NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

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

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

September 21

 Lesson 3

 Anticipation of a New Future

Devotional Reading: Isaiah 12

Background Scripture: Jeremiah 32

Jeremiah 32:1-9, 14, 15

1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.

2 For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

3 For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it;

4 And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes;

5 And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper.

6 And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

7 Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.

8 So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.

9 And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.

 

14 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

15 For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

Key Verse

For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land. —Jeremiah 32:15

Lesson Aims

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

1. Relate the details of how Jeremiah came to possess his cousin Hanameel’s field.

2. Explain why it was so unusual and dramatic for Jeremiah to buy Hanameel’s field.

3. State one thing he or she will do in the coming week that is based on hope and not circumstances.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Relatives, Property, and Prison

B. Lesson Background: Right of Redemption

C. Lesson Background: Anathoth

I. Living Under Siege (Jeremiah 32:1-5)

A. Imprisoned Prophet (vv. 1, 2)

B. Angry King (vv. 3-5)

Attacking the Messenger

II. Buying Distressed Property (Jeremiah 32:6-9)

A. Lord’s Prediction (vv. 6, 7)

B. Astonishing Request (vv. 8, 9)

III. Preserving the Proof (Jeremiah 32:14, 15)

A. Safe-Deposit Jar (v. 14)

B. Long-Term Investment (v. 15)

The Practice of Farsightedness

Conclusion

A. Faith That Overpays

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. Relatives, Property, and Prison

My wife and I have moved often during our adult years, usually far from family. The result is that we are not close to our various aunts, uncles, and cousins. While there are many people like us in America and Canada, there are also many who have close ties with relatives. In Nebraska, where I now teach, I have students from small towns whose parents, siblings, cousins, etc., mostly live within a few miles of each other. For better or for worse, this has never been my experience.

Sometimes we may assume that our own experiences of family connections (or lack thereof) are pretty much everyone else’s, and we are surprised to learn otherwise. Our experiences in this regard may carry over into our study of Old Testament prophets, perhaps causing us to assume that their situations were like ours, only to discover the opposite (compare Jeremiah 16:2; Ezekiel 24:15-18; Hosea 3:1).

Other than the assistance of a certain Baruch, who appears on the scene in Jeremiah 32, the prophet Jeremiah seems to have been all alone as he confronted the sins of his people. Residents of his hometown even plotted to kill him (1:1; 11:21-23). But as these images become fixed in our minds, today’s lesson offers the surprising twist of a cousin who appeared on the scene while the prophet was imprisoned.

The astonishing reason for the visit: the cousin wanted Jeremiah to buy a piece of property that was behind enemy lines during a war! It is often said of unusual historical accounts, “You can’t make this stuff up.” Relatives, property, and prison—all are part of the extraordinary circumstances of our lesson.

B. Lesson Background: Right of Redemption

Today’s lesson involves “redemption” of a parcel of land, so some background on that concept is in order. The right of redemption within the Law of Moses was a provision designed to keep family properties intact. The land of Canaan, the promised land, had been given to the Israelites by the Lord. Since possession of plots of land was to be seen as a sacred trust, the law made provision for redeeming property that had been sold outside the family. This was something like the modern “right of first refusal,” but stronger.

Israelite families retained ultimate rights over land they had sold, rights set forth in Leviticus 25:23-28. If economic hardship necessitated selling a parcel of land, such land was first to be offered to other family members. There was even a sense that a relative who had the means to “redeem” this property (buy it from the distressed family member) was obligated to do so to keep the land in the family. The seller retained the right of repurchase if his finances improved, but at current market value (compare Leviticus 25:15, 16). All unredeemed land was to revert to the original family owners every 50 years, when a year of jubilee was observed.

Overall, the intended effect was to tie people to the land so that an ongoing possibility of economic prosperity could be retained for every family in Israel. From a modern perspective, it placed severe limits on land speculation practices as a means to accumulate wealth.

C. Lesson Background: Anathoth

Jeremiah’s hometown of Anathoth (Jeremiah 1:1) was a village in the tribal area of Benjamin, about three miles north-northeast of Jerusalem. Anathoth was a Levite town, a convenient residence for workers in the Jerusalem temple. The priestly tribe of Levi had no tribal area of its own, so its villages and pasture lands were within the territories of other tribes (see Joshua 21:1-4, 17, 18). Levites also had the right of property redemption (Leviticus 25:32, 33).

