Lesson 135: Jeremiah 30–33
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“Lesson 135: Jeremiah 30–33,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 135,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 135

Jeremiah 30–33


The Lord revealed to Jeremiah that He would gather the house of Israel and make a new covenant with them. He instructed Jeremiah to purchase property in the promised land to symbolize the return of scattered Israel.

Suggestions for Teaching

Jeremiah 30–31

In the last days, the house of Israel will be gathered and enter into a new and everlasting covenant with the Lord

Ask students if they prefer happy or sad endings in stories.

  • Have you ever wondered if your life will have a happy or a sad ending?

  • What would be a happy ending to your life? A sad ending?

Explain that the Lord sent the prophet Jeremiah to call Judah to repentance just before Babylon conquered Jerusalem and carried many of the Jews to Babylon. As a result, his warnings and prophecies often have a tone of impending doom. However, Jeremiah also knew what the future held for the Jews. Invite a student to read Jeremiah 31:17 aloud. Ask students to follow along, looking for what Jeremiah said the ending for the Jews in his day would be.

  • What does the phrase “there is hope in thine end” mean? (It means that there is hope for you in the future [see verse 17, footnote a].)

Invite students to look for truths in Jeremiah 30–31 that can give them hope for their future even if they experience trouble or gloom.

Explain that when the Israelites kept their covenants, the Lord blessed them in many ways, including giving them a promised land. However, when they broke their covenants, the Lord took these blessings away, and the people became separated from their promised land, or scattered.

Invite a student to read Jeremiah 30:12 aloud using the Joseph Smith Translation in footnote a.

  • What does the Joseph Smith Translation of this verse reveal about Israel’s condition? (While Israel’s condition of spiritual decay and physical bondage is grievous and difficult, it is not incurable or hopeless.)

Write the following verses on the board: Jeremiah 30:3, 7, 8, 10, 17; 31:3, 8, 9, 13. Divide students into pairs. Invite them to alternate reading these verses aloud with their partners, looking for what the Lord would do that would give the Israelites hope for their future.

  • What would the Lord do for scattered Israel? (Gather them back to their lands of promise.)

  • Do you think gathering to a certain geographical location is all the Jews would need to do to be healed from their spiritual wounds? Why or why not?

Explain that while Jeremiah referred to a physical gathering in the land of promise after the Jews’ exile in Babylon, there is another, even more important component of the gathering that he taught. Invite a student to read Jeremiah 31:31–34 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord would do as part of the gathering of Israel.

  • According to verse 31, what did the Lord say He would make with the house of Israel? (A new covenant with them.)

Explain that the word new in this context means that God’s covenant—the fulness of the gospel—would be revealed anew to the house of Israel. While God had previously established His covenant with their fathers, the patriarchs, over time some of the components of this covenant had been lost, such as the Melchizedek Priesthood, the higher law, and the fulness of temple ordinances. Jeremiah foresaw the day when the house of Israel would at last accept God’s new and everlasting covenant (see History of the Church, 1:313–14).

  • According to verse 33, what relationship will the house of Israel be in when they accept God’s new and everlasting covenant? (Jehovah will be their God, and they will be His people.)

Explain that anciently, the Israelites struggled with keeping God’s covenant and living His laws with all their hearts. Invite students to reread verse 33, looking for words or phrases that describe what would have helped Israel to live God’s laws.

  • What do you think it means to have God’s law “in [our] inward parts” and written in our hearts (verse 33)?

Explain that when God’s law is written in our hearts, we desire to live the gospel with all our hearts and are truly converted to it. We obey God because we love Him, rather than for external reasons like wanting others to think we are righteous.

  • According to verse 34, what is a result of living the gospel with all our hearts? (After students respond, write the following principle on the board: If we keep our covenants and live the gospel with all our hearts, we will come to know God.)

  • How has living the gospel of Jesus Christ helped you come to know Him better?

To help students understand this principle, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what Elder Nelson taught about living the gospel and keeping our covenants.

Nelson, Russell M.

“When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. …

“The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter” (“Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 88).

  • According to Elder Nelson, what do people who have covenanted with God do in the midst of adversity? (Remain steadfast.)

  • How are the rewards of keeping your covenants related to your future and having a happy or sad ending?

Ask students to ponder how they can better keep their covenants and live the gospel with all their hearts. Invite them to make any corrections or adjustments that will help them live the gospel in this way.

Jeremiah 32–33

Jeremiah purchases property in the promised land to symbolize the return of scattered Israel

Ask students to ponder whether they have ever said, “It is just too hard.” Consider inviting a few students to share why they have felt that way.

Invite students to look for a principle in Jeremiah 32–33 that can help them if they ever feel discouraged.

Summarize Jeremiah 32:1–15 by explaining that King Zedekiah had Jeremiah put in prison because Jeremiah prophesied that the king would be taken captive and Jerusalem would be conquered by the king of Babylon. While Jeremiah was in prison, his cousin came to him and asked him to buy property in their family’s ancestral homeland, which was near Jerusalem. The Lord revealed to Jeremiah that purchasing this land was a symbolic witness that the Jews would someday return from captivity and possess the promised land once again (see Jeremiah 32:15, 43–44).

Summarize Jeremiah 32:16–44 by explaining that as recorded in verses 16–25, Jeremiah prayed to God and recounted many of the miracles He had performed in giving the promised land to the children of Israel. Verses 26–44 record the Lord’s response to this prayer. Invite students to silently read Jeremiah 32:17, 27 and compare the way in which Jeremiah began his prayer with the way in which the Lord began His reply. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • Why might it have been comforting for Jeremiah to receive confirmation that nothing is too difficult for the Lord? (Help students understand that Jeremiah may not have known how the Lord would restore the Jews to their homeland, but since he had a testimony that nothing is too difficult for the Lord, he knew it could be done.)

