NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

September 7

 Lesson 1

 A Vison of the Future

Devotional Reading: Jeremiah 29:10-14

Background Scripture: Jeremiah 30

Jeremiah 30:1-3, 18-22

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,

2 Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.

3 For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

 

18 Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

19 And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.

20 Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.

21 And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord.

22 And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Key Verse

For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. —Jeremiah 30:3

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. List three changes the people were to experience after return from exile.

2. Describe God’s expectations for His people after the return from exile.

3. Write a prayer expressing joy and thankfulness for being part of the people of God.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Rebuilding a City

B. Lesson Background

I. Message Transmission (Jeremiah 30:1, 2)

A. To a Man (v. 1)

B. In a Book (v. 2)

II. Message Content (Jeremiah 30:3, 18-22)

A. Regarding Land and City (vv. 3, 18)

Learning from the Past

B. Regarding Rejoicing and Increasing (v. 19)

C. Regarding Children and Oppressors (v. 20)

D. Regarding Leaders and Promise (vv. 21, 22)

Seeking a Better Tomorrow

Conclusion

A. Rebuilding Jerusalem

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. Rebuilding a City

After a city is destroyed, should it be rebuilt? Historically, a devastated city would be rebuilt if the original reasons for its existence still served. In Bible times, a city needed a location that was defensible; thus cities often were built on elevated locations. This allowed a tremendous tactical advantage because a foreign army was more easily repelled if it had to charge uphill when attacking the city. Cities also needed ready access to food and water; these resources needed to be very close at hand, given the limitations of ancient transportation methods and lack of refrigeration.

Cities were also established in relation to trade routes. A city located at a crossroads of such routes (whether by land or by water) could become a center of commerce. All these reasons were important factors in determining whether a city was rebuilt after being destroyed by war or natural catastrophe.

Another powerful factor for reestablishing a city was religion, a factor that may be difficult for us to understand today. Places deemed to be holy needed to be rebuilt simply because of that fact. Today’s lesson looks at a city that met this criteria as well as the others above: the city of Jerusalem—perhaps the most famous city in the history of the world with regard to religion. Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 BC, and the text we will study will help us understand why there was such a strong impetus to rebuild it.

B. Lesson Background

The city of Jerusalem dates to the earliest strands of biblical history. The first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is in Genesis 14:18 in association with Melchizedek, who is identified as the “king of Salem.” (This may be dated to around 2000 BC; compare Hebrews 7:1, 2.) Salem—the second half of the word Jerusalem—is an ancient word related to shalom, the Hebrew word for “peace.” It is very likely that the Salem of Melchizedek’s day eventually became the Jerusalem of Israel about 1,000 years later, when King David defeated the Jebusites inhabiting the city, taking it as his capital. After this conquest, Jerusalem also began to be known by the designations Zion and the city of David (2 Samuel 5:5-9; compare Joshua 15:63).

King Solomon, David’s son and successor, built a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent “house of the Lord” to replace the portable tabernacle that had been in use for several hundred years (see 1 Kings 6:1). As a result, the temple became the new home for the ark of the covenant (8:1). The capital city thus became the temple city. The magnificent temple was dedicated around 960 BC. It stood until it was destroyed by the Babylonian army of King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC (described in Jeremiah 52).

Jeremiah’s 40-year career as a prophet witnessed both sides of that disaster as God used him to warn Judah and its kings of pending divine judgment. God’s patience with His people had ended. He spoke (through the prophet) of the problem as a wound that would not heal (Jeremiah 30:12). Even though Judah had had a brief period of religious revival under King Josiah, it did not persist after that man’s death (2 Kings 22-25). Jeremiah’s message moved from a call for national repentance, to a warning of national disaster by the hand of the Lord, to promise of restoration. The latter is the subject of today’s lesson.

The arrangement of material in the book of Jeremiah is not necessarily chronological, so we cannot be sure when the prophecies in Jeremiah 30 should be placed during the prophet’s career. They speak of a return from the exile in Babylon, but it is likely that these prophecies are part of a series given before the destruction of the temple in 586 BC. Supporting this conclusion is the fact that the chapter ends on a note that sees the outpouring of God’s wrath as something yet to come (Jeremiah 30:23, 24).

I. Message Transmission

                                                                               (Jeremiah 30:1, 2)

A. To a Man (v. 1)

1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying.

The expression the word ... came to Jeremiah from the Lord or something similar occurs in this book dozens of times (examples: Jeremiah 7:1; 11:1). Sometimes this word of the Lord consists of personal information for Jeremiah (example: 16:1). At other times the word of the Lord directs Jeremiah to do things that have prophetic significance (examples: 13:1-11; 18:1-4). Here, though, what follows is an oracle, a message that Jeremiah is intended to deliver to the people of Judah.