We don’t know much about Anathoth, but a close study of the Old Testament yields two facts. First, its residents were opposed to Jeremiah’s messages (Jeremiah 11:21-23). Second, people from Anathoth are named as being among those who returned from exile to reestablish their town (see Ezra 2:23; Nehemiah 11:32). That will take place in 538 BC, some 49 years in the future as our text opens.

I. Living Under Siege

                                                                              (Jeremiah 32:1-5)

A. Imprisoned Prophet (vv. 1, 2)

1. The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.

The siege of Jerusalem begins in the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign (Jeremiah 39:1), and Jeremiah receives a word ... from the Lord a few months after that. Enough time has passed for the siege to cause desperate conditions within the city. The siege ultimately lasts 18 months, so we can date this word to 587 BC (39:1, 2). This aligns with the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar (a variant spelling is Nebuchadnezzar), who ascended to the throne of Babylon in 605 BC (see 25:1).

Zedekiah ends up being the last true king of Judah. He had been placed on the throne by Nebuchadrezzar in 597 BC when the Babylonians had conquered (but not destroyed) Jerusalem (see 2 Kings 24:17). Zedekiah has foolishly rebelled against his Babylonian overlords (see 24:20), and he is about to pay the price for that misstep.

2. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem: and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house.

For Jerusalem to be besieged means that the Babylonian army surrounds it with encampments and patrols. This is to prevent supplies and reinforcements from entering the city, although the encirclement may be porous enough to allow individuals to slip through here and there. In principle, the residents of the city cannot escape.

Jeremiah is in disfavor with the royal court during the siege, with imprisonment resulting. His confinement in the court of the prison, ... in the king of Judah’s house means that he is being given somewhat favorable treatment by not being thrown into a dungeon or cistern (compare Jeremiah 38:1-13).

What Do You Think?

What parallels do you see between Jeremiah’s situation and that of the church today? Why is such an awareness important?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Acts 8:1-3

2 Corinthians 1:8; 7:5; 11:28

Hebrews 10:34

Other

B. Angry King (vv. 3-5)

3. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, Wherefore dost thou prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it.

We see the reason for Jeremiah’s imprisonment as King Zedekiah quotes the prophet’s inflammatory words back to him. The king has been listening, and he is not pleased. Therefore Jeremiah has been separated from the people so that he cannot continue to tell them that Jerusalem will fall. Such a prediction is viewed as demoralizing and perhaps treasonous. More specifically, though, the king is offended by the prophecy in three ways.

First, Jeremiah has not been saying merely that the army of Nebuchadrezzar will win, but that the city will be delivered to that pagan king by the Lord. The prophet’s clear message is that the God of Israel is now on the side of the Babylonians. Although this is not a new message (see Jeremiah 20:4), it seems to remain incomprehensible to the city residents in general and Zedekiah in particular. Will their Lord not only abandon them but actively work against them? Unthinkable!

4. And Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape out of the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him mouth to mouth, and his eyes shall behold his eyes.

Second, Jeremiah’s message offends King Zedekiah in predicting that the king himself will be captured and brought into the very presence of the king of Babylon (note: Chaldeans is another word for Babylonians). Zedekiah thus finds the prophet’s words threatening for him personally. We can look ahead to Jeremiah 39:5-7 and 52:1 to see how horrific this meeting will be (compare 2 Kings 25:7).

5. And he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there shall he be until I visit him, saith the Lord: though ye fight with the Chaldeans, ye shall not prosper.

The third offensive element of the prophecy is that Zedekiah himself is to be taken to Babylon as a war prize for display. This will indeed happen (2 Kings 25:7; Jeremiah 52:11), the last we hear of Zedekiah. The Bible has no kind words for him (see 2 Chronicles 36:11-16).

What Do You Think?

What have you learned from the witness of godly people who remained steadfast in the face of opposition?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In use of discretion or tact (Daniel 2:14)

In knowing when or if to speak up (Amos 5:13)

In remaining focused (Nehemiah 6:3)

In understanding the nature of the opposition (Acts 23:6-8)

Other

Attacking the Messenger

In ancient times, a king’s response to hearing bad news might be to punish, even kill, the messenger. The king’s subjects were thereby warned not to bring unwanted news to the ruler.

Sometimes, however, the one who brings bad news actually deserves less than favorable treatment. An ancient example is the case of the man who brought David the news of Saul’s death; the problem was that the messenger himself had killed Saul (2 Samuel 1:1-16). A modern example is the case of Bradley Birkenfeld, who blew the whistle a few years ago on UBS, the bank that employed him. The bank had helped thousands of rich Americans hide billions of dollars in secret Swiss bank accounts to avoid paying American taxes. The U.S. government awarded Birkenfeld $104 million for being a whistle-blower. However, Birkenfeld was convicted of complicity in his firm’s fraudulent activities and spent 30 months in prison as a result.