Point out that there are people today who feel lost spiritually and believe it would be too difficult for them to ever return to Heavenly Father and experience a happy ending.

Write the following phrase on the board: Regardless of what we have done or how lost we may feel, the Lord can …

Explain that the Lord described what He would do for Israel. Divide the class in half, and assign one half to read Jeremiah 32:37–42 and the other half to read Jeremiah 33:6–8. Invite them to look for phrases that describe what the Lord would do for scattered Israel. (You may need to explain that the phrase “I will cause the captivity of Judah and … Israel to return” [Jeremiah 33:7] means that God will gather the house of Israel.)

After sufficient time, invite students to write on the board the phrases they found, along with the verses in which they appear. Some phrases they may find are:

“Gather them” (Jeremiah 32:37)

“Cause them to dwell safely” (Jeremiah 32:37)

“Bring upon them all the good that [He has] promised them” (Jeremiah 32:42)

“Cure them” (Jeremiah 33:6)

“Build them” (Jeremiah 33:7)

“Cleanse them from all their iniquity” (Jeremiah 33:8)

“Pardon all their iniquities” (Jeremiah 33:8)

Invite students to select one or two of these phrases and use them to complete the partial phrase on the board in their own words. For example, they could adapt the phrase “cure them” to write the following truth: Regardless of what we have done or how lost we may feel, Jesus Christ can heal us. Or they could adapt the phrase “cleanse them from all iniquity” to write the following truth: Regardless of what we have done, Jesus Christ can cleanse us. Suggest that students write their statements in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite a few students to share with the class why the truth they wrote is meaningful to them if their feelings are not too personal.

Point out that the phrases on the board describe what the Lord can do for each of us.

  • What do we need to do so that Jesus Christ will do these things for us? (Help students understand that the Savior is able to do these things for us as we repent and come unto Him by living His gospel.)

Ask students to ponder how they may need to repent or more fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Invite them to act on the promptings they receive so the Savior can give them hope in their future and help them be happy. Consider sharing your testimony of the Savior’s desire and ability to build, cleanse, heal, and pardon us.

Conclude by reading Jeremiah 33:10–11, 14 aloud. Invite students to follow along, looking for words and phrases that confirm how the story will end for the house of Israel. Consider sharing your testimony about the principles discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Jeremiah 30:7–12. The Lord will gather Judah and Israel in the last days

Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that there is both a physical component (a gathering to a certain geographical location) and a spiritual component to the gathering of Israel. This spiritual component includes making covenants with God and living His gospel.

“Why was Israel scattered? … They were scattered because they turned from the Lord, worshipped false gods, and walked in all the ways of the heathen nations. They were scattered because they forsook the Abrahamic covenant, trampled under their feet the holy ordinances, and rejected the Lord Jehovah, who is the Lord Jesus, of whom all their prophets testified. Israel was scattered for apostasy. …

“What, then, is involved in the gathering of Israel? The gathering of Israel consists in believing and accepting and living in harmony with all that the Lord once offered his ancient chosen people. It consists of having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, of repenting, of being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and of keeping the commandments of God. It consists of believing the gospel, joining the Church, and coming into the kingdom. It consists of receiving the holy priesthood, being endowed in holy places with power from on high, and receiving all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, through the ordinance of celestial marriage. And it may also consist of assembling to an appointed place or land of worship” (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [1985], 515; see also Book of Mormon Student Manual [2009], 70–71).

Jeremiah 31:9. “Ephraim is my firstborn”

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that Ephraim became the birthright son of Joseph:

“It is well understood by Latter-day Saints that the birthright … was placed upon the head of Joseph by divine revelation. Joseph was the eldest son of Rachel and … the most worthy son of Jacob. …

“For reasons which we do not understand for the history of those events is very brief, this authority came down through the lineage of Joseph’s second son, Ephraim. It was Ephraim who was called to occupy the position held by his father, and he is spoken of in the scriptures as the firstborn in Israel” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 3:162).

“Ephraim was given the birthright in Israel (1 Chr. 5:1–2; Jer. 31:9), and in the last days it has been the tribe of Ephraim’s privilege first to bear the message of the Restoration of the gospel to the world and to gather scattered Israel (Deut. 33:13–17; D&C 64:36; 133:26–34)” (Bible Dictionary, “Ephraim”).

Jeremiah 31:31–34. “A new covenant”

Joseph Smith made the following observations concerning the covenants between God and His chosen people:

“This covenant has never been established with the house of Israel, nor with the house of Judah, for it requires two parties to make a covenant, and those two parties must be agreed, or no covenant can be made.

“Christ, in the days of His flesh, proposed to make a covenant with them, but they rejected Him and His proposals, and in consequence thereof, they were broken off, and no covenant was made with them at that time. But their unbelief has not rendered the promise of God of none effect: no, for there was another day limited in David, which was the day of His power; and then His people, Israel, should be a willing people;—and He would write His law in their hearts, and print it in their thoughts; their sins and their iniquities He would remember no more.

“Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and His proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them, ‘Lo, we turn unto the Gentiles;’ and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in from whence the chosen family were broken off: but the Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God, but have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the Saints, and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established [see Isaiah 24:5]; and have become high-minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family. …

“And now what remains to be done, under circumstances like these? I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people … in order that they may enjoy the Holy Spirit of God to a fulness and escape the judgments of God … Repent of all your sins, and be baptized in water for the remission of them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance of the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may receive the Holy Spirit of God; and this is according to the Holy Scriptures, and the Book of Mormon; and the only way that man can enter into the celestial kingdom. These are the requirements of the new covenant” (in History of the Church, 1:313–15; see also Old Testament Student Manual: 1 Kings–Malachi, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 256).