What Do You Think?

How can we know if God is speaking to us today? How is our proof of this the same as or different from that in the Old Testament era?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

2 Corinthians 2:12

Hebrews 1:1, 2

Revelation 22:18, 19

Other

B. In a Book (v. 2)

2. Thus speaketh the Lord God of Israel, saying, Write thee all the words that I have spoken unto thee in a book.

In conjunction with receiving the oracle, Jeremiah is directed to write it in a book. A book in Jeremiah’s day is a scroll consisting of sheets of parchment sewn together to make a long writing surface that can be rolled up. In Jeremiah 36:4 we find the prophet dictating his message to an associate named Baruch, who writes it “upon a roll of a book.” These words are later read by Baruch to the people (36:10). It is possible that this is what is intended here, although Baruch is not mentioned.

II. Message Content

                                                                           (Jeremiah 30:3, 18-22)

A. Regarding Land and City (vv. 3, 18)

3. For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.

The Lord gives Jeremiah a glimpse of the future in a two-part prophecy. First, the people of Israel and Judah will suffer another period of captivity. This compares the forthcoming Babylonian exile with Israel’s original period of bondage in Egypt, which had come to an end over 800 years earlier. The situation to come will be a forced removal of the people from their homeland to work for their captors. Part of the reason for military conquest in the ancient world is to secure workers to serve the conquering empire (compare Daniel 1:3-5).

Second, Jeremiah sees beyond the period of exile to a time of restoration. This will involve a return of the people to Jerusalem and the land around it, real estate that had been promised to their ancestors (see Genesis 13:14, 15; 17:8). A true restoration is in mind when Jeremiah promises that the returnees will possess this land, meaning that they will not be merely tenants.

18. Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwellingplaces; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner thereof.

The lengthy description in Jeremiah 30:4-17 (not in today’s text) of the forthcoming captivity and release continues with a very old visual image from Israel’s history: Jacob’s tents. The patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had lived as nomadic people who tended flocks, and their dwellingplaces had been tents (see Genesis 25:27). These were not tents such as we might purchase in a sporting goods store today; rather, they were heavy, sturdy affairs made of thick cloth of woven goat hair or tanned animal skins (compare Exodus 26:7). A more luxurious tent might be floored with rugs and have a top high enough to allow people to walk upright inside. Although such tents can be moved, that is a laborious process done only a few times a year by the nomadic herders. To “pitch their tents” is a Bible way of saying “take up residence” (see Jeremiah 6:3).

There is a double meaning in this regard, however. Jacob was the patriarch whose name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28); as such he was the father of the 12 tribes of that nation. Symbolically, then, Jacob’s tents refers to the future dwellings of the nation, not merely those of the past. This is seen in the second half of the verse, which refers to the city (Jerusalem) to be rebuilt on her own heap, meaning the city’s own ruins. The complete nature of this rebuilding will be shown by the restoration of the palace in its rightful place, indicating a reinstitution of the monarchy. This restoration will happen when the Lord fulfills His promise to bring again the captivity.

What Do You Think?

What “captivities” today keep Christians from serving God to the extent they ought? What can we do to help eliminate these captivities?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Captivities that those ensnared are aware of

Captivities that those ensnared are not aware of

2 Corinthians 10:5

Learning from the Past

Colonial Williamsburg® is a re-creation of the capital of colonial Virginia. It is a village that time had ravaged and destroyed, but which has undergone reconstruction, starting early in the twentieth century. Some original buildings have been restored; others have been re-created on their original foundations.

But Colonial Williamsburg is more than a collection of buildings. The “living museum” is staffed by reenactors who dress and speak as the original residents did, in the English of the day. The purpose is to re-create as nearly as possible the spirit of an era. In 1932, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., proposed that the motto of Colonial Williamsburg be, “That the future may learn from the past.” In visiting the past at Colonial Williamsburg, tourists are reminded of America’s earliest values, both good (such as democracy) and bad (such as slavery).

The Lord’s message through Jeremiah regarding the destruction and restoration of Jerusalem has a similar intent. The roots of the Babylonian captivity are found in the Judeans’ neglect of their history before God. As we “are built up a spiritual house” today (1 Peter 2:5), may we never forget the slavery of our past—slavery to sin—lest we return to it. See Romans 6:16-23.—C. R. B.

B. Regarding Rejoicing and Increasing (v. 19)

19. And out of them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of them that make merry: and I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small.

Jeremiah continues his picture of the future, rebuilt city by describing it as full of happy, thankful people who are prospering and growing in numbers. The prophet foresees this in more than visual terms, for he describes the voice of the residents as they make merry. The Lord’s promise to glorify them means that they will be respected by their neighbors in adjoining nations. A growing population will allow the people to field a capable army. This growth will be a sign of divine blessing, the approval of the all-powerful God of Israel.

