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Perhaps because of his first brush with serious persecution, Jeremiah feels the need to be reassured both of his mission and of God’s support. Being both frightened and angry at the thought of what almost happens to him may have prompted the exchange between Jeremiah and God in today’s reading.
Jeremiah’s willingness to lay before God his honest doubts, concerns, fears, complaints, and questions is one of the reasons he is one of my favorite Biblical personalities.
1. If you were a lawyer, would you prefer to prosecute or defend? Would you prosecute someone you felt was innocent? Defend someone you thought was guilty?
2. In your experience, do nice guys always finish last? Do bad guys always finish first?
3. What member of your family would you nominate as “King (or Queen) of the World” for a day? What do you think he or she could do that other world leaders can’t or won’t?
4. What is Jeremiah’s bone of contention (verse 2)? Has this thought ever crossed your mind?
5. What does Jeremiah want God to do (verse 3)? Why is Jeremiah so brutal? Why are the faithless so carefree (verse 4)?
6. In Jeremiah’s complaint, on what is he basing his appeal?
- good guys always win in the end?
- divine justice?
- prophetic license?
7. What is the point of the comparison in verses 5 and 6? What comfort can Jeremiah take in that?
8. What is God’s warning to Judah (verses 7 – 13)? How does He seem to feel? How is this an answer for Jeremiah?
9. What is God’s warning to Judah’s marauding neighbors (verses 14 – 17; see 2 Kings 24:1, 2)?
10. What good news do you see here for the exiles, both Jewish and Gentile (compare Isaiah 2:2 – 4; Isaiah 56:6, 7)? What will determine how God treats them (verses 16 and 17)?
11. Have you ever felt the unfairness of life as keenly as Jeremiah? In your experience, have the wicked prospered? How so? For how long? Why does God delay in executing justice?
12. How would you describe God’s response to Jeremiah’s honesty? Angry? Glad? Puzzled? Disturbed? Sympathetic? Matter-of-Fact? Other? Have you ever complained to God as honestly as Jeremiah did? What was God’s response?
13. What would our world be like if God instantly punished every sin? What would your life be like?
14. Are you “on foot . . . competing with horses” (verse 5)? Or are you “stumbling in safe country”? How do you prepare for tougher times?