Made Thee This Day … an Iron Pillar”
Jeremiah is called of God to be a prophet.
Many people oppose Jeremiah and try to prevent him from fulfilling his
Jeremiah is strengthened in adversity by his love for the word of God.
A study of this lesson will encourage us to remain faithful in times of
opposition and adversity.
Scripture references for study: Jeremiah
1–2; Jeremiah 15;
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 41 Handout (PDF
Jeremiah Is Called Of God To Be A Prophet
Who was Jeremiah?
Born about 645 B.C.
Son of Hilkiah, the priest.
Came from the little town of Anathoth near Jerusalem.
Began about 626 B.C., the 13th year of Josiah's reign.
Continued until about 586 B.C.
One of the few prophets who lived to see the fulfillment of his prophecies.
Jeremiah preached in support of Josiah's reformation, 621 B.C.
Jeremiah was tried for prophesying the fall of the temple, 609 B.C.
He continued to prophesy through the fall of Jerusalem.
He was carried captive into Egypt after the fall of Jerusalem.
Probably: Nahum, Obadiah, Habakkuk (we know little about them).
In Babylon: Daniel and Ezekiel.
Information on Jeremiah from Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament,
Brother Duane S. Crowther: "Jeremiah was
probably a descendant of the priestly line, and his forefathers apparently
were from Israel rather than Judah. Unlike Zephaniah, Jeremiah had no political
connections and was not influential in the affairs of the royal court during
Josiah's time. Like Zephaniah, Jeremiah was a young man in the days of
Josiah. The recorded ministry of Jeremiah extended over fifty years and
during the reign of five kings of Judah. Jeremiah was of an introspective
and emotional temperment." (Prophets & Prophecies of The
Old Testament, p437)
JEREMIAH 1:4-5. Jeremiah ordained to be a prophet
before his birth.
WHAT SIGNIFICANT DOCTRINES ARE REFERRED TO IN THIS VERSE?
DO YOU SUPPOSE THE KNOWLEDGE OF JEREMIAH'S PRE-EXISTENCE AND FOREORDINATION
HELPED JEREMIAH MEET THE DIFFICULTIES OF HIS MINISTRY?
Orson F. Whitney: "A prophet's name, place
of birth, and the character of his everyday calling, are matters of little
moment compared with other things pertaining to him. What of his state
and standing before he came on earth? This is a far more important consideration.
God's prophets are chosen before they are born, and are sent into the world
as He needs them. Their aims are high and holy. They desire the welfare
and happiness of the race. Yet almost invariably their motives are misunderstood,
and they and their followers are opposed and persecuted." (Saturday
Night Thoughts, p14)
Joseph Smith: "Every man who has a calling
to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose
in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was." (HC,
DOES THIS SAME KNOWLEDGE SUPPORT US AS WE FACE DIFFICULTIES IN LIFE AND
IN OUR CALLINGS?
As we begin to understand this doctrine, it cannot help and strengthen
us as we step forward to fulfill our callings. If we come to know that
we were foreordained, it can give us the courage to forge ahead when things
are frustrating or even seem impossible. As we reflect upon this
principle, we are reminded that we were chosen in the pre-existence because
we had the talent necessary to fulfill a specific calling. As we exercise
our faith, we will find the strength necessary to continue.
READ JEREMIAH 1:6-10. Jeremiah expresses his weakness
and is reassured by the Lord.
Jeremiah feels inadequate (v6).
Reassured by the Lord (v8).
His charge from the Lord (v10).
HAVE YOU FELT INADEQUATE WHEN YOU HAVE RECEIVED A CALLING? HOW HAS
THE LORD HELPED OR STRENGTHENED YOU?
Several years ago, while I was still in my 20s, I was called to teach early
morning seminary to the youth in our ward. To me, this was a formidable
task. There was a challenge of having a quality lesson prepared
each day. But even more challenging to me was the prospect of teaching
teenagers. I did not think I could do it, but I accepted the calling
and took on the challenge. I was blessed. When I look back at that
year of teaching, I do not remember the challenge of getting up early, having
lessons prepared, or even facing teenagers. I remember the association
of those kids. I remember their strength and testimonies. The
Lord does bless us if we have the courage to do as he asks.