C. Regarding Children and Oppressors (v. 20)

20. Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.

The presence of children is to be a sign of God’s continued blessing. This echoes the vision of Isaiah when he looked forward to an expansion of Israel’s tent to house her many children (Isaiah 54:1-3). The fact that their congregation shall be established before me signifies a nation unified by a common faith. Jeremiah’s point is that Israel is to be resurrected as a true nation, able again to take its place among the other nations. A sign of this is the Lord’s promise to punish all that oppress His people. God’s wrath, which results in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, will be turned against those who seek to destroy renewed Israel.

What Do You Think?

In what ways are Christians in particular or the Christian worldview in general opposed in the twenty-first century? How should we respond?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding obvious, overt oppression or suppression (imprisonment, etc.)

Regarding oppression or suppression that is hard to prove (discrimination, etc.)

D. Regarding Leaders and Promise (vv. 21, 22)

21. And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me: for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me? saith the Lord.

Jeremiah finishes the picture of the renewed city by describing its leaders. These nobles will be native to the nation (shall be of themselves), not foreigners. In particular, their governor will be one of their own people, not an outsider imposed on them by a foreign ruler.

It is possible that this prophecy is fulfilled by a person such as Zerubbabel, whom Cyrus the Great will allow to return to Jerusalem from exile in about 538 BC. Zerubbabel and coleader Jeshua (Joshua), the high priest, will return for the purpose of rebuilding the temple, the house of the Lord (Ezra 3:8). Zerubbabel will not be a king, but a governor (see Haggai 2:2) appointed by Cyrus. While Zerubbabel ends up fulfilling some of the characteristics given by Jeremiah, there seems to be more here.

Jeremiah continues his description of this coming ruler by giving spiritual qualifications. The coming ruler will be drawn close to the Lord and will be devoted to Him. He will not be just a symbol of the nationalistic hopes of the Jewish people, but a person with a deep, personal relationship with the God of Israel. In this respect the future ruler will be reminiscent of Israel’s greatest king, David, who was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22). Zerubbabel is in the line of David, but he is never seen as a spiritual leader to match David.

While this prophecy is not as specific as others in Jeremiah, it does seem to look forward to the Messiah, God’s chosen and eternal king. Its fulfillment will not come until the advent of Jesus, who descends from both David and Zerubbabel. Jesus’ rule will extend far beyond the rebuilt city of Jerusalem, for He will be the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16).

What Do You Think?

What can we do to align our lives more closely with the fact that Jesus is King and Lord?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding the use of spiritual gifts

Regarding financial priorities

Regarding secular friendships

Regarding time spent in Bible study

Other

Seeking a Better Tomorrow

The 1939 New York World’s Fair projected a glowing view of the future. That year was the sesquicentennial of George Washington’s inauguration as America’s first president, and it seemed like a fitting time to herald America’s self-image as a society destined for ever-greater success. The slogan “Building the World of Tomorrow” envisioned a society of great public good, the likes of which had never been seen before.

But the brutality of World War II brought that optimism to a screeching halt. The truth was, “the world of tomorrow” would not be as glorious as predicted. The fair itself demonstrated that fact: its cost was $160 million, but revenues were only $48 million. The Fair Corporation had to declare bankruptcy.

We may build bold structures and hold hopeful exhibitions, but the reality always seems to fall short of the dream. But Jeremiah’s vision of a restored Jerusalem was not merely about stone and mortar. It was about a people whose voices praised the Lord and whose hearts exuded the joy of those who lived within the will of God. What will be your role in building up God’s people in that regard?—C. R. B.

22. And ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.

This section closes with one of the great promises of the Bible: the possibility of a close relationship between the Lord God and His people. This reminds us of the first captivity, the time the people of Israel spent as slaves in Egypt. When Moses was sent to bring them out to the promised land, he explained the covenant to the children of Israel using the same terms we see here (Exodus 6:7). This is the promise of God’s presence among His people, pictured in the law as the Lord walking among them (Leviticus 26:12; quoted in 2 Corinthians 6:16).

Jeremiah uses this promise in other places in his book (Jeremiah 7:23; 11:4; 31:33). It is picked up by the author of Hebrews to describe the new people of God, Christ’s church (Hebrews 8:10). Peter applies this to the universal church, consisting of Jew and Gentile who have been formed into a “holy nation,” God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9, 10).

Often we think of our relationship with God as a private, individual thing. But the consistent picture from the Old and New Testaments gives us the sense of being in relationship with God as we are part of the people of God. Yes, God cares about each and every one of us individually, but His agenda includes forming His followers into a people, a congregation, a new “nation” that transcends national boundaries and ethnic allegiances. As with the promises to Israel of the restoration of their city and its temple, the bigger picture is that of a restored humanity through the work of God’s Son, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:15).