Jeremiah had a message from God that King Zedekiah didn’t like. The king reacted by imprisoning the messenger. But God’s Word cannot be silenced. As God’s messengers today, which do we fear more: an evil culture’s reaction to us because of our message, or God’s displeasure for failing to deliver that message?—C. R. B.

II. Buying Distressed Property

                                                                               (Jeremiah 32:6-9)

A. Lord’s Prediction (vv. 6, 7)

6. And Jeremiah said, The word of the Lord came unto me, saying.

Although King Zedekiah has turned against Jeremiah, the Lord has not abandoned him. The prophet continues to receive the word of the Lord even while imprisoned. This time it is not a word for the king or the nation, but a personal word for the prophet himself.

7. Behold, Hanameel the son of Shallum thine uncle shall come unto thee, saying, Buy thee my field that is in Anathoth: for the right of redemption is thine to buy it.

The Lord advises Jeremiah that he is soon to receive a visitor, a cousin named Hanameel. We can assume that both Hanameel and his father Shallum (Jeremiah’s uncle) are also priests who live in nearby Anathoth (Jeremiah 1:1) and work in Jerusalem under normal circumstances. They may be both proud of and embarrassed by their famous relative, for while Jeremiah has the ear of the king, he also is despised by those in his hometown (see 11:21; 20:10).

Hanameel is not coming to denounce Jeremiah though. He is coming on a matter of family business, to request that Jeremiah purchase a piece of property in his hometown in accordance with the law concerning the right of redemption (see the Lesson Background). This is an extraordinary moment, filled with irony. Jerusalem is under siege, its very existence threatened. Nearby Anathoth will also suffer the ravages of the plundering Babylonians (if it hasn’t already). This is almost like the driver of a car asking his passenger to buy the car as they plunge off a cliff in it together!

Visual for Lessons 3 & 8. Use this visual as a backdrop for your discussion of the question associated with verse 14, below.

B. Astonishing Request (vv. 8, 9)

8. So Hanameel mine uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said unto me, Buy my field, I pray thee, that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin: for the right of inheritance is thine, and the redemption is thine; buy it for thyself. Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord.

Hanameel indeed comes to Jeremiah in the court of the prison. It’s likely that people from surrounding villages have taken refuge within the walled city of Jerusalem as the enemy army approached, and Hanameel may be one of them. If he is coming from Anathoth instead, how he gets past the besieging Babylonians is unknown. But it is not impossible for an individual to sneak through siege lines and/or bribe a sentry to be let into a besieged city.

Details are lacking, but the basic situation is clear. A field owned by Hanameel is available for purchase. This is probably because of economic distress being suffered by Hanameel’s family. The fact that Hanameel risks “guilt by association” by being seen in the company of cousin Jeremiah seems to indicate that there is no other relative who has the means or the desire to buy this property. The context indicates that Hanameel comes with a certain amount of family pressure: to purchase this field is not only Jeremiah’s right, it is his duty.

Hanameel’s offer poses a challenge to the personal faith of the prophet. Jeremiah knows that the field is worthless in the short term, for obvious reasons. The faith question is whether Jeremiah truly believes that the Lord will bring his people back from exile to restore the land.

Jeremiah does not expect this to happen in his lifetime (see Jeremiah 29:10). So to accept Hanameel’s offer will be an investment beyond that. Jeremiah has no children to inherit the parcel, but he does have relatives whose descendants might benefit from this audacious act, after return from exile (see Ezra 2:23; Nehemiah 11:32).

What Do You Think?

When responding to a challenge that involves monetary expenditure, how do you determine whether you are acting in faith or foolhardiness?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding churches that incur debt for a building program

Regarding Christians who pledge monthly support for a missionary or cause

Other

9. And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth, and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver.

The seventeen shekels of silver Jeremiah pays Hanameel for the purchase are not 17 silver coins, but an exact weighing of certain silver objects, perhaps in a type of bullion (see v. 10, not in today’s text). We do not know where Jeremiah obtains this silver, but he must have it accessible within the city since the transaction takes place while he is imprisoned. This purchase is made not with a promissory note but with hard assets, which Jeremiah may need for buying food during the siege. Hanameel is asking (demanding) a lot from his cousin!

