“Lesson 134: Jeremiah 17–29,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)
“Lesson 134,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual
The Lord commanded Jeremiah to warn the people in Jerusalem that unless they repented, the city would be destroyed. Because of this preaching, Jeremiah was smitten and imprisoned by the people. He wrote a letter to the captives already in Babylon, warning them against false prophets and offering encouragement.
Before class, draw or display pictures of two landscapes on the board, one dry and parched and the other fertile with a river.
If you were to live in one of these locations, which would you choose? Why?
Explain that these landscapes could represent the spiritual condition of our lives. Invite students to consider whether the spiritual condition of their lives is more like a desert or a fertile valley or somewhere in between.
Invite students to look for principles in Jeremiah 17–29 that can make their lives richer and more fruitful, like the fertile landscape.
Summarize Jeremiah 17:1–4 by explaining that through Jeremiah the Lord told the people of Judah that they would be forced out of the promised land to serve their enemies elsewhere.
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 17:5–6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why the Jews would be cursed. Explain that a heath is a small, scraggly tree with a gnarled stem and needlelike leaves. Jeremiah used this gloomy-looking tree to make his point.
According to verse 5, what actions would bring about the curse of being like a scraggly tree in the desert? (Write students’ responses on the board under the image of the desert landscape.)
What are some examples of the behaviors listed in verse 5? How might doing these things be similar to living in a desert?
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 17:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s description of those who trust in Him rather than in man.
How did the Lord describe those who trust in Him?
What could the waters represent in this imagery?
Summarize Jeremiah 17:9–20 by explaining that Jeremiah prayed, expressing his hope in the Lord. The Lord told Jeremiah to stand at the gates of Jerusalem and preach to the inhabitants of the city. You may want to explain that in ancient times, the gates of a city were places where business was transacted and where laws were made and enforced.
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 17:21–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jeremiah was commanded to tell the people at the gates of Jerusalem.
What did the Lord command Jeremiah to tell the people?
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 17:24–25 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what would happen if the Jews kept the Sabbath day holy.
What did the Lord promise the Jews if they kept the Sabbath day holy? (He would preserve them and help them prosper.)
What principle can we learn from these verses about keeping the Sabbath day holy? (Students may suggest a variety of principles, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we keep the Sabbath day holy, then the Lord will preserve us and help us prosper. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board under the image of the fertile landscape.)
Ask students to read Jeremiah 17:27 silently, looking for what would happen if the Jews continued to break the Sabbath. Invite students to report what they find.
Why do you think honoring the Sabbath day in particular was so important for Jeremiah to teach to the Jews?
Bring to class a lump of soft clay. Invite a student to quickly form a pot out of the clay in front of the class. If you do not have clay, ask students to imagine they are creating a pot out of soft clay.
What can you do if you do not like the look of the pot you have just made?
Ask the student to start over and form another pot. Explain that the Lord used the art of making pottery to teach Jeremiah about the house of Israel. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Jeremiah 18:1–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what God taught Jeremiah.
Using the art of making pottery, what did God teach Jeremiah about the house of Israel?
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 18:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Jews needed to do so that God would reshape them into a mighty nation. You may want to draw students’ attention to verse 8, footnote b, and explain that God was not repenting; He was revoking the punishment.
If the Lord has warned a nation that it will be destroyed, what can the people do to be spared and reshaped by Him instead?
If we liken ourselves to the Israelites, what can we do to allow God to mold or reshape our lives? (Students may use different words, but make sure it is clear that if we choose to repent, the Lord can mold and reshape our lives. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board under the image of the fertile landscape.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for phrases that give them hope in the Savior’s ability to help them change for the better.
“The Lord explained to Jeremiah that when we make mistakes, as ancient Israel was making, we can take what we have marred and begin again. The potter did not give up and throw the clay away, just because he had made a mistake. And we are not to feel hopeless and reject ourselves. Yes, our task is to overcome our problems, take what we have and are, and start again.
“Some of you who are listening have sinned in ways that are significant, embarrassing, and destructive. Yet, by following the simple instruction given by the Master, you can talk with your bishop, when necessary, and begin again as a renewed person” (“Beginning Again,” Ensign, May 1982, 12).
Which teachings from Elder Pinnock offer hope that we can overcome our mistakes and change for the better?
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 18:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Jews’ response to Jeremiah’s message of hope.
How did the Jews respond to Jeremiah’s message of hope?
Summarize Jeremiah 18:13–23 by explaining that because the people rejected the words of the Lord, He said that they would suffer and be scattered. The Jews then plotted to harm Jeremiah. Though he mourned over their wickedness, Jeremiah asked the Lord to let the Jews suffer for their sins.
Display a hardened clay pot. If you do not have one, draw one on the board.
Explain that as recorded in Jeremiah 19:1–9, the Lord told Jeremiah to take a hardened clay pot to the valley of Hinnom, which was just outside of the walls of Jerusalem. In this valley was a place called Tophet, which means the place of burning. There some of the Israelites had built altars and sacrificed their children as burnt offerings to false gods.
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 19:10–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jeremiah was told to do in this valley.
What was the Lord trying to teach the Israelites by having Jeremiah break the clay pot?
Ask students to raise their hands if they have ever felt like others wanted them to change their standards or to stop talking about the gospel.
Summarize Jeremiah 19:14–20:6 by explaining that after Jeremiah preached in the valley of Hinnom, he declared his warnings in the court of the temple. The chief governor of the house of the Lord, Pashur, was angry with Jeremiah because of his message. Pashur smote him and imprisoned him by putting him into the stocks until the next day, but Jeremiah continued to warn about the Lord’s impending judgments.
Invite a student to read Jeremiah 20:7–9 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Jeremiah’s feelings during this time. You may want to explain that the word deceived in verse 7 means “persuaded” (see verse 7, footnote a).
Why did Jeremiah refuse to be silent even though at one time he wanted to stop declaring the Lord’s message?
What does it mean that the Lord’s word was like a “burning fire shut up in [Jeremiah’s] bones” (verse 9)?
What can we learn from Jeremiah’s example that can help us declare the gospel even when it is difficult? (Students may identify a variety of principles, but make sure it is clear that as our testimonies of the gospel deepen, our desire to do the Lord’s will increases. Using students’ words, write this principle on the board.)
Invite students to consider people they know who feel the Lord’s word like a fire in their bones. You may want to ask a few students to share how the people they thought of demonstrate this fire or testimony.
What can you do to gain this kind of testimony?
In what ways might this depth of testimony help you in the future as a missionary, parent, or Church leader?
Encourage students to act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost as they seek to deepen their testimonies.
Explain that as Jeremiah continued to preach to the people as recorded in Jeremiah 20–28, he specifically warned them about teachers and false prophets who told the wicked what they wanted to hear.
Explain that during Jeremiah’s day, in about 606 B.C., a select group of Jews was carried away captive to Babylon. In chapter 29, Jeremiah promised these captives that if they searched after God with all their hearts, they would find Him, and the Lord would hearken unto them (see Jeremiah 29:11–14).
Draw students’ attention to the images of the landscapes on the board. Encourage them to act on any promptings they may have received during the lesson and to follow the principles that will help them lead rich, fruitful lives.