The Restoration of Israel: Part 2 of 2 (Jeremiah 31)

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Scripture Text:

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Jeremiah 31

1. Right now, would you say your spiritual life is closer to a sunrise or a sunset? Is a new day dawning in your life? How so?

2. “It’s always darkest before the dawn”, the saying goes. How has this been true for you?

3. What is the best news you heard last week? What made it so special?

4. Chapter 32:1 – 22 continues the consolation for Israel. By what other names is Israel called in this section (verses 7, 10, 17, 18)?

5. What evidence do you see here that the promise of restoration is extended to the southern kingdom of Judah, as well (verses 1, 23 – 40)?

6. What political vision does Jeremiah have of the restored nation (verses 5 -8)? Why would Israel be considered the “foremost of nations” (see Deuteronomy 7:6 – 8)? Why will they come “with weeping” (verse 9)?

7. Who else is included in this vision and why (verses 10 – 14)?

8. Who are Rachel and her children (verse 15; see Genesis 29:18, 30; Genesis 46:19, 20)? How and why does Jeremiah use the image of “Rachel weeping”? (Note: Babylon turned Ramah, north of Jerusalem, into a detainment camp for Jews being led into captivity.) What use of this image does the early church make (see Matthew 2:8)?

9. What other images of grieving and consolation give hope to the readers (verses 16 – 20, 23 – 25, 27, 28)?

10. What relationship does God want to restore between Himself and Israel (verses 21, 22; see also Hosea 2:18 – 20)? How can adulterous Israel become a “virgin” again?

11. What is the meaning of the proverb quoted in verse 29 (see Ezekiel 18:2 -4)? Is God changing the rules (e.g., Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18) by which many thought of themselves as guilty (verse 30; see Deuteronomy 24:16)?

12. What was the covenant God made with Israel’s forefathers (verses 31, 32; see Genesis 17:1 – 14; Exodus 19:1 – 6)? What was “wrong” or obsolete about this old or first covenant (see Hebrews 8:6 – 13; Hebrews 9:13 – 15; Hebrews 10:11 – 18; where Jeremiah is quoted)?

13. How will the new covenant supersede or fulfill the old one (verses 33, 34)? In what way will it be a covenant? What seals or secures the covenant from God’s side (verses 35 – 37)?

14. The exiles rebuilt Jerusalem after 70 years. The city did not prove invincible, but was sacked again, most notably by the Romans in A.D. 70 (see Luke 21:6). What then does God’s promise of eternal security for Jerusalem really mean (verses 38 – 40)?

15. How and when is the promise of the new covenant put into effect (see Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:16 – 18)? How would you explain the difference between the old and new covenants to a friend?

16. Which covenant are you living under? law or grace? How do you know for sure? What does it mean to you to truly know the Lord as Jeremiah’s intended? What is God’s part? What is yours?

17. Jeremiah’s new covenant promises:

  • ready forgiveness of sins (chapter 30:34)?
  • freedom from the sins of the parents (chapter 30:29)?
  • internal working of the Spirit (chapter 31:33, 34)?
  • all the above?
  • other?

Which aspect means the most to your spiritual walk? Why?

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The Restoration of Israel: Part 1 of 2 (Jeremiah 30)

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Scripture Text:

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Jeremiah 30

1. What is your favorite book of the Bible? What is your favorite book apart from the Bible? How do each of your favorites turn out in the end?

2. How far back do you date your “days of old”? Is that a past you would sooner forget, or are they the “good ol’ days”?

3. Chapters 30 and 31 (mostly in poetry) and perhaps, as well, chapters 32 and 33 (almost all prose) were originally one “book of consolation” (verses 1 – 3), which can be dated about 587 BC. the year before the fall of Jerusalem (see chapter 32:1). How do you suppose God conveyed this message to Jeremiah? By messenger? Audibly, giving dictation? In a dream (see chapter 31:26)?

4. What clues tell you this Book of Consolation is largely directed to the northern tribes of Israel (verses 7, 10, 18; also chapter 31:1 – 22)?

5. What had happened to Israel a century before Jeremiah (verse 8; see 2 Kings 17:5, 6, 24 – 33), a situation which would soon be rectified (verses 16 – 18)?

6. Who is “David their king” (verses 8 and 9)? What will he be like (verse 21; see chapter 23:5)? What had King Josiah of Judah done for the northerners early in Jeremiah’s career (see 2 Kings 23:15 – 20) to serve as a prototype for this righteous King to come?

7. What were the “days of old” (verse 20) like for Israel, under the reign of David? What fortunes, songs of praise and covenant promises would be restored (verses 18 – 22)? What will accomplish this turnabout?

8. Is it easy for you to detach yourself emotionally from people who were once important to you? After a “falling out”, does “out of sight, out of mind” come naturally? Would you like a “restoration” with someone from your past? How could it happen?

9. What and how could your fortunes be restored?

  • more money, for less work?
  • more knowledge, for less time?
  • more friends, for less energy?
  • Other? Explain how you are truly fortunate.

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Judgment Against Evil Kings (Jeremiah 22)

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Scripture Text:

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Jeremiah 22

1. Where are most of your ancestors and family buried? Where would you like to be buried?

2. What kind of funeral would you like: loud and brassy? quiet and somber? short and sweet? well-attended or family only?

3. What message does Jeremiah repeat to the rulers (verses 1 – 3)? Does this message seem like one addressed to a particular king, or a timeless message, applicable to all those in David’s royal line? Why?

4. What three oppressed groups of people are mentioned? What do they have in common (Exodus 22:21 – 24)? Why does the king’s security depend upon how he treats them?

5. Why is King Shallum also call Jehoahaz, to be pitied more than his father, Josiah (verses 10 – 12)? What happened to Jehoahaz (see 2 Kings 23:34, an event dated circa 609 BC)?

6. After his brother was deposed, Jehoiakim became king. For what did he use slave labor (verses 13 and 14)? What was his father (Josiah) like (verses 15 – 17)? How could such a good king have nasty sons?

7. Jehoiachin next ruled as king. What will happen to him (verses 24 – 27)? Did any of his descendents sit on the throne (verses 28 – 30; see also 2 Kings 24:15 – 17)?

8. If you were Zedekiah, what would you conclude from this sad replay of your family history? Through how many reigns has God been patient? Why does God wait so long to end the line?

9. Does God care about how governments rule? How did the early Christians feel about pagan kings (see 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; Romans 13:1 – 5)? How do you feel about the “kings” of today?

10. Which leader (church, civic or world) has made a great impact on you by their life? By their death?

11. How do you feel when a public champion of peace and justice (such as Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy or Gandhi) is assassinated? Do you hold any real hope that love is stronger than bullets?

12. As in Jeremiah’s time, leaders today usually set a tone for others. What positive tone or atmosphere are you setting in your home, job, school or church? Where might you have a negative impact?

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