The weight of 17 shekels equates to perhaps 7 ounces, but it is impossible to know either the purchasing power of this amount of silver at this time or the market value of Hanameel’s field. It makes sense, though, to assume that this is the standard valuation of this parcel of land under normal circumstances. What makes the price seem exorbitant from our perspective is the impending devastation of Jerusalem and its environs. That anyone would buy this field at any price is surprising, much less a guy in prison who is out of favor with the king and his people!

What Do You Think?

How do you decide when faith demands immediate action or calls for careful waiting?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In a financial crisis

In a health crisis

In a church crisis

In a family crisis

Other

III. Preserving the Proof

                                                                            (Jeremiah 32:14, 15)

A. Safe-Deposit Jar (v. 14)

14. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Take these evidences, this evidence of the purchase, both which is sealed, and this evidence which is open; and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may continue many days.

The transfer of property is made with the proper documentation (Jeremiah 32:10-12, not in today’s text). The evidence of the purchase (what we would call a title deed) is placed in a container that is then sealed with wax. This provides a moisture-free environment that will preserve the documentation as long as the seal remains intact. The earthen vessel container (pottery) may be similar to those found containing the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of which had been preserved for over 2,000 years by the time of their discovery.

This safekeeping is in accordance with both protocol and the direction of the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. The use of this long-form reference to the Lord bestows great solemnity on the occasion.

What Do You Think?

When was a time that God’s Word helped you make a decision that went against conventional wisdom? How did things turn out?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding a career decision

Regarding a relationship decision

Regarding a financial decision

Other

B. Long-Term Investment (v. 15)

15. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.

We end with the great promise of this story: the land will be restored. People will again live in the houses. Fields will be planted and harvested. Vineyards will be cultivated.

Jeremiah will not live to see that day, and he knows it (again, see Jeremiah 29:10). Yet the prophet proves his faith both in word and in deed in this remarkable act.

The Practice of Farsightedness

When we speak of having 20/20 eyesight, we refer to the ability to see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen clearly at that distance. That quality of vision is commonly thought to be the ideal. Working against this ideal are several types of vision defects, one of which is farsightedness: a condition of vision being more blurry for near objects than for those at greater distance.

Figuratively, however, being farsighted is the positive ability to foresee the future. Only God’s prophets had such an ability in an error-free sense! When investing, choosing a marriage partner, teaching our children biblical virtues, etc., we cannot foresee events that will work against our choices and efforts.

Jeremiah had the level of prophetic farsightedness that God intended him to have, and the prophet trusted God with any future that he (Jeremiah) was not privileged to foresee. In so doing, he set an example for us. We practice farsightedness when we believe the New Testament’s statements about our future. Such farsightedness reveals itself in behavior when we surrender temporary things to gain that which is eternal.—C. R. B.

Conclusion
A. Faith That Overpays

Personal confession: I am an easy mark for girls selling Girl Scout cookies. If I have any cash in my wallet, I will always buy a box when I see them at a table as I leave the supermarket. I know I am overpaying, that similar cookies are available in the store for half the price. But I always buy them anyway. Why? Because I have faith in their organization and the good things it does in the lives of these youngsters. I never seek a discount. I just pay.

It would be easy to see Jeremiah’s actions as foolish. What sense did it make for an unmarried, childless man, stuck in prison and facing the calamity of war, to buy property? Even if he wanted to honor his family’s obligation to redeem the property, couldn’t he have paid much less? No one would have criticized Jeremiah for driving a hard bargain (or avoiding any bargain) in his circumstances, would they? To think this way misses the point: paying—even overpaying—is an act of faith, a testimony to the long-term commitment of the Lord to his nation.

Faith can be expensive when it comes to money. Faith impels us to send money to agencies for the relief of people we will never see. Faith brings us to give money for a building project we may never personally enjoy. Faith results in financial support of ministries at a level that may cause us to go without things that make our lives more comfortable.

Handling of money can also indicate a lack of faith. May we take heart from Jeremiah’s courageous example of faith, trusting God with our hearts and our money.

B. Prayer

O Lord, give us hearts of faithful generosity that look beyond our own needs to the needs of others. We ask this in the name of Jesus, who gave His life for us; amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Hope acts in faith in God’s promises.

How to Say It

Anathoth An-uh-thoth.

Babylon Bab-uh-lun.

Babylonians Bab-ih-low-nee-unz.

Baruch Bare-uk or Bay-ruk.

Canaan Kay-nun.

Chaldeans Kal-dee-unz.

Hanameel Han-uh-meel.

Levites Lee-vites.

Nebuchadnezzar Neb-yuh-kud-nez-er.

Nebuchadrezzar Neb-uh-kad-rez-er.

Shallum Shall-um.

Zedekiah Zed-uh-kye-uh.

 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


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