Jeremiah Faces Opposition
Jeremiah preached to the people in an effort to turn them from idolatry
"For my people have committed two evils; they
have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns,
broken cisterns, that can hold no water." (Jeremiah 2:13)
Consider the opposition he faced as he fulfilled the mission given to him
by the Lord:
Jeremiah 20:1-6: Pashur, the chief governor of the temple, "smote
Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks." Even
after this, Jeremiah had the courage to prophesy that Pashur, his family,
and friends would be taken captive by the Babylonians and would die in
Jeremiah 26:7-15: Jeremiah went up to the temple and gave the Lord's
message of repentance. After he finished preaching, the priests threatened
Jeremiah with his life. Jeremiah continued his preaching after this
harsh opposition, "Then spake Jeremiah unto all
the princes and to all the people, saying, The LORD sent me to prophesy
against this house and against this city all the words that ye have heard.
Therefore now amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the
LORD your God; and the LORD will repent him of the evil that he hath pronounced
against you" (v12-13).
Jeremiah 36:1-6, 20-32: The Lord commanded Jeremiah to write his
message of repentance on "a roll of a book." Jeremiah had Baruch write down the words of the Lord as he spoke them. He then had Baruch read to Judah the words which he had written. When the king heard the words of the book "he
cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth,
until all the roll was consumed in the fire" (v23). The
Lord then commanded Jeremiah to rewrite the message on another roll and
this additional prophesy was added, "And I will
punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity; and I will
bring upon them, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and upon the men
of Judah, all the evil that I have pronounced against them"
38:4-13: As Jeremiah was leaving Jerusalem, he
was arrested and put into prison. "Therefore
the princes said unto the king, We beseech thee, let this man be put to
death: for thus he weakeneth the hands of the men of war that remain in
this city, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto
them" (v4). Jeremiah was then taken in put in a dungeon
where "there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah
sunk in the mire." Eventually, King Zedekiah returned
Jeremiah to the prison, which was better than the dungeon.
DO YOU SUPPOSE JEREMIAH WAS FRUSTRATED WITH SUCH OPPOSITION TO HIS MISSION?
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM JEREMIAH ABOUT ADVERSITY?
Doing the will of the Lord is not always easy. We often face great
obstacles. Fortunately, our obstacles are not as formidable. Few of us face threats to our life or are cast in dungeons.
- Jeremiah demonstrates that carrying out the will of the Lord is most important. He put it ahead of his own desires, his comfort, and everything else in
his life. He was a man of great courage.
The ancient Jews of Jeremiah's time centered their lives on the wrong things
and refused to change when called to repentance. As a consequence,
Jeremiah's prophecies were fulfilled. The Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and
took the Jews captive.
WHAT TWO EVILS DID THE LORD SAY HIS PEOPLE HAD COMMITTED?
They had forsaken him, he who is the fountain of living waters.
They made for themselves broken cisterns that could not hold the Lord's
WHAT ARE THESE BROKEN CISTERNS?
These ancient Jews had sought fulfillment and security in worldly things.
WHY WOULD PEOPLE WITH THESE CHARACTERISTICS HAVE DIFFICULTY ACCEPTING THE
WORDS OF JEREMIAH?
A person cannot go in two directions at the same time or as stated in the
scriptures, one cannot serve two masters. The Jews were busy in their
wickedness and did not want to give up their ways.
HOW DO WE SOMETIMES CREATE "BROKEN CISTERNS" THAT CANNOT HOLD THE SAVIOR'S
Any pursuit that leads us away from Christ.
Elder Marion D. Hanks: "Material objectives
consume too much of our attention. The struggle for what we need or for
more than we need exhausts our time and energy. We pursue pleasure or entertainment,
or become overinvolved in associations or civic matters. Of course, people
need recreation, need to be achieving, need to contribute; but if these
come at the cost of friendship with Christ, the price is too high.
"'For my people have
committed two evils,' said the Lord to Israel; 'they have forsaken me the
fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns,
that can hold no water.'
we fashion to take the place of God in our lives truly hold no water. To
the measure we thus refuse the 'living water,' we miss the joy we could
have." (Ensign, July 1972, p105)
Brother Stephen R. Covey wrote a wonderful book, The Divine
Center. In his book he lists a number of areas on which we may
center our life, rather than on God. Many of these areas are good,
but when our focus is taken from the Divine center, then we are hewing
out "broken cisterns." Consider Brother Covey's list:
Spouse centeredness: This is the one of the most important relationships
in all eternity. But when a spouse becomes the center of one's life,
it may come at the expense of a relationship with God. It might cause
one to postpone children or to frequently miss Church in order to spend
weekends away together.
Work or money making centeredness: This is part of life, but when
it leads us away from Christ, we have become too focused on this pursuit. When one centers his/her life in this area, one neglects his/her relationship
with God, avoids family, and may be minimally active in the Church.
