NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

September 28

Lesson 4

 Future Peace and Joy

Devotional Reading: Jeremiah 9:17-24

Background Scripture: Jeremiah 33

Jeremiah 33:1-11

1 Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying,

2 Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name;

3 Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

4 For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword;

5 They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.

6 Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.

7 And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.

8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.

9 And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.

10 Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast,

11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

Key Verse

I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord. —Jeremiah 33:11

Lesson Aims

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

1. Describe the condition of Jerusalem during the siege, and tell what Jeremiah predicted about the city’s future.

2. Explain the terminology Jeremiah used to indicate the renewed condition of Jerusalem.

3. Help design a worship service that celebrates hopefulness, healing, and forgiveness from God.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. What Does Joy Sound Like?

B. Lesson Background

I. Present Distress (Jeremiah 33:1-5)

A. Maker of All (vv. 1-3)

B. Executor of Wrath (vv. 4, 5)

II. Future Joy (Jeremiah 33:6-11)

A. Healing to Be Granted (vv. 6, 7)

Drastic Steps for Healing

B. Iniquity to Be Cleansed (v. 8)

C. God to Be Honored (v. 9)

D. Desolation to be Reversed (vv. 10, 11)

What Should Stay Dead

Conclusion

A. Our Praise

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. What Does Joy Sound Like?

I just read of a woman who was arrested for celebrating too loudly at her daughter’s graduation. When her girl crossed the stage and received her diploma, the mother apparently did a lot of whooping and hollering! The stone-faced authorities—later heavily criticized—maintained that the crowd had been warned against excessive celebration. Therefore they thought it appropriate to have this woman handcuffed and led away at this moment of family triumph.

Does this sound a bit like the Pharisees at the triumphal entry of Jesus? The crowds, shouting lots of hosannas and hallelujahs, were in a frenzy as Jesus rode into Jerusalem. But the grumpy Pharisees demanded that Jesus calm them down and cut the noise. Jesus answered these melancholy men with a wonderful rebuke: if the crowds were quieted, “the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40). Heartfelt joy is hard to suppress!

I have participated in scores of high school and college graduation exercises, and it is common for family members to go a little overboard when their graduate crosses the stage. They are proud! In some cases, this is the first family member to graduate, a historic moment. Sometimes they are acutely aware of the great cost and effort that was necessary for this achievement, facts that make their expressions of joy just that more exuberant.

This week’s lesson sketches a citywide celebration of joyous praise and worship. There is no video or audio available, of course, so we will need to imagine the prophesied joy to get the full impact.

B. Lesson Background

We recall from last week’s lesson that Jeremiah was detained at a courtyard prison connected with King Zedekiah’s palace as the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem. The prophet’s situation and the reason for it still hold. Jeremiah’s imprisonment seems to have been as much about taking him out of the public square as about any treasonable offense. The besieged city was on edge, and the king did not want that prophet exacerbating the morale problems.

Jeremiah had been serving as a prophetic voice in Jerusalem for some 40 years at the time of today’s lesson (587 BC), so he was a well-known figure in the city. Although he was never popular because of his dire warnings and harsh condemnations, his longevity attests to some degree of acceptance by the people (compare Jeremiah 26:16). He was not easily silenced.

I. Present Distress

                                                                                (Jeremiah 33:1-5)

A. Maker of All (vv. 1-3)

1. Moreover the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the second time, while he was yet shut up in the court of the prison, saying.

Although the book of Jeremiah is not arranged in strict chronological fashion, this chapter builds immediately on the events of chapter 32 (last week’s lesson). Jeremiah is still shut up in the court of the prison, seemingly a more comfortable billet for a prisoner who has some favor with the king (compare Jeremiah 32:2; 37:16, 21; 38:6-13). Last week we saw Jeremiah receive forewarning of the surprise visit of a relative; that was the first time the word of the Lord came to him, in comparison with this second time.

2. Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it; the Lord is his name.

The message to Jeremiah begins with an emphasis on God as the maker of all things. This is highlighted in three ways. First, Jeremiah is reminded that God formed it, referring to His initial creative act in Genesis (the Hebrew word for formed is the same as used in Genesis 2:8, 9, 19). Second, the prophet is reminded that God establishes His creation. This has the sense of putting things in their proper places and sustaining the orderliness of creation (compare Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15). This description of creation is tied with the Lord’s wisdom in Proverbs 3:19.

Third, God reinforces all of this by giving his name in such a way that there should be no mistakes in attributing the creation to Him. This is the divine name of God, revealed to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:14-16), sometimes transliterated as “Yahweh.” Its threefold use in the verse before us stresses the identity of the Creator.

3. Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.