What Do You Think?

How well is our church doing in emphasizing the congregation to be at least as important as the individual? How can we improve in this regard?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In how the church presents itself publicly

In how the church’s ministries are structured

Other

Conclusion
A. Rebuilding Jerusalem

We wonder how today’s prophecy was received by Jeremiah’s audience! When they looked around, they did not see a Jerusalem in ruins. They saw no need for rebuilding. Only with a tremendous leap of faith could those folks understand that God’s wrath was to destroy their city, and thereby see the promise of future restoration as a message of hope. They had neither the hindsight of our perspective nor the foresight of Jeremiah. They could not conceive of the destruction of the mighty temple that had stood for over three centuries (see Jeremiah 7:4). For this reason, history records they did not heed Jeremiah’s call for repentance and for trust in the Lord (17:7).

Many Christians today view events of the twentieth century in the land of modern Israel as necessary fulfillment of various prophecies, and therefore crucial to the outworking of God’s plans. The establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 was followed by the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jewish people from all over the world. The Western powers endorsed these moves, partly to atone for the genocide of European Jews by the Nazis.

The city of Jerusalem did not lay in ruins in 1948, but it was nothing like the city promised by Jeremiah and the other prophets. It had no palace for the king, and if it had such a structure, it would have remained empty. It had no temple, for a Muslim shrine stood in its place. It was hardly “Salem,” a city of peace, but a place of great tension and sectarian street violence. Some still look to a day when a new temple will be built in Jerusalem to fulfill their understanding of prophecy.

But these are not the concerns of Jeremiah’s vision of the future. He speaks of a restored city (Jeremiah 30:18), but he does not mention a restored temple in this chapter. He speaks of the restoration of a king in the line of David (30:9), but not of a new house (temple) of the Lord like Solomon’s grand structure. Jeremiah’s vision is more like that of Revelation 21, where the apostle John has a vision of the new Jerusalem descending from Heaven. There will be no temple in that perfect city, for the Lord himself will be its temple (Revelation 21:22). That city will be populated by peoples from all nations; it will be a city of great songs of thanksgiving and praise. Jeremiah’s promises are not just for the people of Judah facing and looking beyond the Babylonian oppression. They are also for us, the people of God, who look forward to joining our King Jesus in the city prepared for all eternity.

Visual for Lesson 1. Keep this chart posted throughout the quarter to give your learners a chronological perspective of the prophets being studied.

Visuals for These Lessons

The visual pictured in each lesson (see example above) is a small reproduction of a large, full-color poster included in the Adult Resources packet for the Fall Quarter. That packet also contains the very useful Presentation Tools CD for teacher use. Order No. 020019214 from your supplier.

B. Prayer

Lord God, You always have a plan for Your people. Your plan may include discipline so that we can be chastened, but restoration is always the final result. May we ever be ready to remain faithful, even in times of great stress and uncertainty. May You heal our wounds and bind us close to You. We pray these things in the name of Jesus our king; amen.

C. Thought to Remember

The pain of exile will give way to the joy of restoration.

How to Say It

Babylon Bab-uh-lun.

Baruch Bare-uk or Bay-ruk.

Cyrus Sigh-russ.

Jebusites Jeb-yuh-sites.

Jerusalem Juh-roo-suh-lem.

Jeshua Jesh-you-uh.

Josiah Jo-sigh-uh.

Melchizedek Mel-kiz-eh-dek.

Nebuchadnezzar Neb-yuh-kud-nez-er.

Solomon Sol-o-mun.

Zerubbabel Zeh-rub-uh-bul.


 

 

September 14

 Lesson 2

 Hope for the Future

Devotional Reading: Hebrews 8:1-7, 13

Background Scripture: Jeremiah 31

Jeremiah 31:31-37

Photo: iStockphoto / Thinkstock

31 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

35 Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name:

36 If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

37 Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord.

Key Verse

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah. —Jeremiah 31:31

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Tell some ways the new covenant was to be different from the old covenant.

2. Explain the significance of the term covenant in the context of God’s relationship with His people.

3. Make plans to renew his or her personal covenant relationship with God.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. The Newer, Better Covenant

B. Lesson Background

I. New Covenant Promised (Jeremiah 31:31, 32)

A. The Future (v. 31)

When New Really Is Better

B. The Past (v. 32)

II. New Covenant Described (Jeremiah 31:33, 34)

A. Hearts and Minds (v. 33)

B. Least and Greatest (v. 34a)

C. Forgive and Forget (v. 34b)

III. New Covenant’s Permanence (Jeremiah 31:35-37)

A. Source (v. 35)

B. Promise (vv. 36, 37)

The Certainty of God’s Promises

Conclusion

A. Old and New Covenants Together

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2014-2015 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless