“Anticipation of a New Future”
Adult Sunday School Lesson Summary for September 28, 2014
"Future Peace and Joy"
Lesson Text: Jeremiah 33:1-11
Background Scripture: Jeremiah 33
Devotional Reading: Jeremiah 9:17-24
Jeremiah 33:1-11 (KJV)
1 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,
2 Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name;
3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.
4 For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;
5 They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.
6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.
7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.
8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.
9 And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
10 Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast,
11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.
TODAY’S LESSON AIMS
Learning Fact: To understand the condition of Jerusalem while it was under siege by the Babylonians.
Biblical Principle: To tell what Jeremiah predicted about Jerusalem’s future.
Daily Application: Celebrate hopefulness, healing and forgiveness from God.
HOW TO SAY IT
Yahweh (Hebrew) Yah-weh.
I just read of a woman who was arrested for celebrating too loudly at her daughter’s graduation. When her girl crossed the stage and received her diploma, the mother apparently did a lot of whooping and hollering! The stone-faced authorities—later heavily criticized—maintained that the crowd had been warned against excessive celebration. Therefore they thought it appropriate to have this woman handcuffed and led away at this moment of family triumph.
Does this sound a bit like the Pharisees at the triumphal entry of Jesus? The crowds, shouting lots of hosannas and hallelujahs, were in a frenzy as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. But the grumpy Pharisees demanded that Jesus calm them down and cut the noise. Jesus answered these melancholy men with a wonderful rebuke: if the crowds were quieted, “the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Heartfelt joy is hard to suppress!
I have participated in scores of high school and college graduation exercises, and it is common for family members to go a little overboard when their graduate crosses the stage. They are proud! In some cases, this is the first family member to graduate, a historic moment. Sometimes they are acutely aware of the great cost and effort that was necessary for this achievement, facts that make their expressions of joy just that more exuberant.
This week’s lesson sketches a citywide celebration of joyous praise and worship. There is no video or audio available, of course, so we will need to imagine the prophesied joy to get the full impact.
Time: 587 B.C.
We recall from last week’s lesson that Jeremiah was detained at a courtyard prison connected with Kind Zedekiah’s palace as the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem. The prophet’s situation and the reason for it still hold. Jeremiah’s imprisonment seems to have been as much about taking him out of the public square as about any treasonable offense. The besieged city was on edge, and the king did not want that prophet exacerbating the morale problems.
Jeremiah had been serving as a prophetic voice in Jerusalem for some 40 years at the time of today’s lesson (587 B.C.), so he was a well-known figure in the city. Although he was never popular because of his dire warnings and harsh condemnations, his longevity attests to some degree of acceptance by the people (compare Jeremiah 26:16). He was not easily silenced.
Present Distress: Jeremiah 33:1-5
Maker of All (Jeremiah 33:1-2)
1. How many times had Jeremiah received a word from God? (Jeremiah 33:1)
Although the book of Jeremiah is not arranged in strict chronological fashion, this chapter builds immediately on the events of Chapter 32 (last week’s lesson). Jeremiah is still shut up in the court of the prison, seemingly a more comfortable billet for a prisoner who has some favor with the king (compare Jeremiah 32:2, 37:16, 21; 38:6-13). Last week, we saw Jeremiah receive forewarning of the surprise visit of a relative; that was the first time “the word of the Lord came” to him, in comparison with this second time.
2. Why did God emphasize who He is and what He has done? (Jeremiah 33:2)
Jeremiah introduced this second oracle from God (divine message) with the statement, “Thus saith the Lord” (v. 2). An examination of how the phrase is used in Scripture indicates that it is the hallmark of a prophet’s message from God (for example, see also Isa. 7:7; Jer. 2:5; Ezek. 5:5).
The message to Jeremiah begins with an emphasis on God as “the maker” of all things. This is highlighted in three ways. First, Jeremiah is reminded that God “formed it,” referring to His initial creative act in Genesis (the Hebrew word for formed is the same used in Genesis 2:8, 9, 19). Second, the prophet is reminded that God establishes His creation. This has the sense of putting things in their proper places and sustaining the orderliness of creation (compare Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15). This description of creation is tied with the Lord’s wisdom in Proverbs 3:19.
Third, God reinforces all of this by giving “his name” in such a way that there should be no mistakes in attributing the creation to Him. This is the divine name of God, revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14-16), sometimes transliterated as “Yahweh.” Its threefold use in the verse before us stresses the identity of the Creator.