This verse seems like a personal message to the prophet in that the verb call is singular as are the three occurrences of thee/thou. It is like saying, “You, Jeremiah, I’m talking to you. Call to me and I will give you a personal answer.” When we remember what we just read in the previous verse, we have something quite amazing: the Creator of all things is singling out one person to receive an invitation! The Lord is a personal God who pays personal attention to those who call on His name.

The one who created everything has the power, of course, to reveal great and mighty things. The Lord’s knowledge is unlimited, while ours is limited. He can add to our knowledge at His discretion, which is what He is about to do for Jeremiah.

B. Executor of Wrath (vv. 4, 5)

4. For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down by the mounts, and by the sword.

At the time of this prophecy, Jerusalem is many months into its 18-month siege by the Babylonian army. Not only are food supplies cut off, so also are sources of building materials. As the engineers of the Judean army ponder how to reinforce the city’s defenses, they are forced to use material at hand.

The result is that the destruction of the city begins before the Babylonians breach the walls: the houses of both kings and people are demolished to provide stone and timbers for counteracting, in various ways, the effects of the mounts (siege ramps) and the sword (representing the soldiers who rush up those ramps) of the Babylonians. The city leaders have decided to hold out as long as possible, even if this means citywide destruction at their own hands (see Isaiah 22:10).

5. They come to fight with the Chaldeans, but it is to fill them with the dead bodies of men, whom I have slain in mine anger and in my fury, and for all whose wickedness I have hid my face from this city.

When the houses of Jerusalem are completely cannibalized (including stone flooring), only holes in the ground will remain. Ironically, these holes will make convenient places for mass graves for the coming slaughter. The dead houses will be inhabited by the dead bodies of men.

All this results from the fight with the Chaldeans (another word for Babylonians), but more importantly, Jeremiah knows that the Lord himself is behind the looming disaster. Ultimately, God is the one who slays the Jerusalemites in anger and fury. Deaths will result because the Lord has hidden His face from this city, exactly as predicted in Deuteronomy 31:16-18; 32:30. God is not embracing the Babylonians as His new people, but is using them as an instrument of destruction in His plan to punish Israel and cleanse it from wickedness.

What Do You Think?

How can we help others make it through a time of prolonged stress? What difference does it make, if any, if the problem stems from their own poor decisions?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding financial issues

Regarding health issues

Regarding relationship issues

Other

II. Future Joy

                                                                               (Jeremiah 33:6-11)

A. Healing to Be Granted (vv. 6, 7)

6. Behold, I will bring it health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth.

Jeremiah’s word from the Lord now turns from the immediate future to a time several decades hence: the time of Jerusalem’s restoration. The prophet has already predicted that “this whole land shall be a desolation ... and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years” (Jeremiah 25:11). When that time is up, God will heal. The wickedness that characterizes the society of Jerusalem after King Josiah is an illness of the soul that only God can cure (compare Hosea 5:13).

The healing remedy is not a physical salve or medicine but the abundance of peace and truth. In this context, peace is more than the absence of war, but is personal prosperity and contentment. Most of all, there will be peace with God, a restoration of relationship that calms the souls of the people of Israel. The pain of exile is the cleansing process that must occur prior to this healing.

The restoration of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of its temple in the latter half of the sixth century BC will fulfill many aspects of this prophecy. Yet Jeremiah’s words look further ahead, to a kingdom of peace inaugurated by the Messiah, the Prince of Peace. His future government will usher in an era of endless peace and eternal righteousness (compare Isaiah 9:6, 7). In its complete fullness, this is a future time even for us.

Drastic Steps for Healing

It’s cancer! It seems we’re hearing those dreaded words more and more these days. Whatever the reason for the seeming increase in the frequency of this diagnosis, the good news is that medical science continuously develops new treatments.

However, those improved approaches bring with them their own bad news: radical surgery, chemotherapy, and/or radiation treatments may leave a patient debilitated for months as the body tries to recover. Those going through such prolonged agony may wonder whether it is really worth it.

The kingdom of Judah was extremely ill, sick with a cancer of the spirit. The patient was dying! If the nation was to be cured, it would take a severe dose of a divinely prescribed treatment, the prolonged agony of which lasted 70 years. What can we do, individually and collectively, to make sure that God does not have to take drastic measures to cure spiritual ills today within the church today? See Revelation 2:5.—C. R. B.

7. And I will cause the captivity of Judah and the captivity of Israel to return, and will build them, as at the first.

This is a surprising, comprehensive vision of the future. In Jeremiah’s day, the northern tribes of Israel are long gone, having been dispersed by the Assyrians over a century earlier. Only the tribe of Judah, its ally the tribe of Benjamin, and a few Levites (such as Jeremiah) seem to be left. Yet God promises a complete restoration (cause the captivity ... to return means “cause the captives to return”). The full contingent of the tribes of Israel is to return to their land as at the first. This reflects on a time like that of King David, when all of Israel was united, blessed, and protected by the Lord.

