“Unit 28: Day 1, Jeremiah 34–41,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 28: Day 1,” Old Testament Study Guide
Jeremiah prophesied to King Zedekiah that if the people of Judah surrendered to Babylon, they would not be destroyed. Previous to this, Jeremiah’s prophecies of the captivity of the kingdom of Judah were read to King Jehoiakim, who cut them up and burned them. Jeremiah had these prophecies written down again, and he added to them. Both Jehoiakim and Zedekiah refused to hearken to Jeremiah, and Judah was conquered.
Think of a time when someone told you something that you needed to hear but did not want to hear.
What are some ways you might respond in this type of situation?
What do you think you would do if a prophet taught something you did not necessarily want to hear?
In Jeremiah 34–36 we read that a prophet told the Jews things they needed to hear but did not want to hear. As you study these chapters, look for how the Jews responded to the prophet and for what we can learn from their actions.
In Jeremiah 34 we learn that Zedekiah, the king of Judah, and his people broke a covenant they had made to free all their servants, as they had been commanded in the law of Moses (see Deuteronomy 15:12). As a result, the Lord told Jeremiah that the people and their king would be put into bondage. Jeremiah 35–36 refers back to experiences Jeremiah had during the reign of Jehoiakim, who was the king of Judah before Zedekiah.
Read Jeremiah 36:1–3, looking for what the Lord told Jeremiah to do during the reign of Jehoiakim. (The phrase “all the evil which I purpose to do unto them” in verse 3 refers to the consequences that would come to the people because of their evil choices.)
According to verse 3, why did the Lord want the people of Judah to hear the consequences that would come to them because of their evil choices?
Imagine that one day you read a weather forecast in the newspaper, and the forecast reported that a severe storm was approaching your town. This forecast made you angry because you had already made plans to spend the day outdoors, so you tore the newspaper into shreds and threw it away. You then proceeded with your plans despite the weather report.
What effect would tearing up the newspaper have on the weather?
This example can be compared to King Jehoiakim’s response to Jeremiah’s prophecies.
In Jeremiah 36:4–19 we read that Jeremiah instructed his scribe, Baruch, to write down the word of the Lord as Jeremiah dictated it and then to go to the temple and read the words to the people. Baruch did so, and news of the reading reached several princes of Judah at the royal palace. They sent for Baruch and had him read Jeremiah’s prophecies to them. When they heard these prophecies, they became afraid and informed King Jehoiakim about them. The king had the scroll brought and read to him.
Read Jeremiah 36:22–23, looking for what King Jehoiakim did when he heard the prophecies. (You may want to mark what you find.)
What effect would cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s prophecies have on their fulfillment?
After the king burned Jeremiah’s prophecies, he ordered Jeremiah and Baruch to be arrested, but the Lord helped them avoid capture. Read Jeremiah 36:27–28, 32, looking for what the Lord then commanded Jeremiah and Baruch to do.
In Jeremiah 36:29–31 we learn that the Lord also told Jeremiah to prophesy to King Jehoiakim that Babylon would attack Jerusalem and that the king’s dead body would be cast out of the city (see also Jeremiah 22:18–19).
All of Jeremiah’s prophecies regarding Jehoiakim and the destruction of Jerusalem were later fulfilled. One of the truths we can learn from these verses is that the Lord’s words will be fulfilled, regardless of whether we believe in them.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why is it important for us to understand that the Lord’s words will be fulfilled even when we may not want to hear them or may not believe them?
How does this truth relate to what the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 1:37–38?
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What are some ways that fear might influence someone to go against what he or she knows is right?
Following Jehoiakim’s death, the Babylonians, who had conquered Jerusalem and put the kingdom of Judah under their rule, made Zedekiah king of Judah. As you study Jeremiah 37–39, look for how fear influenced King Zedekiah’s decisions and what the consequences were.
In Jeremiah 37–38 we learn that the Babylonian army again besieged Jerusalem but temporarily withdrew because of an approaching Egyptian army. Many of the Jews, therefore, wanted King Zedekiah to make an alliance with the Egyptians and rely on the Egyptian army to deliver them from the Babylonians. However, Jeremiah prophesied that the Egyptians would not save the Jews. He prophesied that if the Jews surrendered to the Babylonians, they would not be destroyed. This prophecy angered the Jewish princes.
Read Jeremiah 38:4, looking for what the Jewish princes (officers or rulers) wanted to do with Jeremiah. Consider marking why they wanted to do this.
In Jeremiah 38:7–16 we learn that Zedekiah secretly had some of his men remove Jeremiah from the mire pit and put him back in the palace prison. Zedekiah then sought counsel from Jeremiah in secret. After the king promised not to kill him, Jeremiah spoke the word of the Lord.
Read Jeremiah 38:17–20, looking for two sets of “if–then” statements. (The phrase “if thou wilt assuredly go forth unto the king of Babylon’s princes” in verse 17 refers to Zedekiah and the Jews submitting to the Babylonians rather than fighting against them.) Write the “if–then” statements in the blanks provided, and consider marking them in the verses.
From what you learn from Jeremiah 38:20, complete the following principle: If we obey the word of the Lord given through His servants, .
Underline the blessings Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said come from following the prophet: “It is no small thing, my brothers and sisters, to have a prophet of God in our midst. … When we hear the counsel of the Lord expressed through the words of the President of the Church, our response should be positive and prompt. History has shown that there is safety, peace, prosperity, and happiness in responding to prophetic counsel” (“His Word Ye Shall Receive,” Ensign, May 2001, 65).
- Think about what you could do to better obey counsel given from the Lord through His prophets. Record your thoughts in your scripture study journal.
Review Jeremiah 38:19, and consider underlining why King Zedekiah would not follow the counsel from Jeremiah.
In Jeremiah 38:21–28 we learn that Jeremiah once again told Zedekiah what would happen if he chose not to hearken to the word of the Lord that Jeremiah had given him. Zedekiah chose not to hearken to the Lord’s prophet and hearkened instead to those who wanted to rebel against the Babylonians. Read Jeremiah 39:1–7, looking for what happened to Zedekiah and the people.
You may want to highlight the consequences of Zedekiah’s decision to give in to his fear and not to follow the counsel from the Lord’s prophet.
One of the principles we can learn from these verses is that if we give in to fear and follow the world instead of the Lord’s prophet, we will perish spiritually.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some fears people might have that would prevent them from following the prophet?
How do you think people perish spiritually when they give in to fear and follow the world instead of the prophet?
What has helped you choose to follow the prophet instead of giving in to fear and following the world?
Make a commitment to follow the prophet instead of giving in to fear and following the world.
Even though Jeremiah 39 records that the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah, we know from the Book of Mormon that at least one of King Zedekiah’s sons escaped being killed. Mulek was a son of Zedekiah, and he escaped and was led to the Americas. His people, called the Mulekites, later became known as the people of Zarahemla. They were later joined by a group of Nephites led by Mosiah (see Helaman 6:10; 8:21; see also Omni 1:12–19).
In Jeremiah 40–41 we learn that after King Zedekiah and the majority of the Jews were carried away into Babylon, the king of Babylon appointed a governor over those who remained in the land of Judah. The Babylonians freed Jeremiah from prison, and he continued to reveal the word of the Lord to the Jews who remained in Judah. This remnant of Jews were under constant threat from outside forces and thought about moving to Egypt.
Review the bolded truths you studied in this lesson, and ponder what you can do to apply these principles in your life.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Jeremiah 34–41 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: