Week 32: Jeremiah
Weekly memory verse:
Jeremiah 23:5 – Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (free download)
What is adoption?
Adoption is an act of God’s free grace in which I am received as a child of God with all its rights and privileges.
Day 156: Manasseh and Amon
Reading: 2 Kings 21:1–26; Psalm 80
2 Kings 21, Verse 2. Evil. Although Hezekiah was one of the most righteous kings of Judah, and despite the fact that Hezekiah carefully prepared his son to be king, Manasseh turns out to be the most evil king in Judah’s history, inevitably resulting in exile.
Verse 16. Innocent blood. This sin could have been child sacrifice, mistreatment of the weak, or persecution of God’s prophets. It was likely a combination of all three.
Psalm 80. This psalm was likely written by someone in Jerusalem as he observed the defeat of the northern tribes in 722.
God showed great mercy to his people during their history, often overlooking their idolatry and rebellion and providing them countless opportunities to turn back to him. Yet eventually their sin reached a climax wherein God’s just justice required punishment. The evil reigns of Manasseh and Amon finally reach the point that God promises swift judgment.
- Why do you think Manasseh forsook God, even though his father raised him to be righteous?
- In what ways did Manasseh’s sin reach a point of horror unlike any king before him?
- Did Judah’s sin and God’s promise of judgment nullify God’s promises of future blessing for Israel?
Day 157: Josiah Repairs the Temple
Reading: 2 Kings 22; Psalm 81
2 Kings 22, Verse 1. Reign. During Josiah’s reign, Babylon defeated Assyria (612–609 bc), becoming the new superpower of the ancient near east. Josiah was the last good king of Judah.
Verse 3. Eighteenth year. Josiah was twenty-six.
Verse 14. Huldah. Not much is known of this prophetess, and it was very unusual for God to speak to the nation through a woman in this way. Usually, God did something like this to condemn the lack of male leadership in the land (cf. Deborah, Judg 5).
Psalm 81. This psalm was likely intended to be used during the Feast of Tabernacles.
One final time in Judah’s history, a righteous king leads the people back to following the Lord. Yet, the fate of Judah had already been established; because of the nation’s pattern of idolatry against the Lord, judgment was inevitable. Yet because of king Josiah’s righteousness, God spared him from having to witness the full judgment himself.
- In what ways did Josiah reveal his sincere desire to follow God’s commands?
- Why did the nation deserve judgment?
- What did God’s withholding judgment until Josiah’s death reveal about him?
Day 158: Josiah’s Reforms
Reading: 2 Kings 23; Psalm 82
Verse 4. Bethel. Bethel was one of two places where Jeroboam had originally established syncretistic worship (1 Kgs 12:28–33); Josiah used the ashes of the burnt idols to desecrate the origin of false worship in the land.
Verse 10. Topheth. This title means “a drum” and designates the dominant instrument used during pagan worship, specifically child sacrifice (see Jer 7:31).
No king before or after Josiah, including David himself, was as righteous in following the Lord’s commands and leading the people back to his worship. Josiah accepted nothing less than complete elimination of every false worship element and priest and complete obedience to every aspect of true worship, something that had never happened in Israel’s history up to this point. It is remarkable that God had not judged the nation sooner.
- Why was Josiah so concerned to eliminate and even desecrate every remaining pagan high place and worship implement?
- Was Josiah just to execute false priests?
- Why did God judge Judah despite Josiah’s righteous reforms?
Day 159: The Call of Jeremiah
Reading: Jeremiah 1; Psalm 84
Jeremiah 1, Verse 2. Days. Jeremiah ministered from Josiah’s reign (627 bc) to the last king of Judah, Zedekiah (586 bc).
Verse 3. Fifth month. Babylon would begin taking Judeans into captivity in the fifth month of 586 bc (July–August).
Verse 6. Youth. Jeremiah was 20–25 years old when he was called. This would make him 60–65 years old when Jerusalem fell and 85–90 when king Jehoiachin is released from prison in Jeremiah 52:31.
Jeremiah’s role was to pronounce final judgment upon Judah, rendering him the title of “weeping prophet.” Yet his prophesy also focuses on the need for repentance and the redemption that is possible for those who do. In the midst of sin’s condemnation, hope always comes from the mercy and grace of God.
- Why did God send Jeremiah to call the people to repentance, even while they were being defeated and exiled?
- Why did Jeremiah’s words have authority, despite his youth and inexperience?
- What is significant about God’s message that he knew Jeremiah even before he formed him (v. 5)?
Day 160: Jeremiah’s Prophecy
Reading: Jeremiah 18–19
Chapter 18, Verse 12. Vain. Jeremiah’s prophesy is full of apparent paradoxes. He calls them to repentance, but they cannot repent.
Verse 14. Crags of Sirion. This likely refers to the mountains of Lebanon, from which coon streams flowed. Israel had forsaken God’s cool water for broken cisterns (2:13).
Chapter 19, Verse 1. Elders . . . priests. God chosen witnesses for the nation to observe his pronouncement of judgment.
Verse 6. Topheth. This word meant, “drum,” and referred to the pagan worship practices that had come to characterize Judah.
Jeremiah called the people to repentance, even as they were facing impending judgment. God’s mercy and grace are always on display, perfectly combined with his just judgment of sin. Jeremiah knew the people would not turn back to God and would be destroyed, and he even prayed for their judgment, but that didn’t keep him from also proclaiming forgiveness for those who repent.
- What images do God and Jeremiah use to describe the people’s sin and coming judgments?
- Why did they use images to communicate the message to the people?
- Who was ultimately responsible for the judgement upon the people’s sin?