The Book of Jeremiah gives repeated emphasis to God as the Creator (10:11-13; 51:15-16). These truths are also found throughout the Psalms. For instance, Psalm 104 (along with Job 38 and Psalms 8 and 29) produces a magnificent poetic and musical commentary on the creation.
The Wisdom of God: Jeremiah 33:3 / God as Judge: Jeremiah 33:4-5
3. What did God reveal to Jeremiah? (Jeremiah 33:3-5)
This verse seems like a personal message to the prophet in that the verb “call” is singular as are the three occurrences of thee/thou. It is like saying, “You, Jeremiah, I’m talking to you. Call to me and I will give you a personal answer.” When we remember what we just read in the previous verse, we have something quite amazing: the Creator of all things is singling out one person to receive an invitation! The Lord is a personal God who pays personal attention to those who call on His name. God wanted to reveal to Jeremiah “great and mighty things.” These things includes God’s revelation to Jeremiah that He was going to allow Jerusalem to be razed Jer. 33:4-5) and His people later to be restored to the promised land (vs. 6-26). These are breathtaking truths that the Lord first had to disclose to Jeremiah before he could declare them to God’s people.
The one who created everything has the “great and unsearchable things.” The Lord’s knowledge is unlimited, while ours is limited. He can add to our knowledge at His discretion, which is what He is about to do for Jeremiah.
At the time of this prophecy, Jerusalem is many months into its 18-month siege by the Chaldean army (another word for Babylonian). By laying siege to a city, an attacking army could cut off the defenders’ food, supplies, and-if possible-water. As the engineers of the Judean army ponder how to reinforce the city’s defenses, they are forced to use material at hand.
Jeremiah 33:4-5 discredits all false hopes of safety. Already, as the siege of Jerusalem dragged on, the desperate inhabitants had dismantled their “houses” (including those built into or right next to the city’s walls) and royal palaces, In turn, they used these building materials to create a thicker, sturdier structure in a final attempt to strengthen Jerusalem’s defenses (Isa. 22:10). Ultimately, the frantic efforts made by Jerusalem’s defenders would prove futile against a relentless foe. God, in His “anger and… fury” (Jer. 33:5), would use the Babylonians to slaughter Jerusalem’s warriors. The Lord would abandon His people because of all the evil deeds they and their predecessors had committed in His sight. Deaths will result because the Lord has hidden His “face from this city,” exactly as predicted in Deuteronomy 31:16-18; 32:30. God is not embracing the Babylonians as His new people, but is using them as an instrument of destruction in His plan to punish Israel and cleanse it from wickedness.
What Do You Think?
How can we help others make it through a time of prolonged stress? What difference does it make, if any, if the problem stems from their own poor decisions?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Regarding financial issues | Regarding health issues |Regarding relationship issues | Other
Future Joy: Jeremiah 33:6-11
Healing to Be Granted (Jeremiah 33:6-7)
4. What methods would God use to restore Jerusalem? (Jeremiah 33:6)
Jeremiah’s word from the Lord now turns from the immediate future to a time several decades hence: the time of Jerusalem’s restoration. The prophet has already predicted that “this whole land shall be a desolation … and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:11). When that time is up, God will heal. The wickedness that characterizes the society of Jerusalem after King Josiah is an illness of the soul that only God can cure (compare Hosea 5:13).
The healing remedy is not a physical salve or medicine but “the abundance of peace and truth.” In this context, peace is more than the absence of war, but is personal prosperity and contentment. Most of all, there will be peace with God, a restoration of relationship that calms the souls of the people of Israel. The pain of exile is the cleansing process that must occur prior to this healing.
The restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of its temple in the latter half of the sixth century B.C. will fulfill many aspects of this prophecy. Yet Jeremiah’s words look further ahead, to a kingdom of peace inaugurated by the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. His future government will usher in an era of endless peace and eternal righteousness (compare Isaiah 9:6, 7). In its complete fullness, this is a future time even for us.
Iniquity to Be Cleansed: Jeremiah 33:8
5. Why did God promise restoration to His people (Jeremiah 33:8)?
God’s promises of restoration were not intended to ignore the harsh reality of what brought about the exile of His people to Babylon. Specifically, generations of them were guilty of sinning against the Lord, and He had to spiritually purify them from their iniquity. God also declared His intent to pardon the exiles for all their transgressions against Him (Jer. 33:8). We find a similar emphasis in 1 John 1. Verse 8 discloses that those who declare themselves to be free of “sin” were self-deceived and not abiding in God’s “truth.” Oppositely, if they acknowledged their sins to God, He remained “faithful and just” (v. 9) to pardon the guilt of their sin and cleanse them from their “unrighteousness.”
This verse makes clear that the sin is wholly the fault of the people and that the forgiving is wholly an act of grace by the Lord.
What Do You Think?
What lessons do you learn from Bible characters who experienced or did not experience renewal after sin or failure?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
David (Psalm 51) | Judas (Matthew 27:3-5) | Peter (John 21:15-19) | Other
God to Be Honored: Jeremiah 33:9
6. How will the world respond to Jerusalem’s restoration? (Jeremiah 33:9)
Jeremiah’s vision foresees not a city of ruined houses full of dead bodies but a place of “praise and honour. This will not happen in secret, but will be noticed by “all the nations of the earth.” The future blessings of the Lord will cause these nations to “fear and tremble” when they see God’s outpouring of “goodness and… prosperity.”
The history of Israel is a remarkable testimony to the protection and blessing of God. This is in contrast with numerous long-forgotten nations of the ancient world that were more powerful than Israel at one time or another. Jeremiah’s continuing vision for Israel is that of destruction followed by restoration.
Desolation to Be Reversed: Jeremiah 33:10-11
7. What evidences of joy will be seen in future Israel? (Jeremiah 33:10)
After all, the invaders had laid waste to the “cities of Judah” (Jer. 33:10) so that they lacked any inhabitants, whether people or animals. The desolation of the nation was a foreshadow of the destruction Nebuchadnezzar would bring to Jerusalem. Yet Jeremiah is allowed to see beyond a destroyed and deserted Jerusalem (v. 11).
The silent ruins of Jerusalem described above in verse 10 stand in sharp contrast with the voice of joy, and the voice of gladness depicted here in verse 11. The Lord revealed that a future day was coming when Judah’s cities and Jerusalem’s streets would no longer be empty. Instead, they would be filled with people and animals. Furthermore, the activity of the inhabitants within these population centers would produce an assortment of joy and gladness, marriage celebrations, and the jubilant songs of worshipers as they brought their “sacrifice of praise” to the rebuilt Jerusalem temple. Their motivation for doing so was the goodness of God and His eternal, steadfast “love” (Ps. 106:1; 118:1; 136:1). His unfailing compassion was demonstrated in restoring the prosperity of Judah as it was before the exile of God’s people. It would also signify a reversal of His judgment on the promised land and its inhabitants (7:34; 16:9; 25:10).
What Do You Think?
Which parts of our corporate worship call more for an attitude of joy rather than solemnity? Which call for the reverse? Why?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
Singing | Communion | Offering | Baptism | Other
POINTS TO PONDER
1. God restores! “Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.” (Jeremiah 33:6)
2. God forgives! “And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.” (Jeremiah 33:8)
3. God is worthy of praise! “The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever…” (Jeremiah 33:11)
The author of Hebrews picks up on Jeremiah’s image: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). We do not need a sacrificial system involving animals and grain. Our sacrifice was made once for all by Jesus, our Savior (7:27).
We are heirs to Jeremiah’s vision of a joyous future when we sing praises and acknowledge the goodness of God. We don’t need a designated structure where we praise the Lord (John 4:21, 23). Rather, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). May we lift our joyous praises with a loud voice as we worship the Lord, who is good and whose mercy endures forever!
Lord God Almighty, You are good to us! You have erased the desolation of sin through Your Son, and our joy in that must not be silenced. May Your mercy endure forever. In Jesus’ name, amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Praise God for peace with Him!
ANTICIPATING THE NEXT LESSON
Next week's lesson, “Yet I Will Rejoice,” explains how we can rejoice in the Lord in spite of negative circumstances. Study Habakkuk 2:1-5 and 3:17-19.
LESSON SUMMARIZED BY
Jesus Is All Ministries
Life Application Bible—New Revised Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.
Scofield, C.I., ed. The New Scofield Study Bible—King James Version. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Summary and commentary derived from Standard Lesson Commentary Copyright 2014 by permission of Standard Publishing.
The KJV Parallel Bible Commentary, by Nelson Books.
The Pulpit Commentary, Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Hrsg.), Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Cook