learn from this analogy?

Explain that Jeremiah 2:14–3:5 records that the Lord taught that the people’s wickedness would bring them great sorrow and that the false gods they had chosen would not save or help them (see Jeremiah 2:28).

Summarize Jeremiah 3:6–11 by explaining that the Lord compared the kingdoms of Israel and Judah to two sisters. One sister (Judah) watched the other sister (Israel) refuse to listen to the prophets and saw her ultimately reject the Lord. As a result of this rejection, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians in the century before Jeremiah was born, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah had witnessed it. Invite a student to read Jeremiah 3:10 aloud. Ask the class to look for how the Lord described what Judah did after the destruction of Israel.

  • How did Judah respond after seeing Israel suffer for not turning to the Lord?

Invite a student to read Jeremiah 3:12–13, 22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord invited His people to do. (You may need to explain that the word backsliding refers to reverting to faithlessness, sinfulness, or slothfulness.)

  • According to verse 12, what did the Lord invite His people to do?

  • What doctrine of the gospel involves returning to the Lord from a sinful condition?

  • According to verse 22, what did the Lord promise those who repent and come unto Him? (Although students may use different words, be sure it is clear that if we repent and come unto the Lord with our whole hearts, He will heal our waywardness.)

  • How does the Lord heal us and help us resist temptations?

To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, testify that as we turn to the Lord with our whole hearts, He will help us to change and not repeat sins of the past. Invite students to consider sins in their lives they may need to be healed of, and encourage them to turn to the Lord.

Jeremiah 4–6

Judah will suffer at the hands of another nation for failing to repent

Summarize Jeremiah 4–6 by explaining that Jeremiah pled with the people to repent. He warned them about the consequences they would experience if they did not repent. Ask students to silently read the chapter headings for Jeremiah 5 and 6, as well as Jeremiah 5:25, looking for some of these consequences. Invite them to report what they find.

Explain that although God loves us and wants to spare us unnecessary pain, we bring pain upon ourselves when we sin. The Lord allowed the Israelites to suffer many of the consequences of their wickedness (see Jeremiah 2:17; 4:18; 7:19). However, He also promised that He would not allow the people to be completely destroyed (see Jeremiah 5:10, 18).

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Scripture Mastery—Jeremiah 1:4–5

To help students memorize Jeremiah 1:4–5, use the One-Word Race idea from the appendix. Challenge the class to say both verses of Jeremiah 1:4–5, one word per student at a time. Time the class, and give them multiple tries to achieve a target time. You may choose to repeat this activity several times during the week. After students have become familiar with the verses, invite them to recite the passage aloud. Remember that one key to memorization and scripture mastery is repetition.

Commentary and Background Information

Jeremiah 1. Jeremiah and the wickedness of the people

Jeremiah was born to a Levite family in Anathoth. His ministry began during the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah (approximately 627 B.C.) and lasted for more than 40 years. (See Bible Dictionary, “Jeremiah.”) This was a period of tremendous wickedness among the inhabitants of Jerusalem, where the Lord sent many prophets to warn His people “because he had compassion on [them,] … but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chronicles 36:15–16). Jeremiah preached alongside other prophets called to warn the people of Jerusalem, including Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Lehi (see 1 Nephi 1:4).

We can see further evidence of the wicked state of the people through Lehi’s and Nephi’s writings in the Book of Mormon. After Lehi obeyed the Lord and tried to warn the people about the destruction of Jerusalem, they “sought his life, that they might take it away” (1 Nephi 1:20; see 1 Nephi 1:18–2:2). Nephi also described their wickedness: “The Spirit of the Lord ceaseth soon to strive with them; for behold, they have rejected the prophets, and Jeremiah have they cast into prison” (1 Nephi 7:14). The people were degenerate and rejected the Lord’s compassion, which He manifested through the sending of prophets, and their wickedness left them to suffer the consequences without the Lord’s protection.

Jeremiah 1:5. “I knew thee”

Joseph Smith received a revelation that can help us better understand the significance of Jeremiah 1:5. In Doctrine and Covenants 93:29 we learn that “man was also in the beginning with God” (see also D&C 93:23). Therefore, when we read Jeremiah 1:5 we know that God knew Jeremiah before he was born because, like all of us, Jeremiah lived with God before this life. We can trust that God knew us before we were born and foreordained us for earthly missions.

Jeremiah 1:18–19. “I have made thee this day a defenced city”

This promise from the Lord to His newly commissioned prophet Jeremiah illustrates that He would fortify and strengthen Jeremiah against the onslaught of opposition he would face as he commanded the people of Jerusalem to repent. The Jews did not want to hear Jeremiah’s calls to repentance and warnings of destruction. The animosity, anger, and rage heaped upon him by the Jews could be compared to a city that is under siege. Nevertheless, the Lord’s promise is sure: “They shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, to deliver thee” (Jeremiah 1:19).

Jeremiah 3:22. “I will heal your backslidings”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles confirmed that the Lord wants us to turn to Him, even when we have been disobedient to His commandments: “Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we need to, that we can be helped if we truly want it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past” (“He Hath Filled the Hungry with Good Things,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 66).