From our perspective of 27 centuries after Jeremiah’s day, and having received the revelation of the New Testament, we can see that this has not happened. Therefore we should understand this prophecy to be far-reaching as it looks to a time when all God’s people will be united. This includes Jews and Gentiles united through the peace brought about by Jesus (see Ephesians 2:11-16). The people of God in the new Jerusalem will be of every tribe and nation (Revelation 3:12; 5:9; 21:2).

B. Iniquity to Be Cleansed (v. 8)

8. And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.

The combination of “health and cure” in verse 6 with cleanse here may call to mind the intricate procedures necessary to be considered cleansed of defiling diseases (Leviticus 14:1-32). Judah’s problem is not diseases of the body, but iniquities of the spirit. This spiritual sickness can be healed only by God’s act of pardon. This verse makes clear that the sin is wholly the fault of the people and that the forgiving is wholly an act of grace by the Lord. God’s punishment is a cleansing punishment to eliminate the cause of His wrath: the people’s sin and desire to commit sin.

What Do You Think?

What lessons do you learn from Bible characters who experienced or did not experience renewal after sin or failure?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

David (Psalm 51)

Judas (Matthew 27:3-5)

Peter (John 21:15-19)

Other

C. God to Be Honored (v. 9)

9. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth, which shall hear all the good that I do unto them: and they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.

The word it refers to Jerusalem. Jeremiah’s vision foresees not a city of ruined houses full of dead bodies but a place of praise and honour. This will not happen in secret, but will be noticed by all the nations of the earth. The future blessings of the Lord will cause these nations to fear and tremble when they see God’s outpouring of goodness and prosperity.

The history of Israel is a remarkable testimony to the protection and blessing of God. This is in contrast with numerous long-forgotten nations of the ancient world that were more powerful than Israel at one time or another. Jeremiah’s continuing vision for Israel is that of destruction followed by restoration.

Visual for Lesson 4. Use this visual to remind learners that “release from” something implies at the same time “release to” something else.

D. Desolation to Be Reversed (vv. 10, 11)

10. Thus saith the Lord; Again there shall be heard in this place, which ye say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast.

If one visits the ruins of an ancient city today and no crowds of tourists are present, it is amazing how quiet the place is. For example, Ephesus—once bustling with commerce and the sound of children laughing—now yields only the sounds of birds, etc. Having existed in such a state of decay for so long, it’s difficult to imagine that city ever returning to even a quarter of its former glory.

Jerusalem and its surrounding villages are to be depopulated, without man, and without inhabitant, and without beast (compare Isaiah 64:10; Jeremiah 6:8; 7:3). Silence will reign. City and countryside will lie desolate until the Lord sees fit to restore them. Yet Jeremiah is allowed to see beyond a destroyed and deserted Jerusalem (next verse).

11a. The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride.

The silent ruins of Jerusalem described above stand in sharp contrast with the voice of joy, and the voice of gladness depicted here. A wedding celebration is a beloved image of Jeremiah’s day. Weddings are public, outdoor events that involve singing, dancing, and music. Even in a larger city like Jerusalem, the joyous sounds of a wedding can be heard across neighborhoods. The people of Jeremiah’s world work very hard, and when they take time to celebrate something, such as a marriage, they party loudly. Jeremiah prophesied previously that the Lord will “cause to cease from the cities of Judah, and from the streets of Jerusalem, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride” (Jeremiah 7:34). Even so, that joyous sound will be heard once again!

What Do You Think?

Which parts of our corporate worship call more for an attitude of joy rather than solemnity? Which call for the reverse? Why?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Singing

Communion

Offering

Baptism

Other

11b. The voice of them that shall say, Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for his mercy endureth for ever: and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord.

The prophecy now connects the joy of a wedding (v. 11a) with a worship song, one that is traditional and beloved by the people of Israel. It is a variation on Psalm 107:1: “O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (This is very similar to Psalm 106:1.)

We trace this praise pattern back at least as far as the time of David, some 400 years before Jeremiah (1 Chronicles 16:34), repeated in Solomon’s time (2 Chronicles 5:13; 7:3). These lines are likely used in worship services in a responsive fashion, with a leader singing the first line and the choir or congregation responding with the second line. The most extensive example of this is Psalm 136.

Such a worship liturgy is comforting to the people of Israel. Not surprisingly, they find themselves unable to sing this way after being taken captive to Babylon (see Psalm 137:4). But these lines will be one of the first things the people sing when they return (Ezra 3:11).