Leader centeredness: What happens when we put our faith in the teachings
of a political leader or a self-improvement guru or even a bishop. Brother Covey says they "then build their security
on such expectations and hopes and thereby become dependent and vulnerable." This does not happen when our life is Divinely centered.
Enemy centeredness: Do we become possessed with how someone
has crossed us?
Church centeredness: Brother Covey says, "the
Church is a means to an end, not an end in itself." He
goes on to say that, "Many LDS marriages are in
real jeopardy even though both parties are very active in the Church." When even the Church becomes the center of our life, at the exclusion of
spouse, family, or gospel study, we are in jeopardy.
Family centeredness: Brother Covey, "Ironically,
the ultimate result of family-centeredness can be the loss of the family.
As an example, a family-centered person may come to resent Church demands
and callings and may become a law unto himself in judging and turning down
properly inspired calls."
The Divine center: Brother Covey maintains that this is the only
way we can maintain proper perspective in the above areas. If we
have properly centered our lives, we will seek to find a proper balance
between spouse, family, church, work, etc. Brother Covey quotes this verse from Helaman, "And
now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer,
who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that
when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the
whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon
you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery
and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a
sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall"
(Helaman 5:12). This is the only way we can build "cisterns" to hold
the living water.
NOTE: Please see Brother Covey's book for a full explanation of the
the ideas related to various centers in our lives. He does a magnificent job of
teaching the importance of centering one's life on Christ and Heavenly Father.
Jeremiah Is Strengthened In Adversity
"Then the LORD put forth his
hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put
my words in thy mouth." (Jeremiah 1:9)
"Thy words were found, and
I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine
heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts."
WHAT DID THE LORD PUT IN JEREMIAH'S MOUTH?
"Then I said, I will not
make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in
mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with
forbearing, and I could not stay." (Jeremiah 20:9)
WHAT DID JEREMIAH DO WITH THE WORDS OF THE LORD?
He ate them, which is poetic language meaning that the word of God became
part of him. I suppose this is what it means to feast upon the word
HOW CAN WE "EAT" THE WORDS OF THE LORD AS DID JEREMIAH?
By studying the scriptures and the counsel of latter-day prophets.
Turning again to The Divine Center, consider what Brother Covey had to say about
studying the scriptures or feasting upon the words of Christ.
"Grasping and holding on to the rod of iron (the
word of God) is that discipline which will gradually bring unity and integrity
to our lives." (p186)
"Regular and prayerful scripture study is like
putting on the glasses of the Lord. It will influence all you look at,
see, and do." (p187)
"I suggest that prayerful scripture study is the
key to being given personal revelation." (p187)
"I believe that the habit of prayerfully searching
and pondering the scriptures (feasting) is the single most vital spiritual
discipline in life. What food is to the body, prayerful scripture study
is to the spirit. We physically die without food, and we spiritually die
without the Spirit and word of God." (p188)
WHAT DO YOU THINK IT MEANS TO HAVE WORD OF THE LORD AS A BURNING FIRE IN
YOUR BONES? WHY DO YOU THINK JEREMIAH COULD NOT HOLD BACK FROM TEACHING
THE WORD OF THE LORD?
As we seek to know and understand the word of the Lord, we are moved. There were
many times on my mission when I was so moved by the "fire shut up in my bones"
that I was constrained to bear witness of the gospel. As we "feast" on the
scriptures, this will happen to us. We will be strengthened, as was Jeremiah, to
fulfill our missions in life, even during times of adversity.
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
- Jeremiah lived in a time of great wickedness. He was called to preach
the gospel of repentance and though it was not easy, he was strengthened
by the Lord and fulfilled his mission. We also live in a time of
great wickedness. Living in the world exposes us to the carnal desires
of man and they are made to look attractive. We must be careful not
to get caught up in the ways of the world and "hew" out "broken cisterns." One way to do this, to keep our lives Divinely centered, is by eating or
feasting upon the words of the Lord through prayerful, meditative scripture
study on a daily basis. If we do this, like Jeremiah, we will be
able to endure adversity and fulfill our missions.
- Record your thoughts on the life of Jeremiah. How can the lessons from his
life strengthen you, particularly in times of adversity?
Resources Used In This Lesson
History of the Church (HC).
Prophets & Prophecies of The Old Testament by Duane S. Crowther.
Saturday Night Thoughts by Orson F. Whitney.
The Divine Center by Stephen R. Covey.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
18 October 2014