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By the time King Zedekiah took office, Israel had twice surrendered to Babylon. Two groups of Israelites had already been exiled (including King Jehoiachin). But the desire for independence did not die easily. Zedekiah (who had been put into office as a puppet king) soon began scheming for revolution. Jeremiah counseled submission to Babylon – unpopular advice that nearly cost him his life when he was accused of treason.
1. Have you ever arrived somewhere without luggage? How did that feel?
2. Have you ever camped out in an empty house, devoid of its furnishings? What was it like?
3. Ever try taming a wild animal? If so, what was it?
4. What does Jeremiah’s hand-made yoke mean (verses 2, 8, 11, 12; see also Leviticus 26:13)? How might he feel wearing this through Jerusalem? Whose neck was meant to be yoked?
5. Babylon controls Palestine and has just deported King Jehoachin (verse 20). Why then do the small nations meet in Jerusalem and consult mediums (verses 3 – 11)? What does God think of their consultation (see also Deuteronomy 18:10, 11)?
6. Why does He give the same message to Zedekiah (verses 12 – 15)? How are court prophets different from pagan mediums, if at all?
7. The deportation of exiles and the temple articles began in 605 BC and did not end until 586 BC. From chapter 28:1, we know it’s now 593 BC. What does that tell you about the false hope of these prophets and the people who listened to them?
8. What hope does Jeremiah hold out for them instead (verses 7, 16 – 22)?
9. What sacrilegious use would Nebuchadnezzar and his heirs have for the temple gold (see 2 Kings 24:12, 13; Daniel 5:1 – 4)?
10. Why does Jeremiah recommend surrender to a pagan sacrilegious king? Why shouldn’t Zedekiah and the other rulers band together against him?
11. Ancient cultures saw the world run by many gods, each exercising power over a certain territory. In your world, how is God’s sphere of influence limited? Do you look to God to reign over certain areas but not others? Explain.
12. When have you experienced the fight-or-flight dilemma faced by Judah in this chapter? When do you know when to fight and when to surrender?
13. Do you think nations today can avoid war by obeying God? what kind of national behavior leads to God’s blessing? What can be done to promote it?