What Do You Think?

When was a time you saw corporate worship help someone move from regret to repentance to renewal? Why was that?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding a time of doubting God

Regarding a moral failure

Other

As noted in lesson 2, the expression Lord of hosts reflects the Hebrew “Lord of Sabaoth” or “Lord of the heavenly hosts of armies” (see Romans 9:29; James 5:4). That power is coupled with His goodness as evidenced by His abundant provisions for His people. The fact that his mercy endureth for ever implies that God’s wrath is temporary. Even as the besieged people of Jerusalem stare doom and destruction in the face, they can still count on the eternal power, goodness, and mercy of God. Today’s word from Jeremiah looks beyond the gruesome scene of a destroyed city to the joyous scene of a city restored for, and able to, worship.

What Should Stay Dead

Mount Vesuvius erupted on August 24, AD 79. The largest city destroyed that day was Pompeii, six miles southeast of the mountain. Ironically, the eruption came just one day after people living in the mountain’s shadow had celebrated a festival dedicated to Vulcan, the Roman god of fire—including the fire that comes from volcanoes!

Pompeii lay silent and buried until 1748. Excavations since then have uncovered the ruins of that once-thriving community. Artwork and buildings, frozen in time for centuries, reveal a typical first-century Roman city that embraced “lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3).

Was the destruction of AD 79 God’s wrath on that city for those sins? We don’t know, because God has not told us. But He has told us about Jerusalem, destroyed as predicted, when His wrath erupted against it. Unlike Pompeii, however, God brought Jerusalem back to life. Sounds of joy again rang in the city’s streets when God brought His people back there.

God specializes in bringing the dead back to life, and the resurrection of Jesus ensures our own. As we await that great day, however, may we take care to remain “dead indeed unto sin” (Romans 6:11). Some things should stay dead.—C. R. B.

11c. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

The time of the predicted celebration will come when Jews are allowed to return from their captivity to restore Jerusalem. Only then will they be able to bring “the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord” (v. 11b), implying that that structure will have been rebuilt. That must be accompanied by spiritual renewal; there is no value in restoring the temple, priests, altars, and sacrifices unless the people’s hearts are directed toward the Lord.

What Do You Think?

What specific kind of captivity has the Lord delivered you from for which you will offer praise today?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Captivity of an addiction

Captivity of a wrong attitude

Captivity of a destructive relationship

Captivity of physical infirmity

Other

Conclusion
A. Our Praise

The author of Hebrews picks up on Jeremiah’s image: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). We do not need a sacrificial system involving animals and grain. Our sacrifice was made once for all by Jesus, our Savior (7:27).

We are heirs to Jeremiah’s vision of a joyous future when we sing praises and acknowledge the goodness of God. We don’t need a designated structure where we praise the Lord (John 4:21, 23). Rather, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). May we lift our joyous praises with a loud voice as we worship the Lord, who is good and whose mercy endures forever!

B. Prayer

Lord God Almighty, You are good to us! You have erased the desolation of sin through Your Son, and our joy in that must not be silenced. May Your mercy endure forever. In Jesus’ name; amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Praise God for peace with Him!

How to Say It

Assyrians Uh-sear-ee-unz.

Babylonians Bab-ih-low-nee-unz.

Chaldeans Kal-dee-unz.

Judean Joo-dee-un.

Pompeii Pahm-pay.

Sabaoth (Hebrew) Sab-a-oth.

Vesuvius Veh-soo-vee-us.

Yahweh (Hebrew) Yah-weh.

October 5

Lesson 5

 Yet I Will Rejoice

Devotional Reading: Psalm 56:8-13

Background Scripture: Job 1; Psalm 56; Habakkuk 1-3

Habakkuk 2:1-5

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Key Verse

I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. —Habakkuk 3:18

Lesson Aims

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

1. Describe the dialogue between Habakkuk and God.

2. Paraphrase Habakkuk 3:17, 18 using nonagricultural terms.

3. Identify some seemingly negative condition in his or her life and make a statement of commitment of “yet I will rejoice in the Lord” in spite of that condition.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Silent Nights

B. Lesson Background

I. Overview (Habakkuk 2:1-3)

A. Prophet’s Expectations (v. 1)

Of Watchtowers and Warnings

B. God’s Response (vv. 2, 3)

II. The Two Paths (Habakkuk 2:4, 5)

A. Pride, Part 1 (v. 4a)

B. Faith (v. 4b)

C. Pride, Part 2 (v. 5)

III. The Way of Faith (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

A. Times of Scarcity (v. 17)

B. Times of Rejoicing (vv. 18, 19)

Rejoicing in Bad Times

Conclusion

A. Pride or Faith?

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